The Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) is the largest electronic music festival in the United States. Produced by Insomniac, events are held in Las Vegas, Orlando, NYC, Joliet, and Dallas, along with international events in the U.K., Mexico, Brazil, and Puerto Rico.
EDC is a mixture between ordinary music festivals like Rock the Bells and Coachella and a rave. Being a legitimate money-making machine of a business, security is much tighter than your average rave, and there’s a strong police presence, complete with drug-sniffing canines on the premises.
While you can still sneak in ecstacy, shrooms, LSD, and all the other standard EDM party favors, it’s a lot more difficult and best to take them on your way in. If you plan on attending EDC, here’s what you need to know.
Admission to EDC
Since EDC is a three-day music festival, tickets can be a bit pricey. Early-bird general admission starts at $329, and VIP tickets are $699, though the differences are minimal and mostly for show.
It’s still the same line, parking, and entrance, but with a couple drinks and a “special seating” area far to the side of the stage for those who want to avoid the large crowds selectively. After about a month, tickets go up another $20 for the late-comers.
GA and VIP tickets can be purchased through Insomniac’s EDC website when available.
Artists are typically given a number of tickets to giveaway to fans, as are local radio stations and other promotional companies. These tickets typically gain access beyond GA and VIP, and guests are often let in early, along with media, artists, and staff (though not in the same areas).
Press passes are similar to guest passes, though they also allow entrance to the gated area between the stage and fans in order to get those great fan shots. Press passes are free and media professionals are let in through a private entrance also accessible to staff, artists, and guests.
Only the media can bring in SLR cameras, and only the film crew can bring in video cameras. Photojournalists will have a felt badge that says “Photo,” while the film crew will have shirts that say “Film Crew.”
Tickets for EDC are actually wristbands with an RFID reader in a variety of colors. At EDC 2015 in Vegas, GA and VIP tickets were purple, green, and orange. Artist guest passes were red and say “Guest,” media passes were yellow and say “Historian,” and Artist passes were black, and say “Creator.”
Insomniac changes the wristband colors at each event to stave off the scalper black market.
Where you can go and when is determined by your wristband color, though whether or not the RFID chip is actually scanned depends on the day, venue, and staff. Be wary of scalped tickets, as they may be from a different event, and the RFID chip will be invalid if the staff chooses to scan it.
GA and VIP tickets are mailed in advance, whereas media, artist, and guest passes must be picked up on the day of at an offsite location near the venue with a photo ID to ensure they’re not sold or transferred. The value of these passes (along with the accompanying parking pass) is well over $1000, and Insomniac is serious about preventing piracy.
What to Expect at EDC
EDC runs from 8pm to 4am each night. In Vegas, it’s necessary to leave the strip by 5pm in order to get in line in time. Any later than that, and you’re looking at a 5-hour window between traffic jams and entrance lines.
On the grounds are nine stages, each showcasing the world’s best DJ’s from a different musical genre within EDM. From Hardcore at the Wasteland to Dubsteb at the BassPOD, each stage has an elemental and technological theme. Kinetic Field is the main stage and features all the radio-friendly EDM from the most well-known DJ’s (Afrojack, etc.), whereas Funkhouse is the smallest stage, delving into other musical genres.
Huge lighted art displays and giant video screens dominate the show, with your favorite DJ being barely visible, elevated behind pyrotechnics, light shows, and more.
The bass-heavy sounds of each performance means there has to be a huge distance in between each stage, and that space is filled with rave and DJ vendors, food and drink vendors, amusement park rides, a wedding chapel, parades of performers, a Buddha statue, and a variety of lighted art displays.
Find your musical style, and bask in the accompanying ambiance, surrounded by ravers from all over the globe. The motto of EDC is PLUR (Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect), and Insomniac goes out of their way to remind you that they love you, even if you’re a PLURgin (a first-time EDC attendee).
At EDC Vegas, the artist roster also performed throughout the week at every club along the strip. Not only do you have an opportunity to see your favorite artist DJ’ing at the huge festival, but you can see them spinning in an intimate club setting as well, though this isn’t included in the ticket and can cost $50-$500, depending on the club and DJ.
What to Bring and Wear to EDC
Like any rave, bring plenty of water, and make sure it’s sealed. Security may or may not check, but anyone who’s been to a concert knows it’s easy to sneak things in…
…speaking of which, if you bring drugs, be sure they’re sealed and well hidden. To be on the safe side, simply leave them in your hotel room or take them in the car in the parking lot. The police are there, and they’ll bring their K-9 units.
Dress however you want – the more outrageous the better. EDC is known for the eclectic fashion, and even body paint counts as clothing for many. Cosplay is encouraged, as is neon-electric clothing.
Homemade beaded bracelets (candy) are a mainstay of the EDC community, and exchanging candy beads is part of the culture. Insomniac even lists it on the official EDC checklist on the back of the venue map.
If you’d like to exchange beads with someone, simply follow the handshake – hold up a peace sign and wait for them to reach out and do the same, touching fingertips (Peace). Then form half a heart (Love) followed by uniting the tips of all fingers (Unity), followed by interlocking your fingers with theirs and sliding your candy bracelet onto their wrist as a sign of Respect.
You’re now officially part of the Insomniac and EDC family…
Brian Penny is a former business analyst and operations manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work has been featured in Huffington Post, Hardcore Droid, Cannabis Now, Lifehack, Gaiam, MindBodyGreen, and Elephant Journal.