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Pasquale Rotella talks EDC’s past and future in Las Vegas

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Steve Marcus

Pyrotechnics shoot from the Kinetic Field stage during the third night of the Electric Daisy Carnival on Sunday, June 19, 2016, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

With the Electric Daisy Carnival once again rolling into town this weekend for three long nights of music and spectacle at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, we caught up with Insomniac Events founder Pasquale Rotella to talk about the dance music festival’s impact on Las Vegas, the business of entertaining and the future of EDC.

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Pasquale Rotella

When you moved EDC to Las Vegas from Los Angeles in 2011, what did you envision in terms of how the Strip might participate? I felt like the mayor’s support when I decided to move it to Vegas was a good indication of how all of Vegas might support the festival, or that was my hope anyway. Mayor [Oscar] Goodman was still in office and … made me feel like the support here was going to be unique to any of the other festivals I do around the world. You don’t have the entertainment focus like you do in Vegas, and the synergy between a big music event and a show on the Strip, it’s very similar.

My vision was to have those big casinos [on the Strip] turn on their LED screens in front of the hotels and have those signs read “Welcome headliners.” That was in my head before I actually saw it happen. They actually do that now. And there’s a lot more to do than just go to the festival, too, with EDC Week events. It was very natural for the Strip and its nightclubs and concert venues to support the event and do some collaborative events. It was perfect.

2016 EDC: Night 1 at LVMS

Night 1 of the Electric Daisy Carnival on Friday, June 17, 2016, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Launch slideshow »

Big entertainment events are nothing new in Las Vegas, but music festivals haven’t thrived here, until now. It is super unique. A music festival on an annual basis was not something that happened in Vegas. There were attempts and failures, Vegoose being one of them. Music events just weren’t really something people were looking at Vegas for, and a lot of the clubs were doing more hip-hop and open format when we first went out there so we didn’t know if dance music fans were going to come for sure. But there are so many hotels, the airport is so close to the Strip, and with all the shows and entertainment and the glitz and glitter of Las Vegas, I was thinking it had to work. I was more confident than not.

EDC is one of the events that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to Las Vegas every year. People at restaurants, nightclubs, bars and hotels have told me it’s a very unique crowd, kind of a nicer group of young people. We’re very, very proud of that, and proud to be part of this amazing community that I come from. There’s something about this music and culture that brings the best out of people. It’s unlike anything else out there. I like hip-hop music, and I can enjoy myself at a rodeo or a NASCAR race. I can have fun in a lot of different places but I personally have had life-changing experiences within this culture and I get so inspired by the energy that’s there. And I really can’t hear stuff like that enough because there were so many years where dance music was kind of defending itself from a negative stigma, when this is something that has brought so much positivity to my life and my friends’ lives and hundreds of thousands of other peoples’ lives.

2016 EDC: Night 2 at LVMS

DJ Armin Van Buuren and Insomniac CEO and founder Pasquale Rotella attend Night 2 of the Electric Daisy Carnival on Saturday, June 18, 2016, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Insomniac oversees the EDC festivals. Launch slideshow »

When we spoke in January, you said you’d like to bring a second festival to Las Vegas soon. I still want to do that. Nothing on the scale of EDC, but on a smaller scale, and I feel like Las Vegas can support it. Why not bring something completely different at the end of summer or six months away, or something like that? The people in the dance community want to go to Vegas more than one time a year, and they do. There is so much music there.

EDC has changed the music that gets played in the clubs on the Strip, but it also seems to have laid the groundwork for other burgeoning festivals in Las Vegas. I think it opened the door for other types of festivals to come in and be successful. It inspired people outside of dance music and put it in people’s minds that it’s a destination for an event versus an arena show date. I feel like we broke down a bunch of false perceptions that it wasn’t possible.

2016 EDC: Night 3

Christopher Ysais of Houston, Texas, dances by the entrance to Kinetic Field during the third night of the Electric Daisy Carnival on Sunday, June 19, 2016, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Launch slideshow »

What does the continued growth of Insomniac look like right now? We’ve barely begun international expansion. We have so many balls in the air right now. There are probably five to seven markets overseas that we are engaged in serious conversations about, and that’s very exciting. And there are others it would be nice to go to, but we haven’t had the bandwidth to pursue yet. There’s growth in the states, too. There are markets here that are saturated but others that are underserved. We just did a beautiful first-year festival, Middlelands, in Texas, and the buzz on that event was huge.

There are still tickets available for EDC Las Vegas, June 16-18 at the Speedway, at lasvegas.electricdaisycarnival.com.

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