The first-ever Electric Daisy Carnival was in 1997 at the Shrine Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles. There were just three stages and about 5,000 people. The festival eventually grew large enough to fit inside the LA Coliseum, where it ran from 2007 to 2010. The final year in LA brought serious setbacks, including several medical incidents and the drug-related death of a minor.
"The Coliseum wasn't an option for us anymore," Rotella remembers. "We were still doing other festivals all over California, but none of the venues could accommodate the amount of people we were drawing for EDC."
Looking for a fresh start, Rotella turned to Las Vegas to host EDC. He says government officials were initially apprehensive due to crime and violence connected to the party scene surrounding the NBA All-Star Weekend in 2007. Rotella convinced them EDC had all the pieces in place to be a safe and secure environment.
"I invited people from government and the chief of police to our festivals in California that were happening at the time and made them feel very comfortable," he recalls. "They were blown away, actually. And then before you knew it, the mayor of Las Vegas [Oscar Goodman] had a martini glass in his hand and said, 'If LA doesn't know how to do it, then we'll show 'em how to do it here in Vegas.'"
The following eight years of EDC in Las Vegas have been relatively smooth, although drug-related deaths have been reported and dangerous winds caused the event to close early one night in 2012. Each year, Metro police release nightly statistics on crime and hospitalizations at EDC, which get routinely reported on local television news. However, considering EDC is virtually a pop-up city of 140,000-plus people, those statistics often compare well to populations of similar size.
"I'm very proud of what we do," says Rotella, noting the security, medical, and management professionals in place. "I have an amazing team and they work really hard. Everyone is doing everything at the highest level. It's really important to us."