At the time of writing, Electric Daisy Carnival‘s Las Vegas installment is less than two weeks away. With the excitement steadily building and preparations all coming together, we’ve created a list of essential tips and guidelines to help newcomers and veterans alike make the best out of their festival experience.
Read through the following five sections, and make sure to send it to the rest of your festival group so that everyone’s on the same page. Stay safe, stay hydrated and have fun!
Meeting Spots & Communication —
If there’s one thing that defines the experience of attending EDC and separates it from other, major dance music festivals, it would undoubtedly be the sheer number of attendees that you need to wade through in order to navigate around the venue. Last year, the event drew more than 400,000 through its gates during the weekend, averaging around 134,000 per day. Despite the Speedway’s immense size, the overflow from the stages and general crowds walking around the emptier areas toward food, activities or restrooms can turn even a moment’s lapse in attention into hours of searching for your lost friend.
This is why it’s incredibly important, here more than almost anywhere else, to make sure your meeting spots and communication are established and maintained throughout the weekend. Pick spots in advance, and set specific times later in the evening to meet back there, regardless of sets or other variables. By making sure your entire group meets at that table at 10 p.m., getting separated from the rest can become a much less stressful experience. Also, make sure to choose a location that won’t be heavily surrounded by other people. Picking the Daisy or a stage is much too vague and crowded, so pick somewhere unique where only your group will know to go.
Like any major festival, cell phone service can become a real problem during the evening, especially when the stages start filling up. This is why it’s a very good idea to time stamp your text messages when trying to communicate with friends and group members. Even though holding your phone up to the sky and standing on your toes for five minutes may finally send the hesitant text out, it will often take several minutes for it to reach the recipient. By placing something like “[8:45]” at the end of your messages, the receiver can more accurately respond or act to the situation.
Comfort & Crowds —
This point simply cannot be stressed enough: Las Vegas is f*cking HOT! In case you didn’t know, the city is located in the middle of the Mojave Desert. During the summer months, the heat and lack of humidity can become dangerous for those who are exposed to the open sun for too long. Even though EDC takes place during the night, the temperature drop is nowhere near substantial enough to warrant any type of warm outer layers. From the moment you step out of your car to the moment you get back in 12 hours later, you’ll be very conscious of the heat and its effect on your body. It’s for this reason that wearing shorts and light t-shirts are essential to surviving the weekend. Anything more and your attire will quickly become a burden (and a sweaty one at that).
On the topic of comfort, we now come to footwear. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as the name implies, is a mostly asphalt-covered stretch of hot racetrack. Even though there are grass sections to sit down in, the majority of your time spent traversing the event will be on pavement. And given the sheer size of the venue, you’re bound to put in miles of walking each day. Therefore, one of the most important things you can do is wear the proper shoes. While your combat boots or high heels may look stunning and creative with your outfit, you’ll certainly be miserable once you’ve spent a couple hours at the Speedway. Wear something comfortable and something light that you’ll be able to endure for long periods of time. If gel inserts or heel guards are up your alley, those will definitely come in handy as well.
For the novice festival attendee, crowds can be one of the most intimidating parts of the live show experience. Having to brush past 6,000 shoulders and armpits, apologizing constantly, and never quite knowing how long you have before your personal area becomes squished with intruders can make for an uncomfortable situation. Luckily for us, however, this trend magically disappears upon entering the Speedway. In my personal experience, having attended music festivals of all shapes and sizes around the country and beyond, the crowds at EDC are hands down the most generous, polite and inclusive in the scene. Whether you’d like to be up close to the booth or in the middle of the fray, standing and dancing room can be found in plentiful supply.
The thing about this festival, in particular, is that everyone who buys a ticket does so for the same reason. We’re all lovers of the same genre, all thrilled about the prospect of getting to participate in such a legendary and expansive event, and most importantly, all there to enjoy the music as we’d like to. It’s for this reason that the experience of navigating through the masses of people at EDC is different from every other event like it. You’ll be able to dance where you want to dance, walk where you need to walk, and make friends while doing so. So relax and do what feels right while making sure, of course, to give others around you the same level of freedom that you receive.
Transportation & Logistics —
Driving and parking at EDC should be considered its own art form. Doing so is not for the faint of heart, and it should be taken seriously with a decent amount of forethought and planning. One, long main road connects the Speedway to the rest of the city, forcing the hundreds of thousands of attendees to funnel themselves into a hellish caravan to get to and from the event. When arriving, it’s best to get there very early. Not only will this save you the experience of waiting in an unending line to reach the festival, but it will give you a prime parking location that you’ll thank the Old Gods and the New for later in the morning. If you can, try and leave your car very close to the exit. Once the festival starts winding down and people try to leave the lot, being able to skip the endless rows of other parked vehicles will be a life saver. If you aren’t so lucky, at least make sure to have your car turned outwards and positioned on the correct side of the aisle. Every small orientation matters when the clock strikes 6 a.m. and you find yourself at the mercy of your hasty mistakes when parking the night before.
When you finally get to your vehicle at the end of the evening, regardless of where you parked, don’t be surprised if you end up sitting in a motionless, purgatory state for at least an hour. You can plan accordingly by having extra stashes of water and snacks in the car waiting for you so can sustain yourself while you wait. If the worst happens, and you find yourself sitting in line with no end in sight, take turns in the driver’s seat so that you and your group can catch quick power naps. Safety and health are key.
If you plan on taking one of the arranged EDC shuttles instead of your own car, make sure to familiarize yourself with the schedules. For those heading toward the Excalibur or MGM Grand hotels, be aware that the shuttles will be closed from midnight to 4 a.m. For more details, check out the graphic below.
Finally, if you’re under 21 years old and still haven’t booked your hotel, make sure to call ahead and confirm that they will allow you to check in without an adult. Some of the hotels, especially on the Strip, are notorious for giving younger attendees a hard time at the check-in counter. Don’t leave room for any surprises when you show up to the door with your bags.
Food & Drink —
First thing’s first: don’t eat the pizza, guys. I remember my first year, during the second evening when my legs were noodles and all I wanted to do was sit down and enjoy a nice slice of pizza to recharge, ordering from one of the food stations in the middle of the Speedway. What they handed me was a thick and heavy slice of pizza on a collapsing paper plate, the moist layer of cheese already sliding off of the crust. Not only did I scorch my mouth with the first three bites, I ended up abandoning the cheese altogether and sadly nibbled on the tomatoey bread until I couldn’t take it anymore. My group and others that I spoke with after the incident had similar experiences as well. If late night hunger strikes you, and it will, maybe just go for the chicken tenders instead.
As far as filling stations go, it’s all about the group effort. Attendants will be equipped with dual water hoses that they’ll quickly fill up your bottles and containers with before sending you away. The mobs around these stations, especially as it gets later into the evening, can become quite large, so having your containers open and ready to go when you reach the front is crucial toward keeping the cycle moving.
And since we’re on the topic of water, dear god, make sure you’re constantly refilling. The heat and dry air of the desert will undoubtedly drain your body of the necessary liquids and energy if you aren’t consistently supplementing them with cool sips of water. If you can, finish a bottle per set and refill in between. Above all else, staying hydrated will be the determining factor between a fantastic evening and a dangerous one.
If you plan on drinking alcohol during the event, don’t let it be the only beverage that keeps you afloat. Drink as much, or more, water than booze. The severe heat can impact the effect of alcohol in ways that will dehydrate and disorient you much more quickly. Be aware that no matter what else you’re doing during EDC, the main objective is always to be consuming water and taking care of your body. Everything else, including consuming alcohol, must come second if you plan on enjoying yourself and staying safe throughout the weekend.
Finally, if you’ve had alcohol or other substances, be sure that you’re sober when you finally get in your car in the morning. Having a designated driver is essential toward maintaining the safety of yourself and everyone else around you. The parking lot situation is already going to be hectic enough without any dangerous variables impeding the process or worse.
Mindset & Moderation —
EDC weekend is a truly beautiful and eye-opening time of year. For lovers of electronic music, like myself, the chance to witness the most dedicated and passionate members of the community coming together to frolic in the most expansive and intricately constructed venue in the country is a real-life dream come true. Every artist, no matter the genre, brings their very best to the Speedway. Your favorite acts will play the greatest sets you’ve seen to date, and those you aren’t familiar with will surprise and convert you with their excellent control over the vibe and crowd. The feeling and caliber of performance surrounding EDC aren’t like anything else you’ve experienced. That’s something I can say with certainty. With the proper planning and attention, the weekend can easily culminate into one of the most memorable and life-altering experiences of your lifetime.
The only way this can happen, however, is to come into it with a mindset directed primarily towards ensuring the health and safety of yourself and those around you. The physical environment will inherently work against you during the length of your time in the desert. The heat and all-night partying will try to dehydrate and weaken you, the availability of alcohol will attempt to sway you away from your water bottle, and the incredible sets will make your forget how long you’ve been standing in one spot without checking in on your vitals or your friends. This is why it will be up to you to be constantly aware of the variables and make a concerted effort to keep yourself in good health.
Dedicated teams of medical staff and Ground Control members will be roaming around the Speedway all three nights, checking in on attendees and offering assistance whether it be for safety reasons or simply for someone to dance with. By visiting the festival’s official website here and quickly familiarizing yourself with the onsite resources available to you, you’ll be prepared to act if someone close to you is in need.
Bottom line? Watch out for yourself and for those around you. It’s up to us to keep each other in check and help out when the time arises. By caring for one another and pooling our knowledge and resources to keep each other safe, the weekend will be a truly incredible and successful one.
We’ll see you at the Speedway!