Electric Daisy Carnival rave on track to return to L.A. Coliseum in June
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission signaled its intent Wednesday to bring back a controversial large-scale rave in June, an event that would fall near the one-year anniversary of the death of Sasha Rodriguez, a 15-year-old who died of an Ecstasy overdose after attending the massive dance party.
The commission’s movement came as Sasha’s aunt, Eva Rodriguez, told commissioners she felt uneasy about raves continuing at the Coliseum.
“Raves aren’t safe,” Rodriguez said in an interview.
The commission decided to move forward with the Electric Daisy Carnival, purportedly the largest two-day dance music festival in the nation, after a joint presentation by Coliseum managers and the rave organizer, Los Angeles-based Insomniac Inc. The presenters promised to air anti-drug advertisements, hand out fliers warning about unsafe behavior, step up identification checks and eject intoxicated attendees.
In addition, the promoter has agreed to cap attendance at 75,000 people a night, which would be below last year’s attendance of 85,000 on June 25 and 100,000 on June 26. About 100 Los Angeles Police Department officers are expected to patrol the inside of the Coliseum’s grounds –- an increase from 85 at last June's rave. About 300 officers will patrol the exterior.
The Electric Daisy Carnival “will be an incredible safe event,” Pasquale Rotella, Insomniac’s founder, told commissioners.
“With the amount of preparation that has gone into making this event safe and successful, it’s also kind of creepy. You sit here and think, here, we’re doing all of this, and it makes you feel good. But it also just scares you, like you are preparing for something that’s really bad,” said Commissioner W. Jerome Stanley.
Stanley waved a flier that is to be distributed at the June rave, which he read aloud, “How to minimize potential harms.” “We’re giving it out because we’re expecting people to get in trouble,” Stanley said.
Commissioner Rick Caruso suggested that the sheer number of police and fire resources at the rave could put residents in other parts of the city at risk from diminished resources.
“What we’re doing is shifting city resources for a group of people, some of which, when they come here, they come here to do drugs,” Caruso said. “It’s a little bit ironic so much effort is being made at this event because we know it’s a problem, versus having a discussion, which I endorse, [to say] let’s not have this event.”
“I don’t like these events. I think it’s a harmful culture,” Caruso said. “I think the risk does not outweigh the reward by any stretch of the imagination. And God forbid that something happens to someone.”
The Cow Palace, a state-owned venue south of San Francisco, has put a moratorium on raves, and legislation is being studied in Sacramento that would ban raves at public venues.
When asked if raves were dangerous, Los Angeles Fire Department battalion chief Michael Bowman said, “Inherently, they are high risk.” Bowman added that the additional safety measures gave him confidence that the June event would be “a lot safer.”
Commissioner Bernard C. Parks defended the events, which he said brought mainstream performers to the region. He said it’s not unusual for the city to spend money on additional police and fire for large events like the Olympics or the L.A. Marathon.
“When we talk about why people come to events, we have to realize that we don’t encourage people to bring drugs, and we’re not their parents,” Parks said.
Some members of the public expressed opposition to raves at the Coliseum.
“It’s not safe for the kids,” said Ana Magaly Mezanazi, who lives nearby.
“I never knew what ‘E’ was until I was offered one inside a rave,” said Kimberly Keith of Tarzana. Ecstasy, she said, is “the normal thing here. The music is enhanced by the drugs.”
Despite the heated rhetoric, a commission majority expressed support for continuing plans for the June rave.
Commissioners initially rejected a proposal by Caruso on Wednesday to require the commission to approve the contract between Coliseum managers and Insomniac. After a meeting in closed session, they reversed themselves and unanimously backed Caruso’s motion.
In other action, the commission approved an environmental impact report that would permit demolition of the 52-year-old Sports Arena and its replacement with open-air space or a major league soccer stadium. The Coliseum, however, has no money to either raze the arena or build a replacement and would need to seek a third-party investor before proceeding, according to Pat Lynch, the Coliseum and Sports Arena’s general manager.
The Coliseum is failing to meet financial expectations. Between July 1 and Dec. 31, it had a net income of $1.2 million, far below its goal of $2.3 million.
-- Rong-Gong Lin II at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Photo: Crowds rush a fence at the 2010 Electric Daisy Carnival. Credit: Los Angeles Times