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Dance promoter Insomniac hits city with seven-figure lawsuit over canceled Tiesto concert


Tickets never went on sale and promotions were never staged, but a planned headlining concert by electronic artist Tiësto is the center of a seven-figure civil suit filed against the city of Los Angeles on Friday. Local dance promoter Insomniac Inc. claims the city breached its contract when it canceled what would have been an Oct. 30 concert by the well-known trance artist in the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

On Monday, the mayor’s office referred requests for comments to the convention center, and a spokeswoman for the facility said no statement or comment would be forthcoming. In its filing, Insomniac --  the company that also staged the now-controversial two-day Electric Daisy Carnival in and around L.A. Memorial Coliseum in late June -- claims that the city did not have proper cause to terminate the concert, for which tickets were to go on sale Aug. 17.

Insomniac writes in its complaint that the city cited the rampant use of the drug Ecstasy at Electric Daisy, as well as the death of a teenage girl who attended the concert and died of a suspected overdose, as its reasons for calling off the Tiësto appearance. In its claims for damages, Insomniac cited more than a dozen recent deaths at or after major music or sporting events, including that of a 27-year-old man who died after being punched at a Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim game, essentially arguing that the Tiësto appearance was unfairly singled out because of public perceptions of dance and electronic rave-like concerts.

“Events like [Electric Daisy] and the Tiësto concert are held at legal venues and are planned in conjunction with law enforcement and medical personnel,” reads the claim. “[The Convention Center’s] unilateral termination of the contract will send the wrong message by suppressing the popularization of electronic music, encouraging it to revert back to its underground, unsafe beginnings.”

Insomniac is asking for damages of at least $1,015,180, citing a loss of profit of $436,250 and an estimated production cost of $668,750. Court documents state that Tiësto was guaranteed $250,000 for the single-night event. The artist’s management, Complete Control, did not respond to requests for comment.

Insomniac, which promoted five sold-out Tiësto shows in and around Los Angeles in 2008 and 2009, noted that its planned convention center event was no different from Sunday’s concert at the Hollywood Bowl, which featured dance act the Chemical Brothers.

“I can’t help but draw comparisons to the ’80s movie classic ‘Footloose,’ where dancing and rock music were banned,” Insomniac founder Pasquale Rotella is quoted in a statement. The company believed as recently as Aug. 4 that the Tiësto concert was a go, but less than two weeks later, the city returned Insomniac’s second rental payment of $14,400.

“If this breach is allowed to stand, Insomniac will be known as a promoter that cannot follow through on its commitments,” reads the filing. “As a result, artists of Tiësto’s caliber may henceforth by unwilling to contract with Insomniac.”

A copy of Insomniac’s rental agreement with the convention center notes that the city may terminate the contract for the reason of “good cause.” Should it do so, reads the contract, the “tenant agrees to waive and forgo any and all claims for damages against City by reason of such termination... Tenant shall have no recourse of any kind against city.”

The dance community has faced strict scrutiny in Los Angeles since the Electric Daisy Carnival, which drew an estimated crowd of 80,000 to 100,000 people per day, and led to more than 100 hospitalizations. Two days after the event, 15-year-old Sasha Rodriguez died of suspected drug-related causes.

The Coliseum Commission then imposed a temporary ban on rave contracts, although three events scheduled for the remainder of 2010 were granted approval to continue. The commission -- the joint state, county and city panel that oversees the venue -- has, however, imposed new restrictions on the promoters of dance events.

Going forward, promoters must enforce a strict age limit of 18 by checking identification, hire a team of emergency-room doctors to work on-site and warn rave-goers about the dangers of the illegal drug Ecstasy. The July 17 electronic-focused Hard L.A., which was to feature appearances by M.I.A. and Die Antwoord, among others, was canceled, and promoter Gary Richards noted that the city forced “a lot of extra stipulations and requirements” that “resulted in unforeseen costs to the event.”

A heavily policed Aug. 7 festival, Hard Summer, went off as planned, and resulted in only four arrests. An Aug. 21 dance concert at the L.A. Sports Arena didn’t fare as well, resulting in more than 80 arrests and three hospitalizations.

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Tiësto at Coachella. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (38)

I have read some posts where people have claimed they attended EDC and how great it was. If it wasn't for Armin I would have left as soon as I stepped foot in the arena. You all state Insomniac is this and that but in my opinion they are money hungry promoter giants. The security at EDC was of no existance. Few times I found myself looking for someone to ask for a particular stage location but couldn't even see 1 guard or employee. Where did those millions go? Sure the stages were good and music was amazing but what about saftey? Why make it 16 + ? EDC was a disaster waiting to happen. I was shocked that only 1 person got killed. Plus no matter how bad other events are no way do they measure what took place at EDC. I saw coutless people drugged out of their head laying all over the place. I mean did they even check these morons for any posessions? One last thing I want to note is compare EDC to a event in Europe. Just youtube for instance an Armin only concert and look at the difference. Its classy vs trashy, a mature crowd vs bunch of kids hardly wearing clothing tripping on every drug they can find. Insomniac could have done million thing to prevent things like this from happening. But, as we all say could have, should have, would have. I love edm but these promoting giants need to focus on a good safe event onther than how much profit and tickets they can sell

ugh, this really does break my heart. i was so excited when i heard he was coming back & now its cancelled. f*c*!!! not fair for the ppl who love this music and ONLY GO FOR THE MUSIC!!! why cant they make it 21+? please please bring himback!!! i feel bad, for that irresponsible chick tht OD but seriously, hasnt insomniac been showing tht they can make this a safe environmen???!!!! BRING TIESTO BACKKK!!!! :(

I could go on with the terrible stuff that has happened to me in everyday life..
But whats more important is .How RAVES saved my life..

I deserved to be happy and see what real people with there walls down were like and in 95 Thats what changed me through Trance music and seeing others being...

We all deserve this but being RESPONSIBLE is a must and does start from the promoters ..and all that attend including the djs..

ELECTRIC DAISY And other big events are great for the fact .A concert that was based from the Rave scene music i love
NOt all people want to be at a underground.But a concert should be treated like a concert not a Rave or underground ....No purple elephants attending

Sacred Gatherings wether U are a psy trancer or a candy kid or any in between KEEP IT Sacred So we have the RIGHT to BE!!1

Wow, coming from a city which claims it has no money, they sure have some smart people making decisions, canceling this event is a sure way for the city to not take in extra money gathered from hotel tax, sales tax, and other taxes which during insomniac's events, people come from all over california to help our hotels, food places, parking tickets too... the city sees money from this, however, right now they don't see the big picture.

and the City of los angeles, will continue to complain about lack of funds

Wow Tiesto would of given MM a run for the money. No wonder all the big dj's are scared of coming to Los Angeles now!!! First off the girl who died lied to her parents where she was. This is a quote taken from The Los Angeles Times today " A family spokesman said Sasha's mother and father did not know of her plans to attend the rave, which was restricted to people over 16 unless they were accompanied by a legal guardian". Second, every event should be 18+. Little kids have no idea what they are doing. Bigger problems have happened at European shows but they don't cancel future shows (except the Love Parade R.I.P.) As the drug issue, I know it happens in Vegas too but they don't cancel any shows. If they push these shows to the underground there will be many more issues. At least when they are put on by a big promoter they have security, doctors, and a trained EMT staff there. People need to start being responsible for their actions which means when you are 18 or older you can decide to go to these shows are not. Anyone under 18 should stay home and study for school. Your time will come when you are an adult !!!


you do realize that huge events like this means hundreds of thousands of dollars towards the city? insomniac would be paying the city to be able to use the location for the event, hotels and local markets would receive a burst of a sudden influx of thousands of people spending their money, which would all end up going back to the city and the government in some way, shape or form. blame the city for not using the money to revamp the streets of la, not a company that is being put under unjust speculation.

"The City of Los Angeles is already strapped - thank you Insomniac for adding to our inability to provide core services to needy individuals by suing us. Have you looked around and seen the conditions we are living in? Come off it, you stupid selfish clown. It was a concert - what a tragedy that it was cancelled in its early stages and you could have found some other location for it. Boo hoo."

-take your head out of your ass and get a job

no disrespect to the girl or her parents. but what was she even doing there? she was underage and her parents let her attend such an event.. what were they thinking?

disappointing news about the shows cancellation i was planning on seeing tiesto, guess i'll be going to monster massive instead which isn't a bad thing. together as one any one? :)

Anyone have a full set of numbers for comparison as to increased tax revenue due to an event vs. costs (risk-estimated & actual) for the city? Be interesting, even if highly arguable items like "good will" and "community spirit" are included ...

Didn't read all the comments, but what ever happened to the costs borne by the city for the Michael Jackson farewell thing at the Staples Center?

Anyway, seems to me that five years after Freakonomics, we're still guessing ...

You Have to be kidding me! Is it still happening? Pasquale Rotella you sent me an email saying this wasn't so! Please tell me the show will go on!!!!! This is a disappointment if it is true!

What the heck ? why canncel an sucha big event cos of some hysterical thoughts about if some of the people may or may not using ecstasy? i mean come on... not ever freakin person does ecstasy at trance concerts. some might , BUT NOT EVERYONE, OUT OF 10 000..? Talking about sterotyping trance fans , ha? this is just discrimination.. on a huge level. i bet that there is houndres of thousends of people using ecstasy on rock , pop, rnb concerts an so on... does that means that you should shut down ever single event thats suppoused to accqure all around the us? ha? think about that for a second. this is just rediculeus. stupid and patetich. not sure if the last words was spelled right , but anyway...? THINK ABOUT IT!

Regarding the 15 year old that died at the LA Rave in June, the promoter who has been doing raves for many years now has amassed a fortune in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In that ONE event alone he received 150,000 times $80....can you count that high? His big concern in a lawsuit is that he might lose $400 some thousand ( I think his math is wrong- I think he plans to make yet another 20 million profit on THE NIGHT and the guy that is being paid $250,000 for spinning records for the evening LOL. The point being that instead of the promoter being extremely sad and apologetic to the LA community he WANTS MORE MONEY and will stop at nothing in suing LA people.

These minors do know what goes on at the events, and are not cautious about these "drugs!".I will say that it is not Insomnia's fault on what people do or take there.They just support us with concerts with electronic music "I myself enjoy"!Another thing is that minors will rebel against this 18+ rule obviously!....using some form of identification which will 90% get them in!So i think it was useless to make it 18+.Even though they made them 18+, those really 18 are still taking drugs!The city doesn't not have control on what people do!They will never have control!STOP WASTING YOUR TIME!

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