To both ravers new and old, EDC still stands as the infallible Mecca to the EDM world. People travel from far and wide for Insomniac’s flagship festival each year in Las Vegas, which this year will be celebrating it’s 20th anniversary and will no doubt be even more elaborate and outlandish than ever before.
Thinking about the first EDC in 1996 makes us think of old school ravers-with JNCO jeans, spiky cyber kid haircuts and sucking on pacifiers -but when you listen to the music of yesterday and compare it to the music of today, the foundation is pretty much the same. Ravers came for the music, and stayed for the people. Many of the popular songs and artists in those early days of EDC are still looked at as figureheads of electronic music now, like Daft Punk, The Prodigy, and Faithless.
Coming off the major success of two Nocturnal Wonderland events, Rotella was set to debut his new event series, EDC, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. It marked a major change for the Insomniac crew, as the event represented a shift into a proper host venue with legit logistical support for the first time. Rotella’s spirits were high; so was his heart rate. Faced with a last-minute city permit scare around hosting carnival rides at the venue, he quickly began to learn the challenges of festival planning at this scale.
Even at EDC’s inaugural event, Rotella already saw its potential as a creative playground for the imagination, with illuminated daisies lighting up the onstage production and sensory stimulation remaining a key pillar for the festival. Even the stage became a fully immersive experience, with a 360-degree platform placed in the middle of the dancefloor for all attendees to absorb.
“It’s always been very important to have something unique going on at all our events—EDC, and everything else we do,” says Rotella. “It’s about the experience, and the music is part of that experience.”
As for the music itself, one song stands out to Rotella: “Music Sounds Better With You” from the Daft Punk offshoot project Stardust. “That song was magical at EDC ‘97,” he recalls.
With roughly 6,000 dancing, sweating attendees getting down within the indoor venue, the vibes and energy of EDC were at maximum overdrive, providing an early glimpse of the festival’s future cultural impact.
“I didn’t know it was going to be my largest festival,” says Rotella. He soon learned just how big it would become.
Check out the full playlist below!