Calgary could benefit from a similar event

The air is heavy with energy and heat. Green, pink and yellow strobe lights rip through the pitch-black night, frantically shifting like millions of atoms colliding with each other. Bass quivers through dancing bodies in sequential beats as thousands of people pump their arms above their heads. Together, we share this moment.

This is what it feels like to be at the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas that took place June 8-10.

What is EDC?

The Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) got its start in 1997. Organized by Insomniac Events, EDC is an electric dance music festival that holds events mainly across the United States.

This year EDC was held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway with some of the world’s biggest DJs headlining the event across its three-day span.

Approximately 330,000 people attended, marking the 2012 event a success. DJs playing the event included David Guetta, Armin Van Buuren and Avicii.

Aleksandar Djuric – a Calgarian who attended last year’s Carnival – was enthusiastic in describing the event.

“There’s nothing else really like it,” Djuric said. “There’s always something to see and do. It’s crazy how much happiness is around you.”

“Music is something that people expect to be able to see and have access to. It’s the kind of thing that brings people from the regions and is great for tourism.”

– Stewart McDonough 

Insomniac Events partnered with Beacon Economics to conduct a study showing the economic growth caused by the 250,000 attendees last year.

The study showed locals grossed approximately $4.6 million, while non-locals were responsible for an incredible $108.5 million.

With around 80,000 more people this year, EDC can likely thank its increased income to the big names attached to its setlist.

Calgary’s electronic scene

One of EDC’s 2012 headliners – Avicii – played a show at Flames Central back in July.

Tiesto is also no stranger to Calgary. Unfortunately, due to injuries, he cancelled his show at Calgary’s Cemetery of Sound, but crowds can expect him back in December.

With Calgary’s ability to draw in such big names within the electronic music industry, hosting a festival similar in nature to EDC could be a possibility, which would also be an economic boost for the city.

An aerial shot of the 2012 Carnival shows the various stages and rides lighting up the night sky.

Photo courtesy of Electronic Daisy Carnival (Insomniac Events)Hypothetically, holding a multiple day festival at the Stampede Grounds could prove a suitable venue for tens of thousands of people, and scaling the ticket numbers back from the Vegas showing would make hotel accommodations more realistic.

Still, even with the passion for the atmosphere and culture of electronic dance music, some see it as an impossible task.

Richard Zwarych, the owner and operator of Ink Promotions – an electronic promotion group that sets up shows across the city – felt there wouldn’t be enough pull for people to come to Calgary.

“Why would we try to compete against Vegas or EDC for something like that here?” Zwarych said. “It would be trying to appeal to the same people, and who would choose Calgary over Vegas for a show like that?”

Music is important to Calgary culture 

Stewart McDonough, the director of communications at Tourism Calgary, sees music as an important building block within any city’s cultural and cosmopolitan identity.

“Music is something that people expect to be able to see and have access to,” McDonough said. “It’s the kind of thing that brings people from the regions and is great for tourism.”

While the idea of an electronic music festival isn’t prominent in the minds of many Calgarians, McDonough sais music has a way of connecting communities.

“People have a love and passion for music, and they get together and put on great shows,” McDonough said. “That’s the way these things grow. They have to start with a local champion and then they get support and after a certain time, it can become a cornerstone event (if the idea is great and the venue is supported).”

I remember arriving at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 10 p.m. the first night of the event.

Around 5 a.m. and roughly seven hours of partying later, I was on a shuttle heading back to my hotel. I was tired, but certainly anticipating the following day.

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That’s the thing about EDC – and I’m sure of all electronic music shows of its kind – the overall atmosphere of the event, coupled with the energy of the music and the crowd, keeps you dancing and enjoying yourself for hours on end.

Hopefully with the city’s growing love and appreciation for the music, an electronic dance festival could one day find a home in Calgary.

dgoldstein@cjournal.ca