DJs and music makers may be the main draw for Electric Daisy Carnival's denizens, but Insomniac Events figured out a long time ago that a truly magical, multisensory experience must have an equally compelling visual component, and lighting and production will only take things so far.
In many ways EDC's organic mojo comes not from the sound system, lasers or technical spectacle but from the people hired to be onstage and to entertain the crowd. To call them dancers would be a disservice. They are immersive performance artists who interpret and enhance EDC's aural output through movement, a bit of acrobatics, lots of dazzling costumery and mesmerizing thematic theatrics.
"Insomniac performers create a unique interactive environment at our festivals that make memorable experiences," says its entertainment director, known only as Ms. Easy. "We like to focus on both on- and offstage performance. Overall, we like to showcase a culmination of traditional circus talent, Cirque-style performances and nightlife entertainment.
"Insomniac headliners [attendees] may experience interactive characters, stilting puppets, choreographed dancers and more on the grounds," she adds. "EDC has featured large-scale acts such as Tesla coil lightning throwers, motocage riders, lightwire puppets, sway poles, aerial balloons, LED track acrobats and more. Some of our entertainers have backgrounds in Cirque, theme parks and even the Olympics."
Easy's name is ironic because what she does is not easy at all. Her all-encompassing job description includes conceptualizing characters and looks; supervising production and wardrobe; casting and recruiting; overseeing styling, scheduling and management of the performers; directing, mentoring and coaching; and coordinating entertainment for all areas and facets of each EDC event, in Vegas and overseas. She worked as a performer for many years before starting her own entertainment company, and then met the festival's mastermind, Pasquale Rotella, in the mid-2000s. "As the events began to grow, I directed, costumed and hired more entertainer groups alongside my own," she recalls. "Over time the production grew extremely large-scale and I came on to the full-time position of entertainment director."
A longtime fixture on the rave scene — in St. Louis, where she's from; in New Orleans, where she lived for a while; and finally in L.A. — Easy has honed her eye for alluring stage performers over the years, pushing the boundaries of creativity along the way. With each subsequent year, EDC's performance aspect becomes bigger and better.
Costumes are key and they run the gamut from quirky and fun to glitzy and glamorous — usually they are all of these things. Created based on themes running inside the events, these looks represent various areas in the fest, matching and inhabiting them and creating a wild, dreamlike atmosphere. Forget about drugs; they aren't really needed when you enter these trippy, sexy, surprising environs. On Rainbow Road, in the Wasteland or amidst the Circuit Grounds, you'll come across audacious apocalyptic figures and colorful sci-fi creatures pretty much nonstop.
These roving bands of "funkdafied freaks," as EDC calls them, add significantly to the surreal hedonism of the event. Among the costumed performers you'll encounter this year are Atomic Ponies, inspired by vintage equestrian circus acts; Black & White Flower Clowns, dolls that inhabit magical garden areas; Bee Bees, Studio 54–style B-girls; Carousel Girls, wielding rhythmically spinning parasols; Coney Island Clowns, New York's sexiest and silliest; Cosmic Cuties, think Barbarella at a rave; Dalí Dollies, artful and audacious; Smiley Family, human emojis; Furbs, life-size plushies; Sunshine Harleys, hot and classic harlequins; Ice Cream Dreams, dancers as sweet treats (one of EDC's most popular troupes); plus Love Rules and Love Rules Stilters, Marching Majorettes, Military Brats, Party Animals, Puppet Theater, Rebel Rockets ... the list goes on. The excess and eye candy is more than words can convey.
Insomniac casts year-round, overseen by Easy, with an annual large-scale audition downtown that attracts people from across the nation.
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Easy says they develop the overall aesthetic of each event before deciding which new costumed characters can be created for it. She and her team conceptualize or design the characters before moving into the production aspect with vendors, which includes artists and designers.
"I love the closeness of the entertainment community and being able to create a unique place for them where they can shine," she says. "Look out for more visually stimulating large pieces that are performer-interactive at our events. I am inspired to go more large-scale this year and going forward."
No matter how grand things get production-wise, it seems the interaction is what remains most significant for Insomniac's entertainers. As Easy says, "We want people to cherish the laughter and joyous moments they share with these characters. We want to inspire them to be creative in their own lives with our artistic and outrageous designs. We want to encourage them to let go of their inhibitions and be anything or anyone they want. We want them to feel like they had the time of their life."
Check out Ms. Easy's Instagram (@Mseasy) for behind-the-scenes images and the new IG page for Insomniac entertainers (@InsomniacEntertainers). Like to try out for an EDC performer spot yourself? Sign up for the Insomniac Entertainment Department Newsletter to receive info on casting and more at https://www.insomniac.com/signups/entertainment.