Controversial Rave Promoter Returns to Downtown L.A.

Controversial Rave Promoter Returns to Downtown L.A.EXPAND
EDC Las Vegas 2015 by Marco Torres/L.A. Weekly

With the longtime blessing of Mayor Eric Garcetti, it was probably only a matter of time before raves flooded back into the core of Los Angeles.

Many of you are saying, Hallelujah!

Insomniac, the nation's largest rave promoter, took its signature Electric Daisy Carnival events to Las Vegas in 2011 after the death of a 15-year-old girl who had sneaked into EDC at the taxpayer-owned L.A. Memorial Coliseum the previous year sparked political controversy.

Raves were essentially shut out of the Coliseum and its sister venue, the L.A. Sports Arena, and prosecutors targeted promoters, including Insomniac founder Pasquale Rotella, for a public corruption case that included allegations of paying a Coliseum manager under the table for smooth access to the facility. The case is scheduled to go to trial Aug. 1,  a district attorney's spokeswoman said.

In the meantime, it looks like Insomniac is back in central Los Angeles with a large-scale electronic dance-music event for the first time since the Coliseum scandal inspired it to move EDC to Las Vegas in 2011.

Rave veteran Kaskade is scheduled to perform at the city-owned L.A. Convention Center on May 7. It appears to be the first ravelike event to take place at the facility.

While organizers of the Hard Summer festival switched to a 21-and-older door policy following the deaths of two teenagers who had attended their August event at the Fairplex in Pomona, this party will be 18-and-older, according to Kaskade's website, which lists Insomniac as the promoter.

A spokeswoman for Insomniac noted that the promoter has been doing club events in the city at Create in Hollywood and Exchange downtown for years. It also has promoted events at the Hollywood Palladium.

Electronic dance music has been no stranger to L.A.'s core, either. Kaskade has performed at Staples Center, a first for an EDM artist. In 2014 the city allowed mega-promoter Live Nation, Insomniac's partner and owner of Hard, to host its Made in America concert on downtown streets and at Grand Park. It featured an EDM stage where Steve Aoki and others performed.

The FYF Fest has featured dance acts at Exposition Park. Tyler, the Creator's Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival at Exposition Park has featured some electronic music. And Hard Summer's former home was the Los Angeles State Historic Park just north of downtown.

But it has been five years since we've seen a large-scale Insomniac party downtown. Other than to clarify the promoter's ongoing club events, Insomniac didn't have a comment for us by deadline.

We also reached out to the office of Mayor Garcetti and to the office of local councilman Curren Price, but neither got back to us.

A spokesman for Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), which manages the Convention Center for the city, said only that the Kaskade event was a "rental" of the facilities. 

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The Electric Daisy Carnival controversy in 2010 and 2011 inspired then–City Councilwoman Janice Hahn to propose banning raves at the Convention Center. 

"During the two-day event in 2010, about 120 people were taken to the hospital, mostly for drug intoxication," her proposal stated. "An independent review found that several people were injured when a crowd overwhelmed security officers and stampeded the field, scaling two fences.

"The city cannot afford to sacrifice public safety and the lives of its residents simply for the purpose of increased revenues," the proposal said.

The ban idea ultimately fizzled out.

Interestingly, Insomniac was scheduled to host superstar DJ Tiesto at the Convention Center for a Halloween party in 2010, but center officials pulled the plug in the wake of the Coliseum controversy, prompting promoters to sue the Convention Center and the city.

In the suit, Insomniac argued that the event was a concert and not a rave. 

Since then, major shifts have taken place at taxpayer venues. The Coliseum and Sports Arena are now under the management of USC, which has expressed distaste for raves. The Convention Center is now managed by AEG, which owns Staples Center and L.A. Live and which runs major concert concern AEG Live.

Kaskade has a strong following of young ravers, but he's a sober family man himself.

In the summer of 2011 he tweeted that he would be performing for free on the streets of Hollywood to coincide with the release of the Insomniac documentary Electric Daisy Carnival Experience.

He DJ'd atop a sound truck that was almost swallowed by enthusiastic fans who filled the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. Police in riot gear shut the party down.

"Pre-sale" tickets for Kaskade's Convention Center show were to be made available tomorrow, according to his site.

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