At first glance on Saturday night, the L.A. Coliseum looked like it was hosting a normal carnival — friends cuddling up on a Ferris wheel adorned with sparkling lights, thrill-seekers screaming as they fell several stories on a drop ride, and people kicking their feet in the warm summer air as they rotated around on the kiddie swings. But on the sidewalks surrounding the stadium, funkdafied freaks appeared in purple tutus, leopard-print spandex, pink furry boots, way-too-short skirts, clown outfits — you name it. It quickly became obvious that this was no ordinary community fair. This was the Electric Daisy Carnival, one of the most massive raves in the country, with six stages, 44 performers, an expensive light show and full-size carnival rides.

At the Coliseum’s entrance, where the main stage would showcase Paul Van Dyk, Moby, Benny Benassi and other electronic music stars, we made it halfway through the narrow tunnel before a pack of nearly 100 in the crowd of some 20,000 ravers suddenly stopped. The impatient cluster began pushing, and I was suddenly caught between a fat guy stepping on my foot and another, whose Ecstasy-induced boner was rubbing the side of my leg. The girl in front of me looked sick, and I couldn’t help but think, Wow, this isn’t pleasant, or safe — a fire hazard at the very least. After about five minutes inside the torturous mob, we were finally pushed free. The girl dashed to a trash can and puked. I thought, This is going to be some night.

We maneuvered carefully around the carnival-goers, some of whom were lying on the ground as their friends rapidly spun glow sticks over their faces, others, with dialated pupils, were simply mesmerized by the colorful lights radiating from one of the stages. “The trails man, the trails,” one guy said in awe.

All around, people were clenching their jaws and grinding their teeth (a side effect from the speed in E-pills); others were sucking on pacifiers that lit up and changed colors. Grown men riding kiddie rides and sucking on pacifiers — what a sight.

Even more jaw-dropping was seeing the entire floor of the Coliseum packed wall-to-wall with people radiating by the light of thousands of glow sticks. Green laser-beam lights bolted off the main stage, extending across the entire stadium sky, the pounding beats of techno echoed, and machines sent fog drifting across the crowd. The energy was electric, the happiness palpable. Everywhere we looked, people were giving each other back massages and light shows, stroking each other’s hair, freely passing each other pills and dancing without inhibition. We found more groups of people lying on the floor, some receiving light shows, others straddling each other, passionately making out. Complete strangers were lovingly introducing themselves and sharing their water — everyone understood the need for water while dropping E. One raver was tended to by three others — one blowing a Vicks nasal inhaler into his eyes, one rubbing his scalp with vibrating massagers, and the other standing over him, giving him a show with gloves that had multicolored photon lights in the fingertips.

“I’ve never been this happy in my entire life,” he said during Paul Van Dyk’s set.

“This is a religious experience,” a girl screamed in response. “I think I’m in heaven.”

If only people could be this friendly every day without the Ecstasy.

LA Weekly