Dispatches from the 2011 Vegas EDC

As the sun comes up in Las Vegas, heating the dry desert air to an uncomfortable, hellish temperature, dancers, ravers and music fans alike begin searching for their car, friends and sanity. Three straight days of dusk-till-dawn, nonstop music begets a long road to recovery and return to a normal sleep pattern.

— Ryan Stabile, MXDWN.com

As I descended the innumerable steps from the bleachers to the racetrack, I had to concentrate very hard on not tripping and falling. My eyes kept getting stuck on the bedazzling display encompassing the thousand acres of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway—massive stages, glimmering neon art installations, full-on carnival rides, and lights and lasers galore. It was a world I didn’t know existed. I’ve been to my fair share of raves, but this was different. Just looking out across the raceway, I knew that this was the rave to end all raves. … I was lost in an endless sea of neon and glitter, and I’ll be honest, I hated the first three hours I was there. But once I got acclimated to this bizarre world, I asked myself the question: “Is it worth it?” And the answer was the same as it was in Men in Black—“Oh yeah. If you’re strong enough.”

— Winston Robbins, ConsequenceOfSound.com

Combined with lasers and lights, the gymnasts on trampolines, the spinning sounds and the overall feeling of … Las Vegas, Electric Daisy Carnival proved not only a production success but quite possibly a portent. … Music, dance, dopamine and lots of shiny, sparkly things: the foundation upon which Vegas was built. As one generation cedes pop culture control to the next, could a Rave du Soleil be too far behind?

— Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times

A honeyed, Auto-Tuned chorus blasts from the stage monitors that flank [Sonny] Moore, as he leans down to flick a fader. It’s Skrillex’s breakout hit, “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites,” a song that will be heard umpteen times this weekend, in DJ set after DJ set. As the music quiets, a familiar voice tears through the speakers. It’s Speed Stacking Girl, a minor YouTube sensation whom Moore sampled for the song’s breakdown. “Oh my gosh!” she shrieks, a ragged cry of teenage abandon. … Suddenly, Moore is airborne. He hits the ground as a wave of bass radiates outward, and the crowd goes weightless in response.

— Phillip Sherburne, Spin

But the weekend may have belonged to dance music’s brightest stars: Swedish House Mafia. The trio of Swedes—Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso, all well-known solo DJs in their own right—dazzled fans with a stellar turn early Monday morning that proved a fitting finale to the festival. Their brand of anthemic, crescendo-heavy house was well suited to playing festivals, and the act came across as dance music’s rock stars. They arrived like rock stars, too, via helicopter.

— Charlie Amter, Hollywood Reporter

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By day, 25-year-old Nils Widlund is a presumably mild-mannered employee in the corporate sales support division of Nordea Bank in Stockholm. He crunches numbers on a computer, moves money around and wears nice clothes to work. Nights, weekends and on extended leave, he’s “Honeybadger” Widlund, the professional kickboxer who, just like the ferocious carnivore made infamous by the viral video, is “pretty badass and runs all over the place.” “I’m really quick,” Widlund says. “I move around a lot. That’s from my kung-fu training. Many of the other fighters aren’t used to that.”

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