Seven Questions for Pasquale Rotella, EDC Founder

The founder of Electric Daisy Carnival on being a fan, keeping the party safe and minor injuries sustained while break dancing

Pasquale Rotella is many things: Most famously, the 38-year-old is the founder of Insomniac, the company that stages the Electric Daisy Carnival. He also happens to be the fiance of Holly Madison and the father of a newborn daughter, Rainbow Aurora. But Rotella is, above all, a fan. He truly loves electronic dance music—the sounds, the scene, the communal exuberance—and that lifelong fandom drives him to make each EDC bigger, better and bouncier than the one before.

When you staged your first electronic dance music festival in 1995, did you have any idea that you’d someday be in charge of something as huge as EDC?

You know, in my head, I saw massive crowds of people, a sea of people. I had hoped for it to be this big, but I really didn’t think about it too much. I just had these ideas in my mind, and I wanted to see it become a reality. I’m a strong believer in that if you deliver quality, there might be a little bit of an investment at first, but eventually it will come back to you. Not cutting corners to make an extra buck is the right way to do business.

How much of what we see and experience at EDC directly reflects your own taste, your own aesthetic?

Pretty much everything. I have people on the ground, but particularly this year, I pretty much art-directed everything. I’ve been more hands-on, and I’m working very closely with artists that we’ve never worked with before.

Are you actually out there in the crowds during the event—riding the Ferris wheel, twirling glow sticks?

I definitely try to experience as much as I can. A lot of the heavy lifting is done before the event happens, so last year I went on the Ferris wheel, and I definitely walk around and experience the event as a headliner would. I’m out exploring the event as a headliner up until there’s an issue that needs to be handled.

You’re a fan as much as an impresario. How far back does that go?

Even before I went to my first underground (party), I used to break dance. The music was all in the hip-hop category, but it was all dance music: Kraftwerk, Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit,” Newcleus’ “Jam On It.” You remember that song? “Wiki wiki wiki wiki …” “Jam On It” was the first dance-music song that I loved. I was, like, 10 or 11 years old. That was a jam. My break-dance moves would get a little out of control because I would get too excited and put too much into it, you know? I’d overextend my moves when that song came on.

Has becoming a father made you feel more protective of the kids who come to EDC?

You know, I’ve never looked at them as kids. Having a kid is life-changing, but I didn’t suddenly consider myself older than the fans. I grew up in this; I was doing events when I was 15 years old, so they weren’t kids to me then, and my view has not changed. I love human beings, and it’s always been a priority of mine to make them feel safe. I actually just hired someone on as a full-time employee to handle all our safety and medical needs. It’s a big deal.

Lately you’ve been investing in Las Vegas businesses, charities and events—Park on Fremont and GlowRun, among others. Is this the future of EDC, taking the energy and inspiration of the festival and bringing it into the city?

Absolutely. I’ve always wanted to, but we haven’t always had the means to do it. It’s all about giving back. Vegas is amazing; it’s so supportive of what we do. We want to do as much as we can in return.

Look ahead 20 years from now: Do you think we’ll still be having this conversation? Does EDC have staying power?

I do. I look at the Glastonbury Festival in the U.K., and I think it’s been going for more than 20 years. I have hopes that Electric Daisy will be America’s longest-lasting, longest-running festival. It will be here for a long time. Hopefully my kids can take over!

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