It's almost that time of the year. Where 400,000 wild fidget spinning millennials storm the desert outside of Las Vegas for the greatest three day party of all time. Dancing under what is famously known as "the Electric Sky", fans of the EDM music scene are welcome to dress and act in whichever form is closest to their most authentic self.
Sometimes that means dancing to your favorite DJ, sometimes it means showing up in nothing but duct tape. I am in no place to judge.
There are several things that make this experience magical, and if you're nearing the age of 30 and haven't experienced it yet, I highly suggest you purchase tickets yesterday, and figure out how you're going to live on PBR and Lunchables for 72 hours.
EDC, or the Electric Daisy Carnival, is the best music festival in the world.
Photo by Insomniac
"Oh but this one time I went to Burning Man -" shut the fuck up about Burning Man. That and Bonoroo both have their place...second and third to EDC Las Vegas. If I wanted to drown in dust and walk across the sand like I'm forging for water in a scene from Mad Max, then I'd attend Burning Man.
But I want to scream my favorite lyrics to Kygo's new album along with a crowd of 130,000. And I want to do it while I watch more fireworks than Katy Perry has ever dreamed of launch from a stage that's twice the length of the Superdome.
So for those reasons, and many more, I will be at my fourth EDC this year. However, I will be the first to admit that EDC has its drawbacks.
Starting with the fact that it begins at like 8pm, and doesn't stop until the damn sun comes up. Multiply that times three, and add in 36 total hours of jumping, and you've got a recipe for oatmeal brains and jello muscles.
EDC also attracts so many people that even the NASCAR track it's held on can barely hold everyone. Leaving each morning is like evacuating a small city during a catastrophe.
But the big drawback is the price.
A three day pass has a sticker price of $439, plus the hotel and travel expenses. Not to mention all the garbage you're going to drink and eat that weekend.
In the scheme of music festivals, it could be more expensive. But for your average college kid, spending almost $500 in one weekend is a big punch to the bank account.
That's why I found a way to pull it off for a more affordable $2, or less.
With every large music festival (or event for that matter), there is an equally proportionate amount of other ways in, besides buying a ticket.
Photo by Insomniac
1. Be A Stage Guard
There are 12ish stages (or more) at every major music festival. With every stage, you need a half dozen of those dudes in yellow shirts for crowd control. I've never seen these guys actually do anything except pull someone from a crowd. So as long as your upper body strength is enough to lift a wasted sorority girl off her feet, then you're qualified to be hired as a stage guard, or whatever their official title is. If security isn't your thing, try being a ticket scanner instead. Both get you entry.
2. Get A Media Pass
This is my way in. Cameras are becoming more affordable these days, so for about $500, you can get a lifelong pass into any major event (that allows photography). You don't even need a company or a brand name. A gmail account with a fancy signature block is enough to get you into the doors of most of these events. Don't expect a yes every time, since this is becoming a competitive field. But this was my ticket into EDC when I was still in college, and the proud owner of an entry level DSLR. The $2 I spent was on apples, because I was hungry af and didn't feel like pounding Bud Light like the rest of you savages.
3. Work Concessions
Do the math, kids. An event that hosts 400K college kids is going to need some serious food and drank. Google pictures of previous years to see what companies cater EDC. A quick internet search for sponsors might also help you out. All concession workers require breaks, so you're bound to time those in line with some artists you want to see. Plus, it doesn't hurt to get paid to be in the middle of the action while your peasant friends drop dollars to stay lit.
4. Volunteer Cleanup
I've literally seen bulldozers come in to handle the amount of trash EDC produces EVERY DAY. I can't even see the ground once main stage clears out. Cleanup teams work tirelessly to keep the pavement visible before the next wave of ravers pours in at sunset. If you're cleaning up, you've got a pass into the venue.
5. Fake A Pass
This is high risk, but high reward. I've faked a pass into a two Coldplay shows, dozens of nightclubs, a Chainsmokers headliner, and a few small local shows. It's risky, but the end result is your all access attendance without a dime spent.
Find what all access passes look like from previous shows (Google is your friend), or recreate your best guess of what one might look like. Include a serial number and a barcode somewhere. Use the festival's Facebook ad for color schemes and logos.
Festivals use wrist bands, big venues use laminated badges and lanyards, nightclubs use stamps or wristbands, and small venues sometimes require only a good story and a professional outfit. Keep in mind that the worst case scenario is not getting in (I've never seen a well mannered person get arrested or anything for having the wrong credentials). But sometimes not getting in is a tough pill to swallow if you're hyped up and only get to see the entrance.
Photo by Insomniac
None of these ideas are flawless, but I've managed to leverage at least one of them to make it into any event worth going to. At the end of the day, you may have to suck it up and buy a ticket. But if you're getting into 8/10 of the events for free, you should be able to afford a real ticket every now and then.
If everything else fails, fall back on manners and being polite. Venues won't give you a hard time if you're kind. No one likes a guy who starts trouble.
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