L.A.'s 'Electric Daisy Carnival' Is no Party for the Police

If, on the afternoon of June 26, a visitor to Los Angeles from some foreign land had been standing on the corner of Figueroa Street and Exposition Boulevard, he would have beheld a curious tableau: Moving south along the sidewalks on Figueroa were great throngs of strangely and in many cases minimally attired young people, nearly all of them in their teens and early twenties.  The southbound traffic lanes were likewise chockablock with cars loaded with similarly costumed young revelers.

Meanwhile, heading north, and with an alarming degree of regularity, was a great fleet of ambulances, their red lights ablaze, their sirens wailing, each one apparently bearing some casualty from whatever spectacle was taking place down the street that all those strangely and minimally attired young people seemed so eager to get to.

The visitor no doubt would have asked himself why, in the face of such clear evidence of imminent peril as presented by the speeding ambulances, all those young people continued to flock southward, not only in blithe denial of the danger but even ecstatic at the prospect of participating in it.

And if that visitor had allowed his curiosity to overcome his better judgment and so proceeded into the pulsing vortex of what was occurring just down Figueroa Street, he might have soon left Los Angeles with his hearing forever damaged and his hope for America’s future forever dashed.

On June 25 and 26, something called the Electric Daisy Carnival was once again held in and around the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the site of two Olympic Games but lately reduced to hosting less noble entertainment. Billed as an “electronic dance festival,” the EDC is in reality an enormous outdoor orgy of drug use set to the incessant beat of music which, if it were employed in the service of discomfiting captured al-Qaeda terrorists, would bring threats of sanctions from the United Nations. And it all took place in a publicly owned facility and under the watchful but largely impotent eye of the Los Angeles Police Department.

When I say “strangely and in many cases minimally attired young people,” it’s an expression that scarcely does justice to the collection of humanity that pressed together over those two days at the Coliseum. Indeed, the old adage about a picture being worth a thousand words is in the present circumstances apt. I could ladle out the adjectives by the bucketful and never come within a mile of describing it accurately, so I invite you at this point to click over to the slideshow at the L.A. Weekly website for a representative sample. (Some of the photos might be considered unsafe for work.)