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A husband, wife and son attended a rave. They left with an experience they'll never forget

How one journalist’s reflection on EDC Orlando 2021 paints a larger picture about rave culture.

Eric Burks

Eric Burks

If 2020 was the year that the Earth stood still, 2021 is the year that it began to spin again. It started slowly at first, barely noticeable. 

Students returning to the classroom. Fans returning to their favorite sporting events. But now, there’s little doubt that things are roaring back to normal.

The Electric Daisey Carnival, or EDC for short, returned to Orlando’s Tinker Field after a one-year hiatus last fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The big question: Would huge crowds return to the three-day music festival featuring some of the biggest stars in electronic dance music (EDM)? Or would lingering fears about coronavirus keep people away? 

After all, social distancing at EDC is improbable, if not impossible. And what of the post-pandemic economy, which seems to be impacting everyone and everything nowadays? EDC isn’t cheap, a three-day pass costing hundreds of dollars, not to mention potential travel costs, lodging, food and drink.

Well, if Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ mission has seemingly become to put COVID in the state's rear-view mirror, he need look no further than the most unlikely of places — a rave. 

Especially one featuring a crowd of tens of thousands of free-spirited, living-in-the-moment festival-goers who flocked to Central Florida to celebrate music, love, and life itself. 

If there is a COVID-19 hangover, EDC was the cure for many people who were looking to get back to normal.

EDC, which originated in Las Vegas 25 years ago, was in Orlando for the 10th time and it’s become an economic behemoth for Central Florida's economy.

Organizers say the event was a complete sellout, drawing 300,000 people between Friday and Sunday. The economic boost is as enormous as the music is loud. 

The last EDC, in 2019, brought in about $51 million dollars to the local economy, according to the Orlando mayor’s office. Figures for this year have not yet been released, but crowds were noted to be larger than ever.

The Orlando area was hard-hit by the pandemic and the resulting halt of travel to the place that’s home to some of the world’s most popular tourist attractions. The theme parks have already re-opened, and EDC was the exclamation point that shouted, “we are open for business!”

EDC is the brainchild of Pasquale Rotella, who founded a company in California in 1993 that he dubbed Insomniac. It’s grown into a worldwide music festival phenomenon and its next stop after Orlando is Mexico City in February 2022.

This year’s event also came just one week after another large music festival in Houston, Texas called Astroworld made global headlines. The event ended in tragedy when 10 fans were killed and scores more were injured during a crowd surge. 

What then for EDC, in which tens of thousands of people gather in an open field in front of massive stages to dance in celebration as one? Look no further than the EDC mantra, which is P.L.U.R.