The Other Side of Dallas' Electric Daisy Carnival Story

Some 22,000 people enjoyed the second Electric Daisy Carnival in Fair Park without incident, but one death and several health scares marred the event.

It was well before midnight when the police scanners first started heating up with chatter about a need for assistance at Fair Park. It wasn't a riot happening at Electric Daisy Carnival, the 10-hour electronic music festival taking place there Saturday; these were just medical calls. But, for a couple hours there, they rang constantly.

On-site, off-duty medical, fire-rescue and police officers hired to provide added security and medical assistance at the event were overwhelmed. They needed help. After the festival promoted by the Los Angeles-based Insomniac Events drew some 11,000 attendees to its inaugural Dallas offering last year, this year's 23,000 or so electronic music fans were proving to be a lot to handle. The medical aid center in particular was inundated with too many revelers stopping by with complaints of overheating and dehydration. Alcohol seemed a likely culprit. Drugs, too, although that was impossible to prove.

"It's been pretty chaotic," acknowledged Lieutenant Samuel L. Friar, the ranking on-site Dallas Fire-Rescue official, after having watched yet another festival attendee get loaded into an emergency vehicle for a trip to a nearby hospital.

Let's cool off on all the Electric Daisy Carnival hysteria, yeah?
Kevin Todora
Let's cool off on all the Electric Daisy Carnival hysteria, yeah?

Shortly after midnight, as many as 10 emergency medical vehicles had already been dispatched the festival grounds' way and were traveling a nearly constant loop. Over the course of the night, 30 attendees would be hospitalized, far more than the city felt equipped to deal with. After instructing EMS ambulances to start dropping those needing emergency care at other local hospitals for fear of overwhelming the nearby Baylor Medical Center's emergency room, officers began setting up medical and fire-rescue command posts on the grounds. Then they put into action a "soft close" plan for the event shortly after 1 a.m., a full hour before the festival's scheduled end.

While acknowledging that the crowd numbers still fell well short of the site's capacity of nearly 43,000, fire officers started shutting down the indoor stages in the Automotive and Centennial buildings, claiming each of these rooms' specific capacities had been exceeded. As four different DJs launched into their festival-closing sets in the buildings along the Fair Park esplanade, fire officers set off the inside fire alarms, asked the performers to stop performing and ordered the music and lights to be turned down. They then began herding the crowds out toward the exits. When all was done, officers had slapped seven citations on Insomniac Events—two for overcrowding, two more for failure to obtain a count of occupants and three for obstruction of justice (promoters were less than thrilled, apparently, when asked to turn the lights on and the sound off).

The officers had their reasons. They knew what the promoters didn't—that, among the 30 hospitalizations, there was also a death. Andrew James Graf of Argyle, 19, was pronounced dead at Baylor late Saturday night after on-site CPR administration proved ineffective. The cause of his death is still unknown.

Still, by Monday morning, local TV outlets and The Dallas Morning News in particular had plenty to run with. Focusing not on the fact that 22,000-plus had managed to enjoy themselves in the face of triple-digit temperatures, these media companies focused their sights on rave culture as a whole. That was hardly fair. With officers on-hand and tickets $75 a pop, this was hardly some sort of underground event. Nor was it an insecure one; to enter the grounds, festival attendees had to pass through three separate security checkpoints—one for ID checks (concert-goers had to be at least 18 years old), one for ticket checks and one for pocket checks.

Yes, some were wearing rather asinine outfits of next to nothing. Yes, their dancing to the incessant electronic music being blasted at them from all directions bordered on the absurd. Yes, many were sprawled out on the grass along the reflecting pool, staring up at the night sky or the many neon-colored art installations brought in for the event, likely entranced in a drug-induced haze. Yes, drug talk was everywhere: Performer 12th Planet, inside the Automotive Building during his set, announced over the microphone that he hoped that "everyone's peaking right now."

But consider this: Aside from the hospitalizations and unfortunate death, this all happened at last year's very similar, albeit smaller, inaugural event held at the same place. That one was deemed a "phenomenal event" by Fair Park executive general manager Daniel Huerta a few days after it had taken place.

This year, the reaction is quite different. Fueled by the fact that a 15-year-old girl died of an ecstasy overdoes at Insomniac Events' two-day Los Angeles Electric Daisy Carnival last year, held two weeks after the Dallas version, mainstream media types are crying foul. Same, too, goes for local politicians; outgoing Mayor Dwaine Carraway has already said that the city needs to be more careful about the kinds of events it books in the future.

The coming weeks should prove especially telling of the event's future. Insomniac, after having seen its Los Angeles event "postponed" by that city, will host its annual three-day party in Las Vegas this weekend. Vegas officials have already started discussing enhanced security and medical aid as a result of the Dallas festival. Meanwhile, Insomniac founder and chief executive Pasquale Rotella has already announced plans to dispute the citations issued to his company by Dallas.

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So out of the approx. 25,000 people who attended not even 1% of them were rushed to the hospital, and 1 died. It is tragic of his death and he won't be forgotten much love and support go out to his family.

But as everyone has said for the degree of weather, fire marshals, paramedics, police officers, and amount of people there this event was not an epic failure nor shall it 'mare' the event.

Fair Park is a dying stadium with Jerry Jones' Cowboys Stadium many events are now moved to Arlington. So tickets ranging from 50 to 80 for just general admission and having 23,000 people there... that is not such a bad turn out for the city of Dallas or Insomniac.

Lets face it, people are not that smart when it comes to consuming things such as drugs, alcohol, etc. SO OF COURSE PEOPLE WOULD BE RUSHED TO THE HOSPITAL!!!! EDC WAS A RAVE everyone knows what happens at Raves and if they don't well now they do. Insomniac cannot control what happens at EDC they only host the event at the city and the rest is really up to security, fire marshals, police, etc.

THEY HAD FREE WATER REFILL STATIONS... all you had to do is purchase a water bottle once and keep refilling it folks it was really not that hard to keep hydrated, wether somebody chose to was there responsibility.

As far as the fire marshals pulling the alarm that was uncalled for, they could of simply put Skrillex on the outdoor stage just as they did Flux, but who's fault is that they put the headliner in an indoor stage...ticketing Insomniac is nonsense, if fire marshals were that anal about how many people were in an indoor stage they shouldn't of let those people in there in the first place!!! And if the max occupancy is 46,000 why in the hell would they freak out if only 23,000 people half of the max occupancy is even at Fair Park.

Anyway overall Electric Daisy Carnival Dallas has been the best Insomniac event I have ever been to the last two years, it would really be a shame to see it not come back to Dallas let alone Fair Park the next year for it brings out over 20,000 people and lets them all experience the vibe of the Best Electronic Festival; "uniting under the Electric Daisy."

Erik Johnson
Erik Johnson

So.. what you are saying is that Dallas FD cant handle 30 calls and that your hospitals cant handle 30 patients.

ANYTIME you put ANY amount of people together you will have some medical issues.

How many calls does Dallas FD & Medical run on a daily basis for Dehydration, Exhaustion, Heat Stoke etc...How many do they run for Drugs and Alcohol?

Insomniac goes head and shoulders above any other promoter i have ever seen to ensure a safe, well planned and executed, fun event for all to enjoy.

Medical staff and security are ever present at all the events i have ever been to.

People are responsible for all their own actions.

Blaming insomniac for an individuals actions is like blaming Budwiser for putting a drunk driver behind the wheel.Neither company can control a persons actions, No one can, or should be expected to.

This isnt communist China. This is America.

Freedom of choice is one of the great things about this country.

23,600 people attended or so you media outlets say.So out of nearly 25000 people who were responsible and adult the focus is entirely on the negative.

People ANYWHERE need to be responsible for their OWN actions.

It is very unfortuneate that someone died. And my heart goes out to his family and friends.BUTHe made his choice to attend, to hydrate or not hydrate, and to go with the people he went with.

I attended. I enjoyed myself. I had a great time.And i did it all SOBER.People make personal choices.You cant hold 23,600 people accountable for the actions of a few.Its not fair. And its just not right.

Thank you to the Dallas Observer for at least reporting the facts, and remaining impartial in this matter. As an EDM Fan it is very refreshing to see a news outlet at least try to get it right and for that, i personally thank you.


Electric Daisy Carnival was the best time I've had in my life so far. I can't think of anywhere else to be to have this much fun.

meh meh
meh meh

"Yes, some were wearing rather asinine outfits of next to nothing. "

thats what happens when a new generation of phaggots who ditch the old school look for something that makes them look like hookers and skanks.

Travis Brooks
Travis Brooks

Finally, someone not sensationalizing and greatly exaggerating what actually happened. I was there and, like you said, it was not chaotic. There was no panic. Just thousands of happy EDM fans enjoying themselves. In fact, as the buildings were being cleared, everyone calmly walked out of the buildings and toward the only stage that remained open. As I noticed the crowd all moving toward the outside stage, i stopped several people and asked what was going on. The response I got from each and every person was that it was no big deal and Flux Pavillion had been moved to the outside stage. I saw not even a hint of anger or conflict... everyone just went with the flow. I honestly believe any "panic" or "chaos" that ensued was directly caused by the choice of the fire marshalls to pull fire alarms and force 23,000 people out of the buildings because of "overcrowding", which seems strange given that the area in which the event was held has a maximum occupancy twice that of the total attendance. I really hope EDC comes back next year but after the media portrayed it as a giant orgy where everyone was forced to take drugs upon entering the festival, I have serious doubts it will. Which is extremely unfortunate, as it was an incredible festival. Well, aside from the mislabeled maps they handed out to everyone...


LMAO!! You must live a boring life!

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