Insomniac Events founder/CEO Pasquale Rotella recently completed an informative and inspiring AMA on Reddit before this year’s Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas. Insomniac fanatics, as well as dance fans in general, were able to discuss a handful of topics with the iconic promoter including: how to become involved within the industry, EDC Chicago, and who Rotella is the most excited to see during EDC LV this weekend.
We’ve compiled a list of Rotella’s top answers in the Q&A below. All of the text listed is copied and pasted directly from Reddit. Enjoy the read, and let us know your thoughts on Rotella's responses via Facebook or Twitter!
First off, thank you for putting on some fantastic events. Why do you not have harm reduction education at your events? Harm reduction is so important in the festival and rave scenes. DanceSafe (a non-profit) provides unbiased drug information and free resources and information about safer sex, heatstroke, hydration, nutrition, hearing protection, etc. Harm reduction organizations like DanceSafe have a mission to promote the health, safety, and awareness of attendees. It seems a disservice to your headliners to exclude this education. Please consider allowing volunteers to attend events and help out.
I’ve actually had DanceSafe at our events a while back, but when the venue, the local authorities, and the insurers are opposed to it, you won’t have that city or location as an option. It’s already hard enough to find venues where I can organize events. Unfortunately some people view partnering with DanceSafe as endorsing drug use rather than keeping people safe, and that can prevent producers from getting locations and organizing events. Part of me is grateful that I got denied from bringing in DanceSafe everywhere I went, because when the DEA started going after innocent event producers under the Crack House Law, having DanceSafe at an event was one of the things they looked at to justify putting them in jail for 20 years. If you don’t know about the Crack House Law, you should look into it. Dance culture has had a very challenging past. It’s amazing where it is right now.
Thank you for taking the time to address this issue, and thank you to our community for the infinite support! Unfortunately, Pasquale is not alone and shares similar fears as other promoters and event organizers. They are often stuck in between a rock and a hard place. It's not that Pasquale and the rest of the industry do not care about the health and safety of their attendees and our community; it's that their legal teams and insurance brokers are fearful of the Drug Anti-Proliferation Act. (Is this the Crack House Law you are referring to Pasquale?). It would be interesting to see actual litigation cases against promoters/venue owners, strictly for providing harm reduction services.
The reality is that providing health promotion, harm reduction, and drug eduction should result in reduced insurance premiums and mitigate legal risk because you are reducing the likelihood of potential overdoses or unnecessary medical emergencies. Saying that these services promotes/condones drug use is asinine. People are choosing to use drugs and alcohol regardless of whether an organization like DanceSafe is on site or not. Even in prisons where cavity searches are permitted, drug use still occurs.
80% of people who use drugs are non-problematic, recreational drug users. How can we expect young people to make informed decisions about their health, safety, and drug use without access to information and resources needed to make the healthier choices? In fact, isn't it MORALLY and MEDICALLY negligent to not provide someone with a resource that could potentially save their life? Especially- if the reason in which you are not being provided the resource is based on a policy that is based on someone's JUDGEMENT of what you should or should not be putting into YOUR body?
The thing is here- WE need to be the change we want to see in the world. It takes us, as a community, standing up to advocate for what we need and want. This includes attendees, event promoters, event organizers, club owners, DJ's/artists, etc... We need to organize as a community to change a social norm and advocate for better policies influencing our health and safety.
Thank you for taking the time to add your response, and for everything you do to provide harm reduction services. Love & good vibes to the whole DanceSafe family.
Hi Pasquale, this is Ken from Pure Acid Mixtapes (how many people got their mixtapes before Soundcloud). Your first Friday weekly holds a lot of great memories. I've heard at one time you were planning on throwing a party with an old-school theme in Los Angeles... are you still considering it? A lot of us geezers would be quite happy ... and it would be nice to show the new generation how we used to do things as well.
Also, thanks for welcoming my mixtape booth back in those days. If it weren't for that, my life probably would have been much different!
Oh my god Ken how are you?!? WOW can’t believe you’re on here! I’d love to see you, are you coming to EDCLV? Give me a minute to answer your question ☺ (Side note: No other response yet, but we like the sound of an "old-school" themed festival in LA.)
Please explain in depth why EDC Chicago didn't happen this year. There was no event date conflict, because there is only a handful of events at the raceway every year. EDC pumped over 20 million dollars into the Joliet's economy. There is no reason why EDC should have been canceled. It seems that you didn't fight hard and just gave up on the event. This was a huge upset to me.
EDC Chicago didn’t happen this year because we didn’t have a venue. We lost our ass financially with EDC Chicago 2012 being so far out. I’m all for investing and building up something to fit our needs, but this was such a loss that we couldn’t afford to do it again. We are looking for a venue that’s closer to the city, or further away but more affordable.
What do you do when the festival finally kicks off? Are you running around like a madman or do you get to just sit back and watch everything unfold? Party backstage? I'm sure you have a great and large team that do the trivial things but what are you up to?
I’m slammed leading up to the show date making sure everything is perfect, but during the festival, I do my best to enjoy the experience, all while looking for things that could be improved along the way. I also host friends, family, and industry people, and of course meet the Headliners when I can. There are times, however, that I’m unable to do this because something unexpected or major pops up—like the wind storm that happened in 2012 at EDC Las Vegas. I drop everything I’m doing to evaluate and work on the situation with my team. I did not have this luxury until very recently. I’ve done everything at my shows, from passing out flyers to selling water to picking up trash. Anything that’s needed. But I’m grateful to have this time now. Being at these events and enjoying it like a fan helps me understand what I need to improve.
Will we ever see a trance stage at an Insomniac event ever again?
We have some all-trance events on the horizon. As for dedicated trance stages at our festivals, it's an idea I've explored and will continue to.
Which set are you most looking forward to, and which discovery set?
If I had to choose just one set, I’d say Carl Cox. As for the Discovery Project, that’s a tough one but I’m going to pick two: Zima and sirensCeol.
How has getting married and having a child changed your life and perspective on what you do at Insomniac?
Until having Rainbow and getting married, Insomniac was the most important thing to me in life and I didn’t have much of a personal life. Now I have two families - my personal family and my extended family! Rainbow has inspired me with her sense of amazement at the world around her. This is the same feeling I want Headliners to have when they walk into one of our festivals. She makes me want to work even harder to create the best experience possible.
Will the Under The Electric Sky documentary be releasing on DVD and Blu-Ray? And if so when can we expect a release date?
I’m excited to say that the traditional release will hit theaters on June 27th. Under The Electric Sky will definitely be on DVD and on services like Netflix. Not sure about Blu-Ray yet.
I am a huge fan of your work, your professionalism, and your events. As a fellow person working in and completely dedicated to the scene, I was wondering what you think are the top 3 things that contributed to your success as a business person in this industry and to Insomniac's success in general? Any advice you have for those of us hungry for more work and more involvement in this industry?
I’m going to keep this one simple…
- Never giving up
- Taking risks
- And maybe being a little crazy
As for advice on looking to break into the industry, see my answer here.
Read full AMA here.
Cover photo: https://www.facebook.com/PasqualeRotella
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