EDC: Cuddle puddles, dehydration, no big surprises

Download a PDF of the story as it appeared in print
in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

By Jessica Fryman

A pair having sex in the stands, nonresponsive ravers laid out on stretchers, auto burglaries and assaults.

Dispatch calls were steady but not necessarily surprising to police officers at the Electric Daisy Carnival, a three-day, DJ-fueled music festival known for its fans’ rampant Ecstasy use.

Although emergency responders anticipated Day 2 of the all-night party to be the worst of it, the Saturday night/early Sunday installment delivered much of the same — de­hydration, excessive intoxication — but no fatalities.

Twelve patients, more than double Friday’s total, were taken to hospitals on the event’s second day, according to MedicWest Ambulance Service.

“Just head over heels busier,” said officer Marcus Martin of the Metropolitan Police Department. “We did not have all those people down (Friday night).”

As David Guetta spun beats to a packed crowd at the main stage around 1:30 a.m., at least five people required medical attention within a small radius on the outskirts of the pack. While details of their condition were hard to come by given medical privacy laws, a combination of alcohol and drug use paired with dehydration seemed to be the main culprit.

Ecstasy, which drives users to dance for hours, also can cause the body to overheat.

As desert temperatures hovered in the mid- to high 80s, dehydration and hyper­thermia were expected. Martin said ravers also typically take multiple pills, known as stacking or candy flipping, which can further complicate medical matters.

MedicWest reported 187 calls throughout the night, up from Friday’s 143. At least a dozen people needed treatment within a half-hour of the gate’s opening.

Patrolling the infield, on the lookout for nonresponsive people, Martin said administering medical help was the main priority for officers and other staff.

Las Vegas police reported nine felony arrests, all narcotics related, and 11 misdemeanor arrests for Day 2 of the carnival, which drew up to 85,000 people.

The titillating event features six stages and about four dozen performers each night of its three-day stint at the speedway.

Carnival rides, light tunnels and a field of glowing discs fill in between stages for extra entertainment.

Mesmerized by just about anything Saturday, party-goers were riveted by each other’s waving, glowing gloves, which were banned from the event but seemed to have made it past security.

“They are either very easily amused or high as kites,” Martin said, noting a group’s reaction to a several-feet tall moving ship that rolled through as performers danced on its deck.

“It’s a subculture that’s definitely beyond me,” he said. “Mesmerized by lights for hours; I don’t get it.”

Party-goers called the event a “bonding” experience in the rave culture.

With beaded bracelets lining both arms past his elbows, 22-year-old Spencer said he trades the jewelry with others at similar events.

He preferred not to give his last name given the admitted drug culture and reputation raves receive, he said.

“You kind of bond with people through trading,” the Washington native said, pointing to his favorite piece: a glove-like contraption made of red, black and clear beads that took six hours to make. “I remember all the people I’ve traded with.”

In perhaps another bonding moment, dozens of cuddle puddles — or groups of people usually on Ecstasy sitting in a circle on the ground — speckled the event’s infield.

The drug gives users extreme euphoria and increases feelings of empathy and love for others.

Officers said the carnival patrons were more than polite in all their dealings, noting that some even said, “Thank you, sir,” after being searched.

“I gotta admit, I don’t recall anybody doing that,” Martin said of his 16 years with the Las Vegas police as he walked through the crowd, noting with a smile the high fives ravers offered him.

This story was originally published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal
on June 26, 2011.

Original story on Las Vegas Review-Journal website.