We came, we shuffled, we... registered? Some naysayers (read: most people over 40) might scoff at the idea of a dawn-to-dusk desert dance party as an ideal place to register new voters. But young people believe in these beats -- they make up the majority of the 100,000+ crowd that showed up each day at Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) Las Vegas to see the world's biggest DJs. So why not give them a chance to use that passion to express some political power?
As volunteer coordinator Addison Larrow aka DJ Wild Yeti explains, "Why would you want to register to vote anywhere else? How many people can say they registered to vote wearing a tutu standing next to someone dressed as banana? It happened at least twice. Moral of the story: EDC is a pretty awesome place to register to vote." Beats the DMV, right?
So that's why Rock The Vote, the nation's largest non-partisan voter registration organization with a 20-year history of combining music and political engagement, and Insomniac Events, the super-bass team who puts on the country's largest electronica extravaganzas, have teamed up to launch Spin the Vote -- a new effort that has been registering voters at packed Electric Dance Music (EDM) festivals across the states. So far, Spin the Vote has hit up Beyond Wonderland in California, Nocturnal Wonderland in Texas, the first-ever Electric Daisy Carnival in New York, and finally the biggest and baddest experience of them all: Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas (EDC LV)
For EDC LV, Spin the Vote gathered its largest army of volunteers yet. Armed with clipboards, they dove into the sea of sparkles and neon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway each night ready to give every festival-goer a chance to vote in 2012. By the time the last beat dropped at EDC LV, Spin the Vote had registered hundreds of EDM fans from Alaska to Alabama.
If you haven't picked up on it already, "flair" is a major part of the EDM festival experience. Festival-goers are encouraged to go big when it comes to costumes and makeup - and the Insomniac team makes sure the atmosphere is much more "carnival" than concert. For example, Insomniac has brought out mimes on stilts, roaming gas-masked bikini bunnies, huggable night owls, fire-breathing snakes, ferris wheels, roller coasters, and yes, a giant crane-sized electric daisy. These art installations and amusement park features are meant to create an alternate universe that compliments the energy of the insane sets overlapping on multiple stages by huge international DJs like Avicii, Tiesto and Kaskade.
So clearly, our team takes part in this colorful chaos when going out there to talk to their peers about the importance of registering. At EDC LV, our Spin the Vote volunteers ripped, cut and fringed our tees into EDC-worthy wear, rocked our own fun accessories and patriotic props -- who could pass up an Uncle Sam hat or a red, white and blue garter?
While our volunteers were out there roaming the grounds and registering voters, we made sure to turn our Spin the Vote Lounge at EDC LV into the perfect desert oasis. The Lounge was a place to meet up with friends, chill on comfy couches, and take in the amazing stream of flair flowing between the Cosmic Meadow and Neon Garden stages. We had a great view of Steve Aoki "crowd rafting" during Afrojack's set on Friday night. We also watched Major Lazer whip the crowd into a shirtless frenzy on Sunday night.
Speaking of Diplo (the other half of Major Lazer), we caught him on camera backstage where he had some powerful words about Spin the Vote. We also had an amazing interview with Swedish lady DJs Rebecca & Fiona; plus their buddy Kaskade dropped by to sign a poster and give his own Spin the Vote shout-out. We even brought Russian trance master Arty into the mix.
Most importantly, Spin the Vote is really making an impact. Even when it's 4 am, we've drank our fourth Diet Coke in 3 hours, our feet are killing us from jumping up and down to Calvin Harris, and our voices are gone from explaining a voter registration form to countless glitter-dusted partiers, it's all worth it just to hear a stoked fan say: "I'm so glad you guys are here. This is awesome."
Or to have a volunteer post on Facebook that Spin the Vote is: "making some magic happen in our music culture and helping us help each other with the potential to volunteer and be empowered to make a difference. Keep the movement going guys, it's working!!"
It's rewarding to have EDM fans, DJs, and volunteers come together and recognize that we all have to fight for our rights -- even our right to dance. And no, we haven't been watching too much "Footloose" lately. This is for real. A slew of EDM shows have been shut down because of uptight local governments, stuffy music critics, and even parents. Other people do not have the right to dictate the music we listen to or to censor our tracks. If fans came together like they so passionately do for EDM shows and fought back -- who knows the amount of power they could wield.
The amount of people power in the EDM community is immense, and Spin the Vote is so excited to mobilize this group of young people and bring out their inner voter during this important presidential election year. If you're bummed you missed out on this political party, you can sign up to volunteer with Spin the Vote at other EDM shows. You can also register to vote online at Spin The Vote's official site. Isn't it time you started fist pumping for freedom?
Follow Becca Frucht on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@spinthevote