MIAMI - The EDM community took time out of its regularly scheduled Miami Music Week revelry to rally around Pasquale Rotella, embattled CEO of Insomniac Events, the production company behind Electric Daisy Carnival.
"I hope for the sake of the scene that it turns out OK," said Pete Tong, BBC radio host, International Music Summit co-founder, and EDM veteran, from backstage at his party at the Surfcomber Hotel. "He's a great guy, and a major contributor to what is happening here in America, and why it's happening the way it is."
The charismatic and well-liked Rotella was in Miami on Thursday, but returned to Los Angeles to surrender to authorities today, on charges reportedly stemming from a corruption scandal involving the Coliseum, the L.A. venue where Insomniac held an EDC event in June 2010. The two-day festival drew 100,000 people, but was marred by the death of 15-year-old attendee Sasha Rodriguez who died from causes related to ecstasy use. Industry sentiment is that the charges against the EDM promoters - Reza Gerami, chief executive of L.A.-based promotion company Go Ventures, who was also arrested in his home Thursday morning - stem more from the death than any alleged business malfeasance.
"I think it's no secret that [Rotella] wanted to get out of L.A. anyway; that they were after him," said Tong. "They didn't like what he was doing. Nevada welcomed him in." EDC moved to Las Vegas in 2011, drawing over 250,000 attendees in three days. The second annual Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas is set for June 8-10, 2012.
The details of Rodriguez's case mirror those of Leah Betts, an 18-year-old British girl whose death after taking ecstasy set off a widespread moral panic in the U.K. in 1995, just as rave was beginning to impact the mainstream, as it is in the U.S. today. Both girls reportedly died from hyponatremia, or water intoxication, an electrolyte disturbance brought on by drinking too much water. Ecstasy users are often advised to keep hydrated, to counteract the overheating effects of the drug.
"[Rotella's arrest] is certainly like what happened in England, but obviously when rave promoters were getting arrested it would take about a week for the news to get out," said Tong. "Now it's all over Twitter in a second."
- Kaskade (@kaskade) March 23, 2012
Indeed, DJs took to the social network to show their support. Kaskade tweeted "#FreePasqualeRotella" when the news first broke on Thursday, a hashtag quickly picked up by other artists, like The Crystal Method, and fans as well. Because of Rotella's own strong social footprint - he has over 17,000 followers on Twitter and often responds to event attendees personally, about everything from ticket prices to the lost & found - the support grew exponentially.
Insomniac released a press release Friday afternoon looking to harness the groundswell: "If you feel so inclined we would greatly appreciate you and your teams' continued support, using the hashtag #PasqualeIsInnocent and tagging @PasqualeRotella on your Twitter accounts, Facebook, etc."
"It's great to see the industry come together and support one of its own," it continued.