When looking at the different transformations of American youth culture over the past century, there’s always been a few common themes that have stayed constant.

Most of the time, it involves a way of rebelling against society’s norm, doing something that adults just don’t understand. You know, being kids, we find all the good ways to piss off our parents. In the 50s and 60s it was rock n’ roll, in the 70s it was metal, 80s and 90s was grunge and punk, and today it’s this thing the kids are calling EDM.

But it didn’t used to be EDM, there used to be House and raves used to be no more than a thousand people max.

When thinking of a rave now, we think of giant stadiums and event centers decked out with neon lights, massive stages, elaborate artwork, lasers, and attendees dressed up in ridiculous outfits, kids bead bracelets, or absolutely nothing at all. Back in the “old days” raves were nothing more than a vacant warehouse where they were lucky to have minimal lighting, let alone working bathrooms, along with kids dressed in parachute pants and baggy shirts.

I know this sounds like those stories your parents used to tell you about walking to school uphill, both ways, in the snow year-round. But it’s actually the truth.

If we didn’t have people like Pasquale Rotella, with the vision to bring something like EDC to the world, where do you think American Rave culture would be today?

I was lucky enough to attend EDC Orlando this past weekend, making this my third EDC Orlando experience, and my fourth EDC experience overall (attending EDC Chicago in 2013 as well). I like to think that I’ve been to quite a few festivals and EDC Orlando has always been my favorite. Although, the 2012 edition was my first major rave experience, so I may be a bit biased.

Either way, I’ve been each year for the past three years, and I’ve been able to watch the event get exponentially better each time, with it hitting yet another climax of production this year with no signs of slowing down.

This metamorphosis really got me thinking about how far the second wave of American rave culture has come since it’s resurgence in 2009-10.

The reason for this explosion is debatable, but one of the major catalysts was EDC 2010. This was the last EDC that took place in Los Angeles before moving to Las Vegas, and was also considered the largest electronic music festival outside of Europe.

The EDC brand revolutionized the way raves and music festivals were organized and thrown. It also set a new standard for music festivals worldwide to live up to.

And boy did Insomniac set the bar high.

It’s really taken years of trial and error and experience—positive and negative—to get it right. Look at Lollapalooza. Each year they take the time to further streamline the production of the event and make it something special, which they’ve done tremendously. But they are still improving on the process each year.

Ironically enough, Electric Daisy Carnival was not Insomniac’s first brand (that title belongs to Nocturnal Wonderland). But it’s definitely become the most popular. I’m willing to bet that even more people know what EDC is than Insomniac.

For better or worse, the music festival market is expanding every year, and now at a faster rate than ever.

But why the rapid growth?

As an outsider looking in, it must look baffling to see a market that was relatively unknown and underground steal the limelight of the entertainment industry within a year. But for someone who has experienced these types of events first hand, it’s easily explained.

I was fortunate enough to bring a close friend to EDC Orlando this year. He had never been to an electronic music event of this scale before and he’s been going through some rough times so I decided to see if he wanted to come. He was very skeptical going into it, but still kept a positive outlook.

After the first day, we were sitting in our hotel room and I asked him how he liked it. His exact words to me were:

“I absolutely love it. I am so happy you introduced me to this and I may have found my new kind of music. But at the same time I’m pissed at myself for not going to one of these sooner.”

So, is it just a fling, or has EDC checked in for an extended stay?

(Featured photo courtesy of Insomniac)