Los Angeles' EDM explosion powers its move toward dance dominance

Fans at the 2012 Hard Summer music festival in apuestas deportivas front of the stage during Nero's performance. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times / August 4, 2012)
August 2, 2013, 6:00 a.m.
It's arguably never been a better time to be a dance music fan — or in the dance music business — in Los Angeles than right now.
The annual Hard Summer festival this weekend will draw an estimated 70,000 electronic music fans over two days to L.A. State Historic Park in Chinatown, with major acts such as Justice, Dog Blood and Knife Party. Alongside it, the city is experiencing a surge in new, EDM-focused nightclubs. At least six major venues have opened or revamped in the Hollywood and downtown areas in the last two years, including the 1,700-capacity Exchange L.A. along with Create, Sound, Lure, Greystone Manor and A.V.
They join a field of established clubs like Avalon, smaller dance-focused bars like Pattern Bar and roving parties like A Club Called Rhonda, and a galaxy of semi-legal warehouse parties along downtown's fringes. In addition, L.A. arenas and festivals such as Coachella are increasingly finding that dance acts are filling their floors, and in the last year Live Nation has invested in or acquired L.A.'s two largest independent dance promoters, Hard Events and Insomniac.
Rarely has so much seed money, talent, and interest coalesced around a single genre the way that Southern California has embraced electronic dance music in the past few years. In both sheer numbers and quality, L.A. is finally equaling U.S. cities like New York and Miami, and it has the momentum to eventually become a world-class dance music tourism city.
PHOTOS: Hard Summer music festival 2012
"L.A. has such huge potential as a destination for dance music," said Rob Vinokur, co-owner of Sound (which made Rolling Stone's list of America's 10 apuestas online best dance clubs) and nearby venue Playhouse. "I've lived in every major cosmopolitan city in the U.S., and we almost have it here."
But not far away in Las Vegas there's also talk of a dance music bubble bursting, after the $100-million club Hakkasan and Cirque du Soleil's EDM venue Light entered into an already crowded and expensive field. L.A. also faces particular transportation and regulation challenges in growing its night life scenes.
At this juncture, it's worth asking — what's the right path to a sustainable dance music infrastructure in L.A.?
"I always believe that the cream rises," said Gary Richards, CEO of the promotion firm Hard Events and a DJ who performs as Destructo. "Last year we almost doubled, and we could have sold 10,000 more tickets to this year's Hard Summer if we'd wanted to. But there are too many people just milking this stuff. My interest is just in making everything work better."
PHOTOS: Hard Summer music festival 2011
The world's great dance music cities all share certain traits. There's a mix of must-see nightclubs (like Berlin's Berghain or London's Fabric) and marquee festivals (Miami's Ultra Music Festival.

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or Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas) that set a global agenda and draw hundreds of thousands of fans.
Hard Summer is rapidly becoming L.A.'s standard-bearer for the latter. After the departure of L.A.-based Insomniac's Electric Daisy Carnival to Las Vegas (after a teenager's overdose death in 2010), Richards' firm has grown to host the dominant dance music festival in L.A. His stable includes events such as Hard Summer, Hard Day of the Dead (a smaller festival held in the fall) and the EDM cruise Holy Ship, alongside a variety of club-level events across America.
Hard festivals have helped launch big new stars like Skrillex, and the firm earned a major endorsement when Live Nation acquired Hard Events in 2012 (terms of the deal have not been disclosed). Seven years after Hard Events' founding, this year's fest is the biggest installment yet.
"The key is the music, you have to be diverse and pick new things," Richards said. "Any promoter can just go book the DJ Magazine top 100 acts. People are tired of seeing all that same stuff."
PHOTOS: Concerts by The Times
Local festival-sized competitors, like comaprador de apuestas the long-running Lightning in a Bottle, are improving to compete. And a new L.A. edition of the dance-focused conference International Music Summit, held in April at Hollywood's W hotel with speakers like Ultra Records' Patrick Moxey and Shelly Finkel from promoter SFX Entertainment, offers a forum to debate the genre's business issues.
The economic effects of such festivals are real. 2012's Electric Daisy Carnival brought more than $200 million into the Las Vegas area, according to a Beacon Economics study. This year's two-week Ultra Music Festival brought an estimated $79-million worth of economic activity to Miami-Dade County — an area with one-third the population of Los Angeles County.
But to truly take on other cities for money and influence, there needs to be a year-round EDM club ecosystem that falls outside the summer festival season..
L.A. has rapidly caught up in the last two years. New clubs like Insomniac's Exchange L.A., Create (Insomniac's venture with hospitality conglomerate SBE) and SBE's Greystone Manor routinely sell out bills with the genre's top artists. Stalwarts such as Hollywood's Avalon and well-appointed upstarts like Sound and Lure keep a heady mix of mainstream fare and more adventurous artists.
Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times
In other words corporations are now milking the money to be made off kids on drugs. Like all trendy things this will die fairly quickly.
Every show. Every game. Every ticket.
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