Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood has been hosting movie premieres for more than 80 years, and most of them have attracted more celebrities and photographers than riot police. Then came Wednesday, when an obscure documentary about an electronic music festival was slated to debut at the venue and a scene reminiscent of the Sunset Strip riots of 1966 broke out.
Two people were arrested for shattering a police car’s windows during an hours-long confrontation between cops and a huge crowd gathered outside the theater on Hollywood Boulevard. Police, who were reportedly pelted with rocks and bottles, responded by firing beanbags at participants and closing nearby streets. At the center of this chaos was the same promoter that ended its annual concerts at L.A.'s Memorial Coliseum under a cloud after a 15-year-old girl died of a drug overdose there last year.
The chief executive of Insomniac Events, Pasquale Rotella, insisted that his company wasn’t to blame for what can only be described as a massive crowd-control failure. What was supposed to be an invitation-only premiere for the promoter’s film, “The Electric Daisy Carnival Experience,” became a lot more public after popular DJ Kaskade sent out a message on Twitter telling his followers that he was heading to the theater for a block party — which never materialized. Yet even if Wednesday’s incident wasn’t Insomniac’s fault (and if it was, it should reimburse the city), controversy and conflict seem to follow the company like a bad smell.
Insomniac produces “raves,” all-night parties featuring flashing lights, electronic music, thousands of scantily clad youths and, almost invariably, illegal drugs such as Ecstasy. Last month, the company sponsored an Electric Daisy Carnival rave in Dallas at which two people died, one of a drug overdose and the other hit by a tractor-trailer after allegedly ingesting drugs at the concert and running onto a highway. After last year’s death led to questions about the appropriateness of hosting raves at the Coliseum, further controversy erupted when The Times reported that a Coliseum administrator was a paid consultant for Insomniac. As a result, the promoter moved this year’s event to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
That rave, held in late June, was widely regarded as a glowing success. Not only were there few police incidents, but the event attracted 230,000 people and packed nearby hotels with the 20-something partygoers that Vegas casinos crave. Insomniac officials say they have signed a multiyear deal to continue producing the event at the speedway.
If any city is equipped to handle an unruly crowd of young people high on drugs, it’s Las Vegas. We couldn’t be happier that Insomniac has taken its act there. This is definitely a situation in which we hope that what goes to Vegas stays in Vegas.