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Flying the friendly skies to EDC


“The first rule of the helicopter,” pilot Kyle Pratt informs us before we board the awaiting chopper, “is don’t touch the door.” He smirks a bit as he delivers this instruction – you know, because we’re all adults here, presumably, and, well, this sort of thing kind of goes without saying.

Or so you’d think. Not for nothing here, but you’ve got to assume this rule wasn’t arbitrarily put in place. You just know that some genius like me set the precedent. Anyhow, I make a mental note in bold uppercase letters and underline it.

DON’T TOUCH THE DOOR!

It’s just before sunset on Saturday night, day two of Electric Daisy Carnival. Outside the entrance of Maverick Helicopters on the southern part of the Las Vegas strip, just throwing distance from the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign, a group of gals are quietly holding court, talking amongst themselves, in a makeshift VIP area, outfitted with leather couches. The ladies have the place to themselves. There’s no VIPs at the moment, at least not outside.

The scene is rather tame. In fact, if not for the EDM blasting through the mobile speaker towers bookending the entry way and the colorful tutus the ladies are sporting over their revealing bikini bottoms – de rigueur attire for this particular weekend – you’d have no clue this is EDC week.

Turns out, inside is where all the action is. It’s a party. Open bar, and there’s DJ spinning, as everybody awaits for a turn to board the helicopter that will shuttle them to EDC. Stepping through the doors, you’re greeted instantly by a pair of gentlemen passing out exuberant WHOO HOOS to everybody who walks in. “You excited they ask?”

Why, yes, I am, actually, now that you ask. Did you hear the one about the excruciating experience I had taking the shuttle home from EDC this morning? I won’t bore you with the details on this one, but let’s just say it involved a lifetime of waiting. (I’m not positive, but I believe by the time I got home, I had aged two whole years. In fact, I’m writing this now from the future. Spoiler alert: EDC is now being held on Mars, with shuttles leaving about as frequently.)

Anyhow, I digress. Yes, sirs, I’m incredibly excited. Not only will we be skipping the whole traffic bottleneck, but this will be my first ever helicopter ride. So, yeah, excited. Yay! Kyle gives us our choice of seats, and for some reason, I opt to sit up front, next to the window. And the door. Crap! What did he say about the door again? Oh, yes:

DON’T TOUCH THE DOOR!

After Kyle’s helpful tips and a few other instructions about the safety harness that I do my level to memorize – and still can’t seem to retain, requiring Kyle to lock me in, like a toddler in a car seat – we’re airborne, flying directly over the Strip.

Whoa! The lights! The sunset! Wow! This is living, my friend. It seriously feels like a music video. There’s even an EDM soundtrack playing through the headphones (this is EDC, after all). Can’t say for certain what, to be honest. I’m completely and totally lost in the moment.

The ride takes maybe all of ten minutes and some change – compared to the combined three-hour commute last night. Kyle flies us right into the speedway, above and beyond the traffic, which stretches for miles and miles in all directions — all you see are taillights – just as the sun is setting. Perfect. Just perfect. Breathtaking, in fact.

Kyle, who has eight years’ experience flying this bird, apparently. “That’s four-thousand hours of not touching the earth,” he says. “Not a bad day in the office.”

Indeed, Kyle. Indeed.

Less than an hour later, I’m sitting on the VIP Skydeck overlooking the massive crowd at Kinetic Field, under the watchful gaze of EDC’s ever-present owl. By now, the sun is safely behind the mountains, and Laidback Luke is a third of the way into his set, and he’s got the crowd in his palm. A sea of bodies are bouncing, and hands are in the air as demanded.

As energetic as that whole thing was, though, the voltage somehow gets turned up a few dozen more notches for the Opening Ceremony – which, as advertised, is ceremonious, with a speech about earth, wind and fire (the elements, lowercase, not the band – although they’re equally marvelous), but also completely unforgettable, replete with fireworks, flair, pyro and mesmerizing visuals.

Tough act to follow, but Deorro is up for the task. His set ends up being all over the place stylistically, but is oddly compelling, nonetheless. There’s so much more here to see and experience. Thus, why it’s a three-day festival – you need at least that long to see everything. Speaking of which, I’ve got tons more to see. Gonna go catch the tail end of Pretty Lights and try to squeeze in as much possible before it’s time for Kyle to fire up the copter again in the morning.

Home, James, and through the park. I won’t touch the door.

Read more of Dave Herrera at bestoflasvegas.com. Contact Dave at dherrera@reviewjournal.com.