Las Vegas police officer Marcus Martin was relieved Friday night to point the way to Porta-Potties and not do much else.
The teenagers and 20-somethings rushing up to the uniformed policeman could, very likely, have been seeking him out for much more pressing reasons than a bladder about to burst.
The potential was there.
Martin was one of approximately 160 police officers patrolling the Las Vegas Motor Speedway's infield for drugs -- particularly Ecstasy -- during the opening night of the Electric Daisy Carnival. About 80,000 people showed up for the country's largest rave, a young adult's Disneyland of near-naked dancers, skin-shaking electronic music, carnival rides, fireworks and elaborate light effects.
Authorities didn't know what to expect, but prepared for the worst.
Two ravers at the much-smaller Dallas Electric Daisy Carnival -- one-fourth the size of the Las Vegas rave -- died last weekend, with authorities pointing to party drugs as the likely culprit. The main Electric Daisy Carnival had been in Los Angeles for 14 years but moved here after a 15-year-old girl died of an Ecstasy overdose last year.
All kinds of factors could set a spark to the Las Vegas event, spreading a flame that could quickly engulf the night, said officer Wendy Butler, Martin's partner, while standing in the medic building Friday night.
The rave is new to Las Vegas, the crowd is very young, raves are known for drug use, and many people underestimate the heat here, she said.
But that potential was not realized as Friday night turned to dawn Saturday.
Las Vegas police reported 20 arrests, including 12 for narcotics, on the first evening for the event. One person was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
There were 31 people ejected from the event.
MedicWest, the private ambulance service for the festival, received 143 calls.
About 300 patients were treated on site, mostly for dehydration. Five others were transported to nearby hospitals, but no one was in critical condition or reported dead, according to a police report released Saturday morning.
Despite a daytime high reaching 101 degrees, the night was cool and breezy, alleviating authorities' fears of hyperthermia -- overheating -- which can lead to death if untreated.
Ecstasy increases body temperature, making overheating more likely.
But it's not as if everyone was clean and sober. Discerning that was simple.
One officer driving in at midnight saw some people parked along Interstate 15 running around naked in the desert.
Others sat on the asphalt in the middle of mobs -- standing shoulder to shoulder, chests to back in front of stages -- just staring at each other, not afraid of being trampled.
One person wearing gloves with fingertips flashing different colors twirled them in front of another person's face. Eyes followed the lights, fixated.
Security personnel at the gate patted down everyone and emptied bags as part of a new "zero-tolerance drug policy," but that doesn't stop pills, said one raver who preferred to remain anonymous.
"No self-respecting security guard would ever find my dose," said the 22-year-old Los Angeles resident.
He sneaked a dose of Ecstasy, the size of a baby aspirin, under a Band-Aid that he placed on his crotch.
Band-Aids are a common method, he said.
"I don't like the underlying, whatever you call it, the drugs," said Martin, while peering over the railing of a second-story balcony, looking at the infield for anyone sitting down and unresponsive. He has worked narcotics for two years.
"And I don't see the nuance in staring at lights for hours. But it doesn't take much to see this has generated some money for the valley."
Attendance is expected at 240,000 over the three nights. The final show starts at 8 tonight and ends at 5 a.m. Monday.
"We're hoping for more of the same tomorrow (Saturday) -- nothing," Martin said Friday. He would be returning to patrol again, he added.
Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0279.