In a car with friends, Emily Perez zipped toward Las Vegas early Friday with an orthopedic boot on her left foot and butterflies in her stomach.
Nothing was going to stop the Los Angeles woman from attending her first Electric Daisy Carnival — not even her fractured ankle. Traveling next to clusters of decorated cars also headed to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the festival’s first night only made her more excited.
The 20-year-old broke her ankle April 18 while walking down stairs at work, missing a step with a crack. On the ground in seething pain, she immediately thought of EDC, the Super Bowl of electronic music, which she had spent months saving up for.
Tbh edc isn’t ready for my broken ankle 😝😝😝 pic.twitter.com/3A9TDU1S9c
— Emily (@Emskizzels) May 15, 2019
“You think I’ll be able to go?” she anxiously asked her sister as they waited for a doctor’s verdict. It didn’t look good.
But after icing her ankle for two days, Perez devised a plan.
“I decided I was going even if I have to go in a wheelchair,” she said.
Perez spent two weeks resting before her doctor gave her the green light, approving her EDC attendance if she either stayed in a wheelchair or wore a boot and used crutches and promised to take breaks.
“I have been icing it and doing strengthening exercises to prepare for the long walks,” she said.
Another thing Perez did to prepare: bedazzle her boot and cover it with LED lights to match the event’s psychedelic atmosphere. When she shared a video of her design on Twitter, joking that EDC “isn’t ready” for her broken ankle, support poured in from fellow ravers.
“This is dedication right here,” one person tweeted.
Another shared, “Hope you have an amazing time.”
“I think it really hyped me up,” Perez said.
Though Perez’s path to EDC required doctor visits, for most attendees the only bump in the road was traffic.
Cars flowed off the speedway’s Interstate 15 exit easily until about 4 p.m., when a backup grew to more than a mile as cars slowed to a stop.
Nevada Highway Patrol troopers sat on road shoulders and directed traffic near the festival gates, along with Las Vegas police. The event is expected to draw more than 155,000 each night.
“Remember: if you or a friend aren’t feeling well, if you see something that looks out of place, or if you just need someone to talk to, please reach out to an LVMPD officer at anytime,” the Metropolitan Police Department tweeted Friday.
For those facing long delays, at least one nearby I-15 billboard joked with anxious attendees-to-be: “HAVE FUN AT THE PRE-PARTY,” it read. “SEE YOU AT EDC ORLANDO.”
At a gas station near the festival’s gates, Las Vegas locals Jazmin Sanchez and Raenael Kazama grabbed a hot dog before heading inside for the EDC opening ceremony.
The two are co-workers at T-Mobile Arena, they said, and this marked their second EDC.
“It feels like home,” Sanchez, 23, said of the festival. “I was talking about it all freaking year. I couldn’t wait. I literally cry just talking about it.”
Kazama, 22, also works security at the speedway, where he’s been watching crews build the event’s massive stages and install pyrotechnic effects for the past few weeks.
Crews were testing the lights Wednesday, and Kazama could barely contain his excitement. But he stayed professional like he is trained to do, a wall he can really let down only at EDC, he said.
“It’s the one time of the year you can be your full, friendly self,” Sanchez added.
As she kept talking, Maurice Crews walked up to grab a hot dog, too. Wearing a yellow polo and black pants, he jokingly asked the pair, who were dressed in funky, colorful clothes, if they were “ready to party.”
With a laugh, they said yes.
“I’m working it,” Crews, 56, said of EDC, where he’ll be serving as a grounds supervisor for the weekend. “I’m excited. I pulled it up on YouTube.”
“On YouTube?” Sanchez asked. “You have no idea! It’s a whole different experience in person.”
Crews will be stationed inside an air-conditioned building for most of each night. Occasionally, though, he’ll go up to the roof and take in the crowds. He’s worked NASCAR races before, but never EDC.
“I’m enjoying it so far,” Crews said. “I don’t know what the night’s going to be like, but thank God that I get to be inside.”
But not everyone was stoked. A few people who stopped at the gas station to refuel wondered aloud why there was so much traffic. And a gas station attendant, when asked if she was ready for the night ahead of her, groaned, shook her head and rubbed her temples.
Contact Rachel Crosby at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3801.