A Naval Officer's First Time at EDC Las Vegas
Lieutenant Juan Huizar planned his first trip to EDC with the meticulous scrutiny of a submarine naval officer. Before getting in the car, he charted his route down to the mile. Instead of a molly stash, he made sure to pack a survival stash of caffeine work out pills to keep him awake and alert all night long. His uniform this week, however, was a little more relaxed-- a bright green pair of Dickies shorts, a glowing backpack, raver beads and a neon green shirt that read simply: "Let's Get Weird." Though, it wasn't destined to stay on his body for very long.
Alejandra Loera / OC Weekly The Huizar's in front of the Boombox Art Cart during EDC's sunrise
For the past 13 years, Huizar has served our country as part of the United States Navy, but I still remember him as my best friend's older brother who lived across the street from my Long Beach, California home growing up. We lost touch after I moved during high school, but thanks to social media, we have been able to keep in touch. Little did I know that 15 years later we would be dancing under the electric sky of EDC Las Vegas with his sister and two brothers.
Huizar randomly messaged me on Facebook asking for advice on what to do during his rare trip home. When I found out they were also going to Las Vegas I immediately sent him the Electric Daisy Carnival trailer. The sight of 400,000 people dancing and losing their minds in various states of undress looked too good to pass up for someone who stays underwater working with nuclear reactors for up to two months. They had booked a hotel at the Venetian (ironically the same place I was staying because they gave us a great deal on hotel plus shuttles to and from the fest through juscollege.com) and it instantly felt like it was meant to be.
Stationed in Saratoga Springs, NY as an instructor for the Navy Nuclear Power Program, Huizar rarely gets time off to visit his family--his parents, three brothers and two sisters. "There have been many times were I absolutely hated what I was doing because I'm always away from my family, but overall I'm happy to be in the position I'm in," he says. The competitive nature of his work forces him to be aggressive and live in a life of constant judgement and evaluations. So when the opportunity for him to take his siblings to Vegas and let loose under the pulsating lights and rhythms of electronic music came up, he jumped in without hesitation.
In just a couple of days I helped him find tickets through friends who had to sell them last minute. "All of the anticipation was more exciting than going into combat," said his youngest brother Andy who's also done a tour in Afghanistan for the Marines. It's ironic how muscle-bound bros get a bad rep at music festivals (by myself included) and this time I was the one taking them to the biggest EDM festival in the States. We hadn't seen each other in years, but it felt like nothing had changed in our friendships. We were like family and I was excited to introduce them to my rave family.
Alejandra Loera / OC Weekly The Huizar guys sporting their juscollege swag before EDC
As we rode the shuttle buses there (which get to take their own designated road through a navy base to avoid traffic) the guys developed a plan of attack to maximize fun and safety similar to getting ready for war. But EDC is a very different sort of battle. Sure you can plan on sticking together, pick artist you want to see and figure out a rally point if you get lost. But the best part of EDC is exploring around without a plan and letting the music carry you. "I had a bit of anxiety built up to that first moment we heard a blast of music," admits Juan. "Then it was amazing to let go and just be free."