Kaskade onstage in San Francisco earlier this year. The DJ plays White Wonderland… (eyewax.tv )
For more than a decade, Los Angeles' two biggest independent dance music promoters, Go Ventures and Insomniac Events, put aside their rivalry to put on a massive New Year's Eve bash dubbed Together as One.
Over the last three years, in particular, the event grew to draw tens of thousands to the Los Angeles Sports Arena & Exposition Park as Go Ventures' Reza Gerami and Insomniac's Pasquale Rotella snagged big names such as David Guetta, Deadmau5 and Laidback Luke to play electronic dance music, a once underground genre now influencing mainstream pop radio in the U.S.
But this year, things are different: The two men have had a falling out. Together as One will be Go Ventures' party and Rotella and Insomniac are launching a rival soiree, in collaboration with fellow promoter Giant, dubbed White Wonderland.
"It is strange and a little sad that Insomniac will not be a part of Together as One this year," said Gerami, president and founder of Go Ventures Inc.
"I do not understand or agree with Pasquale's decisions," he said via email earlier this month, adding he still "wishes [him] the best."
Rotella went as far as to issue a news release last month, making sure his fans knew Insomniac was no longer "together" with the annual event, known to fans as TAO.
"Insomniac works hard to set the standard in safety, production quality and the overall value of our fans' experience," said Rotella in the November release. "Due to various issues surrounding these basic commitments, I want all Insomniac fans to know that we are no longer coproducing TAO."
Both men refuse to comment on the source of their dispute. Gerami and Rotella both had their homes searched by authorities investigating a financial scandal at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum this year, The Times has reported. Rotella's Insomniac put on the Electric Daisy Carnival at the Coliseum in 2010, when a teenage girl died of an Ecstasy overdose.
"I don't want to talk about them in a negative way," Rotella said by phone earlier this month regarding Go Ventures. "We have different visions, so [Reza] is going to pursue his and I'm going to pursue mine."
Rotella's new vision, White Wonderland, will take place at the Anaheim Convention Center, while TAO is at Oak Canyon Park in Silverado.
Both events boast top-tier talent from around the globe (Benny Benassi and Kaskade at Wonderland and hot duo Duck Sauce at TAO) and are selling well.
But area dance music fans are split.
"White Wonderland will have a more sophisticated, older crowd, whereas Together as One will have super-hipster DJs and an 18-and-over crowd," said Molly Hawkins, co-founder and editor of local electronic music blog Digil0ve.
"One will be a more 'down and dirty' New Year's Eve party [Together as One], and one will be allegedly classier [White Wonderland]," the 26-year-old continued.
White Wonderland has already sold out the Saturday of a two-night event (tickets are still available for Sunday, featuring Swedish House Mafia's Steve Angello and others).
German DJ Paul Van Dyk has played TAO four times and is scheduled to play the midnight slot at White Wonderland.
"All I know is whenever they worked together the shows have been fantastic," he said via phone from New York of Gerami and Rotella.
"Los Angeles is one of the most vital scenes when it comes to proper electronic music in America, and playing that night always adds an extra element of excitement," he continued.
Together as One, with its outdoor location and young crowd, will likely be larger (White Wonderland is capped at around 10,000 per night), boasting some of the most popular names for younger fans, including Diplo and Italy's Bloody Beetroots.
But White Wonderland may well prove more inspired. "We're requesting everyone wear all white," said Rotella, adding that his new party is meant to mirror events such as Montreal's long-running Bal en Blanc, an annual dance event where tens of thousands are decked out in white.
Both are looking to distance themselves from recent turbulence in the dance world.
"While the media and some government agencies have shined a dark light upon the scene and there have been some recent rough roads, I am confident the positive message of love, peace, unity and respect will outshine," Gerami said.
Rotella aims to run events that are on par with that of larger promoters such as Live Nation, and he won accolades for a safe run of Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas earlier this year, with few arrests and no deaths. One thing is certain: people crave these experiential "rave" like happenings.
"The reason why people are drawn to EDM in these numbers is because this music is special," said Van Dyk.
"It delivers something else than just little three-minute pop songs. It delivers a view on life, a power and a certain energy."
Together as One
Where: Oak Canyon Park, 5305 Santiago Canyon Road, Silverado
When: 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Dec. 31
Price: $80, $150 VIP
Info: Outdoor event (partially heated tents); 18 and older (with ID); newyearsevela.com/2012
Where: Anaheim Convention Center, 800 West Katella Ave., Anaheim
When: 6 p.m. - 2 a.m. Dec. 31; 7 p.m.- 2 a.m. Jan. 1
Price: Two-day general admission tickets: $140, two-day VIP: $250. Saturday general admission tickets sold out (Dec. 31 VIP available). Sunday general admission tickets: $40, Sunday VIP: $100
Info: Indoor event; 21 and older only (with ID); whitewonderland.com