The Do Lab Built a Massive SoCal EDM Community. Next Stop: Egypt
Producing the Great Convergence has not been as straightforward. For the party, access to the concrete plateau at the base of the Great Pyramid is controlled by Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, a conservative if entrepreneurial body. Although most sites run by the council are available for rental, disrespectful activity such as meditation, ritual performance and scantily clad raving are forbidden on the plateau.
The brothers' team hired Abercrombie and Kent, a luxury travel agency favored by the council, to push the permit application through. Aware that tourism has plummeted since the Arab Spring, the agency put together a familiar, revolution-proof pitch: a private dinner event for an international group of tourists who come to Egypt to appreciate timeless antiquities. Traditional cuisine served in an authentically decorated Bedouin tent, followed by dancing. "It's like throwing a wedding party," Jesse jokes.
Back at the dining room table, he shuffles a mess of quotes and contracts. From the décor to the staffing, it all seems too expensive to him. Normally Jesse wouldn't stand for it, but this time he's letting it slide. After all, in addition to the party, he's booked panel discussions in Cairo with folks like Carmen Boulter, a renegade academic who believes aliens built the pyramids but that the evidence was washed away by a great flood. Then there's Daniel Pinchbeck, a hipster eschatologist riffing on the global impact of the Mayan calendar. In Egypt, that talk could be considered blasphemy. If the authorities knew about these panels, Jesse thinks, they might revoke the party permit. He can't afford another misstep.
That's because days earlier the brothers canceled Rise and Shine, a yoga-first festival they hoped to throw on a private estate in Simi Valley, because production costs had spiraled out of control. Its expensive tickets weren't selling, either.
The cancelation, their first in years, has forced a reckoning of their business model. There's talk of hiring a chief financial officer, of promoting more club shows, of enticing upstart festivals into using Do Lab promotional and ticket platforms. They might scale down production on flagship events. At the very least, they're re-evaluating their volunteer system.
For a time, Jesse and Dede toyed with designing a Do Lab stage for the Egypt party. But they abandoned that plan, Dede explains as he whips out an Instagram he snapped of the Great Pyramid. "That's the best set ever," he says. "We're not trying to compete with that."Follow us on Twitter @LAWeeklyMusic, and like us at LAWeeklyMusic.
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