Photo Gallery: Beyond Wonderland
DEVORE - For the first time, thousands of scantily clad ravers converged on the San Manuel Amphitheater on Saturday night for Beyond Wonderland, a five-stage electronic dance music festival usually held at the National Orange Show Events Center in San Bernardino.
"This place is huge," said Joe Merenda of Rosemead, who has been attending various raves presented by Insomniac events for the last five years. "It's great! People used to complain about the noise levels but here the music can be louder because there aren't that many homes around this venue.
The rave, which draws thousands every year, was traditionally held at the San Bernardino site, but numerous complaints from residents surrounding the Events Center about noise, trash and drug use for the last few years are what reportedly forced the organizers to find a new location.
"I'm so glad it's here," said Teresa Lindsey, 28, of Running Springs, who was at the rave with her friend, Miles "Parol" Compton, 22, also of Running Springs. "I've been pushing for (the raves) to be here ever since I learned this place was here. "
Lindsey and Compton attend most of Insomniac's events because they say they are well-organized and safe.
"They have a good law enforcement presence and that's important," Lindsey said.
But not everyone was convinced.
Some feel the very culture of raves promotes drug use,which in turn leads to other problems.
San Bernardino Police Chief Robert Handy noted that during the Insomniac event, Nocturnal Wonderland, held at the Events Center in September, a fight broke out between several police officers and ravers when the officers tried to arrest someone who sold ecstasy to an undercover officer.
But some ravers said drugs can be found at nearly any concert.
"I've been to the Paid Dues shows and I know people are smoking and selling pot there and other stuff, too," said Jacqueline Esparza, 27, of Highland. "I think it's unfair to target raves when I know people have been smoking pot and doing other drugs at concerts since the '60s. "
While that may be true, said Marcus Gaede, a La Canada resident who opposes the current way raves are organized, the number of deaths associated with raves far outnumber any other type of concert.
"Three have been 25 deaths since 1995 at Phish concerts," he said, noting that in that time the band has held more than 1,000 shows. "There have been 14 deaths in 64 raves since 2006. It's far greater. "
Janice Rutherford, who chairs the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, attended Saturday's event and also spoke to residents who lived near the amphitheater.
"I can best describe it as an assault on the senses," she said Sunday. "I was concerned because there were very few people that I saw that I would be comfortable to allow to drive a vehicle. A lot of drunk people and a lot of people who appeared to be on drugs. "
Despite her concerns she did say the sheriff's deputies at the rave told her the crowd was mostly passive and non-violent.
She did speak to some neighbors, though, who did complain about the loud music.
Rutherford, however, said she will wait to get more information about the number of arrests and how many people may have been taken to hospitals as well as talking to more Devore residents before making any decisions about raves at the amphitheater.
The rave went on until 2 a.m. Sunday and featured more than 40 DJs and performers on five stages.
Reach Beatriz via email, call her at 909-386-3921, or find her on Twitter @IEBeatriz.