HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA.com) — The Wet Electric music festival saw a lower than expected turnout Saturday, following the denial of a liquor license and city efforts to cancel the event.
Despite previous expectations of between 8,000 and 10,000 people, the festival only attracted 5,400 people at its highest point.
The event went on despite last minute attempts by the city to stop the nine-hour rave, citing a violation of zoning laws. A judge rejected the bid, saying the location falls within state jurisdiction and the city could have acted sooner to stop the event.
The festival is held on state lands at the Huntington State Beach and the promoter received permission from State Parks.
The city’s attorney said the legal maneuvering was not motivated by rioting following the U.S. Open of Surfing, though some city council members have acknowledged they are leery of large events.
The event’s promoter hired security and contracted with taxi and charter bus companies to ensure safety. But the state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control denied the promoter’s request for a liquor license, citing public safety concerns.
“When the liquor license got pulled no one wants to go,” one woman said. “You don’t come to a party like this without alcohol.”
Another woman who attended said the uncertainty surrounding the event may have contributed to the low turnout.
“It’s still totally worth it, there’s a lot of good DJs,” she said. “It’s an excellent place, we love the beach, it’s the end of the summer. Why not?”
Park rangers said three people were arrested for drugs and several people were cited for open containers in the parking lot. Park officials also said several people arrived intoxicated and were sent home in taxis, with one woman taken away in an ambulance.
Overall park rangers were pleased with the festival, adding most people said they actually liked that it was a dry event.