The end of summer is traditionally marked by one last barbeque, but if you’re among the throngs of EDM fans that attended the Sun City Music Festival, chances are you spent Labor Day weekend a bit more illuminated. El Paso’s Ascarate Park became a neon-painted, strobe-lit paradise for partygoers. The festival promised two days and three stages of dance music that ranges from techno, trance, and drums to bass, disco, and house.
The Southwest’s biggest dance party is organized and promoted by Disco Donnie Presents, owned and operated by James “Disco Donnie” Estopinal Jr., who began hosting events in New Orleans in the mid-1990s. Quickly gathering momentum and popularity with creative themes and unique attractions, the festival made its home at the famed State Palace Theatre.
Themes such as “Supaphat Hong Kong Phooey” and “Psychedelic Pimp Daddyland” enthralled enormous crowds. Parties during the height of Estopinal’s reign, 1998--2000, offered a surprise 2 Live Crew set; another such party saw Estopinal turn on all the lights in the middle of the night for a choir to sing “Amazing Grace.”
His freewheeling approach did not go unnoticed by the authorities, however. In early 2000, he and his cohorts, including the owner of State Palace Theatre, were charged under the “Crack House Statue,” allowing law enforcement to charge venue owners with the alleged drug use at events they host. In 2001, the venue was fined but allowed to stay open as long as they followed the judgement’s rules: no glow sticks or pacifiers. Apparently the use of these mundane items was so widespread, they became indicators of drug use at the raves. The court battle incited a national debate about the First Amendment and drugs, and put New Orleans in the spotlight.
Close to twenty years later, Estopinal is now the CEO and President of Disco Donnie Presents, a production company that boasts, “over a decade of pure, electronic debauchery.” This year’s Sun City Music Festival, the sixth altogether, offered another two days of high energy entertainment with headliners Skrillex and Kaskade.
With eight Grammy Awards, the most won by an EDM artist, Skrillex has become a giant in the dance music genre. Expect his set to include his July collaborations: “Slam Dunk” with Valentino Khan and “Purple Lamborghini” with Rick Ross.
With eight Grammy Awards, the most won by an EDM artist, Skrillex has become a giant in the dance music genre. His set included his July collaborations: “Slam Dunk” with Valentino Khan and “Purple Lamborghini” with Rick Ross. If you’ve seen the summer film Suicide Squad, you’ve heard the latter.
Kaskade, the first DJ with a Las Vegas residency, was also on the bill. A nod from Billboard magazine recently stated that his Freaks of Nature tour is “the only successful national stadium tour undertaken by a solo EDM artist.” August 1 marked the release of his Wake Up Call EP, and it’s single “Give Me a Sign” by Lipless. This new work was the highlight of his set at Sun City.
Sun City’s lineup also included artists such as The Chainsmokers, Galantis, Bro Safari, Nightmare, Snails, Sasha, and Joris Voorn. The festival has three stages and something for everyone.
With Donnie Disco at the helm, you can expect a festival experience based on his love of bringing people together for music and fun. Sun City Music Festival is always one epic dance party.