HARD Haunted Mansion Founder Talks Halloween Techno
By Zach Bourque / Special to LAistIt’s nearly impossible to live in Los Angeles without hearing at least a passing mention of HARD Haunted Mansion. The two-day Halloween-themed event is now in its fourth year running and always manages to meet its 20,000-person capacity with stunning ease.
The man behind the madness is Gary Richards, founder and orchestrator of HARD Events and an ally of the L.A. electronic scene for the past two decades.
“It all started about 20 years ago," Richards told us during a recent interview. "I went to a warehouse party in downtown L.A., heard electronic music and was instantly hooked. I’ve been DJing and promoting ever since."
HARD Events made its debut in 2007 with a massive New Year's Eve celebration headlined by French duo Justice. It has since expanded out of L.A. into an impressive enterprise with growth reaching into all corners of the U.S.
“We’ve sold out ten shows at Terminal 5 in New York, and then we went and sold out shows in Miami and San Francisco," said Richards. "Last year we did a national tour with Crystal Castles and Rusko… that tour was all sold out as well.”
Apart from promoting, Richards has made a splash in the international electronic community as Destructo, a name that is probably more familiar to most HARD attendees than Gary Richards.
“When I DJ, I try to live up to my name and bring the most mental techno around, get the crowd going as bananas as possible," he said. "I can play house, and I can play disco, but when I’m playing at HARD, I’m just trying to make the people jump as high as they can."
HARD’s rabid fan base has consistently demanded the creation of numerous other events including HARD Summer and countless sponsored shows over the course of the year. But Haunted Mansion has continually proved to be the big kahuna, the year's most anticipated event.
Adding Halloween costumes to a rave is like spiking jungle juice with Jagermeister. You really don’t know what you might see, and people-watching can be borderline traumatizing. Nonetheless, witnessing the Shrine Expo Hall packed with thousands of wild party animals dressed to the nines is truly a sight to behold.
Even more shocking is the relatively untainted track record when it comes to safety and security. Compared to an admittedly much larger event like Electric Daisy Carnival, HARD has consistently sweated the small details that make a difference.
“We work really well with the city, and LAPD has been really happy with the way we run our events," said Richards. "We run a really tight ship with our security team and do not fuck around. We keep it in line, and everything runs smooth. To this point we’ve been really fortunate to run successful events, and the city has been very happy with us.”
If two days just aren’t enough, Richards and Co. will be sponsoring HOLY SHIP!, a first of its kind, three-day rave aboard a massive 3,000-person capacity, seventeen-floor cruise ship. Richards joked that his next event will be aboard the International Space Station.
Few companies outside of Silicon Valley can claim this kind of consistent, unbridled success. HARD is at once a youthful enterprise and a serious business model - an unbeatable combination that represents the zeitgeist of the times like an Armani Suit with Chuck Taylors.
But at the end of the day, it’s all about having a good time.
“When I die I want people to say, ‘That fucking guy gave me some of the funnest times of my life,’" said Richards. "That’s my goal in life."
HARD Haunted Mansion will take place at the Shrine Expo Hall October 28 and October 29 and features performances by by Fatboy Slim, Rusko, Laidback Luke, Skrillex, Soulwax and Major Lazer.