Peace, Love, Unity, Respect: An Examination of EDM Festival Culture

The first time I heard a raver talking about candy, I assumed it was a euphemism for drugs. However, the word is actually spelled “kandi”, and it refers to the beaded bracelets that are traded around at EDM festivals. Kandi is just one of the unique aspects of EDM culture that may seem strange to outsiders. The magical rave universe has emerged as an entirely new modern form of concert-going.

EDM (electronic dance music) is the music of now. The technological progress made in the last decade has rendered it possible to create music without ever having learned an instrument. However, that does not mean it’s easy to create; a great amount of talent and practice is required to create an entire song on a computer, let alone an two hours worth of material that could be performed live.

I attended my first EDM festival last month: the fairytale world of Nocturnal Wonderland, hosted just outside of San Bernadino, California. I had raved before, but this was my first time truly immersed in the experience. I spent four days covered in glitter and dust and sweat, staying stayed out till 6am and crawling into my tent until it was ready to party again.

I realized the attitude of the people is what makes EDM such a unique genre. Most concerts I’ve attended consisted of shoving your way through a bunch of drunk, sweaty, rude people in an attempt to get a glimpse of the stage. However, EDM is entirely different. Founded upon the principle of PLUR (which stands for peace, love, unity, and respect), there is a sense of community between everyone at the festival. My tent neighbors became my family over the next four days. The rave itself was full of people hugging and talking and helping each other and, yes, trading kandi. No one is fighting to see the stage because the visual aspects are not what’s important here: all that matters is the beat and how you’re going to dance to it. Plus, it’s hard to be mad at people wearing outfits that consist of giant panda costumes, fairy wings, and inflatable penis hats.

EDM has revolutionized the concert-going experience. The genre focuses on sounds as opposed to artist popularity, and has thus created a type of concert that focuses on sensory experience as well. Rave culture is unique from any other form of concert or festival, and I invite everyone to try and experience it. EDM has created an opportunity for people to fully express the quirkiest aspects of themselves in a judge-free environment. All you need are some beads, several bottles of glitter, and an open mind (perhaps earplugs too).


USD Radio Writer:

Kathryn Richards