You’re basking in festival sunshine, surrounded by a crowd of smiling people grooving to the beat. Out of nowhere a six foot tall douchebag and his wolf pack fraternity brothers aggressively cluster into your space, effectively blocking your view of the stage. A sweaty, swollen bicep bumps into your face and you can smell his alcohol soaked body odor. Then the gang of giants proceed to bust out their iPhones, filming every moment of the set, in selfie form. They don’t give a shit about the music. At this point the sunshine in your heart has faded, leaving you to ponder the question: “why the fuck am I even here?”
True festival culture promotes acceptance, respect and love, so “the more the merrier” should technically still apply to our scene. Yet with the rapid ascension of electronic dance music (EDM), our scene has attracted lots of newcomers–many of whom are uneducated on these basic principles. Some are just looking for the hottest new party scene to take drugs and get wasted at.
It’s not entirely the rave bro’s fault–the radio is flooded with drug glorifying EDM songs, none of which exemplify the respect and love our festival culture sprouts from. Even numerous rappers such as Juicy J, Lil Wayne, French Montana, Gucci Mane, Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa glorify drug use in their tracks. Lyrics like “Molly in my veins, got my heart beating like a drum” and “Pop a Molly, smoke a blunt, that mean I’m a high roller” are indications of the overarching reach of EDM’s influence. Movies like “Project X” and “The Hangover” glamorizes getting obliterated on alcohol and drugs. Mainstream media is contributing to the influx of uncultured swine at EDM events. They are following a trend, but do not understand the true meaning of festival culture, and ultimately disrespect its aura.
The lack of respect manifests itself in sloppy festival goers who vomit everywhere and step on your toes to the wide-eyed cliques of girls coming up to ask “Can I have a bracelet?!” I’ve had newcomers walk up to me and without hesitation, began to rifle through my “for-keeps” kandi arm attempting to take their pick of the litter. These rave-babies had no idea about kandi, or why we make it, or why it is so special. When I tried to explain the culture to them, it was obvious that they could care less. All they wanted was a piece of the little shiny things that everyone else had because they wanted to fit in with the trend.
And don’t even get me started on the blatant disrespect towards women. It is never acceptable to grab ass or catcall us as we dance our way through the crowd, and it happens all the time.
Raves and festivals are meant to be an escape from reality, a retreat from the douches of the world to a magical land with like-minded, beautiful people. I don’t mean to discredit the love and light that flows from the present PLUR community. There are plenty of old and new ravers who understand the deep love that flows through our scene. But with the increased attendance at events (last EDC was over 400,000 people) comes higher budgets for increased production value and bigger and better talent. But our culture continues to suffer as most event companies focus entirely on profit alone.
Now I seek out smaller, lesser known events that encourage a sense of real community. While the allure of brand name events still tantalize me, I can now better appreciate the overall positive vibes of a low-key burner event where I have space to dance and the people are kind. That’s why we keep going back for more. The silver lining lies in the fact that no matter how mainstream or trendy our scene becomes, there will always be something real and heartfelt to take its place. It is up to us to continue to spread the culture of love, respect and acceptance no matter how popular or distorted by mainstream media our scene becomes.