Over the weekend, Electric Daisy Carnival took over Citi Field in Queens, New York, bringing some of the most popular electronic dance music DJs and artists to the Big Apple for a crazy, flower-filled, beat-dropping experience. I didn’t attend, though apparently EDC was a blast, and I am thoroughly jealous.
But not everyone shares my sentiments on electronic dance music, or EDM, festivals, raves and rave music, in general. Jim Farber of the New York Daily News recently published a preview of New York's summer music festivals, expressing a particularly biased critique of the aforementioned Electric Daisy Carnival. Farber described EDC as a drug-fueled showcase of “repetitive and often lyric-free” music by a few “unphotogenic” headliner DJs “plus zillions of lesser spinners.” To be equally biased, I'll say he's not only painfully showing his age, but also that he completely misses the point of EDM culture.
“If your idea of fun is to flail around in the blinding daylight while unphotogenic DJs hover over turntables playing music meant only for the darkest clubs, the answer would be yes. Even so, you will need the aforementioned drugs.”
I, of course, won't lie and say there aren't drugs at festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival, but this one-track sentiment gives these kinds of events a bad name. When taking into account the different types of crowds these events draw in, you also have to consider the plethora of motives for attending these festivals, and the different reasons why people enjoy this music. Many EDM fans would not need a drop of a mind-altering substance to enjoy festivals and raves; in fact, for many, electronic dance music is a drug in itself.
EDM is on my iPod. I listen to at work, on the train, at the gym. The beats fill me up and make me feel good, content, and give me a sense of release from the stress and monotony of the everyday. I can only imagine the amount of endorphins pumping through my veins after one hit of Hardwell, or how much serotonins are surging through my brain during a Swedish House Mafia set. Lovers of EDM experience the music every day.
Festivals and shows are simply an added bonus -- to see the DJs and connect with like-minded people. Using the attractiveness of artists as an argument against EDM culture is trivial at best. We all can’t be Beyonce at the Super Bowl. In a popular culture that is a who’s who of photoshopped faces, how can anyone really judge an artist on their looks?
Being over 21, I reserve the right to have a drink or two, responsibly of course. It has been my experience at events that I become so engrossed in the music, that I have little time to focus on intoxication. Drinks simply serve as a bit of liquid courage to let loose and enjoy the music without reserve.
Those who enjoy festivals and raves know that the colors, the lights, the sounds, and the people, are all apart of the wondrous sensory overload. When I first began attending raves, I realized I always had this feeling that I could describe only as a sense of camaraderie with everyone in the venue. As we danced and sang along to the few lyrics available, it was like I was among family. Fellow ravers are more often than not extremely friendly. We share bottles of water and diffraction glasses. We help each other get to the front of the crowd, or up high somewhere, depending on the venue.
It wasn’t long before I discovered that the feeling I was experiencing has a name. Ravers refer to it as P.L.U.R, an acronym for peace, love, unity and respect. I’ve yet to hear of any music culture that holds such positivity as its core belief. Those of us who enjoy this culture with pure intentions should not be chastised for a subculture that can honestly be found in any music culture, from any era where young people reserved the right to be free and self-expressive. Can you say Woodstock?
As a matter of fact, I’d bet drug use takes place at any of the festivals listed in this Daily News preview, none of which Farber excuses from their own specific critiques. But somehow the EDM festivals are especially singled out as a drug culture. He notes that Electric Zoo requires even more money and more drugs to enjoy. Well, I’ve shelled out $359 of my own hard-earned money for my ticket and I plan to have the most amazing drug-free good time that a raver has ever experienced.
In closing, I find it ironic that while Farber rips into the Electric Daisy Carnival and similar festivals, they can all be found in the newspaper’s calendar of events, which includes an electronic dance events section. If the Daily News is so insistent on badmouthing sources of enjoyment it doesn’t understand, perhaps it shouldn’t advertise them as well. Luckily, I’m sure ravers aren’t exactly looking toward the Daily News for updates on the EDM world.