"Music is a universal language."
You have probably heard this saying sometime in your life, and you don’t have to think about it for too long as it already makes sense: Music brings people together despite language and cultural barriers. We can see this at our very own EDM festivals, events, and rave gatherings.
From the beginning of “old school” basement raves equipped only with minimal DJ equipment and party lights, to now - massive festivals with colossal stages, scaffolds, and big freaking lasers, it's easy to tell how much these EDM gatherings have evolved over time. However, no matter the size of the crowd, EDM events have always created opportunities for people with similar interests to gather and enjoy music. But it goes beyond this, especially with the increasing popularity of EDM.
Additionally, beneath the layers of mainstream EDM and festivals, lies an environment and culture which provides a unique experience for festival goers. Many of you are familiar with it. This is all thanks to the generation of party people before us who set the foundation promoting a thing called Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect. Our rave moms and dads have set a standard for us to experience a rave in the best way possible. Assuming that you all understand this, this love-promoting culture allows us to embrace ourselves and accept other people for who they are. Other awesomeness of the experience is just due to going into a big crowd full of strangers who came to party - just like yourself.
Music has been a big part of my life and I have been involved with many types of music groups. I've traveled across the ocean and through my experiences, developed an inclination that EDM, going to festivals, and experiencing the culture allows us to connect with others on many different levels.
This is how EDM connects us:
- It strengthens our existing connections
We have the opportunity to create harmony within our squad, posse, clique, wolfpack, or whatever you want to call your group of friends.
As you know, going out into a festival crowd can be intimidating and quite scary, which brings the importance of going with friends who are just as into the music as you are and whom you can trust. Through this experience we learn how to care and watch out for our own. As a group, you learn about each other and how to function as a unit. "Are you okay?" "Do you need water?" "Don't get lost!" "Are you having a good time?" "What DJs do you want to see?" These are all common concerns for each member of the group. If you don't get this friendly concern from anyone in your group, you can tell who's not a bro real quick. Each festival becomes a learning experience for everyone. We learn what makes our friends uncomfortable, what makes them happy, what they're like when they're tired and when they're having the time of their lives. We learn how to handle their flaws and how to celebrate their qualities. This is how we increase trust and become closer to the members of our own group of friends.
Experiencing this also gives us a feeling of belonging and value. People want to be included, a part of a bigger whole. We long to be accepted, and we long to be understood. This love promoting culture allows you to do so with little fear of rejection. Sometimes the most awesome thing about it is just being present and taking comfort in a space which allows you to rage with cool people who are interested in the same thing. Sometimes it is with people you just met.
- It helps us expand our networks
We can easily find opportunities for social interaction outside of our circle of friends.
When you come to these events, you meet old friends, friends of friends, and new people. With this, you share stories, experiences, and along the way, you decide who you want to keep close during the festival or even throughout your journey called life. You can expand your networks in a short amount of time as there are many opportunities to do so. I often found that standing in lines are awesome ways to make friends - water lines, food lines, bathroom lines, etc. However, I've also met many people through the art of kandi making. It's the ultimate ice breaker, especially if you really believe in the traditions of unconditional giving of kandi. When you are able to express your excitement in something passionately with someone else, (EDM, PLUR, kandi, etc) this is a common feeling that ensues with meeting someone in this way:
Throughout the span of 4 years I have met amazing people who I still keep in touch with today. Our meeting grounds are festivals to connect, reminisce of past events, express our excitement for upcoming shows, or just talk about normal day to day episodes of our lives. Many of you can also relate to bumping into that one long lost friend, or meeting someone new, and feeling and instant connection in a moment that is almost serendipitous in nature; as if you were bound by a string of fate to meet.
- Create connections on a global level
We, who understand EDM, festivals, and PLUR, share common knowledge of music and culture. This allows us to connect with people disregarding different backgrounds, orientations, and beliefs.
Electronic Dance Music is an expansive genre of music that extends from each end of the world; thanks to social media (I never thought I would be saying this). With this in mind, we see how technology and music has interacted drawing attention from around world, which then resulted in a mass number of people knowing about and attending festivals. Shows are happening all over the world, exposing people to music that both you and I know.
With the shared knowledge and experience of the music and PLUR, it becomes easier to connect to others. “Hey, have you been to (this event)?” “Have you listen to (this DJ)?”.
As I lived in Japan for the past 8 months, I have met many people and made friends from all over the world who understood the music I deeply enjoyed. As I went to a club where Merk & Kremont were playing, I found myself listening to things that I listened to back home. It was really moving to see a mainly Japanese audience rage just as hard as a massive crowd at EDC Las Vegas. As I was in the crowd interacting with people, I thought about how cool it was that despite the fact that we couldn't completely understand one another due to language barriers, these people understood the goals of EDM and PLUR. Not to mention that when you’re at a massive like EDC, Tomorrowland, UMF Korea/Tokyo, etc. you’ll easily meet people from all over the world.
Many of us like to dance. Many of us to rage. All of us want to enjoy life. EDM allows us to do just that with people we normally don't communicate with. I heard a TED talk by Robert Gupta talking about music and medicine. I could not agree more when I heard him say:
"The beauty of music speaks when words fail".
It connects us in a universal sense
We can learn how to exercise our humanly biological nature to feel emotion and empathize with others through music.
Music is a magnetic force that we still can’t fully explain. But we do know that it induces a variety of emotions while our brains are stimulated, like mad. It allows us to feel emotion and to feel alive. This is especially important for our societies which teach us that it's effeminate and weak to be emotional. Rather, EDM tells us that we should embrace this part of us.
However, maybe it’s because EDM has a slight edge over other genres. EDM allows us to have deeper connection to the music due to the positive messages conveyed in many songs. For the most part, it strays away from the messages of #FBitchesGetMoney and gravitates toward messages that are more relevant to our real lives with goals that are more human. More relateable. Within the EDM genre, we also find that many songs have reoccurring themes of love, togetherness, friendship, letting go of past pains, perseverance, presence/living in the moment, and making memories. Hearing these messages, we are inspired, motivated, and strive to become better people. Along with PLUR, the virtues of EDM allows us to be more conscious of ourselves and others. As we understand the music, we understand how others are perceiving the same thing we are experiencing. In result, we are able to empathize with other people. This concept draws us even closer together as it emphasizes unity.
Yet, absent from the deep stuff, one can still enjoy the more simpler messages of just having a good time (#PLURnt up, yo).
Through a nice combination of technology, music, and culture, EDM festivals are connecting us from an individual/group level to a universal level. However, all of it really boils down to one point: EDM, going to festivals and the culture satisfies our human need to connect, love, and be loved.
The world is definitely becoming a smaller place due to EDM and festivals and with all the positivity going on within these music festivals, it’s exciting to imagine the future and direction that humans are heading toward.
Some dude born in Hawaii, and now living in Osaka, Japan. Seeking ways to live more profoundly by chasing experiences rather than things. Luckily, I have found myself in a community which allows me to do that.