At first glance, a bracelet made of colorful pony beads may seem like a tacky fashion accessory, but for ravers, those bracelets hold a special place in our heart. Also known as kandi, these bracelets that we trade at festivals with friends or with strangers we cross paths with at events, symbolizes the moment that we connected with someone else. Although I don't personally make or wear as much kandi to events anymore, I love everything it stands for and seeing the creativity put into it. The tiny details that we often don't notice, the bead that we never even thought of using or a charm that we've never seen at a Michael's, is one of the few things that make kandi amazing. During my first Electric Daisy Carnival in 2013, I met so many beautiful souls and I could tell you who gave me a specific kandi during a special moment. In honor of EDC, I wanted to share fellow raver’s memorable kandi moments from past years.
“Back in the day when I was still a huge kandi kid, I made it my mission to make kandi for every person in my rave family. 2014-2016 was a rough period with my last rave family, the drama nearly tearing apart all of the group. I still keep in touch with some of them, but I could tell that things would never be the same. Once 2016 came around, I began raving with a new group of friends who were new to the rave scene. I made these cuffs to commemorate our first EDC together as a rave family with their given rave names written on the back of the flowers. It was one of the first EDC’s where everything went smoothly, everyone took care of one another, and had an awesome weekend dancing under the electric sky.”
“Getting to trade with someone who has inspired me in my kandi journey was one of the highlights of EDCLV 2017. Walking through the tunnel on day one, he was the first person I saw and traded with by chance. It was pure magic with that unbelievable backdrop. The big cuff on my arm is the one he traded me and the big one he’s wearing I made! Anyone who follows @bboysfear knows his kandi making level is out of this world! His designs pushed me to use more expensive string beads and colors to my kandi! He really helped me find my own unique style!”
“So my friend Elina (IG: @medusaxrose) traded me this beautiful pink hello kitty kandi cuff I was eyeing forever; little did I know it was for me! I've seen her way before EDC and we became friends a bit before Beyond Wonderland 2017, but since Beyond we were raving together all the time. I love her spirit her personality and she's my go to when I want dress all matchy matchy. Elina is like the ying and I'm yang, her being this bad ass me being all cutesy. We always have a match day and she inspires me to be more out the box with my style. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have found my new rave fam. She kept me from leaving the rave scene when I lost my rave fam that came before her and I'm glad she convince me to stay!”
“Although I didn’t know him that well, I just felt Caleb was a genuine person. Sometimes I make kandi with no specific person in mind. I save them until the right person comes along. He’s a volunteer for Conscious Crew, a nonprofit group that focuses on safety at Washington raves. Caleb always remembers my name, says hi to me, and gives hugs. He asked if I wanted to trade someday and I asked what he likes, he said spongebob. Then I said, ‘Ohh actually I have something for you now.’ Then I gave him my Smitty perler and he cried!”
“After having really bad depression, my two-year-old boy was desperate to get me out of the house as I would always be sleeping. He would play the song on my phone “You Are a Cinema” by Benny Benassi all the time until he would get me out of bed to buy donuts or whatever. Fast forward to my first EDC 2015 and this guy from Miami trades kandi with me for the first time and he gives me this single, exactly as if he knew this song is very special to me, and it got me out of my depression.”
“EDC 2016 was such a life-changing, transformative experience. I went into Vegas ready to have the time of my life and gained so much more. The bond and love cultivated that weekend with my rave fam, strangers, old friends, new friends, foreign friends, will hold a special place where Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect allow multitudes of people to come together in one place without the worry of judgement or worries of the outside world. Keep the love going because it is what makes this community the best out there. This piece is symbolic of the journey raving and EDM has taken me in. Thank you to my family Jacob (IG: @ecua_salvi_93) and Salena (IG: @salenamour) for blessing me with such a beautiful piece. I have learned so much about what it means to be a raver through you both and I am so honored to call ya’ll 87 Fam, family, blood, and rave fam. I can’t picture the rest of my life without the both of you in it.”
“This story is from EDC in 2014. I was on my way to EDC in 2014 and my friend that I was driving out there with was reminiscing about a rave we’d been to in the Bay Area about 9 months before. She and I had only raved together a couple times before EDC and she didn’t know a lot of my friends that we’d been with that night so she was trying to figure out who of them were going to be with us at EDC that year. She asked me what the name of the “blue fuzzy hat guy” was and I replied that I had no idea who she was talking about. She pulls up pictures from that night and he’s in all our photos. I reply that I didn’t actually know him and had only briefly chatted with him that night. She said she thought he was my friend couldn’t believe I didn’t know him since we she chatted to him all night. We laughed about this. Flash forward to night two of EDC and from across the crowd she spots blue fuzzy hat guy!!!!!!! She and I had just split up and she grabs his hand and drags him through the crowd back to where I was standing. We all embrace and it was a beautiful moment. We end up trading Kandi and I give him one I’d made that I really loved - a piece of squishy toast that said “I Knead U” on it. We exchange contact numbers because we’re both from the Bay Area and say we’ll try to meet up the next day. Day 3 passes and we never text each other. I hadn’t even saved his number in my phone. Around 11am on Monday morning (I’ve only been asleep for about 30 minutes) and my phone starts to ring - a random 415 number. I think, "holy shit if this is Walgreens or something I will kill someone." Turns out, it’s blue fuzzy hat guy and they totaled their car on the way back from EDC and they were desperately calling anyone they knew headed to the Bay looking for space in a car because they had to be at work in the morning. We had two seats in our car so we ended up driving them all the way back to San Francisco. Blue Fuzzy Hat guy (Will is his real name!) and I have been great friends ever since. Turns out he’s the one who “kneaded” me. He still has the Kandi to this day and we love to share that story of how our friendship and to be!”
From kandi kids decked in cuffs or just wearing a few singles, kandi represents the hours of meticulous hard work ravers put into each piece. You don't have to be a pro at making a beautiful kandi to make it meaningful, but the symbolism and memories behind the kandi is what makes it special. I hope you all have an amazing EDC and create your very own magical kandi experience!