EDM. Electric Dance Music. There is just something about the drop… that “womp womp womp” that has come to bring out passionate cries for censorship from the haters and bring the lovers into a nearly orgasmic trance. Recently on Facebook I posted this article, and like many articles I share I didn’t actually read it because I trusted the source and was at work with little time to slack. I’ve read it now and it does a great job talking about the history of EDM, something I know little about, but it did get me thinking about my own experience with raves and the music that takes over the heartbeat of thousands of glowing and fuzzy fans.
In truth, I don’t listen to that much EDM. I can’t tell the difference between dubstep, drum and base, trance, or whatever. I just call it all dubstep and find I prefer my music a little grimy. What I love is the community. My first rave was Beyond Wonderland and my normally introverted self was cautiously curious at the environment. Beautiful colors, sounds, and lights overwhelmed the senses. To be at one of these shows is an experience that the word “concert” doesn’t do justice. I had truly stepped into a new world where how you danced meant nothing, as long as you were being true to yourself, it was a place where strangers hugged, said hi, complimented each others outfits*, and were generally polite. I’m sure that the drug going through most people’s systems was MDMA or mushrooms instead of alcohol had a lot to do with it.
Regardless, there was a sense of community. Everyone was there to have a good time, and that often meant making friends, performing light shows, and loving your neighbor. Coming from a military world where you are trained to hate the different and see anyone as a potential enemy this was a pleasant culture shock. I felt comfortable enough to wander alone, explore the sounds and different stages, dance around, talk to girls (trust me, this is a shock), and enjoy sitting alone. It seemed to be a judgement free zone. Certainly there were drunks and troublemakers, but these seemed to be the exception not the rule. In fact, there were more problems, aggressive people, and drunks at a Lindsey Stirling concert I went to recently than any rave I’ve been to.
Unfortunately, things aren’t always peaceful. Most ravers have stories about the police doing drug busts and shutting down raves. I’ve even heard rumors of undercover cops hanging out near DanceSafe (an organization that tests drugs at raves to make sure people don’t OD) and arresting people who go to them for information and tests. In fact, Assemblywoman Ma from California attempted to ban EDM and seemed shocked when she found out it was unconstitutional to ban a type of music, so she worked to ban LED gloves and pacifiers instead. What this really is is an attempt to use the government to ban what is not understood. And the result is raves moving underground or leaving states where they feel unnecessary pressure from the state.
If the state must exist the resources should be used to protect those that are weak, not punish those that are different. Every dollar spent going undercover to make low-end drug arrests and shut down raves is a dollar not available to investigate rapes and murders. Any person who thinks that this is an appropriate use of tax-dollars should find the victim of a crime and explain to them why the murder of their loved one or their rape should have resources taken away from it to stop an adult from dancing while wearing a fur vest. We have homes for abused woman and mental health facilities severely underfunded but we have kids going to underground parties because you can’t celebrate life in the open without fearing arrest.
I may not be the biggest fan of EDM but it is a community that has shown me love and I do hope it is here to stay. These are people who embrace peace instead of war, love instead hate, and communication over passive-aggressiveness. It is simply discrimination to punish those with legal action for celebrating a life in a way that is new or isn’t understood.