EDM has gotten a lot of attention this past week in the form of harsh media criticism of this genre’s perceived heavy ties to drug use. This criticism is not new by any means as it has been around for years (if not decades). No music style or genre is free from its own demons, and electronic music is not the first to have painful ties to less than favorable stereotypes. Now, however, with three deaths in less than a week, the media has enough ammo to really start talking. Woodstock had marijuana and LSD, Rock and Roll had cocaine, and EDM, now “officially” has Molly.
The unfortunate truth is that those of us who attend sets completely sober, who travel hundreds of miles to meet up with friends whom we’ve met at other shows, or who would propose at their favorite artist’s set have made it WAY too easy for the media to do this.
The photo above is exactly why our parents, and an increasing amount of media, hate EDM. The apparel found far too often at these events is visual evidence to support their claims that we are an inferior, disillusioned, sub-culture, with nothing more on our minds other than providing justification to get high.
How many of us have stood idly by as individuals take freedom of expression to the extreme, donning attire that is by definition, a public drug advertisement of the worst kind? We may mutter comments to our friends, but to those we’re talking about, we avoid the uncomfortable discussion. “Have you seen Molly?” “Roll Face” “I Party with Lucy, Molly, & Mary Jane.” Its one thing to claim this as a part of one’s style, but if there was such a style, we should be seeing these shirts outside of festivals/events. Let’s face it, its pretty rare.
Embarrassingly, I too have been guilty of furthering the stereotype. In fact, one of the first rave shirts I ever wore included the phrase “roll hard.” It was what I thought I should do, to “look like a veteran.” Now I just feel ridiculous about it. I didn’t “roll hard” at that event, but I did make a lot of friends, none of whom had anything to say about my shirt.
It’s not terribly unlike the first day of high school or college. People look around to get an understanding of what’s acceptable. They see these shirts, hats, glasses, and kandi, and think “this is what people should do in order to fit in”. Even if you knew nothing about the scene, seeing these walking billboards would probably be enough to make anyone think drugs are not only acceptable, but encouraged.
People use the term PLUR (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect) to describe how we should treat each other and behave at an EDM event. However beautiful this concept may be in a world that seems to get more bent by the day, we took it too far. Not everything is acceptable. We have missed an opportunity to show our newest family members what it really means to be a lover of not only “EDM”, but of electronic music in general. We owe it to ourselves -and to the scene- to show these newcomers the way things really are, and not just how they seem.
Sunday, in lieu of the cancelled Day 3 of EZoo, I attended the Firebeatz/W&W/Jochen Miller show at Roseland Ballroom. There, everything came full circle, as I watched one girl show another how to trade kandi. After the newly taught girl turned back around to face the stage, the “show veteran,” now behind her, read her new kandi, pulled it off her wrist, and sent beads to the floor as she stretched it until it broke. I asked her what it said. She said “Roll Hard.” Wow. Now that, was an epiphany.
This week has been a lot about pointing fingers: at promoters, at the unfortunate individuals who lost their lives, at artists, at anything to keep the world still spinning, but we have yet to ask ourselves the most important question of “What can we do?”
From here on forwards, I challenge everyone who loves this music as much as I do, to help clean our scene. Trade your favorite kandi for those with unimaginative drug references so you can destroy them. Stock up on 6 dollar shirts, and start giving people the shirt off your back if it means removing one more “Molly’s my Favorite Slut” shirt from circulation. More importantly than the act itself: show everyone the love they deserve by telling them you respect them too much to let them think that this is the only aspect of EDM. Electronic dance music is far too amazing for that.
While it is not our right to decide for someone whether they should or shouldn’t take something at their next show, it is in our power to control what the rest of the world sees in us. I understand that people will take drugs at shows, we all understand that this is going to happen. But please, do not let it define who you are, who the rest of us are, or what our scene is.