I’ve been pretty vocal lately: about the impact Electric Zoo’s cancellation and the effect that mass ‘molly-scare’ is having on our scene and on our community. But I thought today it might be pertinent to touch on something I rarely bring up in editorials: perception.
I’ve been incredibly blessed to have met several of my favorite DJ’s and producers face-to-face, often making incredible connections and in some rare cases even staying close friends. Without naming any names, some have even come up to me and instantly recognized me at show (yes, ME, a tiny little twittersona in a mask).
While musicality is most of what draws me to a performer, and stage presence often affects how I enjoy the bulk of a performance, interacting directly with a musician of any kind often has a strong lasting effect on how I enjoy their music.
For example, I was very much still in the discovery period when I first met ‘crunkstep’ DJ Crizzly on my birthday. Having only taken a quick glance at his Soundcloud and curious to hear what it would translate to live, meeting him and his hype man Cool simply added a new dimension to their understanding of their music. Chris himself, though boasting a big sound, is refreshingly down-to-earth and comes somewhat quiet; whereas Cool is brilliantly intellectual, fills a room with energy, and while larger-than-life on stage is incredibly humble off-stage.
Similarly, meeting some of the New York local DJ’s has proved an incredible experience: having met Tyler Sherritt, Hyperbits, and 1/2 of Live City has added a more personal connection to their sound whenever one of their tracks pops up in their playlist: I understand a bit better how their individuality comes across in their production and arrangement choices.
Even HUGE inspirational DJ/producers whose tracks have been my support system and my anthems in times of need have managed to add dimension to the tracks I so dearly love. After winning a ticket to see Dash Berlin after EDC NY I somehow managed to see him face-to-face and shake his hand. Though very few words were spoken, and he now wears my ‘Silence in Your Heart’ kandi…I feel that whenever that track comes on, I am even more in love with it and him than ever before.
In rare cases where I met performers whose shows I attended as a discovery experience, I was met with incredible acceptance and kindness: Dirtyphonics stayed behind to sign a poster from their Irreverence tour and took a moment to meet me and thank me for coming. Le Castlevania was even kind enough to offer me water: though his music is aggressive and wholly immersive, the man himself is incredibly shy, yet down to earth.
If you ever have the chance to attend a meet and greet, or even score the rare opportunity to meet the maker of your personal anthem, DO IT. It can add such a rich dimension to your appreciation of their work.
What DJ/Producers have you been blessed to meet? Tell me in the comments 🙂
Within the first few seconds of receiving news that Sunday of Electric Zoo was cancelled, I was devastated. Distraught initially because I would once again be missing Armin and would not be seeing Vicetone. And like many, I took my fury to Twitter, lashing out angrily to every corner of the internet, blaming irresponsible people for single-handedly ruining my weekend.
That was incredibly selfish, and I’m sorry.
There were multiple factors in the cancellation of Electric Zoo, the most prominent and most reported being the two deaths due to drug overdoses. However these were not the only problems present at the festival itself. As I go on to list these issues I want to make it VERY VERY CLEAR that I am of the opinion that it was in NO WAY Made Event of the Electric Zoo 2013 officials’ fault for these problems:
- Security was not sufficient.
- Medical staff, while available did not check surrounding areas for fallen ravers.
- Certain volunteers / staff not only endorsed frequent ‘molly’ use, there was an incidence of a ‘we want molly’ tip sign at one water station.
- Certain ‘rented’ security staff was not only discourteous, they made unwanted flirtatious advances on female ravers such as myself.
- Apparel promoting drugs use was permitted at the event, only contributing to the ‘hype’ of drug use.
- Excessive shoving and general misconduct from attendees exacerbated already dehydrated ravers, only adding tension to already negative situations of crowding and overheating.
- Songs about ‘Molly’ including Tyga’s ‘Molly’ and Cedric Gervais’ hit song were dropped, only adding to unnecessary hype of the drug
Again, none of these are Made Event of Electric Zoo’s fault. It is important to note that in 2012 Electric Zoo had no deaths. As pop stars and rappers have begun to bolster the hype of drug use and wild partying, our festivals are getting inundated with unsafe expectations that tons of drugs and drinking are required to make the EDM scene enjoyable…encouraging newcomers to create their own ‘Project X‘ at shows like EDC and EZOO instead of simply coming to enjoy the music.
Spoiler Alert; You Don’t Need Drugs To Enjoy EDM
DJ’s such as Bassnectar and Brillz have released official statements about the situation, pleading with their fanbase to be safe and take accountability for their actions. Videos such as the the vimeo clip featuring major acts like Kaskade, Tommie Sunshine, Steve Aoki, and A-Trak have been circulated begging those who do partake in substances to be extremely careful of their actions.
Actions such as taking “6 hits of molly”, leaving a friend by themselves if you know that they are intoxicated or impaired, and buying illegal substances from someone you’ve never met without testing it are just a few examples of unnecessary risks that were taken and contributed to the deaths of these two young individuals. Preventable actions.
While some have made the argument that shutting down the zoo because the poor decisions of 6 people should not affect thousands who have shelled out hundreds of dollars to enjoy their favorite musicians, its important to understand that the decision was ultimately Mayor Bloomberg‘s. While it angered many, like myself it was a wake-up call: if we do not tackle this problem head-on more and more EDM events will be cancelled, banned, and characterized as ‘death fests’, ‘drug sprees’, and ravers like you and me will be labelled ‘drug addicts’. While you can’t convince major news networks to undo the damage they are doing by stigmatizing us with each and every false depiction of all ravers being drug abusers who yell ‘popped a molly I’m sweating’ every 2.5 seconds, what you can do it this:
- Don’t buy anything endorsing ‘molly’, ‘mdma’, or drugs of any kind
- Demand that your favorite DJ’s stop the endorsement of drug usage of any kind
- Demand tracks promoting ‘molly’ and other hard drugs be removed from their set lists; Heck, even walk out as soon as they come on
- Demand harsher security that ACTUALLY checks for drugs THOROUGHLY
If purging molly from our shows means we can continue to have our major festivals and enjoy our favorite acts free of stigma and death, I say let’s do it. Who’s with me?
Sorry for the big fat lag in posts (OOPS!) anyways the last project I wanted to start does appear to have some kinks that I need to work out (video conferencing is rather tricky). However, I’m not letting that stop me, and I have one project I want to launch specifically for Electric Zoo participants!
I’m calling it ‘The Unicorn Project“, and here’s why I’m launching it: ‘PLUR‘ as a buzzword has been largely skewed since its inception. I’ve mentioned plenty of times where its true origins come from (but if you need a refresher, click here), and its inception came at a crucial moment when there needed to be a shift in the scene. With drugs references damning the scene and god only knows how many inaccurate protrayals of the scene as a whole, I felt I should at least try to offset it as best as I can. Icons who are already ‘battling’ these negative stereotypes like Lady Casa (changing form Molly Casa, to cleanse herself of the possible drug connotation) have made an impact, but I feel there needs to be a more tangible impact on a experiential level.
What It Really Means
PLUR when demonstrated doesn’t mean winning free stuff, getting discounts, rolling face on drugs, or even dressing up; on a more basic level the truest demonstrations of the concept are when a someone (even a complete stranger) gives you that last sip of water, helps you get to the font of the stage, or even helps you get home safely. It’s not about ‘partying with sluts’ or ‘freeing molly’…its truest manifestation is in the uncommon kindness of like-minded souls you may have never even met before.
The first phase of The Unicorn Project will be small-scale, very simple, and is intended to be a ‘test-run’ to see how people respond. My ‘testing ground’ will be Electric Zoo. What I wanted to do, was to create an undisclosed number of temporary tattoos with the specified design to be given to those (and only those) individuals that demonstrate what I personally feel to be true acts of what PLUR embodies. However, I realize that EZoo ends up confiscating anything they deem ‘promo material’…so that’s kind of out. Instead, what I will offer to do is draw the specific design onto anyone’s shirt/hat/butt/boobs/etc that wants it. I can draw in puff-paint leading up to the event per request for NYC residents (or anyone in the city before the event), and will (hopefully) be able to bring a sharpie or other drawing apparatus in the day of.
I’m not asking for money, I’m not asking for sponsorship or recognition: I am just asking people to be decent to one another, for which they will get a pretty doodly design. That’s it. It’s not some big crazy contest, it’s just a small token of recognition. Down the road, I’d like to expand this little project to be more in-depth and cohesive, but on a small budget and a big dream, this is what I can do for now.
I wanted to create something that had significance to me, and unicorns have always been a favorite subject for me to draw; they may not truly exist in our lives but their elegance and grace has captured the hearts and minds of poets, artists, and many others for centuries. The particular unicorn I’ve chosen isn’t a pretty rainbow-and-butterfly design; It’s an undead unicorn, a stark skull with a crooked horn and a tattered mane. This is intentional, as I feel it represents the ways that this concept of PLUR has been misused, defiled, and desecrated. But skulls have always held a special place in my heart: they are beautiful in their own simple way, and serve symbolically as a basis for a fresh start (or fresh slate if you will) on which we can reclaim and refurbish the ideology behind PLUR. I didn’t want to simply write ‘PLUR’ on the design, it would be a disservice to the design on the whole. So instead, I chose a personal mantra that I live by daily, “True compassion never dies”. On my own tank, which bears the unicorn, I do not have these words, as they have already been internalized, but I’d be happy to add them to yours. To those who show compassion, spread peace, nurture love, foster unity, and show respect towards fellow ravers and first-timers alike, this will symbol (doodled as best as humanly possible on whatever you wish) be your small token of my gratitude.
I’ve noticed an increase in negativity on Twitter; whether it be in reaction to the cancellation of Moonrise (warranted, what happened was a shock and a disrespect to the artists who were signed up to perform) or the outright vicious attack of others, there seems to be an increase in hypocrisy surrounding those who claim to ‘preach PLUR’ and then so adamantly drop the veil of acceptance to berate and humiliate others. Truthfully, it makes me sad to see that so many have turned against the true ideals they stand for in favor of petty argument and bickering. Not only that, but I’ve even seen a truly disgusting increase in outright muckraking by twitter handles that claim to represent blogs. I know I have been known to criticize producers such as Paris Hilton, Will.i.am, and Pauly D…but there is a fundamental difference in disagreeing with the musical styles they perpetuate and an all-out assault on them personally.
I understand that twitter is a platform built on conversation, and that not all conversations will be positive, but outright bullying of anyone within the EDM scene is fundamentally un-PLUR, and if you are viciously attacking anyone be it a DJ, Anon, or personal handle, you are not preaching PLUR. To be honest, anyone who knows the original origin of the saying that coined the phenomena remembers that the initial mention was in a threatening manner:
“You better start showing some Peace, Love and Unity, or I will break your $%^ing faces”
Initially yelled by at a rave where a fight broke out, this moment of clarity would inspire our neon-laden comrades to later on don the expressive and vibrant decor they wear now, and their mission to spread love and acceptance of everyone in the scene. I’m not saying I’m going to break your fucking face if you continue to berate others while “going through the motions” of PLUR, but I think its time someone informed you that you are perpetuating a blasphemy, a charade, and not truly embracing the Peace, Love, Unity, or Respect idolized by this generation.
PLUR is being the difference, not the opposition.
A while back, someone who knew me from my dayjob (and not my nightlife) gave me their opinion and viewpoint as what they called the ‘typical kandi kids’.
They called them drug addicts, they called them deadbeats destined to wash up, and they called PLUR their way of ‘coping’ or perhaps even ‘legitimizing’ their ‘pointless’ lifestyle and unnecessary expenses. This someone said that his main reason for going to shows was just to hear the music, and that the crowd didn’t matter.
Unaware that I’ve coming to feel a resonance with the PLUR-practicing ‘kandi kids’, this person probably assumed (like most people) that I was the typical neon crop-top wearing 20-something who listened to David Guetta and Afrojack, went to festivals with a group of well-groomed bankers in tanks and pastel Dockers, and maybe had one or two ‘bracelets’ because I didn’t understand how trading worked or bought them from Claire’s or Hot Topic.
But, That’s Not Me
But to me, this demonstrates a fundamentally skewed and highly inaccurate portrayal of the scene. The fact of the matter is, yes some of us do drugs…but so do some of the banker-types in their neon frat-wear. Yes, some of the kandi-kids work ‘deadbeat’ jobs to make ends meet…but under some of the beaded masks, under the spirithoods, and wearing some of the LED gloves you also find PR professionals, artists, medical professionals, and yes, even some bankers. Similarly, some of the ‘well-to-do’ types that fist-pump and yell “RAAAGE!” randomly throughout DJ sets are also sometimes working deadbeat jobs, donning the frattier attire to attempt to blend in the more affluent banker-types. And that’s no reason to think of them as any less or better than the rest of the people enjoying the scene.
What PLUR Actually Is
One of the biggest reasons I love the PLUR-practicing community is, you can be that kandi-laden raver with FX contacts, body paint, fluffies, gloves…or just be some guy in a polo shirt and khaki shorts…and you will be treated with equal respect. Similarly, if you’ve only ever heard of David Guetta, and are at a festival to expand your understanding of the scene…the PLUR community will be all too excited to guide you to a stage playing Trance, or Trap, or anything that they think you might like. Hell, they’ll even let you listen to their iPod to help you figure it out sometimes. PLUR isn’t some generic cult that shoves molly down their throat to have a good time…and even those of us that do enjoy a roll here and there aren’t trying to ‘cope’ or ‘legitimizing’ our feelings for the music. In fact, some of us just add Molly sometimes…because we just want an extra kick, not unlike the fratty times that ‘pregame’ with gallons of dehydrating beer: at least we remember the experience we had, unlike the fratty mishaps that get wasted and carried off in stretchers at Festivals (though if that’s how you want to spend a festival, that is entirely your choice).
PLUR, is at its simplest core:
- Peace; the peace of mind of being amongst like-minds. The peaceful vibes you get as you experience the lights, music, and raw energy of the crowd. The peace that comes as you lay your head to sleep after a good show and relive the memories in your dreams.
- Love; a unified love of the music, of the crowd, of what is around you and who you can be for that moment in time. Love of who you are, and love of other people who are there for the same reason you are.
- Unity; quite simply the unity you feel in that moment where you let the music move you. Where you can express yourself not as one person, but as one excited and tangible unit of people aligned in the same emotions.
- Respect; the respect of those around you: if you need water, they will help you. If you need support, they will support you. In some cases, if you can’t see, they will lift you up so you can get a glimpse of your favorite DJ. They understand why you are here, and you respect the reasons they are there with you.
So perhaps if this person knew that I go to these shows wearing a bandana mask, trading kandi, and feeling a mutual love of those around me, they might think differently. But it’s not entirely their fault: if your sole reason for going to shows is to stand still and listen to the music, then stream it live from home or buy a VIP ticket. If you are so far-removed from the crowd and do no wish to interact with the ‘kandi kids’ because you find their unique expression juvenile or take joy in mocking it…just buy a VIP ticket and enjoy your VIP air-conditioned bathroom safely away from them.
But if you do nothing else, realize that the mainstream ‘stereotype’ you are associating with these individuals is inaccurate and unjustified. But because I believe in PLUR and I align with its message, instead of being mad that him for thinking this way, I will simply love and respect him, as I do all my friends.
Sorry for the mega-rant guys!