EDM has surged to the forefront of mainstream culture within recent years. Once thought of as a tiny subsection of music as a whole, EDM has evolved into a complex ecosystem of basslines and specialized music festivals, traded bracelets and shared memories. A community has surged in both numbers and popularity, uniting us all with a common love for the music.
And yet, it’s not all PLUR and rainbows. Since EDM itself has become so broadly encompassing to a multitude of genres and subgenres, there has sprung a small kind of dissent amongst the ranks. And that problem is the appearance of a kind of condescension between devout lovers of genres, a superior attitude towards people who exist within another branch of EDM.
You may have seen it before. You could have spotted a pack of shirtless men moshing at the mainstage of a music festival and had a laugh. You may have witnessed a girl clad in and all black-ensemble barely grooving to a simple techno track, and come to the conclusion she came here to just look cool. And you might have passed by a raver clad in a fur hood head-banging at the rail and found yourself a little lost for words.
It’s a very interesting attitude of ‘mine’s better than yours’, a kind of elitism, that has sprung up within the EDM community. As long as there are people who love one genre, there will be people who dislike it or outright decry it. Mainstage is the lowest common denominator and people just haven’t found a better subgenre. Techno sounds the same. Dubstep is too intense. Drum & Bass is too fast. People are confused by what isn’t familiar and sometimes that confusion manifests into pretentiousness.
It isn’t relegated just to music, either- it also expands to what you wear and where you go. Kandi kids are holding on to a dying tradition of warehouse raves while tech-heads wear all black in a cool effort to look effortlessly cool. You haven’t “truly experienced” dance music if you’ve gone to a camping festival or one overseas. And don’t go to that club, they only play ‘big room’’.
This isn’t to say that everyone in dance culture does this openly, or even at all. Most people are content to mind their own business and to let everyone enjoy what they enjoy- perhaps out of some greater sense of acceptance, or out of a lack of a capacity to care. But there are those who love to take the piss out of others.
As for me, I’m not guiltless of the elitism discussed above. I’ve joked about my old music tastes, saying I’ve grown past the days where I listened to Knife Party and David Guetta. I’ve walked past the bass tent at music festivals, observing the headbangers like animals in a zoo, and jokingly asking my friends how they would try to dance to the heavy wubs. I’m not proud of making fun of others for enjoying themselves- I admit to that. But I’ve also been on the receiving end of that mockery, too: Uncouth things shouted at me by drivers by when I was trapped waiting for an Uber in my festival clothes, friends of friends rolling their eyes when they saw that I was still showing up to festivals up to my armpits in Kandi bracelets.
All we crave is understanding and acceptance. It’s human nature. And when we seek it out and are met with opposition, it can sting. Lucky enough to go to an overseas festival, I proudly showed my ticket to a friend of mine, a DJ, who then went through the lineup like he was grading my homework and declared that I should’ve gone to Burning Man instead. Looking back, I realize I gave way too much of a shit what he thought.
But lately, I find myself wondering a lot about the world outside my little house music bubble. Have I been limiting myself from some great parts of the genre through my own prejudice? What would happen if I gave the subgenres I disliked a chance? Would my mind be changed or would my opinion be cemented?
This series will be an attempt to answer those questions. In the next few months, I’m going to be expanding my horizons by meeting people who profess to love a specific genre of EDM. I’ll ask them why they love their genre so much, how they got into it, and then I’ll ask them to take me to a show of their choosing.
There’s something about watching someone share what they’re passionate about. They animate, eyes lighting up at the prospect of being able to express their love for something. But I realize it can be hard to explain. So, I’m gonna ask these people to show me what they love. And I can’t wait to share the passion.