EDM is No Longer a Safe Haven – And That’s Okay

“Dance music as an underground culture used to be a safe haven for those who didn’t fit into the mainstream to have a refuge for our weirdness. Now, most of it is populated by the kids we once sought to escape from.” – Reid Speed.

The EDM scene has seen an alarming number of changes in the last ten years, and has only in recent years started to reach and resonate with all kinds of people. I first read Reid Speed’s opinion on EDM months ago and it struck a chord with me. Growing up, I watched my sister – now in her late 20’s – get ridiculed through most of her teenage years. She was a misfit, a weird kid. Her music was always at a deafening volume, which was where she liked it most. I remember being younger and seeing her leave the house in a brightly colored tutu, pacifier in mouth, colored streaks in her hair – and I admired this. She was so uniquely and beautifully herself. She would come home from whatever underground rave in downtown Houston on cloud nine. In this sense, I understand Speed. The underground culture of dance music was a safe haven for her and her “weirdness”. It was the only place she didn’t feel pressured to be someone she wasn’t, to conform to whatever society’s opinion of normal was. Having said this, EDM isn’t just for the weird kids anymore, and I think the changes happening are not only necessary but inspired.

No one has ever known the misfits to be an unaccepting lot, because it goes against the core of who they are. Their scene is being overrun by the “popular kids”, if you will, and instead of running away to find another refuge for their weirdness, they stayed. Rather than turning away the people who refused to accept them, they’ve opened their arms and allowed them to join them in celebrating what makes us who we are. As society becomes increasingly progressive in their beliefs and ideologies, it is only fitting for us to break down the barriers in the music scene, too. We’re helping others experience something they likely have never felt before, and with that comes a better understanding and appreciation for one another.

Dance music has no doubt evolved, just like anything does with time. That is not to say it’s not enjoyable. It still stands for and upholds the same values it always has, an attitude of acceptance and total love. How are we supposed to hate on that? Being nostalgic for the time it was uniquely for the misfits is understandable, but we’re starting to reach a larger number of people and should look at the bigger picture. If more people are starting to experience something they love with the people they love, and are becoming friends with someone they never would have as a passerby on the street, why aren’t we celebrating this? Why aren’t we putting more focus on the fact that more people are willing to embrace what makes us different? Instead of being a passive-aggressive bystander reminiscing on the days of the underground scene, be a part of the movement toward a more tolerant society. Acknowledge the fact that EDM isn’t quite what it used to be, but embrace the inevitable change. Relish in the experience and know that you are a part of a generation that is making history. Promote inclusion, not exclusion. Exude positivity and give love and patience to those who need it, even if they don’t know it yet. By natural course, those who aren’t there for the real experience will be weeded out. They’ll get bored and move on to the next scene. Those who stay though, those who feel it and fall in love like we have, they’ve found their new home. I can’t for even a second imagine feeling any type of negative emotion toward that. If they are lost, they will be found, and they will help spread the peace, love, unity, and respect that the music demands.

“When it comes to most of the EDM DJs out there I don’t have any respect or interest in what they’re doing. It’s been hard to watch something so special to me be diluted and heisted and turned into this kind of shameless, cheap, fake carnival. To that degree I hate EDM. I worry it’s depleting the authenticity of DJ culture… but you can’t really hate on 30,000 people having the time of their lives.” – Bassnectar.

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