In Defense of Kandi

The recent ban on Kandi bracelets by various venues including events such as Mad Decent Block Party, only illustrates how event organizers continue to skirt the real issues surrounding recent drug related deaths at various edm events. The banning of Kandi is completely irrelevant and unnecessary in promoting responsible drug use and harm reduction. To continue pretending that people are going to be deterred from consuming illegal substances due to a ban on costume wear is completely absurd. Kandi beads which have a lengthy history within the rave/edm world, may have been used in the past to promote drug use, but today, they represent so much more. Kandi beads are an integral part of rave culture. We use these small beads to express ourselves, create and bond new friendships, and just as cowboy hats and boots are to country music, Kandi is apart of rave cultural representation. Yes, we all come to festivals for the great music, but what sets the edm scene apart is the ability to express oneself through fashion, the ability to create a unified bond with other event attendees, and the ability to cultivate ones inner creativity. We can all go to a club or bar to enjoy edm music, but the festival scene creates something so much more powerful. Never before have we had the opportunity to gather in one place to enjoy great music, break the norms of fashion, enjoy the company of fellow humans, and have the ability to immerse oneself into a totally open and free environment. Yes, there are still underground parties where this can all occur, but today we are able to enjoy music in a safe place, with security, phenomenal stage production, and are able to experience the best acts in the world. We are in the middle of an evolution in musical history, where music, fashion, unity, and cultural representations, such as Kandi beads, come together in order to create an atmosphere of escapism. The EDM community has been vilified since its beginnings, with many attempting to paint the scene as a drug oriented pool of disillusioned youth. The edm scene continually receives vilification from many outsiders who have little knowledge about the beautiful memories created within. These festivals provide a place where we can be free, a place where it doesn't matter how much money you have or the color of your skin, a place where we can dance and enjoy music, escaping the mundane realities of work, schedules, school, and societal pressures. We come to enjoy life, enjoy each others presence and existence, and dance as our ancestors have danced for centuries, well into the waking hours of dawn. We come not to create harm or expand hatred but merely to enjoy life itself. 

It is our hope that EDM promoters, organizers, and leaders can come together in order to create comprehensive and sensible drug policies. Stamping out creativity and individuality is not the way to educate people. In fact it creates hostility and even more anger towards a system that continues to exert its control over us every day. Stripping people of their ability to express themselves, in a world so full of heinous evil, seems counter productive. We attend events to escape the feelings of being smashed into tiny pre-constructed boxes that society lays out for us from the day we are born. We are told who to be, what to wear, what we should or shouldn't do, who we should worship, who to be friends with, what gender roles we must conform to, and we lose any ability to create our own individualized worlds. We are not criminals or drug fiends, we are fully grown adults who attend college, we are graduates, military personal, hold full time jobs, own businesses, have children, careers, lives. Painting and labeling us as confused and irresponsible drug addicts is absolutely ignorant. We attend these events not as disillusioned youth, but for the most part as responsible, intelligent, and well-equipped adults. Treating us as children, banning our outfits, implementing unnecessary rules, and stripping us of the freedom to express ourselves not only creates anger but in the long run only pushes customers and fans away. People such as Diplo, are only alienating their paying customers and reducing us to mindless, irresponsible robots.  

We need to come together with open dialogues concerning drug education, provide testing kits, provide leaflets that discuss how to handle medical/drug related emergencies, teach people to help their brothers and sisters out when they're down, provide free water facilities, safe rooms, non-judegemnetal places where people can go in their times of need. People need help during their darkest times, providing safety nets, teaching responsibility, and allowing non-profit organizations, such as Dance Safe to interact with festival attendees directly, without judgement, can and does help in preventing tragedies. Creating peer groups such as Insomniac's Ground Control, which assist in spotting fellow festival goers in need is also imperative in preventing tragedies. Providing safe havens, cooling rooms, misters, places to relax, and non-judegemental staff and security that can give valuable life saving advice would all create a better atmosphere for all festival attendees. Instead of demonizing and punishing people who pay hard earned money to attend these festivals, promoters need to work to promote a safe, healthy, and well planned festival experience. Drugs are taken by not only EDM festival attendees but many people, from every age group, from every economic and social level and background. To pretend that drugs will not be ingested at any event wether edm related or not is completely irresponsible and naive. Diplo and his recent ban on Kandi beads seems like a cop out, where he and other promoters/organizers refuse to face the real issues at hand, and refuse to take responsibility in protecting the many people who attend their festivals. It is imperative that we all come together and demand that concert organizers promote sensible drug education, harm reduction, teach responsibility, and provide a safe haven for people who may need help. 

We as festival attendees also need to take personal responsibility when making the decision to ingest an illegal substance. We are not invincible or immune to the possibility of death. The hard truth is drugs are not regulated and one can never fully know what a particular pill or powder may contain. We all make mistakes and/or sometimes wish to enhance our festival experiences but we also need to realize the impact of our personal choices and decisions. We can not continue to bear witness to these drug related tragedies and expect lawmakers to remain on our side. We must work to protect our community, protect our music festivals, and pay respect to the countless people who work hard to produce these amazing events.

Education, Safety, Responsibility, and Compassion are imperative in producing a well rounded festival experience for all. 

For Information on Drug Education and Harm Reduction Please Visit: http://dancesafe.org/

Let us know what you think concerning this issue.
Should Kandi and other items such as gloves be banned from festivals?
What are your ideas concerning how promoters/organizers should handle the current situation surrounding drug related deaths?

-EL