Why Mad Decent Block Party's New Bans Are Temporary Solutions
In response to the tragic deaths that took place at Mad Decent Block Party’s recent show in Washington D.C., the organization has attempted to tackle the drug abuse problem that is occurring at these events. Many of the “solutions” on the list include the usual prohibitions, but the newest modification to their policy is directly connected to the “Kandi” movement that is so prevalent in EDM today. Diplo has received a lot of criticism on this issue, and has made an announcement via Twitter saying:
So What Really Is PLUR?
The Kandi philosophy is built upon the acronym PLUR - Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect. Those who wear Kandi express their shared ideology by exchanging hand-made bracelets through a unique handshake, and the connection is intended to form an unbiased and powerful bond between music-lovers of all kinds. This rave mantra is said to have officially begun in 1993 when a fight broke out during DJ Frankie Bones’ Storm Raves in NYC, where he allegedly picked up the microphone and said, “If you don’t start showing some peace, love, and unity, I’ll break your faces.”
But what is not known by many ravers today is that these bracelets used to be worn by drug dealers at raves in order to be easily identified by their buyers. Over time, the bracelet-donning culture became a lifestyle and entered the EDM movement by the masses. Unfortunately, this idea of PLUR has been bastardized by the media, who commonly label "Kandi Kids" as drug abusers and irresponsible rave-goers. Kandi Kids are shown in the media when news of tragic deaths at shows occurr, or when multiple people are rushed to the hospital from the overuse of drugs and/or alcohol. They are becoming an image associated with rebellious, illegal, and "devilish" behaviour.
Diplo has received criticism from all sides for his new "safety" policy: Kandi Kids are certainly not happy that their attire is now prohibited, since they claim to be promoting a positive message. Others have attacked Diplo and claimed that his “message” is useless, saying banning Kandi bracelets and masks won’t stop people from sneaking in drugs.
Why Is This Useless?
Essentially, Diplo’s new rules are based on stereotypical judgements on what people wear to shows. What differentiates his approach to rave-wear from places that disallow entry for men wearing sneakers, jeans, or sport caps? What differentiates his stereotyping from those who label someone wearing saggy pants as "gangster?" It is just another way to decide that certain demographics are threatening based on their appearance.
The mere association of rave-wear and drugs is superficial at best. It’s similar to saying people with car keys should be banned from coming into nightclubs because of the immense number of DUI-related deaths; or that bars should ban men with stockier, more muscular body-types because of the high volume of bar-fights that result in hospitalization. Are we to believe for a moment that no one has ever died of alcohol poisoning in Vegas? I’m sure stomach pumps are probably routine in the weekend emergency room. But are those blown up in the media? Of course not. Maybe Vegas clubs should ban everyone saying “whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” because it sounds like this person is ready for some serious bodily damage or irresponsible, illegal behaviour.
Now that being said, some venues do want to tailor their audience to fit a specific image or culture. A festival has no such dress-code requirement like an upscale nightclub, and is usually tolerable of half naked people going to party. So is a dress code a fair assessment of someone’s intentions? A girl wearing a short dress should not be associated with her objective to be sexually abused. A man wearing baggy jeans and a fitted hat should not be associated with his intentions to rob a lady of her purse, or hold up a convenience store.
What Can Be Done?
If an EDM festival really doesn’t want any fatalities at their events, they should build their image on preaching responsibility and harm reduction, not on dress code policy. Moreover, the event organizers should not be blamed for people dying at their events. The press needs to be constantly reminded that people dying or going to the hospital is the fault of the individual who made the poor or uneducated decision. Blame can be placed on the drug dealers with no conscience who sell poisoned drugs, who are completely enabled by absolutely unreasonable drug policies by the government. I would go so far as to blame the government itself for inadequate drug education, knowledge, and information resulting from underground culture because of the mainstream’s ill-informed opinions on drug use. Instead of constantly saying “no, no, drugs are bad and illegal,” policy should say “these are why drugs are bad, this is what could happen, and this is why one needs to be careful.” Placing a limitation on something with no valid reasoning only makes it that much more attractive. Moreover, the press needs to be reminded constantly that people die all the time; sometimes in a noble act, sometimes in a stupid act, and everything in between including having a good time - whether due to a heart attack, alcohol, falling down the stairs, driving home, or drugs.
Let’s not sensationalize the deaths of individuals to perpetuate the ill-informed frenzy over drugs and ravers. As a society, unless we want to ban everything, our best bet is to educate the masses so that we can decrease the chance of accidents and put various harm reduction systems in place. The source of the problem needs to be attacked, and banning Kandi Kids from wearing what they want essentially just sweeps the problem under the rug.
Written by Taya-Maria El-Asmar
Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of EDM.com.
Cover Photo via FestPop