Rumors, gossip and squabbles spread faster than wildfire in the EDM community. Social media has become a battleground where nobody is immune from getting called out on a public forum. Even the most minor of misunderstandings can become catalysts for dispute, damaging the careers of artists and the reputations of fans. Dance music listeners bicker so often that the “peace-and-love” maxim that is preached at music festivals seems ironic and somewhat fake. Since when did practitioners of PLUR become so adversarial? Understanding the source of all this "EDM Beef" begins by dissecting the fan base.
Honestly: What normal person would pay money to go to a dirty, sketchy warehouse and dance around to drum loops and computer beeps? What kind of grownup wears kandi-bead bracelets and furry neon boots? One look at a standard rave should say it all: Electronic music is for the outliers. A good amount of individuals that attend electronic music shows were outcasts during their teenage years. So called “popular kids” have been avoiding these outcasts during lunch period since middle school, but the freaks and geeks preferred it that way; oddballs rarely judge each other.
But remember how irate people became when the “Bros” started showing up at everyone’s favorite venue or festival, confidently fist pumping to early Dubstep? How easily people forget the flack that top grossing DJs like Swedish House Mafia and Deadmau5 received for “selling out” to mainstream listeners. In 2012, Billboard magazine posted an article titled “The Year EDM Sold Out,” and during the same year, Forbes published a feature called “Skrillex: The $15 Million DJ.” Once Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites was on everyone’s iPod, the secret spot was no longer a secret, and the land of the strange became overrun. During an interview in 2013, Harley Streten—better known by his stage name Flume—lamented at the onslaught of “orange chicks” and “dudes on steroids with their shirts off” that have pervaded the festival circuit in recent years.
The main reason that old-school ravers were so opposed to those who bro-down is because of the lack of respect for the “Ten Principles of Burning Man,” a list of values that serve as the Ten Commandments for ravers. This clash of cultures has caused traditional EDM listeners to forsake the first and most important principle: Radical Inclusion. “Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.” That attitude quickly dissipated when festival grounds were left buried under trash and debris, requiring hundreds of man-hours worth of cleanup. Radical Inclusion dissolved completely when headlines like “2 Teenagers Die At Electronic Music Festival” gained national coverage, painting EDM in a negative light.
Unfortunately, now that electronic music has become recognized by mainstream audiences, it is hard to tell the difference between the real EDM listeners and those who are using raves as an excuse to get high. For $100, you too can have a Grassroots flat-brim and deck it out with hat-pins and crystals. The scene has been infiltrated and assimilated by the “popular kids,” and there is no going back to 2008 when EDM was still an underground movement. From the outside looking in, all ravers and hippies look alike, so rather than fight with each other, spread awareness of the Ten Principles. Maybe three years from now everyone will look back on 2015 as “The Year that EDM Woke Up.”