Let me just start by saying that any movement helping to promote a greater sense of Peace Love Unity and Respect is fantastic. It's truly a commendable and worthwhile cause and is the very essence of the dance music philosophy: meet new people, share a moment, treasure it and store it in your soul for eternity. A shimmer of light in a world overwhelmed by darkness.
The current PLUR explosion is as far removed from the original philosophy as could be, originating near 30 years ago by one of the founders of the scene, Frankie Bones. It was a cause to unite all who danced in the shadows to coexist in a musical sanctuary. There was no need for outfits, 'Kandi beads' or the emphasis on the sheer attention seeking of those who now lay claim to the PLUR movement.
Instead of a united philosophy where everybody is one and the same, worshiping only the music, and the exhilaration of being alive, festivals are now littered with multi-colored, human-like, jelly-baby silhouette sucking dummies.
PLUR was never about YouTube tutorials or Wiki pages (12 steps to becoming a Kandi Kid), or secret handshakes only known to fellow PLURists. Peace, Love, Unity, Respect was a calling card to all who wished to follow. How can someone expect to project PLUR to a fellow raver with a gas mask wrapped around their face? If anything, the "fashion" of PLUR promotes division and intimidation by putting the focus on visual appearances rather than genuine soulful connection.
Sadly it seems that American dance music culture is pushing too hard to lay claim to their own PLUR 2.0 movement, almost like an overcompensation, or as a way to stamp an identity on a movement that was created for the very opposite reason. Does paying $100 dollars for a tacky outfit and adorning your arms with beads really suggest a movement welcoming to all? Or does all this rave showboating make the concept of PLUR less accessible to people casually looking for a musical escape?
Even the legendary Seth Troxler (look him up he's a big deal) is unhappy with the current PLUR movement. Speaking to Thump magazine he spoke about the history of PLUR and its relevance today:
I was in a club recently and there was this guy there with one of the original Paradise Garage tee shirts on. We got talking, and he said the major difference with dance music now and back then, is back then there was real diversity. You had social, class, race, sexual diversity-and that's cool. That's what dance music culture is about. Everyone under one roof, exploring their own and each others identities. A celebration of something more, something outside of received norms. Not having a giant glow stick and getting on it.
PLUR needs to devolve rather than evolve, it needs to go back to a previous time when glow in the dark outfits didn't define who you were at a festival, what defined you was who you were as a person. It wasn't about how saucer-eyed you are or whether you've been smashed in the face by a cake, it was about the music, that's the reason you've paid the money to be there in the first place.
With the burgeoning of PLUR 2.0, we find that rather than be lost together in a sea of 70,000 fellow dance music fans, blissfully at ease with the world, a new culture has emerged. This post-millennium incarnation of PLUR promotes a culture of neediness, a culture of attention-seeking. The need to stand out from the crowd, to stand apart from everyone else is a tragedy as it goes against the very ethos of what dance music culture is supposed to be about: unity.
Although fashion is purely cosmetic, it effects can counter the ethics of dance music by placing more importance on style than on the music. I don't suggest that you ditch your neon garb for all black, by all means, dress up in the wildest and wackiest outfits you can imagine. Expression is important, but consider whether your outerwear is a reflection of your inner being or just an innocuous attempt to display dance music elitism.
There's no twelve step guide to becoming a dance music fan, you're either in or you're out. Spending $200 dollars on an outfit and wearing 90,000 beads does not mean that you are the epitome of PLUR. Dance music captures your heart, mind, and soul, that's something that you won't be able to buy or find on a Google search.
PLUR is more than an outfit, it is a culmination of hope, belief, and passion, it is sharing caring and kindness. It is feeling the music, rather than waiting impatiently for that one song you like. PLUR is life.
And don't get me started on that ridiculous PLUR handshake.
Until next week.
The Prophet Has Spoken