Electronic dance music, more commonly known as EDM, has recently become a powerful industry in mainstream-entertainment. EDM features DJs playing prerecorded mixes, and famous DJs like Tiesto and Skrillex are paid millions of dollars each year for performances. Despite this popularity, many musicians refuse to affiliate their careers with DJs, arguing DJing requires no musical talent. Ed Montano, a musical history professor at Macquarie University, believes DJs are unfairly exploiting the music industry for money and self-proclaimed fame via technologically produced music. However, University of London professor Bill Crow claims EDM is an innovative and creative example of music evolution that should be embraced in the music industry. Despite Crow’s optimism, Deadmau5’s astonishing success as a DJ proves his argument most credible. He claims DJing is not meant to showcase musicality, and admits EDM performances merely consist of pressing ‘play.’ He argues that sharp studio skills result in success. Each of these arguments fails to develop reasons why DJs are so popular – it has nothing to do with musicality or studio production. The success of mainstream EDM DJs is mostly due to the recent rise in rave culture among teenagers and young adults, along with the captivating atmosphere of these dance events.
Imagine a haven with no judgment, racism, violence, or sexism – just happiness and equality. This foundational aspect inspired the motto of the rave scene, “PLUR,” which stands for Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect (Lenda). The common theme among ravers avoids violence and “spread[s] the love” to help others find their inner peace (Lenda). Raves began in London as part of a late 1950s youth movement. The culture developed hippie elements in the 60s with the popularity of the Beatles (Derbyshire). Raves continue evolving with the decades, and are currently viewed as mainstream entertainment in the United States. One of the most famous raves in the US today is the Electric Daisy Carnival, an annual summer tradition since 1997 (David and Marv). These surreal dance parties are considered a part of the “post-modernist mainstream cultural wave,” and rigorously focus on electronic dance, techno, and house music (Hutson). The high-status association of EDM with mainstream society is a contributing element to the popularity rise in both the dance music and raves. The term ‘rave’ derives from the French word ‘resver,’ meaning to dream or wander, explaining the mystical and trancelike ambience of raves (Online Etymology Dictionary). Spiritual healing expert Scott Hutson describes raves as “spatial escapes” in which you connect with those around you and find your inner-spirit. Ravers find tranquility with “personal issues and deal with religious rapture” while in attendance (Reynolds). An important trademark of raves is the feeling of harmonization (Gibson). Sensitive proportions of music, lights, and dancing are the key elements to the rave scene. Their synchronization consumes the crowd with a sense of togetherness to spark excitement. The signature-style electronic music, however, is the most enduring aspect, as DJs use uniquely powerful tones to drive the excitement and make the experience more enjoyable. Without the electronic music the hierarchy would be disturbed; the sacred structure is a crucial component in the rise of rave culture and popularity of DJs.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects to emphasize about the rave scene is the drug-centric culture. It’s no secret that club drugs including LSD, ketamine, marijuana, DMT, and MDMA fuel a majority of these events (Downing 336). MDMA, aka ecstasy, is the most prevalent drug at raves. A study done by Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards in 2001 found nearly 90% of ravers admitted to using MDMA at least once at a rave within the last year. Ecstasy releases high amounts of serotonin and dopamine into the brain, causing psychoactive effects that generate a dreamlike state of mind....
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