Exchanging kandi



EDM encourages ‘peace, love, unity and respect’
text: Jerry Salas / images: Zach Toberman


The lights come on, the bass rattles the stage and thousands of fists rise to the sky.

The crowd looks like a box of neon crayons that exploded and everyone seems to be glowing.

Have these people been exposed to the “ooze” from the second Ninja Turtles movie?

No, they are at a rave.

Electronic dance music, better known as EDM, has been around for many years, but recently found new life in the club scene and music industry.

Years ago, this type of music never would have been played on top 40-themed radio stations.

Now you can’t change the station without hearing hearing Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child” and Avicii’s “Wake Me Up.”

EDM is a form of music created by a DJ or DJ collaborative that usually consists of repetitive, fast tempo beats and sometimes vocals.

The vocals are provided by separate artists and can sometimes include big name artists such as Rihanna. DJs such as Deadmau5 and Tiesto have become household names in the EDM genre. Sub-genres within electronic dance music include progressive house, dubstep and many more.

With that being said, most EDM songs have one goal: to get your fists in the air and your feet off the ground.

A major part of this genre is the culture that comes with it.

While glow sticks and flower headbands are the norm at any EDM rave, many participants are meticulous when planning a night or weekend to enjoy the popular music.

One aspect of the EDM culture is the exchanging of “kandi.”

Kandi are bracelets made out of beads and string, but can also be made into necklaces, cuffs and headbands.

Kandi are usually colorful and can have small charms and words across them.

Claudia Figueroa, an SJSU health science alumna and avid EDM raver, said her friends host kandi parties before a big event.

“We get together to make kandi, eat, drink and talk about the event we’re going to,” Figueroa said.

She said that when you get to an event, you exchange your kandi with random people and that’s how you make new friends.

Karen Ambrosio, a senior behavioral science major and EDM enthusiast, said exchanging kandi shows support for what the EDM culture promotes: PLUR, short for peace, love, unity and respect.

Another aspect of the culture is the outfits that concertgoers assemble for the events.

EDM artists such as Dada Life have a following of fans that support them by wearing esoteric costumes.

Dada Life fans can be seen walking around their shows in banana suits because it is one of the two items the DJ duo always requests in its rider. A rider is a sheet of requests artists give to a venue to ensure the listed items are available to them before they perform. The other item in Dada Life’s rider is champagne, according to an interview by Jess Kapadia for the Food Republic website.

Ambrosio said she plans her outfits for each day of an EDM concert in advance so she has time to make them.

“Sometimes my friends and I do themed costumes,” Ambrosio said. “We all did a Sailor Moon theme for one of the days at this year’s EDC.”

EDC stands for Electronic Daisy Carnival.

Ambrosio said many cities hold EDC festivals but the one that she attended in Las Vegas is considered the main event.

EDC Las Vegas is one of the biggest summer festivals in the EDM industry.

Hundreds of thousands of people converge on Las Vegas every year to enjoy myriad DJs and art at the three-day venture.

As you can guess, many attendees attempt to participate in the festival for the entire three days without much rest in between.

Emilio Cortez, senior pictorial arts major and EDM DJ, said the heat and lack of sleep can take their toll on the body.

“I’ve seen people passed out from heat exhaustion,” Cortez said.

He said if you can manage your time and plan ahead, an EDM festival can be an amazing experience.

The last and arguably most important part of committing to the EDM lifestyle is money.

To be part of the EDM community, one needs an above-average income because attending the events requires thousands of dollars.

Cortez said an EDM concert or festival’s ticket price alone can range from $100 to $400.

Cortez said with flight, hotel and tickets, you are looking at spending close to $1,000 to attend EDC Las Vegas.

With all the effort that goes into being a part of the EDM culture, one would think that this lifestyle would eventually lose its appeal and become yesterday’s news.

So what makes people continue to show up and support EDM?

It’s the friendly people who embrace PLUR that keeps everyone coming back for more.

“Going to music festivals and EDM events, you meet awesome people and everyone is so nice. You’re making friends — it’s a community where I see the same people over and over,” Figueroa said. “For me, it’s an escape from reality.”

info graphic by Jerry Salas


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