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Meet the Kandi Kids of EDC NY

Don't be so un-PLUR
May 26, 2015, 8:40pm

Only in a world as scrutinized as dance music could the wearing of plastic beads be controversial, even contraband. In the last year, dance music enterprises like Diplo's Mad Decent Block Party and new San Diego festival CRSSD, have straight up outlawed the kandi at their events entirely. This has created a potentially ironic situation in which it is possibly easier to sneak illicit substances into a festival than a type of plastic bracelet you made during your summer camp's arts and crafts hour. But if there's one group of legacy ravers who have remained faithful to kandi culture and the ethos of PLUR that it represents, it is Insomniac's devoted "headliners" (their lingo for fans) who turned up in kandi galore to EDC NY this past weekend.

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In the face of kandi bans, Insomniac CEO Pasquale Rotella has promised to always allow kandi at his festivals, citing it as a pivotal aspect of the self-expression, community, and heritage that his company has always championed. I even saw the Insomniac camera crew orchestrating a massive PLUR-handshake bracelet exchange:

While DJs were melting faces at some of the world's largest portable stages, we talked to a few of the festival's devoted kandi kids about why they rock those plastic jewels, what PLUR means to them, and what exactly they think about the unwanted scrutiny their beloved trinkets have garnered.

Nina and Christina, New Jersey

THUMP: I'm pretty certain you two love kandi.
Nina: It's represents the lifestyle. There's a secret handshake that goes with it. For what this [points out to main stage of festival], it's a huge part of it.
Christina: There's a ton amount of work that goes into it. Plenty of hours go into this stuff.

What's your favorite piece you're wearing?
Nina: Tonight?… "Sorry mom."
Christina: "They are real." This was given to me last year when I was dressed up as a pink unicorn. I saw someone else in the same outfit and yelled "Unicooooorn!!!" and they gave it to me.

What does PLUR mean to you guys?
Christina: Peace, Love, Unity….

Besides that.
Christina: It's everything. When you come here that's all you get.
Nina: It's what you should get.

What do you think about the negative stereotypes that are connected to kandi?
Christina: I would tell them that they need to go to Wal-Mart and buy some, sit and make a bracelet, then tell me the same thing.
Nina: That's a great answer, Christina! Don't believe stereotypes about anything. There's a lot of people here who are totally sober.

Brad, New Jersey. Carla, Pennsylvania.

THUMP: Brad, I'm going to call you Master Chief. Master Chief, Carla, why do you guys love kandi?
Master Chief: What I personally love is that you take something that you have an idea about, make it yourself, then give it to someone who's also done the same thing. You meet random people and they give you something they've worked so hard on and you can give back to them. If you have a friend or someone specific in mind you can make something ahead of time for them.

What's your favorite piece of kandi?
Carla: I have a cuff that says "Part of Your World." It has little arrows, and mermaids, and my boyfriend of six years gave it to me so it's very special.

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Aw. What does PLUR mean to you guys?
Master Chief: I think it means what everyone should be doing. Being friendly, and open and nice and not having any judgements. That's what festivals are really about.

What would you say to someone who claims kandi promotes drugs use and other negative stereotypes in EDM?
Carla: I would tell them they're very un-PLUR.
Master Chief: I'd say anyone who has a negative stereotype usually doesn't have enough experience. I actually wrote a paper for college on the subject. It's just sort of saying the music and culture of EDM is very similar to other types of music and culture. If you look at the similarities rather than the differences then it's a little more understandable in that sense

Julia and Brittany, California

THUMP: Why do you love and wear kandi?
Julia: I think it's a bonding experience for the rave community, it makes you feel closer to one another. It's like trading Pokemon cards, but better.

What's your favorite piece of kandi you have on?
Brittany: [Points to green and white bracelet] I just got this one today, it's simple and this really cute guy gave it to me.

What does PLUR mean to you?
Julia: Everything about EDM, everything.
Brittany: These events should be something that are fun, peaceful, and that you're not scared to go to. You come here and you don't expect people to be rude to you and just know you're happy.
Julia: No judgments.

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What would you say to someone who claims kandi promotes drugs use and other negative stereotypes in EDM?
Brittany: That's their prerogative. If you're really into raves and the PLUR thing, you don't care what they have to say about it. Just do you own thing.

Paulina, Isabella, Greg, New Jersey

THUMP: Why do you love kandi?
Isabella: Individuality.
Paulina: Making new friends. You get a piece of them and give a piece of yourself.
Greg: Friends! Friends. Just friends.

What do your favorite pieces of kandi say?
Isabella: "PLUR-partner." It's from my boyfriend.
Greg: "There are no rules but the rules of dada."
Isabella: "PLUR-fect. "

What would you say to someone who claims kandi promotes drugs use and other negative stereotypes in EDM?
Isabella: Screw them.
Paulina: Yeah basically. They don't understand it.

What don't they understand?
Paulina: The friendship, just having no judgement in a good atmosphere.
Greg: I think it's bullshit. I don't see how beads with words on them can promote anything negative.

Brianna, Philadelphia

THUMP: What do you love about kandi?
Brianna: I feel like each piece of kandi is like a memory and every time I look at them I see the person who gave me that piece of kandi. We made a connection at the event or rave and I feel their vibes in my kandi. I actually lost my kandi once and almost didn't go to a festival because I was so sad. I love it so much and will never get rid of it, it's so special to me.

What does PLUR mean to you?
I feel like that's just a way to live your life, like a motto. Even when I'm not in this kind of environment I try to keep PLUR in mind as how I should behave with people. I try to reflect that outside of any type of rave event.

What's your favorite piece of kandi you have on?
I actually just gave it away. It said "Saved by the Rave." I made that when I first started raving because I was in a really bad place and then my friends introduced me to the scene. All the people I met, they saved my soul. I just gave it away to someone named Christian, he deserved it.

What would you say to someone who claims kandi promotes drugs use and other negative stereotypes in EDM ?
I actually was upset because there was an event I wanted to go to where it was banned. They made me take off all my kandi and put it in the car. I feel like people that say negative things about it are making it negative, and it's a positive thing. If you look at it in a positive way, then it can be one of the best things about EDM and the rave scene.

Can I have a hug?
Yes.

David thinks we need a lot more PLUR in the world. He's on Twitter.