Meet the Two Trance Fans Who are Changing the Way We Look at Raves

A short video from TomorrowWorld of fan signing lyrics to her Deaf friend went viral, giving the dance music scene all of the feels.

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Oct 6 2014, 11:00pm

In most ways, Keelin Lambert and Monica Frederick's friendship is like any other. The former college roommates regularly go to dance music festivals and concerts, even as Keelin lives in San Diego and Monica in Chicago. Keelin brought Monica to her first rave at Electric Daisy Carnival in 2013 and the two became hooked on the scene, particularly on trance. The two met in Atlanta last month for TomorrowWorld and fully immersed themselves, even camping on-site during the three-day fest.

While Bryan Kearney played his remix of Gareth Emery's "U" during his set on the TranceAddict stage, Keelin did what she often does for Monica during festivals: She translated the lyrics for her into American Sign Language. Another fan, Sage Sappho, saw this and shot a short video and shared it on Instagram late last week. Emery saw it, shared it, and the video went viral. "If 15 seconds could ever sum up the spirit of electronic dance music, this would be it," Emery captioned the video.

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Both Lambert and Frederick say the past few days have been a bit crazy, "but also so exciting," Lambert adds. "I'm glad to see so much recognition for our scene and Deaf awareness."

Lambert is hearing, Frederick is Deaf. The two met while at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, a school dedicated to education for the Deaf, admittingroughly 5% of hearing students, including Lambert, who became a certified English/ASL interpreter. At TomorrowWorld and all events she and Monica go to, Keelin doesn't simply giving her friend a mechanical interpretation of the music.

"People don't realize how expressive sign language can be," Frederick says.

"I am interpreting as accurately and effectively as possible," Lambert explains. "In order to do that, I want the Deaf audience to understand the intent, affect, and point of the lyrics. I want to express that through ASL, to show Monica the whole point of the lyrics and emotion behind them."

It's not just the translation that has caught people's attention. As several commenters have noted, Lambert's vibrant movements are in and of themselves an act of love as one fan shares her passion of dance music with her friend.

"I am just so grateful that I have somebody like Keelin in my life," says Frederick.  "One person really can make a HUGE IMPACT on you in every way possible! That is what she is for me really. She has done nothing but support me every step of the way. People are seeing that."

Naturally, some have questioned why a person who can't hear would attend a music event at all, but both women are quick to point out that there's more to a festival than the sound alone.

"Music festivals honestly have so much more to contribute," Frederick gushes. "There's light, lasers, people, connections, new friends, kandi, love, PLUR, atmosphere, music, dancing, experience, memories to be made... everything overall is definitely what makes it worth it for anybody to experience. It is not limited to those that can hear."

"Just because Deaf people can't hear, doesn't mean they can't do anything hearing people do," Lambert adds.

While Monica's indoctrination into dance culture came from her friend, Keelin's origins in the scene were perhaps more fraught. After surviving abuse as a teenager, Keelin says she was suffering from severe depression and dealing with suicidal thoughts. She happened to hear the Above & Beyond song "Home" and remembers everything about the moment. "I started crying. It gave me a reason to live," she says.

Above & Beyond are still Keelin's favorite group (she's even pushed the button on stage before). She and Monica saw both of their acoustic shows in Los Angeles last year. Together, they've also attended Ultra, Beyond Wonderland, San Diego's Hi-Fi* and SoCal's 1Life. "We have been together at every rave ever since my first one," says Frederick.

Aside from the social media whirlwind the video clip inspired, Lambert says she's heartened by the bigger impact their friendship has inspired.

"For me it's all of the positivity that has come my way and the impact that it has had," she says. "It truly means a lot that a 15 second clip of me interpreting can affect so many people, including Monica. Some people are messaging me, telling me how thankful they are that I did that for Monica. They tell me how amazing I am. But I have to remind them that Monica is the amazing one and they are amazing for all of their support. Having such positive, beautiful souls in the world keeps me going!"

"I love how open people are about me being Deaf," adds Frederick. "We may not experience [festivals] the same way but… I deserve to be there just as everybody else does."

As festival season winds down, both Lambert and Frederick have some time to plan for next year, though their itinerary is likely to include TomorrowWorld ("couldn't have asked for a better festival," says Lambert) and their annual fave, EDC.

"I am forever grateful for her," says Frederick of her friend.

"I think our friendship is unlike anything else," agrees Lambert. "people don't realize that Monica has made a huge impact on my life."

Thanks to a 15 second video, both of their lives can now impact the world.

Keelin Lambert is @whatupkee on Instagram and @keelinlambert on Twitter. Monica Frederick is on Facebook.