Last week, Canada's Bass Coast Music Festival banned attendees from wearing feathered headdresses. "We understand why people are attracted to war bonnets," the festival organizers said in a statement. "They have a magnificent aesthetic. But their spiritual, cultural and aesthetic significance cannot be separated."
It was a moment of cultural understanding in a dance music community rife with unattributed appropriation, as Paul Brooks, the festival's Director of Communications explained in an interivew with THUMP. As if North America hasn't done enough to wipe away the memory of all the people who lived here before Christopher Columbus, finally, someone spoke up before the "cute costume" totally lost its earned historical and cultural significance. No, you did not earn the right to wear this headress when you bought your ticket to Coachella.
Earlier this week, after the initial announcement from Bass Coast, Insomniac, the major festival promoter behind EDC, created a poll on its content platform asking readers: "Is it wrong to wear Native American headdresses to festivals?" Really that question is asking, "Is it ok to be racist and to ignore the history and practices of a people not like your own?" It's a shockingly insensitive gaffe by an established leader of the dance music community.
Have we regressed so much that issues of racism are now up for public vote? I'd like to believe we have higher standards than that, especially those of us who love dance music most when it embraces all people and cultures without objectifying them.
It's not cute, fun or PLUR when people are offended by what you wear to a rave prompting artists like like Canadian First Nations DJ crew Tribe Called Red to press pause to call you out. So if you're having trouble deciding how to dress festival-appropriate without causing problems like an ignoramus, here's a list of Dances and Don'ts to keep you up to date.
Don't: Wear a Native American headress
Don't: paint your face black in a way that could look like blackface
Don't: Put on a Bindi unless you mean it
Don't: Call people rednecks
Don't: Be Macklemore
Don't: Mock strangers' sexual orientations
Dance: Festival Fit bod
Dance: Fun totem
Dance: With a cut out of your favorite DJ and the flag of his home country
Dance: Show your state pride
Dance: All kandi everything (it might even land you a house)
Dance: DIY World Cup out of foil
Dance: Suffocate your entire body with a face-covering suit representing your country's flag (or... maybe don't)
Keep it PLUR and stay educated...
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