“So it’s kind of like Woodstock, just for a new generation?”

Those were the first words out of my boss’s mouth today after I explained the Electric Daisy Carnival to her. Initially I thought it was king of a silly question. No, it’s not like Woodstock. There are no five piece rock ensembles; there’s a DJ or two rocking a turntable. Jimi isn’t there to perform an improvisational cover of “The Star Spangled Banner;” Armin van Buuren is remixing “Save the World.” You don’t drop acid; you roll on Molly.

But the longer I mulled over her question, the more I started to second guess myself. I may not have been there in 1969 to experience it all myself, but from what I gather it was about unity and togetherness, man. The music, while obviously the focal point of the whole event, was not the event. It was just the soundtrack to guide your spiritual vibes.

It’s true EDC doesn’t come across with such hippy spirits, and that perception is overall pretty accurate. But it’s still hard to deny it’s prominence as a culture maker. Regardless of your stance on electronic dance music, it’s clearly a major factor in today’s youth culture: one that is really quite pacifistic at heart.

Ravers are often pegged as being a pack of animals looking to satisfy their artificially induced sexual inhibitions, and for that we can thank the loud ones. I’m talking about the ones with “Sex, Drugs, EDM” tattooed on the back of their head. (Yes, I actually saw that this weekend.) You know, the guys who live in that house on Euclid that blasts Avicii (always “Levels,” nothing else) at 2PM on a Wednesday because, well, c’mon… class just got out and hump day is over. Let’s party.

In reality, not everyone who listens to house music is a  meat head. I promise. The majority of listeners – the soft spoken ones – have more their mind than how many watts you can push a sound system to before it blows a speaker.  It’s not all about raging face, bro. In all honesty, I lost count of how many “Drop Bass, Not Acid” shirts I saw in the Meadowlands this weekend. If you look close enough, you can still find veins of the underground movement from decades past. There are symbols for those in the know of the communal nature of today’s mass-populated raves: one such identifier being kandi bracelets. After following a secret handshake, Kandi Kids exchange bracelets in honor of their four part code: peace, love, unity, and respect. The handshake essentially serves as a signifier for those on the “inside.”

I’m not going to lie and deny the prevalence of drugs at these gatherings, but that’s nothing new. Drugs and music have gone hand-in-hand since the Indians discovered peyote… a probably much beyond that. The trending drugs of choice may change over time, but in the end they’re all ultimately used for the same purpose – to transcend boundaries and create a sense of togetherness. After all, drugs and music are the only two universally understood languages.

Older generations are always going to try to stop kids from partying, and kids are always going to party. It’s the circle of life. Remember when rock ‘n’ roll was the Devil’s music? Remember when promoters were afraid to book hip-hop shows due to fear of violent outbreaks? No matter what the newest emerging youth music may be, it’s bound to cause controversy with mom and pop. Hell, when our kids grow up and start going to some sort of hip new I-Doser festivals, we’re inevitably going to look down on their foolish ways. Then they’re going to do it anyway because, after all, parents just don’t understand.

~Tom Charles