The Politics of Electronic Dance Music Festivals

Festivals are a place where people from every background imaginable come together to enjoy the hedonistic pleasures of life. They serve as a communal ground where beliefs, viewpoints and new ideas are shared and taught to the attendees. Throughout history they have served this function and provided a place for uncensored free speech havens. As this article goes on in detail about the human history of festivals and their role in defining and shaping the culture of the modern youth. Festivals have grown and become more popular receiving more attention from corporate interests. It has started to feel as though some of the cherished countercultural aspects of festivals were disappearing. That is not necessarily true at all. Especially when it comes to electronic dance music festivals, they provide countercultural discourse and politicize the youth attendees.

We need to only look at the modern festivals that are attracting large swarms of young people. As I was at Ultra Music Festival last month, I noticed a girl walking around with a “Fuck Trump” sign which is attached below. 


What was even better, much to my friends and my own amusement was DJ MAKJ, after seeing the sign above started a “Fuck Donald Trump” chant which thundered throughout the crowd at the main stage with thousands of people joining in.


Dance music producers and DJ’s aren’t shy when it comes to sharing their viewpoints with their fans. Diplo, a grammy award winning producer endorsed Bernie Sanders last summer and his song “Revolution” has been used in one of Bernie’s ads. The song is put to use perfectly in the video as Bernie has been advocating for a political revolution and he has zealously attracted the attention of the youth.

While Diplo has been ardent in his support for Bernie, other DJ’s have been voicing their political opinions as well. Porter Robinson, (Hands down my favorite artist at the moment) and Zedd have taken to social media to voice political thoughts as well.

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Keep in mind the reach that these artists social media posts have. They have hundreds of thousands of followers and most of them are primarily young. Their opinions have great potential to influence the political views of their fans and followers. Also many young people get their news from social media websites like twitter and facebook. They might not follow the New York Times or Washington Post, but they follow their favorite artists and by getting their viewpoints it allows them to come to their own perspective on democratic issues facing the nation.

Electronic Dance Music festivals will continue to provide countercultural discourse even though many of them are disappearing due to the prices associated with hosting them.  Though the market is starting to become unsaturated due to a mixture of reasons the collapse of SFX, rising booking prices for acts and other factors they still provide a boon to the cities that host them. Ultra Music Festival provides $79 million annually to the south florida economy. Electric Daisy Carnival’s Las Vegas edition has brought a whopping $1.3 Billion boon to the local economy there since 2011. Festivals bring people with money to spend to the local economies and help shape the identities of cities. As John Wynn writes in his book, festivals provide a boon to the cities that host them. Both economically and culturally. Festivals are a great attraction and provide both benefits and some strains on local communities. While there are problems to hosting them, they generally go over well and benefit the common welfare in one way or another. Whether it be bringing more customers to local businesses or increasing the trip to work of a businessmen by 20 minutes.


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