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Editorial

The Origins of EDM: What Was Once Known as Black American Music

All around the world, protests have been taking place within the United States in response to a recent incident that was recorded and shared throughout the internet. George Floyd was a black man who was brutally abused by four police officers. One specific officer knelt on the victim's neck for about nine minutes and, as a result, led to Floyd's unfortunate death. Since the video of the incident went viral, Black Lives Matter activists have been protesting in the streets to fight for justice for not only George Floyd, but against police brutality and injustices against black lives.

In response to the protests and riots and in support of the Black Lives Movement, I thought it would be important to discuss the true origins of EDM music. Truthfully, I now know that I only knew a brief history of the genre before I took the time to actually learn it's origins. Sadly, I was missing out on the true origins of the genre that I love so much.

The Origins of EDM

House and techno music, originated within the Black Gay and Hispanic community during the 1980s. According to Afropunk, house music was created in the South Side of Chicago, and techno originated in Detroit. EDM music served as a form of protest against the struggles that the black gay community faced. Not only this, but it also gave them a place to embrace their sexuality.

One of the founders of house music was Frankie Knuckles, a black American gay music artist who, unfortunately, passed away in 2014. Known as “The Godfather of House Music,” Knuckles frequently attended nightclubs in New York. However, he eventually moved to Chicago, where he would eventually play at a predominantly black gay club called The Warehouse.  Surprisingly, the term house music actually derives from the nightclub's name. When I discovered this fact, I was completely mind blown. I've never thought that the house name would have some form of significance.

As techno and dance music began to increase in popularity, many white American people, who were mostly straight males, began to overcrowd these nightclubs. This then led to the whitewashing of EDM and rave culture altogether.

Final Thoughts

Typically, today's rave/dance culture continues to be interpreted as a thing that white people do. However, rave culture is supposed to be all about the acceptance of everyone's differences, whether they are Black, Hispanic, straight, gay, and more. Since the protests began, I couldn't help but think. Although our culture is identified as a way to promote diversity, it isn't interpreted in that way. Soley speaking from my own experience, many people outside of the dance music scene typically view attending festivals and listening to dance music as something white people usually do. So, the question remains, how can we disrupt these misinterpretations? My answer, we should try welcoming others to the festivals and the raves, even those that may not enjoy the music and may just be looking for a great experience. We should be giving non-ravers a real place in the scene to be themselves and challenge their ideas about the scene. Additionally, we should be able to truly accept everyone, even those who may just be looking for a good time. Many of us must all take the time to educate ourselves about those that are different from us and stop excluding others that “wouldn't be your typical raver.” Promoting hate and exclusion will only do more harm than good, not only to those around you but yourself as well.

PLUR emphasizes the need for peace, love, unity, and respect for a reason, especially during a time like now. During a pandemic and a lack of festivals going on, it is much more difficult to continue practicing the culture. However, we still shouldn't stop trying to exercise the PLUR mantra. Although we typically do so within a dance music setting, we should be bringing it outside of the scene as well. It should not only be meant to unite us with other ravers but with the rest of humanity as well, especially black lives.

Being a part of the dance music scene has allowed many of us to accept everyone's differences, whether they have a different skin color, sexuality, race, and more. However, it's about putting that acceptance into practice, not only at music festivals or raves but in your daily life as well.

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