Communality through Music

BY: MADDIE SOWA

“You? You go to raves?” My manager questioned as I told her I need a weekend off in June to go to the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas. Semi-offended by her question, I simply asked what she meant. “Well, you know, you just don’t look or act like someone who goes to festivals or raves,” she said.

This got me thinking. What makes someone look like they go to raves? It seems to me that today people of all genders, races, and ages can be seen at these festivals. The diversity of people at these events is even known to be more vibrant than the music and atmosphere itself. Perhaps this is what intrigues people so much about the festival craze sweeping the globe.

With hundreds of events to choose from no one can deny the increase in popularity among today’s festivals. Festivals like Coachella, EDC, Outside Lands, Stagecoach, and Ultra are just a few of the most populated events to ever take place in the United States.

This year alone, the infamous Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio California sold out for both weekends in a record 40 minutes, and is projected to surpass last year’s gross income of $78 million.

These festivals are gaining rapid attention outside of the United States as well. For instance, the Donauinselfest Festival in Austria became the largest festival in the world in 2013 with a whopping 3 million attendees. For three days this festival attracts people from all corners of the globe with its moving theme of cultural acceptance and love.

Though what originally attracts the extreme array of people may differ, at the heart of it they all share a common interest: to let loose in a judgement-free zone with good music and cool people. Once a place known for it’s sketchy drug scene, raves have become less about drugs and more about the experience. Many people around the world partake in these music festivals to de-stress from their hectic ordinary life.

No longer are raves filled with ecstasy-crazed teenagers, but just ordinary people looking for a quick escape from their day to day routine. Business and professional people alike are even giving the festival scene a chance.

The significant increase in attendance at festivals could be due to the recent spike in the popularity of electronic dance music, the number of young adults in attendance, or even different variables like mental health and stress.

With economic and political problems being so prevalent in our country, stress is consequently at an all time high as well. American Psychological Association reported that 44 percent of Americans have reported that their stress levels have increased over the past five years. If not treated stress can eventually start to cause severe problems to your physical body as well as deteriorate your mental health. Though common ways to relieve stress include activities like exercise and taking time off to relax many simply lack the means or time to do those activities.

With travel expenses costing upwards of a thousand dollars and the cost of living increasing, people can no longer afford to travel and get away like they used to. Even if one can afford the cost of a vacation, the chances of them being able to miss multiple days of work are likely slim. This is partially why raves are becoming more and more popular with this group of professional people. For a reasonable cost and minimal time commitment overly stressed individuals can relax and forget about their worries.

This reason is also why festivals and raves have become such a hit with college students. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America 80 percent of college students said that they frequently experience daily stress. Cal State Long Beach student Danielle Robinson says, “So much is expected from students now a days. We have to make school a priority in order to graduate, yet at the same time we have to make time for work, family, friends, and just life in general.”

Since most festivals occur annually, they have become something for students to look forward to.

“It helps me get through my midterms knowing that I’ll be at Stagecoach in a few weeks,” Robinson explains. “Though I go to Insomniac events like Escape from Wonderland and Beyond, Stagecoach is definitely my favorite. The people are all still super friendly like at raves, but the music and overall atmosphere is unlike any other festival.”

Other students, like finance major Marco Passaquindici, not only attend these festivals but have turned them into profit. Applying what he learned in school, Passaquindici and partners have started a new era of camelbak backpacks called Vibedration.

“At these festivals water is on such high demand, these backpacks eliminate the cost of water bottles and cut the time spent at the water fill stations,” says Passaquindici.

A huge hit in the festival scene, Vibedration has even caught the eye of Insomniac, the largest EDM event company in the world. So much money is made off of these festivals, students are starting to realize that the benefits can be much greater than just stress release.

With hundreds of genres of music to choose from, it’s no wonder why so many festivals have emerged over the recent years. With options ranging from country to even folk music, there is a festival for everyone. Along with different types of music, themed raves are also becoming popular. For instance, Rave of Thrones which is themed after the popular Game of Thrones just finished its first world tour.

All this variety in the world of festivals has definitely helped their popularity over the recent years. People all over the world have submerged themselves in this new festival culture and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. Whether you like EDM or not, festivals have proven to be a great place to have fun and let loose from all the stresses of daily life.