Sober None The Less...
Thoughts By George Moshenski-Dubov
As is with many practices, the rave scene is connected to a certain special subculture. As an angsty teen boy who doesn’t do drugs, I was completely unaware of how united and inviting the subculture of raving is until I went to VELD.
VELD is Canada’s biggest EDM festival, spanning noon to midnight on a mid-summer Saturday and Sunday. Going into VELD 2017, I knew three things:
Everyone is going to be “popping molly”.
All EDM sounds the same.
Everyone will be half naked. At all times.
After going to VELD, I can confirm that it is exactly that — and more.
The first subcultural element I noticed were clothes. For me, VELD started a week before its first day — I was told to bring the perfect outfit. What was eventually picked for me was a highlighter yellow tank top for Saturday and a tropical t-shirt for Sunday. The music I listen to is mostly different shades of black, but at VELD, there exists every colour of the rainbow. Neon, onesies, and flags… all the flags. I realized that you dress to be noticed, because when you’re in the middle of 20,000 people, it’s easy to get lost.
An important part of my perfect outfit was Kandi. Kandi are the beaded bracelets often worn to raves, through which ravers can PLUR. PLUR stands for Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect. PLUR crosses all borders — guys PLUR with guys, girls PLUR with girls, kids PLUR with adults. When two people become friends at a rave, they perform a widely known PLUR handshake and exchange Kandi. Observing this gave me an idea of the mutual respect ravers have for each other at these festivals.
To me, over 30,000 people, many of whom are on MDMA, partying for twelve hours a day in the blazing, late-July sun, spelled disaster. I was wrong. I believe everyone shared a fear of dying — from exhaustion, dehydration, and so on. This is a sound fear, as two people died at VELD in 2014. This shared fear seemed to push everyone to look for each other. I witnessed a girl collapse ten metres from a water fountain, but before I could take a step in her direction, several people surrounded her, offering first aid.
Everyone at VELD came from different walks of life. Grandparents came with children, people represented different religious backgrounds, all sexualities were represented, and everyone was happy to maintain a conversation. No difference of identity could stop anyone from dancing through rain and shine for hours. Although I admit, all EDM sounds the same, no one got tired of any of it, no matter how long we were there.
Simply, VELD was gorgeous. In sight, in sound, in feeling, it seemed almost magical. I walked into VELD with no idea what was going to come of it, and it seems I walked away with a true appreciation of the rave scene, a dozen new friends, and a burning desire to go back.