Black Girls Like EDM Too ...
A few weekends ago I was in Orlando, Florida by myself at Electric Daisy Carnival. I had heard of the EDM festival through Instagram. At 27 years old I had not yet fully embraced my love for the music genre nor had I gone on a vacation as an adult. One night after drinking my drunk subconscious thought it was a good idea to begin a layaway plan on a VIP ticket to EDC Orlando. My sober wallet wasn’t happy but I knew this was going to be an experience to remember.
I remember falling in love with electro and house music as an impressionable child of the 90’s. Crystal Waters “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)” hit the charts the year I was born. Years later I see the video on MTV. I knew it was something about this song that I just liked. The chorus was infectious. It was upbeat but it wasn’t pop. There were live instruments but it wasn’t the jazz my dad listened to. The beat made 3 year old me feel fabulous. I had fell in love with what I thought was just a song. Little did I know I had been introduced with a genre of music that would mold me into the person I am today.
Electronic music first emerged in Europe and began its spread across the world. Making its way to the United States in the 70s, the sounds of the synthesizers and drums helped birth disco. These sounds would evolve into the new wave and house of the 80s, completely molded pop in the 90s and matured into the eargasm known as EDM we hear today. I grew up in the house age of the 90s when everyone in the music business wanted a piece of this sound. Robin S, C+C Music Factory and CeCe Peniston were amongst a few of my favorite artist that had that underground feel. House was my little secret but my taste would evolve in 2001 when Daft Punk released their sophomore album Discoveryand the video for their hit “One More Time”. The album was more disco and R&B but remained electro, they used autotune well before it became popular and it served as the soundtrack for the accompanying film Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem. Daft Punk’s Discovery was heavily inspired from the duo’s childhood which consisted of heavy disco and anime. This concept was not far off from my sense of nostalgia, replacing disco with house instead.
The release of this album marks a shift in electro music. The bubblegum influence of the 90s was immature compared to the wave of the new millennium. Artists began to sample others and experiment with new sounds. As I was completely on board I came to a crossroads with my open love for the music. My black friends didn’t understand why I liked this white girl music. I began to love the genre behind closed doors.
Peer pressure may have boxed me in but I still had my music. Limewire gave many of our computers viruses but I finally had access to songs I would only catch only the radio. Music channels gave me around the clock access to old and new songs. But once I got to school or went out with my friends I left EDM at home. It took me years to realize that withholding that part of myself meant that I wasn't being myself. We live and we learn.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I got on a plane for the first time ever and headed to Orlando. I take a Lyft to Tinker Field and you can hear the bass and see the ferris wheel from down the block. I walk right in and get checked by security. The first thing I see is a small crowd dancing in front of a giant boombox. Merchants were lined up everywhere along with food vendors, carnival rides and lounge tents. The bass pulsed through my body as I soaked it all in that I was actually there. I already felt that I was doing my younger self justice. Besides supporting the music, Electric Daisy Carnival's tagline is "All Are Welcome". A month before the festival had posted a graphic on Instagram for #NationalComingOutDay. I've been bisexual as long as I remember. To see so many people out there being their most queer unapologetic selves. It felt good as a newly out member of the LGBTQ community. While that had me in awe what really took my breath away was the amount of black girls in attendance. They were dressed for the occasion in rave-wear, they all looked happy and I will admit in between red bull and vodkas I became a little emotional. I was amongst EDM loving black girls just like me. I didn't feel the need to hide my excitement, my happiness, my true self. Along with the lovely young ladies that were so kind to let me take their pictures for this post, I found a tribe in the black girls at EDC. During a conversation with one of the girls she shared that this was also her first rave. We spoke briefly and she said she wanted to give me candy. We jokingly stumble through our first Peace, Love, Unity, Respect handshake and she gives me a piece of candy and we hug. Another girl comes to us saying she saw the whole thing and just wanted to hug us because it was so sweet. I exchange info with my new friend and we continued to party the night away. That moment summarizes the entire vibe of Electric Daisy Carnival. My inner younger self was and still is overwhelmed with a feeling of belonging that my past sheltered self could only dream of.
My drunken subconscious knew I needed this experience. On the surface it may seem that I simply went away for a weekend of drinking and partying. While true, Electric Daisy Carnival also served as a coming-of-age adventure for me. I was far away from home, exactly where I wanted to be, hearing songs deeply embedded in my childhood and sounds I had never heard before with my new tribe. I transform that past negative energy that festered inside me for years into the feelings obtained from EDC. This trip served as a cross-dimensional message to my younger self that black girls love EDM too. And that shit is lit.