We are in the midst of a new musical era, that of electronic music. Techno songs, DJs, raves, and neon apparel have permeated not just at the performances in which these shows take place, but throughout our everyday lives. LMFAO performed at the Super Bowl, the most nationally televised event of the year. "Levels," house-music-master Avicii's hit song, is featured in a new luxury car advertisement for a Lincoln sedan. Deadmau5, the DJ infamous for performing with a large mouse head at his concerts, is regularly featured on local radio stations. Nothing associated with electronic music, anymore, is at all taking place underground, where it once safely did.
On the contrary. Hundreds of thousands of people are flocking to places like Miami, Los Angeles, Manchester, Chicago, and more this season for events like Ultra, Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza -- costing as much as $300, face value, for a weekend pass to the shows. And if you miss the opportunity to buy tickets when they are officially released online (as most people do being that the venues sell out within seconds), it only gets worse. Currently, websites like Stubhub are showing tickets for Coachella at prices averaging about $700, if not more.
And I can't lie, not only am I a witness to this cultural phenomenon, but a participant. While my personal music preferences are more along the lines of Elton John and Billy Joel, I couldn't help experiencing a little FOMO (slang, "fear of missing out") when my friends decided to make the trip to Miami for the Ultra Musical Festival, and so I mustered all my strength, energy, and monetary savings, packed my bag, and went along with them. And no, I did not regret this decision. Though not a devout-listener of house music, I couldn't help but be amazed and enthused by my surroundings.
Yet still, I can't find a decent rationalization as to why I was ultimately willing to succumb to the cost of participating in this trend. To get a more professional opinion as to how economically successful these events are, I asked a frequent rave-goer and promoter to share his opinion:
"Dance Music's inception into mainstream American consciousness is greatly attributable to two reasons," says Jack Mulqueen, University of Wisconsin student and Founder of Big10HouseMafia.com. He continued:
In one part it is a response to the decline of hip-hop music and the apparent lack of quality mainstream hip-hop that is being released nowadays -- the other aspect is that, more and more, we are witnessing the trend of mainstream acts such as the Black Eyed Peas and Ne-Yo seeking the help of DJs to produce their tracks. Examples of this phenomenon are Afrojack producing Ne-Yo and Pitbull's "Give Me Everything," and David Guetta collaborating with LMFAO and Fergie on "Gettin' Over You," amongst others. From a club owner's perspective, booking a major dance music act affords them the incredible opportunity to pre-sell tickets and charge exorbitant covers at the door; it also allows them to raise the minimum charge for purchasing a table by a substantial amount. The list of the highest-grossing clubs in America is indicative of this trend, as every club in the top 10 features a dance music-heavy schedule, amongst them, Vegas hot-spots Marquee and XS, LIV Miami, and Lavo NY.
Aside from the economic gain, there's another undeniable aspect of the house music explosion and the partying these types of events inspire: The frequent use of drugs like Ecstasy and MDMA (commonly referred to as "Mali" or "Molly"). Both mind-altering substances are psychoactive drugs, causing both hallucinogenic and stimulant effects among users. Both forms of these drugs are extremely hazardous -- which most people, even young users, already know. In the most updated report done by The Drug Enforcement Administration, the organization states that, "This was the highest year so far for 'ecstasy'-related ER admissions", presenting graphs that show an exponential increase in ecstasy-related deaths from the 1990s-2000s. Nevertheless, these numbers don't seem to be scaring anyone.
Not even Madonna, the relic and queen of American popular culture who likewise, seems to be caught up in the fad. Just this weekend, the iconic figure made a surprise guest appearance at Ultra, opening for the Swedish DJ Avicii to promote his remix for her new single, "Girls Gone Wild." Wearing fishnet stockings and a t-shirt that read "MDNA" which is also the title of her new album, critics are wondering if MDNA is really Madonna's way of promoting MDMA. Fox News states,
After briefly talking about her excitement at being at Ultra and how 'amazing' Avicii is, Madonna went on to say, 'Electronic dance music has been a part of my life since the beginning of my career. I can honestly say a DJ saved my life.
Then she had a question for the cheering crowd, 'How many people in this crowd have seen Molly?'
So when even America's favorite pop-star is "rolling" to the techno beat, we can't deny that house music isn't impacting our lives, changing the world in which we live, whether we want to admit it or whether we even realize it or not. I probably won't be attending any music festivals in the near future, nor will I be experimenting with any fatal drugs. But I can't say that I'm not totally a fan of my grandparents humming the tune of Avicii's music when "Seek Bromance" comes on the radio.
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