by Cecelie Pikus

Road trips give me a lot of time to reflect. And after a red eye flight back to JFK from the west coast, I still had a 4-hour drive back home to upstate New York. My lack of sleep, combined with just the right playlist, got me thinking. Will anything in life ever make me feel the way this music does?

It’s hard for anyone not into the scene to understand it. Partially, I think, because no other music genre becomes a lifestyle like EDM does. And partially because there’s simply no other feeling like being lost in the music at a festival. It’s indescribable, the way you feel perfectly weightless and full of life. Listening to everything from rap to county in my earlier years, no other genre completely took over my life the way EDM did.

I don’t have a sob story or heartbreakingly moving story to tell. I grew up extremely well-off and sheltered in suburban New Jersey, right outside of NYC. I went to a private all-girls prep school, and had everything a teenage girl could want. But, under the strict watch of my parents, all I wanted to do was rebel and see what life was like on the other side of the fence. I attended one of the best liberal arts schools in the country, and quickly realized what it was like to be on my own, with no rules. I stopped going to church every week because my mom wasn’t there to make me. I would skip classes because I was too hungover or because I blacked out the night before and forgot to set my alarm.

I’m not saying any of this is abnormal, or that I regret any of it, because college was responsible for some of the greatest times of my life. But I was missing something important, and that was passion. There was nothing that got me out of bed every day, excited to see what the next 24 hours would hold. I played sports, joined clubs, and participated in a number of campus activities, but nothing filled that void. It wasn’t until the beginning of my senior year, when I began to listen to EDM for the first time, that I realized what it was like to be completely engulfed and entranced by something.

Where to start when people ask me what’s so special about this music? First off, I tell people, it’s a lifestyle. It’s not just something that comes on when I’m driving, or when I need something blasting through my headphones at the gym. It’s something I think about constantly throughout the day, whether I’m at work, lying in bed, eating dinner, or partying. It’s something that slides into your body through your ears and soon reaches every limb, giving you goosebumps along the way. It’s something that can make you scream and dance one minute and make you cry the next. It’s something that connects you with people who you never thought you shared anything in common with. It’s something that brings you back to a place with no problems or complications. It’s something so simple, but so complex at the same time. It’s EDM, and it’s given me more clarity than anything ever has.

I’m 24 now, almost two full years outside of college. I have a low-paying job in the middle of nowhere upstate New York, where the temperature hasn’t gone above 25 degrees since October. I have a mom who thinks “I spend all of my money on concerts when I should be saving” and a group of friends from high school who are, for the most part, all in serious relationships ready to walk down the aisle. But this isn’t a pity party. I have this music to look forward to every day when I wake up, a group of single raver friends who are married to this music like me, and visions of being under the electric sky. Every penny that can go towards concert tickets or a festival does, and, while most of my coworkers can’t even begin to understand why, it makes every day of working worthwhile.

I love this music for so many reasons, and can’t even begin to describe all of them. There are so many things that make this lifestyle special. From connecting with famous DJs to traveling across the country to experience different venues, every moment is special. The love throughout the air is truly palpable, and whether you listen to trance or trap, the music is filled with meaning. Even though you might be hundreds of feet away from your favorite DJ closing at a festival, there is a connection there, between you and the DJ, that you’re also sharing with hundreds of thousands of other people. You are never alone, and there is no problem in the world that this music can’t heal.

So, returning back to my original food for thought. Will anything ever make me feel the way that this music does? The conclusion that I’ve come to, is yes. Hopefully, at some point in my life, I will meet my future soulmate who fills me with passion and makes me smile when each new day comes. This feeling of complete and utter bliss is what I imagine pure, raw love for another to be – I just haven’t felt it yet. And, for now, I’m completely content with that.

At the moment, I am married to this music, and couldn’t be happier about the journey that lies ahead, both for my EDM life and beyond.