The following piece was submitted to EDM Maniac.
The Point of P.L.UR. by Nathanael Mulder
When I was a teenager living in South Dakota in the late 90’s and early 00’s, the popular music genre amongst my friends was Hip Hop. Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., Dr. Dre, Nelly and a host of others proliferated the CD players of every person with a car. When Dr. Dre’s “2001” was released, it didn’t matter who’s car I got in, the CD would be playing. I was a sole minority who preferred electronic music. Needless to say, I listened to a lot of Hip Hop then.
It wasn’t until I got older and joined the Navy that I began to meet other people who had a particular soft spot for the 4-on-the-floor bass beat pulsating throughout the rhythmic Trance and House musics that I listened to on the down low. Suddenly I was opened to a whole new world of both acceptance and passion. I met new people who had been fans of what was then called techno, and they began to introduce me to new artists and genres that I had never been familiar with. I suddenly was opened up to an entire counter-culture of music that I had never known existed growing up in the Midwest.
Fast-forward almost 10 years to New Year’s Eve 2007, location: Los Angeles. With a group of experienced friends, I was brought to my first official festival, or rave as they’re sometimes referred. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the conservative, modest values I had been instilled with didn’t exactly exist here. I was pleasantly shocked by the openness of the attendees, and the let loose, devil-may-care attitude so many of them had. I was brought into their world, and I was shown their ways, and they accepted me as one of their own. It was then that I learned of the creed that the rave scene lived by: P.L.U.R.
Not everyone knows of the raver motto of PLUR. It could even be argued that many of the ravers within the scene don’t fully live by the message. Albeit, the words Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect resonate through almost everyone that listens to Electronic Dance Music, and for some people (including myself) they are also the pillars of how they live their lives. It’s not about just knowing the words though, you have to know the point of PLUR.
Peace is an amazing concept, but is so much harder to grasp in real life. With all the stresses that affect us daily, and all the built up and repressed feelings and emotions that lie dormant inside each of us, it’s nearly impossible to find true peace in this chaotic world. With enough inner strength, however, one can learn to overcome many of these stresses and can learn to be truly at peace with the world. This concept is furthered along when we apply it to other people; by showing someone grace when they anger you, by forgiving your enemy for their deeds and forgiving yourself as well, by treating others with dignity and humanity because they deserve it. True peace, PLUR peace, comes from acceptance of all people, and giving them the love they cherish.
Love is a much easier concept to harness within the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) scene. It goes further than just love of the music, though. It challenges us to love each other, to accept each other. In this regard, it ties in closely with Peace. While the electronic scene was typically an outcast in regards to popular music, its inhabitants were all equal in the fact that all were all outcasted together. In that sense, we have no right to outcast others within our scene, and therefore we must show each other, and in turn all people, the love that they deserve.
Unity speaks of same sense of togetherness that love marshals in. While many genres of music have felt the isolation of pop culture, the EDM scene preached a universal acceptance of others on a standard of unifying the scene together. A music scene united together is stronger than its individual sub-cultures, and as Abraham Lincoln quoted Jesus Christ, “A House divided against itself cannot stand.” The EDM scene was to be united as one, accepting of all.
Respect teaches us that we don’t always have to agree with the other people within the scene. It is the final commandment of any raver, “Even if you don’t like the person who is upsetting you/getting in your way/etc, you must respect them.” In a golden rule-like sense, the idea behind respect is the idea that you should treat other people around you the way that you would appreciate being treated. This is an important lesson to have ingrained within you if you happen to be the type to get inebriated at a festival.
Lately, a shift in the rave motto has occurred, and the word Responsibility has been added by some groups, mostly in an attempt to teach safety at festivals and raves. It is meant to instill in all of us the inherent truth that we are always responsible for our own actions, no matter our level of coherence, inebriation, or naivety. For years, members of the media and grief-stricken families have blamed festival promoters and venues for deaths of festival attendees and loved ones, conveniently seeming to remove responsibility from one’s self. While this has been isolated and rare, it is appalling to think that the person organizing an event has the ability to prevent 100% of accidents, or that the venue where the event was held is somehow responsible for a person making a choice. In an attempt to curb the number of unfortunate incidents at festivals, a number of groups have been created to help festivals create a safer environment, such as Dancesafe. It is because of these groups that we have an added level of personal Responsibility at these events, and that message is beginning to spread.
In conclusion, I feel I should tell you why I write these words. I have been a member of this scene both passively and actively for many, many years. I have seen the true value of these words, and seen them change the very hearts of young men and women experiencing such a tide of Love that they literally break down and cry with happiness. This music and this scene has changed so many lives for the positive, yet when the media reports about it the tone is typically negative and ignorant. It was important to me to write a message today to all of you reading that the real ravers of the world preach a message of Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect in all of their actions throughout their lives. And even though your life may not have been saved by this music, mine and millions more have been. To me, that’s pretty spectacular in and of itself.