How social distancing revolutionized Electronic Dance Music culture

Daniel Hernandez

“We received word from the State and from the County that we can no longer proceed with Beyond Wonderland SoCal next weekend.”

Reading that message from Insomniac was heartbreaking. 

I had recently begun falling in love with going to music festivals and celebrating dance culture and I was so excited to go to Beyond Wonderland which had incredibly talented DJ’s like Valentino Khan, Dillon Francis and even Shaquille O’neal set to appear.

A week before the event, California issued guidelines that restricted groups of 50 or more to congregate in one location.

A mandatory stay-at-home order was issued on the same day the event was supposed to begin.

I understood that the cancelation of Beyond Wonderland was necessary to keep the disease from spreading and I was happy to see that Insomniac, the company who hosts these events, agreed with that sentiment. 

However, as a young adult who wants nothing more than to spend his time dancing and partying with friends, I was still very heartbroken.

I was heartbroken because I believed that COVID-19 was going to force companies that host major music events to stop their work for the rest of the year. I was heartbroken because I thought my favorite artists were going to go on hiatus and leave me alone in isolation without new music to keep my spirits up. I was heartbroken because I thought that social distancing was going to force me to stay away from experiencing the rave culture that I fell in love with.

Boy was I wrong.

Social distancing did the complete opposite of my expectations and actually helped dance music and rave culture to evolve for the better.

After postponing Beyond Wonderland, Insomniac announced a virtual Beyond Wonderland livestream, where anybody could tune in and dance from the safety of their own home, free of charge. The livestream included a beautifully decorated Alice in Wonderland themed stage, light and smoke effects and DJ’s playing 30 min to one hour sets. 

It was a major success.

Since that day, Insomniac has hosted similar livestream events with other companies and big name artists following in their footsteps. Many of these live streams from other companies and artists have even been used as a way to raise money to help those impacted by COVID-19. The most recent being Porter Robinson’s livestream which helped raise money for MusiCare’s COVID-19 relief fund. 

These live streams have also had an amazing impact on the artists whose jobs have been halted due to the virus. It has given smaller or lesser known artists a platform in which they could continue to show off their musical talents and gain more fans and it has given bigger artists an opportunity to promote their newest album or songs so fans can continue to support them during this time.

These events have also been a good way to keep people’s spirits high and entertained during this horrible pandemic.

“It is so f-ing important … to keep people’s spirits up and we’re gonna be good. We just need to let this pass and music is gonna keep our spirits up,” said Pasquale Rotella, the founder and creator of Insomniac, during one of his live stream events

Not only has these livestreams kept my spirit up, people from all different parts of the world have also been posting how much they enjoy these virtual musical events on social media. 

Since many fans have been so receptive to this idea of a virtual rave, I believe that the future of dance festivals is online. 

Of course artists and festival companies are still going to be hosting live events in the future but these stay-at-home orders have shown that there is a market for virtual events where people all over the world can enjoy music together and the signs of this transition are already appearing everywhere.

Artists like Galantis are promoting VR concerts, even before the idea of a pandemic existed, DJ’s like Dillon Francis and JSTJR are doing weekly shows on Twitch for all of their fans, artists have hosted raves in Minecraft with enormous stages built out of blocks and Insomniac has announced that they will be hosting a virtual three day EDC Las Vegas this weekend with some of the biggest names in the dance music industry. 

I for one am all for it and I can’t wait to hang out with all of you in one of these virtual raves in the future.

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