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The Politics of Kandi: History, Community and Bright Colours

Kandi: an essential, classic part of the raver’s getup? Or an outdated nuisance? It’s not a new argument (looking at you, Diplo), but in light of an announcement banning the ubiquitous pieces from the Pacific National Exhibition venue, some sections of the Vancouver rave community are up in arms.

An online petition protesting the ban circulated amongst closed Facebook groups and shared on personal profiles alike, and is currently standing at over 2000 signatures. So, let me pose the question: How could a bunch of beads and elastic be such a source of controversy?

Kandi is a longstanding tradition within the community that quite frankly predates many of its younger attendees. Originating in the early ’90s, kandi soon became an endemic fixture in the rave scene. Ravers made and traded the little handmade bead bracelets as a show of friendship and solidarity. EDC Las Vegas has a particular fondness for kandi, as do many American festivals.

Across the pond, kandi has made less of a dent: take it from me, you will almost certainly get a roomful of puzzled looks if you bring Kandi to trade at a Bristol rave. It’s also worth noting that the PNW is indeed “one of the most active Kandi Kid communities...” and fits in well with its ethos of shared community and being off the beaten path as it were.

However, all Mad Decent and Hard Events ban kandi, oft citing concerns over littering, environmental matters, and the possibility of smuggling drugs in on the bracelets/necklaces/cuffs etc themselves. And of course, it is not a widely accepted practice in Europe and some have dismissed it as a dying trend.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that trends within the scene have a tendency to wax and wane. Remember the sudden fondness for fluffies a few years back? In areas where kandi is not so popular right now, it could vert well make a return in the future.

Anyway, I don’t know about you, but the literal armfuls of kandi I have made and traded over the years have too many fond memories attached to them for me to give up in a hurry. I hope it continues to be shared and the tradition upheld for generations of new ravers.

Love it, hate it or simple indifference, how do you feel about kandi? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!

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