Ultra Music Festival: Electronic Dance Music Culture

Many of us have experience partying in a nightclub with friends. People love to take a few shots and drinks then started to dance to the ear-blasting bass music. At the moment, it seems like there is nothing to care about, only the good vibes and good music. What if it is an outdoor party that comes together with amazing production in term of stage, lighting and sound systems while 165,000 partygoers dance and have fun like nobody’s business? Isn’t it sounds incredible and extremely fun?

Nowadays, youth tend to have very specialist and discriminative music tastes with strong preferences to electronic dance music played at clubs and big outdoor parties. Clubs and parties with loud music, garish design and lighting effects bring the feelings of liberation and escape from daily routine. These events also cross boundaries of class, race, gender and sexuality. Incredibly, music festivals have the ability to gather and unite people from all over the world and came together just to party.

Ultra Music Festival (UMF) is an annual outdoor electronic music festival that occurs in March in the city of Miami, Florida, United States. Other than United States, the festival has expanded itself to 18 other countries including Korea, Crotia, Singapore, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, Spain, Chile and etc. The DJ line up that present by UMF is also one of the key highlights of the event. Deadmau5, Hardwell, Skrillex, Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren and etc are the prominent artists who invited to perform at UMF.


When it comes to music festival like UMF, it is all about electronic dance music (EDM). In other words, EDM is more than just dance music. It is definitely bigger than that because it is also about electronic dance culture. That is the key finding extracted from a survey that carried out by Electronic Music, Technology and Youth Culture Study which included a total of 437 Beatport users in the US and asked them to share their thoughts and feelings about EDM, technology, festivals and brands (1).


A popular hand sign represents PLUR that often can be seen at music festival.

Besides, Ott and Bill stated that music is among the most central and significant ways that youth articulate style and hence a sense of self (2). EDM is thus a relatively new culture catering to a younger generation. In the EDM scene, PLUR is the value embraced by ravers. PLUR stands for peace, love, unity and respect. Basically, it represents the music, the people and the good vibes, especially in music festival like UMF. Culture moves because of its attention-grabbing along with matching people interests (3). Inevitably the youth quickly adopted and incorporated with EDM culture in their life because our younger generation who are indeed seeking to create a world with the sense of peacefulness, love, unity and respect.

Moreover, Kandi is a common accessory that can be identified in music festival. Kandi are bracelets made out of chunky beads or pony beads of many colours given as friendly gestures at parties and raves. Kandi primarily consists of plastic bracelets garnished with designs or wording of some sort. It’s 100% customized to each individual. It has come to represent a kindness that brings the rave community closer by being a conversation starter that can double as a gift. It can be viewed as a form of fashion trend which cultivated among the community.

However, there is always a dark side for us to look into when it comes to everything. In his book, sociologist Dick Hebdige said “subcultures form out of their replacement of one or several previous subcultures which disappear through a process which includes commodification by the establishment and media and eventual assimilation into the larger mainstream culture” (4). The commercialization of rave subculture has changed the way some ravers view the subculture. One of the biggest issue is the price of the ticket is increasing year by year. Although commercialization helps the culture to grow faster and spread wider yet it is ruining it in a way. Perhaps this is a natural cycle of change that every subculture will go through eventually.


(1) SFX, 2015. Electronic Music, Technology & Youth Culture: Audience Insights Group.[online]. Available from: http://sfxii.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Electronic-Music-Technology-and-Youth-Culture.pdf [Accessed 23 April 2016].

(2) Ott, Brian L., and Bill D. Herman., 2003. Mixed messages: Resistance and Reappropriation in Rave Culture. Western Journal of Communication 67.3 (2003): 249-270.

(3) Urban, Greg. 2001. “The Once and Future Thing” Metaculture: How culture moves through the world. U of Minnesota Press. Available from: https://youthcultureandmedia.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/metaculture_how_culture_moves_through_the_world.pdf %5BAccessed [Accessed 23 April 2016].

(4) Hebdige, D., 1979.Subculture: The Meaning of Style [online], 179. London: Methuen. Available from: http://www.erikclabaugh.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/181899847-Subculture.pdf [Accessed 23 April 2016]

Goth Subculture: Among Artistic and Belief


It might be easy for most people to identify individuals belonging to the Goth subculture when they see them in New York, London or even a conservative country such as Saudi Arabia. Due to the obvious stereotypes associated with them, they are identifiable from their choice of dress. In contrast, their historical facet could be ambiguous for many people owing to confusion between Goths and Punks. History of Goths.

Some would argue that the Goth subculture developed throughout punk movements during the 1970s and1980s in Britain (5). While (8) Weston and Bennett (2013) said that the Goth subculture emerged from Pagan folk music, which took place in some celebrations and conferences. However, it is widely agreed that there is correlation between the Goth subculture and Punk movement in their historical development (5).


The best way to identify the difference between the Punk movement and Goth subculture might be to give a definition of both. The Goth subculture, according to (8)Weston and Bennett (2013, p .65) is “a change of music and fashion (artistic) appropriated religious iconography from a variety of sources, Catholic, Anglican, pagan”. Whereas the punk movement refers to young people who refuse to follow any political or religious authority(5).

The most interesting aspect of the Goth subculture is their music. Hence, Goth music or so-called Goth rock is a genre of rhythms almost described as black music. This definition comes from people who adapted to listening to Goth music according to a survey conducted by (5)Lauren (et al. 2007). Black is the most commonly used adjective to describe this kind of music. So this description may be obscure as it is related to individual requirements and their necessity. Moreover, the lyrics of Goth music seem to be meaningless and related to sadness. It is associated with intellectual movements such as horror, fantasy and nihilism (6). Gothic Rock

In some circumstances, Goth culture seems to have responsible elements beyond some issues such as vehemence, suicide and drug abuse. It is particularly prevalent among teenagers (7). Rutledge (et al. 2008) said that the Goth subculture tends to tempt young people with psychological issues such as anxiety and frustration. It might encourage them to commit crimes through an enthusiastic atmosphere from music and friends. What’s more, (5) Lauren (et al. 2007) points out that in the middle of the 19th century, many American newspapers highlighted the dangers of the Goth subculture, due to rising deviancy among the Goth people.

Goth people would argue that the media always portrays the Goth culture as a danger to society. In fact, the Goth subculture is constituted from music bands and members are considered creative people. In other words, most Goths are peaceful, tolerant and open-minded (5).


Furthermore, the Internet has spread the Goth subculture in many societies. Initially, Goths spread from the UK to the US in the mid 1990s with the emergence of the World Wide Web. Currently, Goths have a large number of websites that provide information for fans, as well as websites selling Goth clothes and makeup (3) (David 2015) Fashion

Furthermore, many applications serve the Goth subculture in diverse ways. Snapchat, Tumbler and Facebook gather a community of individuals that have the same interest in Goth subculture and provide opportunities for them to make friends (5). Lauren (et al. 2007) state that the Internet has promoted Goth culture to be an international movement. It has also maintained the vitality of the Goth subculture according to (4) Hebdig (1979) resistant fatal is helped to move the culture which mean that The rise of the Internet and social media has expanded Goth subcultures worldwide and attracted a larger swathe of people, particularly adolescents.

Moreover, the Goth subculture has emerged in Saudi Arabia especially among university students. The presence of Goth culture in a country such as Saudi Arabia, which is known globally as a conservative country has a slightly different indication. In other words, the Saudi Goths follow the original Goth subculture in the external appearance. For instance, they will mimic the clothing and style but refuse to adhere to original Goth beliefs. This is because Goth beliefs are contrary to the norms of Islam, which prohibits many aspects of their beliefs such as suicide (1). However, research by (2) Ashaalan (et al. 2013) confirmed that subculture movements influence university students. Likewise, the increase in Internet access and global travel have spread the culture.

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To conclude, although the Goth culture has a bright side which is related to music and some fantastic fashion, the other side related to their beliefs could be a risk for young people all over the world, particularly with the popularity of technology nowadays.


(1)Alotibi, G., 2013. The GOTH culture spreaded in Saudi Arabia. AlZaman. [online] Available from: http://www.alzmn.com/2014/05/02/3415/ [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].

(2)Ashaala, L., Ashaala, L. and Algadhee, N., 2013. Prevalence Of The Emotional (Emo) Subculture Among University Students In Saudi Arabi. Journal of International Education Research, [online] 9 (4), 351. Available from: http://file:///C:/Users/Mriam%20Pc/Downloads/8087-32241-1-PB%20(1).pdf [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].

(3) David, 2010. Myths and Stories: Goth Stereotypes. [online] Gothtypes Wiki. Available from: http://gothtypes.wikia.com/wiki/Myths_and_Stories:_Goth_Stereotypes [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].

(4)HEBDIGE, D., 1979. SUBCULTURE THE MEANING OF STYLE. 1st ed. [ebook] LONDON AND NEWYORK. Available from: http://www.erikclabaugh.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/181899847-Subculture.pdf [Accessed 5 Mar. 2016].

(5)Lauren, M., Goodlad, E. and Bibby, M., 2007. Goth:Undead Subculture. 1st ed. [ebook] london. Available from: https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=hSsrj_B3E-4C&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=goth+subculture&ots=KPekCrAFVv&sig=jKIf3tlhL2p5ZZ013sScyptGqmk#v=onepage&q&f=false [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].

(6)Punter, D., 2015. The Gothic. 1st ed. [ebook] Available from: https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=qaGj75K2Q9oC&oi=fnd&pg=PA350&dq=GOTH+CULTURE&ots=aQsKt7RmNK&sig=XCKsTuQS2oC-6HVwqMjzbFn2dWc#v=onepage&q=GOTH%20CULTURE&f=false [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016

(7)Rutledge, C., Rimer, D. and Scott, M., 2008. Vulnerable Goth Teens: The Role of Schools in This Psychosocial High-Risk Culture. Journal of School Health, 78 (9), 459-464.

(8)Weston, D., 2013. Pop Pagans:Pagaism and Popular music. 1st ed. [ebook] london and newyork: Acumen. Available from: https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=gcXoBAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA76&dq=Hex+Files:+The+Goth+Bible&ots=1qp2GRjWDN&sig=iGQPnuP3mN7KWf4dhmqnUPdsCgE#v=onepage&q=Hex%20Files%3A%20The%20Goth%20Bible&f=false [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].


The Saudi rapper Qusaii Khodr from articulating the position of Arab women in Islam to admitting we cannot live without ‘’Eve.”


Scholars overwhelmingly agree that hip hop can be attributed to the African, Caribbean and Latin American communities of 1970s New York (Waters, 2014). BBC News published an article in 2015 revealing that break dancing is the original dance of hip hop, which was a popular style from the 1970s until the mid-1980s (2).

Osumare (2001) indicates that hip hop has achieved global importance in several countries as it has supported marginalised communities by giving them a voice and fighting racism.  As a result, hip hop seems to be a growing culture in Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia due to the dramatic increase in the use of social media, with 72% of people participating in societal/political change and working as a community activist (Dubai School of Government, 2011).

The participation of Saudi students who have studied in Western countries is other reason for the emergence of hip hop in Saudi culture. For example, 29-year-old Qusayy Khodr has spent part of his life in the United States for academic proposes and also to satisfy his desire to improve his talents in hip hop. After he returned from the US in 1994, be began to create rap songs with his friends. He asserts that spreading hip hop in Saudi Arabia and the whole of the Middle East is his core aim. Through doing so he wants to address negative stereotypes and reinforce positive impressions of Arab people (Khater, 2010).


One of the controversial issues that Khodr’s songs addresses in the abuse of women, in particular Arabic women. He has released a new song called “Eve” with the aim of increasing awareness among men that women deserve to be respected and not abused by men, should be free to succeed in work and education and should see their position in society improved. Moreover, he admits that women are entirely qualified to reach the top peak of excellence as they have a high sense of willingness, perseverance and truthfulness.

Khodr’s song lyrics imply that a woman’s beauty starts in her earliest days and it continues to rise even when they are approaching old age because of everything they give for their families and communities. In an effort to highlight the importance of women in the lives of men, Khodr ends his song by raising the question: “How can Adam live without Eve?”

In the video clip for “Eve, Khodr tries to build a positive image of Arabic people to influence the Western perception of “hijabi women’s” position in the Arab world. He does this by showing that the hijab is not an obstacle to Arab women and does not prevent them from contributing to the media industry and wider world. Secondly, his clip can be seen to target Arab men in an effort to remind those who are abusing their wives, mothers or sisters of the prophet Mohammad’s recommendation pronounced before his death that men must “استوصوا بالنساء خيرا”, which means “treat women kindly”.

The complexity and ambiguity of hip hop has not stopped it from becoming a hybrid culture among the young (Osumare, 2001). He argues that each local culture may add its own flavour to hip hop and by applying this theory the unique features of Arabic “Islamist” hip hop and Western hip hop can be distinguished.

Saudi rapper Qusaii agrees that creating hip hop in Saudi Arabia is a bit of a tightrope act but “at the same time, we don’t have freedom of expression, freedom of speech, so we set up limitations in whatever we do, some people for the fear and some people for the respect” (1).

image1 (1)

Another rapper, Big Hass, has warned that Saudi rappers do not need to copy American rappers but simply need to be faithful to and honest about their own suffering, thoughts and culture. Also, he suggests that the culture of hip hop should be adopted without blind imitation (5). The photo above illustrates the meaning behind Big Hass’s suggestion.

Arab women

To conclude, it seems that the dominance of hip hop in Saudi culture has inspired Saudi hip hop artists to address important issues for citizens and to make their voice heard in the public sphere on contentious topics such as the issue of women rights. In addition, hip hop has aided Saudi rappers to articulate the fact that appreciating the significance of women and respecting them is a fundamental condition of Al Islam despite the misrepresentation of the position of Arab women in Islam in the global media.


  1. AFP, 2012.Rapping with ‘fear and respect’ in Saudi Arabia. [Online] ALARABIYA English. Available from: http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/11/09/248604.html [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].
  2. BBC News, 2015.The history of hip hop dance. [Online] BBC News. Available from:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/5CWQyWXZ4p7hr6NxG2L5qG9/the-history-of-hip-hop-dance  [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].
  3. Dubai school of government, 2011.The role of social media in Arab women’s empowerment. 3. [Online] Dubai: Dubai school of government, p.6. Available from:http://www.arabsocialmediareport.com/UserManagement/PDF/ASMR%20Report%203.pdf [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].
  4. Khater, A., 2010.Sources in the history of the modern Middle East. 2nd ed. North California: Cengage learning, pp.343, 345.
  5. McArthur, R., 2015.Meet Big Hass, the Saudi hip-hop guru who is turning the tables. [Online] English.alarabiya.net. Available from: http://english.alarabiya.net/en/life-style/entertainment/2015/04/03/Meet-Big-Hass-Saudi-Arabia-s-first-ambassador-of-hip-hop.html  [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].
  6. Osumare, H., 2001. Beat streets in the global hood: connective marginalities of the hip hop globe.Journal of American & Comparative Cultures, [online] 24 (1, 2), 171,172,173,174. Available from: https://youthcultureandmedia.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/osumare_hip-hop-globe.pdf  [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].
  7. Waters, 2014, ‘”Beats, Rhymes, and Life”: Hip hop’s unlikely movement’, Media Development, 61, 4, pp. 5-8, Communication Source, EBSCOhost, [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016]


Beatboxing: All From The Mouth

“We are all aware that music and “atmosphere” go together. We might put on relaxing music for a quiet romantic dinner, but listen to something livelier while doing some physical work or exercise or when out socialising in larger groups” (1). The main aspects of music can be summed up as tempo, rhythm, pitch, melody, harmony, pattern recognition, culture aspects. When all these elements are combined together, it became an art piece.

One of the neurologists from Columbia University, Krakauer said that music has the ability to stimulate pleasure and reward areas like orbitofrontal cortex, which can be found directly behind one’s eyes, as well as a midbrain region called the ventral striatum (2). Besides that, music activates the cerebellum that falls under the base of the brain which is involved in the coordination and timing of movement. This explained a lot when we saw people grooving along and tapping their feet over the background music in the bar.

We all are familiar with DJs playing music for the crowds or musicians playing all kind of instruments to entertain the audiences. What if I tell you a beatboxer can make the crowds dance only with his or her mouth, lips, tongue and voice? And only two equipments are needed, which are a microphone and a decent sound system. Stop whatever you are doing right now and brace yourself for the finest beatboxer in the world – Reeps One from UK.

Basically, beatboxing is an artistic form of human sound production in which the vocal organs are used to imitate percussion instruments (3). When we talk about beatboxing, the first thing that came to the people’s mind is Hip Hop. There are five elements in the Hip Hop culture, MCing, DJing, Breaking, Graffiti and Beatboxing (4). Therefore, the fifth element of Hip Hop is beatboxing. Back to the early days, Rahzel, Dough E. Fresh, Kid Lucky, Michael Winslow, Biz Markie and Kenny Muhammad are the pioneers of beatboxing. They shaped the beatbox scene in United States in the 80’s as Hip-hop culture got huge.


Kenny Muhammad’s showcase for R16 – An annual global b-boy tournament in Korea.

Things start to evolve from time to time, so as beatboxing. Beatboxing is no longer just about Hip Hop in nowadays. In Urban’s study, he said that a culture is restless like an itchy movement as the future is mysterious and unpredictable (5). New school beatboxers are exposed to all kind of music genres like Electro, Drum and Bass, Dubstep, Trap and even Jazz. Exactly like the routine we heard from above video that has Electro and Dubstep influences in it.

Other than music genres, from the cultural perspective, one who lives in a specific geographic region that speaks certain language will also be able to influence one’s beatboxing style. Based on an interview that carried out by Beatbox Battle TV, Skiller, the 2012 world beatbox champion title holder said that Bulgarian’s language is sharp and short which allowed him to develop extremely fast beats. With no doubt, he is known as one of the fastest beatboxers in the world.

The latest Beatbox Battle World Championship (BBWC) happened last year May and that was the fourth time since 2012. BBWC is the biggest day for every single beatboxer around the world. Not only it nominates the world champion but also celebrate the art form by gathering all beatboxers across the world in Berlin. More than 170 beatboxers from 46 countries, including USA, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Russia, South Korea and almost the entire European continent, will compete in four different categories: Men, Tag-Team, Female and Crew Battle. 1,500 spectators were expected to watch the BBWC live at the Astra Kulturhaus in Berlin’s nightlife district in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. Live stream on Youtube have also attracted thousand of beatboxers who were watching it online.


Beatboxers from all over the world gathered at the Generator Hotel in Berlin, Germany.

It is amazing to see everyone comes together as a family without speaking the same language yet still able to interact with each other just because we share the same passion. Reeps One, the 3 times UK Champion said beatboxers do not need to be able to speak English. When the other beatboxer heard you splitting beat, naturally he or she will come in and start jamming.

The positive vibe and sense of community is indescribable. Beatboxers from one country will always love to host another beatboxer from somewhere in their hometown. This gives us the opportunity to learn from each other in term of skill as well as get to know the local scene better. Last but not least, many still agree that beatboxing is still an underground scene. However, as time goes by, the art form will continue to grow intensively and all we need to do is wait for it.


(1) Paterson, J., 2016.What is music? how it affects moods, emotions, creating atmosphere. [online] Mfiles.co.uk. Available from: http://www.mfiles.co.uk/what-is-music.htm [Accessed 27 Feb. 2016].

(2) Krakauer, J., 2016.Why do we like to dance–And move to the beat?. [online] Scientific American. Available from: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/experts-dance/ [Accessed 27 Feb. 2016].

(3) Proctor, M., Bresch, E., Byrd, D., Nayak, K. and Narayanan, S., 2013. Paralinguistic mechanisms of production in human “beatboxing”: A real-time magnetic resonance imaging study.The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 133 (2), 1043.

(4) Bobakova, D., 2013. Youth culture and problem behaviours in Slovakia: Hip-Hop, Techno-scene, Metal, Punk, Skinhead, and Roma.

(5) Urban, Greg. 2001. “The Once and Future Thing” Metaculture: How culture moves through the world. U of Minnesota Press. Available from: https://youthcultureandmedia.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/metaculture_how_culture_moves_through_the_world.pdf %5BAccessed 27 Feb. 2016]

PYSHCEDELIC CULTURE: The Mind Blowing Experience

In the eye of the mainstream media, psychedelia will be labeled as a bunch of drug-takers. In Hebdige’s book (1979) he said that “The labeling process is here described in terms of the media’s selection and presentation of news on various group, such as gays, alcoholics, the mentally ill, political deviants, drug-takers, etc (1).” However, for this subculture community, it is a mind blowing experience.

A psychedelic experience is a journey to new realms of consciousness. The experience is limitless and its characteristic features include transcendence of verbal concepts, of space-time dimensions, and of the ego or identity (2). The term “psychedelic” is derived from the Ancient Greek words psykhe“mind” and deloun “make visible, reveal”, this simply means mind revealing.


Magic Mushroom, the most common used psychedelic drug which can be legally purchased in Amsterdam Coffeshop.

Among the psychedelia community, some other psychedelic drugs which are widely consumed include LSD, mescaline, salvia, cannabis and DMT. All these substances are psychoactive drugs which trigger hallucination. The motive behind consuming these substances is all depends on the users. It could be simply just for fun or out of curiosity, as well as for spiritual, meditation and religious ritual (3). Consuming psychedelic drugs can induce non-ordinary forms of consciousness such as trance, dreaming and even near death experience. Apparently, these drugs have been used by humans for tens of thousands of years.

In this modern era, things have evolved quickly and eventually party has become a trend. There are plenty of events were organized out of this psychedelic subculture. Open your mind and eyes. Let’s enjoy watching the following video.

From the video, there are some psychedelic characteristics which can be identified. For example, the set up of the stage, props and production. Basically, all of those features help to enhance the trippin experience especially for those who are on drugs. The background music of the video and the music that played by the DJ is known as psychedelic trance also known as Psytrance. Psytrance is a genre of electronic dance music characterized by arrangements of synthetic rhythms and layered melodies created by high tempo (4).


Tree of Life Festival’s lighting effect.

More information about the event can be found from this link:


Last but not least, everyone has their own perception and judgment towards drugs. Unfortunately, most of the time people only look at the negative effects and consequences of it rather than having an in depth look and understanding into the culture itself. Whether you agree or disagree, this subculture is still moving and definitely growing from time to time under the shades of the society.



(1) Hebdige, D., 1979.Subculture: The Meaning of Style [online], 179. London: Methuen. Available from: http://www.erikclabaugh.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/181899847-Subculture.pdf

(2) Leary, T., Metzner, R. and Alpert, R., 1964. The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of Dead [online]. USA: Citadel Press Inc. Available from: http://www.holybooks.com/wp-content/uploads/Timothy-Leary-The-Psychedelic-Experience-The-Tibetan-Book-Of-The-Dead.pdf

(3) Hofmann, A., Ratsch, C. and Schultes, R. E., 1992. Plants of the Gods [online]. USA: Healing Arts Press. Available from: http://satdude.com/4don/ebooks/LSD%20&%20Psychedelics%20Essential%20Books/Schultes,Hofmann%20-%20Plants%20of%20the%20Gods%20(Healing%20Arts,%202001).pdf

(4) John, G. S., 2010. The Local Scenes and Global Culture of Psytrance [online]. United Kingdom: Routledge. Available from: http://samples.sainsburysebooks.co.uk/9781136944345_sample_860577.pdf