If I asked you to picture an “EDM crowd,” you would be able to do it. Even if you’ve never been to a dance music show, you still know what the people look like. Girls in gold spandex, guys in unbuttoned Hawaiian shirts or basketball jerseys, kandi-coated wrists and glitter wherever glitter can go. And 99 percent of the time, that’s exactly right.
But these stereotypes hold no weight within a small sector of the EDM community: the EDM elite.
The EDM elite is a very small and unique group. You may have never actually seen an elite in the flesh, and if you have, there’s a pretty big possibility you didn’t recognize them. They transcend most of the dance music stereotype, and the ones that do apply to them are taken to a level of elegance and sophistication that makes them acceptable. Cat ears on a normal person? Lame/weird/tacky. Cat ears on an Elite? Cool/trendy/cute.
Only very few outsiders have actually been to one of their events, but we — the cultural anthropologists within the music vertical at 20Something— were lucky to be able to observe them in their natural habitat.
I was confused when I first walked into The Mirage. Where were the hula hoops? Why wasn’t anyone wearing tie dye? This wasn’t the EDM crowd I was used to. There were more pairs of heels than light-up shoes, more maxi dresses than mesh shirts. The crowd looked more fit for an NYFW show than a DJ’s set. And I think there were more people with 401k’s at this one show than at all other dance music shows I’ve been to combined.
This was sophisticated dance music. The EDM elite. It’s like all the people that hung out in VIP tents at other, non-EDM festivals had decided to leave behind their VIP statuses to have the least GA “GA Experience” possible. There was still glitter, but it looked high-quality and artful. There were still space buns, bras worn as shirts, and ridiculous hats, but they were cool. My denim cutoffs and men’s American Apparel T-shirt weren’t SHIT in this crowd. Every person was a separate and trendy entity, a different cool look. Even the guy wearing clout goggles that were covered in googley eyes looked cool.
The venue was a perfect place for the event, complete with three separate levels to enjoy the show from, colorful paper lanterns hanging over the area in front of the stage, and palm trees scattered throughout the area. Someone once told me that it was supposed to be “like Ibiza in Brooklyn.” I don’t know if that’s true, and I’ve never been to Ibiza, but I feel like it was at least a solid effort. When you couldn’t see the Manhattan skyline, it almost felt tropical. It was a place and event that was as trendy, unique, and enjoyable as the people within it.