By Iris Garrido
I still remember my first festival (Ezoo 2014) and seeing so many people with colorful bead bracelets. Many with a couple of bracelets in hand, others with their whole arm filled with bead bracelets. What were they? Why do you have them? And where can I get them? These were some of the questions running through my head. Then as we roamed the grounds and checked out different stages we started to see more elaborate bead bracelets that were huge!
My boyfriend and I attended our first festival together and at the time we only knew each other in the EDM scene, so there really wasn't anyone to ask. Later in the day, we started vibing with a couple of people and we noticed the bracelets so we had to ask. What are they? "They are kandi," was their response. And we soon learned all about P.L.U.R.
So intrigued by it that I soon found myself looking for tutorials on how to make the more elaborate kandi cuffs and really see the history of it.
What I found is that kandi really was created in the early '90s, but not in the way we know today. People who wore kandi bracelets were drug dealers and did so, that they could easily be identified in the dark in the clubs. Upon learning this I had to really ask myself if I really wanted to keep on the path of making kandi as I do not agree with what it stood for in those times.
But I kept searching and really saw that it has changed since then. It has become more of a symbol of unity within the community. There are memories within each piece of kandi that is traded and looking back at some of the ones I have received I remember who and what event the trade occurred in. Many of these kandi bracelets I have received have been positive messages. From sayings like "queen", "peace", and "headbanger" to a simple "plur" or special bead like a star on the bracelet. Then I started seeing really elaborate 3D cuffs that leave you in awe.
Kandi makers have evolved in their art form and create some truly beautiful pieces. With the addition of perler beads in more recent years, kandi can be made in many different forms. In the early 2000s, really all that was seen were simple bracelets with a word or phrase here and there. Later, people really started making more elaborate pieces with 3D cuffs. Some 3D cuffs even include a little plush toy or an image made out of perler beads. Now you can see anything from a kandi bracelet to a kandi necklace, face mask, bandana or even clothing pieces made out of kandi! It is truly awesome to see all the creativity that our rave community is able to achieve.
Though some may still associate kandi with drug dealers or even stereotype the kind of people that attend festivals I believe that through kandi and p.l.u.r. we can all make a difference in the association of what the rave community is about.