The Meaning Behind Kandi

When I was growing up, arts and crafts were a big part of my life. I remember making perlers and bracelets with pony beads in Girl Scouts. It was fun but it never had much meaning beyond the superficial; it was simply a way to pass the time. Fast forward 15 years later and I find myself holding real sentimental value to a piece of kandi.

In rave culture, kandi is a general term for bracelets, cuffs, face masks, and necklaces made from chunky beads or pony beads. The letters on the beads typically form inspirational phrases which contribute to the positive nature of kandi. Ravers trade or give away kandi at festivals as a symbolic gesture of kindness and friendship. In fact, the most wonderful aspect of kandi is not the kandi beads themselves, but rather the act of trading them. It is the trade which invokes an overwhelming sense of unity and solidarity.

I have experienced the most heartwarming moments in the midst of a kandi trade. I met a young raver named Arty at EDC Orlando whose good friend had recently passed away. He traded me a kandi bracelet which spelled out his friend's initials while he told me a beautiful story about how awesome Tim was. I cried I was so moved. Even though kandi is made to be traded and not kept, I told Arty I would keep that kandi forever. When I recognized the contradiction I asked, “Wait, what would Tim want me to do?” Arty gave me a hug and said, “When the moment to trade it comes, you’ll know.” Now, every time I gear up for a rave, I squeeze that bracelet close to my heart to have a moment of remembrance. I haven’t traded it yet, but I know the right moment will come. RIP TM.

Trading kandi is like spreading good vibes and love. It’s a conversation starter, an ice breaker, an easy way to connect and a beautiful way to make new friends. My boyfriend Brian traded kandi with a girl at EDC Las Vegas two years ago- she proceeded to introduce him to her huge crew. We coincidentally ran into that same crew at EDC Orlando months later and ended up raving together for the entire event. Brian and I just got back from EDC Las Vegas 2015 and a big merger between our two crews occurred. The result? A squad of probably 60+ ravers (most of them rocking awesome rave tanks, rave crop tops from Dem Vibes). Sitting back and observing all of these amazing people interact, laugh, cry, hug, and dance was incredible; these individuals went from being complete strangers to exchanging numbers and making plans for the next rave family reunion. And to think, it was all possible because of a simple kandi trade.

The meaning of kandi is so much more than it's "simple" pony bead composition; it’s a symbol of PLUR (peace, love, unity and respect) which is at the heart of rave culture. At Dem Vibes we love kandi and we often include personalized pieces of kandi in the orders we ship out. This holds true for everything from accessories to rave bras! When we do this, we hope we are doing our part in spreading PLUR to our customers.

Do you remember your first piece of kandi? Do you have an awesome kandi story? We'd love to hear it! Share it in the comments below!

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