A-Z of EDM Part One

It's EDM Week on Ministry of Sound, but before we dive head first down the neon rabbit hole of American rave culture, here's some of the lingo you'll need to know.

A crash-course in the essential elements of the EDM vocabulary

A - Animal Hats

Animal hats, native american headdresses, capes, onesies, lingerie, light up shoes, light up hats, tutus, fairy wings, all-over print suits, any and all fancy dress welcome. Keep your all-black-everything for Berghain, in the US, raves look like a Halloween party, stag do and your favourite Saturday morning cartoons all mashed up in a neon blender. 

B - Brostep

Remember 2005? Remember when people like Mala & Coki, Skream & Benga and Swamp81 were churning out heavy bass that sounded like a thousand bongs being ripped in unison? What ever happened to that? Where did it go? Brostep is what happened.

C - Cruise Ships

A few years ago American promoters hit upon the frankly genius idea of taking the dance music festival, sticking it on a cruise ship and touring the Caribbean. Why bother camping, when you can stay in luxury cabins? Why risk bad weather when you can party in paradise? Why worry about volume controls and noise complaints when you can sail your soundsystem into the literal ocean. Despite recent Mad Decent Boat Party tragedy, we still have to take our hats off to our American cousins for this. In the UK a boat party is an evening spent huddling for warmth out the back of a floating restaurant on the Thames, in America, it's this

D - Drop (The)

Basically all of EDM culture revolves around The Drop. The Drop is sacrosanct all the bells, whistles and booty shorts would be rendered redundant if The Drop failed to arrive. As above, so below. The Drop is all. All hail The Drop.


Stands for Electronic Dance Music. An abbreviation so redundant, it could never have been coined by British tongues. Yet here we are, it's 2015 and EDM has gone far beyond a handy catch all for what Thatcher would've called 'repetitive beats' and mutated into a genre in its own right, a term of derision and a global youth subculture.

F - Family (Rave)

A rave family is a slang term for a group of people who regularly go to dance events together. In the UK these would simply just be termed 'your mates', but in America it seems necessary to designate which friends you go to events with and which ones are your 'everyday' friends. There's no limit in size to a rave family and people don't tend to have specific roles within the family, but it is common practise for individual members to be christened with a 'rave name'. As bizarre as it sounds, a lot of people take their rave families very seriously and the internet is littered with people looking for new rave families on reddit, writing longform articles about how they found their a rave family and joining Facebook groups dedicated to promoting the concept. Want to know what your rave name would be? Well there's a handy quiz for that (obviously). 

G - Gloving

Gloving is basically when people get really into dance music, but then are all like 'fuck dancing'. In Britain those people just stand at the back and head nod, maybe do the occasional fist pump. Not in Merica. Over there they've developed this weird LEDs-in-Micky-Mouse-gloves subculture that's somehow turned into a multi-million dollar industry.


One of the three major American EDM festival brands, HARD throw events predominantly in California but have branched out into Festival cruises with their Holy Ship! concept. Beginning life as Hard Music Festival, a one day New Years Eve event in downtown LA at the height of the Bloghaus era, the brand saw its popularity balloon with the explosion of EDM.

I – Insomniac

The second of the home-grown heavy hitters in the American rave scene. Insomniac are best known for massive festival brand EDC, the Wonderland series of events and Escape - their annual Halloween event. Like all major EDM event brands they put a hell of a lot of stock in trailers and after movies, but the videos for Escape - their annual Halloween event take the concept to a whole other level. This year they crafted a five minute horror short that's more disturbing than your average Hollywood offering. 

J – Justin Bieber

Against all the odds, a man who's only prior association with dance music was getting punched by Legolas in Ibiza has gone on to become the poster boy for an entire generation of American ravers.

K - Kandi

Little neon or candy coloured beads which ravers generally make into bracelets or necklaces, but can be made into everything from medallions to badges, to helmets, to facemasks. They're often used to spell out various rave slogans like "PLUR" "Molly" etc or to form anime or computer game characters, the most popular being My Little Pony and Pokemon. A whole subculture has built up around the making and exchanging of these at raves. Its basically like Pokemon cards for adults to trade when they're mangled at 4am, but instead of trying to keep all the shinys for yourself, the focus is on giving away as much as possible. 

We were so intrigued by the popularity of this concept, we made a short film about it - look out for it this Sunday!

L - Leg Warmers

Neon leg warmers along with hot pants, nipple stickers and armbands make up the standard female rave uniform. Because apparently American girls can't go to a rave unless they look like The Ultimate Warrior.

M - Molly

A cynic - or a concerned mom - might equate the explosion in EDM culture with America's rediscovery of a certain chemical. But we're sure that's not true and Molly's just some incredibly popular girl that's always getting up on peoples shoulders at festivals, but is like, clumsy, so she's always being dropped.

Read N - Z here!

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Written by Matthew Francey

23 Nov 2015