Tag Archives: bracelet

PLUR Handshake and the Exchanging of Kandi – Rave Culture

Background: The informant is my twenty-two year old sister. She learned this piece from attending multiple raves and EDM music festivals in the southern California region. She is an avid metal and alternative music fan with a love of body modifications including tattoos and piercings as well as horror films. 

Context: The following was collected in a casual in-person interview in the informant’s home. 


The following is a transcription of a conversation about the exchanging of Kandi (which are homemade bracelets often with colorful plastic beads) in EDM culture through the handshake dubbed “P.L.U.R.” 

Collector: What does PLUR mean?

Informant: “Peace, love, unity, respect. So basically to anybody it means coming together and sharing something with like another person. My favorite part about it is like if you’re really connecting with someone at like party or you know like a rave um I’ll look at somebody and I’ll be like okay you look like you’re a hella stoner so we’ll like talk about be like ‘Hey like what’s your name oh my god you’re so cool’ and maybe dance a little bit and then we’ll do like this thing. So it goes peace, love, unity, and respect. And I would bring it over and then you would look at what it says. And it says ‘Smoke weed everyday.’ 

Collector: Do all of the bracelets have words on them? 

Informant: “Um not all of them have words. So like some people will be like ‘Oh it’s my first rave blah blah blah’ and you could just give them whatever. But like, for me like why I enjoy it is like I’ve been lucky enough to have people who have given me stuff with words. And I like to spread ones with words because its like way more personal and shows that like you really connect with somebody.”

Collector: So you wouldn’t do it with someone you don’t really vibe with.

Informant: “No but um I mean I feel like you vibe with everybody at those events. Usually though like if I’m giving you one, you’re giving me one back. So like you would have one and we would both look at our things and be like oh this relates to you or this is cute or you’ll like this or I hate this one so. For people I don’t really vibe with I’ll give them my ugliest one.”

Images of the process are included here: 

Peace is represented by the two participants touching their index and pointer fingers to each other, making peace signs. 
Love is represented by the two participants joining curved hands to form a heart. 
Unity is represented with two flat hands with the palms touching each other and thumbs wrapped around the opposite hand. 
Respect is represented with the interlacing of the two individuals’ fingers and the bracelet being drawn from the wrist of one individual to another. 

Analysis: The PLUR handshake is a fun and fast way of building a community and making friends at raves, parties, and even the beach. Kandi is a way to visibly identify those who participate in EDM culture and serves as a sort of invitation to others who participate in this culture to engage in conversation and even friendship. Historically, raves have been dangerous places with illicit drugs and little supervision. Woodstock 99, a 1999 music festival, ended in destructive riots and other festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival have had numerous deaths. Although raves and festivals are much safer today, with medical staff readily standing by, the PLUR and Kandi traditions began in 1990s underground rave culture when this wasn’t the case. I believe the ritual functions to reassure rave goers and build a network of accountability and trust. Since drugs like ecstasy and LSD are often consumed at these events, the handshake may also serve as a positive affirmation in order to assure that participants are having a “good trip.” Furthermore, EDM culture has historically been inclusive toward minority groups and LGBTQ. I believe this handshake is an extension of the welcoming and respectful undertones of EDM culture.

Lucky Italian Leather Bracelet

The informant explains that he has a bracelet that he stole in Italy at a street market by the Trevi Fountain.  The bracelet is leather and braided and he has had it since he was fifteen.  The informant explains that he wears it at all of the music shows that he performs at because he feels as though if he doesn’t perform well then he will be punished.  He feels as though he has the bracelet for a reason and needs to prove why he has it.  He also thinks that the bracelet gives him good luck.  He also believes that the bracelet represents his Italian heritage – taking a piece of Italy away.  He uses it as a way to remember his trip as well.

The informant’s militant wearing of his leather bracelet in all of his musical shows demonstrates individual’s belief in the power of good luck charms.  In contemporary view there are many instances in sports, music performances, and much more where people have different superstitious beliefs to enhance their luck or performance.

Baba Marta: Bulgarian Springtime Ritual

Contextual Data: A friend and I were sitting together one day after class and exchanging different bits of folklore we had encountered in our childhood. She mentioned to me that she was Bulgarian and there was one particular tradition that her family continued to participate in, which had just passed the previous month. The following is an exact transcript of her description.

Informant: “Okay, so Baba Marta. It’s a holiday for Spring in Bulgaria, um, and the name—it literally translates as, um, Grandmother March, since March is like the month of Spring, and we start celebrating it on March 1st. And what you do is, um, you put this little pin on you. Um…Or a bracelet. And it has to be with red and white threads because those are, I guess, Bulgarian symbols of Spring. And they kind of symbolize, you know, rebirth and regrowth and newness. And you have to wear that pin or that bracelet. And it can come in, like, many different forms. Um, especially nowadays—they get really creative with the designs and they have like little dolls, and etcetera. But you wear it for the entire month of March. Um, and then you can take it off either when you see a flowering tree, or—like you take it off and you pin it on the tree—or just like at the end of March. And then again, you find some nice blossoming tree or flower and you just kind of pin it on there. And we get ours from our relatives and they just kind of like mail it to us—because you obviously can’t find any here—which is nice. And then you get to… Just kind of wear it and, like, still be connected to the culture and like people ask you about it and they’re like, ‘Oh, what’s this?’ And you’re like, ‘Oh, it’s for Spring.’ Um, which is cool. And… It’s a nice little decoration or bracelet I guess.”

– End Transcript – 

This ritual very much seems to be a part of a life-cycle celebration. My informant explained that the beginning of March marks the beginning of Spring in the Bulgarian calendar, and as can be seen in many different cultures, this time of the year symbolizes “rebirth and regrowth.” That people perform this ritual could therefore be a way of sort of earning luck or signifying a rejuvenation as they move forward. It could even just be away of acknowledging the importance of this “rebirth” in the earth cycle — particularly if the colors stand as “Bulgarian symbols for the Spring.” My informant also mentioned that now that she lives in America, it is kind of a way of allowing her to still be part of the Bulgarian culture and to connect to her family back in Bulgaria (particularly as her grandparents are the one to mail her the bracelets). Whenever she sees those bracelets hung on trees during this time of year, she does get a little thrill of excitement from it — a kind of “oh, that’s nice.”