Tag Archives: PLUR

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.

Rave kandies and the process of trading them at festivals

Main Piece 

Informant: The motto and the handshake of the community, and the code we live by is PLUR. It stands for Peace, Love, Unity, Respect. It means you’re peaceful, and not there to start shit. We gotta spread love, we gotta spread unity because we are all vibing together. Then there is respect, because you have to respect everyone there and the land where the concert is because we don’t want to leave trash around. 

One of the things that ravers do to express themselves are Kandies. They are bracelets made of elastic string and beads, they are really easy to make and people usually make them themselves, and then some people get really advanced. You can trade kandi with people, when you meet them usually you trade kandies when you are about to leave and there is a whole handshake for the trade. 

Interviewer: What is the handshake like?

Informant: First it is peace so you hold out a peace sign and touch both fingertips. And then you do love, so you make half of a heart with your hand and join it to theirs. So when they’re together they make one big heart. And then you do unity where you grab each other’s hands, like interlocking fingers. And then on respect, you trade the kandies and transfer it from your wrist to theirs while your hand is still interlocked. 

Interviewer: What are kandies usually made out of?

Informant: The kandies are usually handmade, they are made of beads. sometimes they spell out different artists, different DJs, different sayings. It is kinda like the pins at Disneyland, people are always looking to trade kandies with each other to collect memories of different times. 


The informant is a great friend and housemate of mine, who is currently a senior at USC studying Health and Human Sciences whose family is living in a town four hours outside of Denver, Colorado. Coming from a military family, the informant has lived in various areas, the most memorable for him was New Orleans. The informant is half Korean and half Caucasian, and is a sports fanatic having played soccer for most of his life. The informant is also a very big raver, as he enjoys going to several festivals a year, originally beginning to attend in his senior year of high school. 


One day while we were at our house I noticed that he had on a whole sleeve full of what looked like friendship bracelets, and when I asked him what they were for he explained that they were kandies for a rave he was attending that night. After he was willing to interview, I asked him about the bracelets and the customs of raves. 


I think these folk objects are a very inexpensive and easy way to make and a great way for ravers to identify with one another when they are in crowds at large festivals. I think the practice of trading kandies and the handshake that goes along with it symbolize folk greetings at these festivals, and provide a sense of unity and togetherness. As the informant mentioned, it is also a way for people to remember certain festivals or raves that they attend. 

“You Know You’re A Raver If” Jokes

Background: I interviewed Professor Nye to talk about his raving experiences. He described his most active era to be from 1997-2001 in the underground trance music scene of the Bay Area. He attended many outdoor, open-air, camping events that are described as “underground” or not necessarily sanctioned in the same way that official music festivals, such as Coachella, or Outside Lands are.

Context: Professor Nye was describing jokes and stereotypes of ravers that existed when he was involved in the underground trance scene in the Bay area. He was laughing throughout the joke-telling still clearly very amused by the jokes. Professor Nye seemed to expect that I would understand the jokes as a student in his Electronic Music and Dance Culture course based on our learning about rave culture.

“I remember just jokes around… actually this is hilarious I remember a list going around of “You Know You’re A Raver if” blah blah blah. Have you ever heard these before? At that time one of my favorite ones was, that I kind of came up with with friends was “You Know You’re A Raver if your email is happysparklyglowbear15@plur.org Another one is, you know you’re a raver if you’re doing the laundry and you start arguing about whether the washing machine has a style of tribal or trance. The strongest example was you know you’re a raver if you pay $30 for a party that may not happen, pay $20 for a pill that may be aspirin, but you will not pay $2 for a bottle of water.”


My informant is a sophomore student at USC that grew up in the Bay Area.

Me: Tell me about Electric Daisy Carnival

Informant: So ever since my senior year of high school I have been going to EDC in June.  Its in Las Vegas now but it used to be at the Coliseum and its basically one of the biggest raves in the nation and all the best DJ’s come perform for three nights.

Me: Sounds fun.  Has this been around for a long time or somewhat new.

Informant: Uh no idea when it started but I would guess after I was born.

Me: Ok, since you have been going for a long time what are some of the big traditions you have noticed?

Informants: Uh well [haha] people do a shit ton of drugs but I wouldn’t call that a tradition.

Me: More of a culture?

Informant: Ya sure, umm I guess P.L.U.R. is a big tradition that people participate in at raves.

Me: P.L.U.R?

Informant: Ya it stands for Peace. Love. Unity. Respect.  Basically people wear a bunch of colorful bead wristbands and exchange them through a handshake, while saying “Peace. Love. Unity. Respect.”  I know it sounds fuckin weird and hippy but you make a lot of new friends that way.

Me: Huh, and someone taught this to you?

Informant: Exactly, at my first EDC a girl “PLUR’d” me one of her bracelets and said she was my rave mother.  I thought it was pretty fuckin weird at first but got into it pretty quickly when I saw how many other people did it.


I didn’t really get much else out of the interview but it seemed obvious that P.L.U.R. was a big part of EDC’s culture and probably all of “rave” culture, given EDC’s size.  Ravers seem to embrace a non-judgemental, loving attitude and P.L.U.R. is a way for them to express to others that they embody these ideals. Meeting random strangers isn’t easy but trading bracelets with them is a harmless and easy way to break the ice.  It may be the music, and it may be the drugs, but Peace. Love. Unity. Respect. seem to be the all encompassing rules at EDC.

Rave Culture: PLUR and Kandi

This is my informant’s account on the rave term PLUR and the exchange of Kandi,

“I first heard about PLUR in Electric Daisy Carnival LA: 2010. I heard of it because my friend and I saw everyone exchanging kandi, which are beaded bracelets that ravers make. These beaded bracelets are color and nice to look at, which include messages of love and such. We wanted our own so I asked a girl who was fully decked out in kandi if I could have a bracelet. She said yes enthusiastically and held two fingers up expectantly. Little did I know it was the beginning of a kind of ritual that is involved in the trading of kandi. You press two fingers together against your partners, create half a heart and complete it with your partner’s hands, and then clasp your hands together and each person pulls a bracelet from the others’ arm onto theirs. These actions represent Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect, respectively. These values constitute rave culture that started in the 90s. I later heard that PLUR originally included an extra “R” which stood for responsibility, but it’s not usually thought of because it was left out of the handshake.”

My informant stated that he now practices saying PLUR to people whenever he sees a kind act at raves. Such acts would be sharing water, menthol cigarettes, and also exchanging kandi.He states this is very prevalent at raves and such with the inclusion of kandi.

My analysis on this is that raves are generally a place where people have fun and want to feel a sense of happiness. The inclusion of drugs most likely help with this ritual of sharing pleasantries and connecting with people through the act of sharing “kandi” and also stating PLUR. The acronym of PLUR even explains the message of this act. Interestingly this also proves that the rave culture contains beneficial messages of peace and happiness. These rituals also help unite and connect people through the sharing of items that are visually pleasing. My informant’s experience of attaining Kandi, even demonstrates how simple the process is. Also supposedly the drug ecstasy makes lights and bright colors look better, thus kandi is attractive to users to see one women and men dancing.