Oregon’s Changing Dance Music Culture

By Conor Bulkeley-Krane

CatlinSpeak (Portland, OR)

Gone are the raves and underground concerts housed in warehouses and nooks of forests. Now, hundreds of tank-top garbed frat bros fill massive amphitheaters to hear derivative and oversimplified “festival trap.”

In an interview with Eugene Weekly, seasoned raver Jordan Cogburn relives what the electronic music scene was: Step one: Find a poster for the event (normally found at record stores). Step two: Call the number.

“You’d call the number on the flyer and they’d tell you to go to this spot. You’d go over to this spot and there would be a dude waiting in a car. He’d hand you a map and he’s like, ‘OK, you gotta go to this other spot.’ Then you’d go to this other spot. Then they’d tell you where the party was actually at. Then you’d go out to that party.” Cogburn continues, “You get there and it’s out in the sticks, out in the middle of nowhere. You’re driving up this dirt road; you can’t see anything except for what’s in your headlights. Then you get out there, you’re partying, partying, having a good time. All of a sudden the sun starts coming up and you realize you’re on a 150-foot cliff!”

Now in 2015, young people find ads for festivals on Instagram and Facebook months in advance, and buy $60 tickets and premade kandi.

The Human Nature Festival looks to change this recent trend and provide a more communal music experience. In an Oregon Music News interview, HNF co-producer Michael Friedman says: “We are really trying to separate ourselves from the ego and vanity that has permeated the dance music culture,” Friedman continues. “It’s hard to gauge the success of a festival. The looks on people’s faces was worth it for me.”

On July 25 2015, the Human Nature Festival took place in Marcola, Oregon. The Human Nature Festival is a new electronic music festival that takes place deep in the lush woods in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. The event had multiple stages, ranging from a ‘Kid’s Zone’ to a stage that plays 24 hours of liquid Drum n’ Bass.

The festival strives to provide a community experience beyond that from what one would expect. There are intense laser light shows as well as art installations, yoga and tai-chi sessions, lectures on a wide variety of subjects, food, clothing, and art vendors.

The subject also features an Art Dome hosted by Portland-based art collective Cloud.Break. This art tent provided an exposition featuring numerous artists from all around the North West. On their official Facebook page, they list all of the workshops at the July festival hosted by Cloud.Break:

Festival Clothing Swap! (bring garments to gift!)

Consent and Safer Sex

Bubble Creations

HNF is trying to emulate the legendary raves that once raged across Oregon, and differentiate themselves from the commercialized “EDM” festivals that currently plague Oregon. The HNF makes an honorable attempt to transition between these two, but it is something else entirely. The reality of the HNF is much more similar to something like burning man than the once banging tech-house raves of Eugene.

The Human Nature Festival will be returning to the valley in July of 2016.


Photo Credit: Unsplash

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

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