What Is “Kandi” and Where Did it Come From?


Photo Credit: Tristan Savatier

There seems to be a lot of confusion when it comes to Kandi and its origins. Some consider these brightly color beads childish, while others consider it a beautiful conversation piece. For most, kandi is not something they would expect at a show full of young adults, however as the EDM scene grows, so do the amount of people wearing kandi.

What is Kandi? ‘Kandi’ primarily consists of plastic beaded bracelets garnished with designs or wording of some sort. Each one is uniquely customized to each individual. Made with beads found in craft stores like Michaels or Hobby Lobby, it has become very popular amongst the EDM scene. Kandi is often traded with others at concerts using a “PLUR” handshake. This is done by:
1. Two people make peace signs (Peace)
2. They form a heart (Love)
3. They interlock fingers (Unity)
4. They slide their bracelets from hand to hand (Respect)
5. Hug them.

What is the meaning behind kandi and where did it come from? Kandi is a form of self-expression, and many people wear kandi to show they are a more upbeat, fun, and happy person. In a Facebook group conversation, Shawn Blond said, “Back then it wasn’t just wearing kandi with normal clothing like now, it was an entire “kandi outfit”, meaning bright colored clothing, children’s backpacks, stars and glitter all that stuff. Kandi kids were usually associated with the more upbeat electronic genres like happy hardcore, house, and trance. The other general ravers typically wore few kandi items and junglists (drum n bass enthusiasts) never wore kandi.” Kandi has been around since the 90’s or even sooner and is said to originate mainly from Europe.

Why do people wear kandi? Well, this could be for multiple reasons. Mainly, kandi is used as a conversation starter. If two people who enjoy kandi see each other wearing a lot at a concert, they will go up to each other and trade using the PLUR handshake. The point of trading kandi at a concert is so that you have a sort of memento to remember the people you meet. Each kandi has a story behind it so you will never forget the night or the person.  Kandi is also seen as art among many, crafting beautiful designs, words, and specialty beads onto masks and cuffs.

Where did it come from? While the exact origins are not completely known, there are many ideas as to where it originated. Some say that kandi used to be worn in the 90’s by drug dealers so that others knew who to go to in order to score some drugs. Others say kandi originated from other countries such as Europe with the intentions that it has today.

Why does kandi receive so much hate? Many consider kandi to be childish, since wearing brightly colored beads looks tacky to some. Others think kandi shows who uses drugs, however this is very biased and untrue.

Kandi and its meaning has changed immensely as the scene grows. Most people you see now will be wearing one or two pieces of kandi not even knowing the meaning behind it.

What are your opinions about kandi? Let me know in the comments!

Mark Reddington

Hi I'm Mark and I like music that makes your face melt off.

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One Comment

  1. When I was raving, I received several of these bracelets from others. It felt cool, uplifting, and wild. I almost got the word PLUR tattoo’d on my back. I didn’t, but the meaning is endearing, still.

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