Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of the CU Independent or its staff.
The American Spirit has progressively grown non-existent in our nation’s culture. What I refer to as “The American Spirit” is the concept that propelled the United States to become a nation in the first place. That is not to be confused with American culture, for spirit is just one aspect of it. The English colonizers setting sail for the unknown first established the American spirit, yet it was redefined throughout the period of westward expansion. Those on the Oregon Trail, who were motivated by the principles of Manifest Destiny, sought to grow rich in what was then an undefined American West. From there, the spirit of the expedition became interwoven with that of American culture.
Furthermore, a desire to explore and discover new boundaries transpired into a direct emblem of American culture. Consider the significance of the counterculture movement throughout the late 60s and 70s. Inspired by the sounds of a new music genre, hippies of the time set sail on their VW buses to follow the Grateful Dead–the most American of American Rock Bands. Succeeding the rise of the group in San Francisco, a spirit of a near mass exodus from normalized baby boomer-approved culture took place among teenagers, promoting rebellious ideas and lifestyles. Its result was clear: the hippie movement became a notable, long-lasting staple of American culture. Along with the stereotypical principles of living simple lives, the hippies following the Grateful Dead explored the entirety of the United States of America. The spirit to explore fueled the new culture. In this way, the Grateful Dead provided a good portion of its following, young supporters from the East Coast eager to check out the rest of the country, a medium to head West in search of fun and experience – an awfully similar tale to that of the original explorers of our nation who broke trail in search of a new life.
The original Westward expansion efforts directly compare to that of the rebellious teens in the 60s who, too, sought a new life on the road. They were motivated by the philosophy of growing rich in experience, but once the movement eventually died out, so did the yearning for adventure among America’s youth, and it is a sad reality to which we have become accustomed.
However, there exists a potential revival of the American spirit. I invite you to explore the scenes of an EDM concert.
A howling bass echoes. Feedback, indistinguishable from the nonsensical pseudo-robot babble, rallies a group to move seemingly synchronously. Neon colors litter the crowd, smoke fills the air, and lights blind the eyes of all feasting on the performance. A man stands on the stage controlling the environment, taking into account every person in the crowd. One can watch as a person approaches, invigorated by the whole experience. Then, they recede back into the crowd – another among the coalition. Their reasoning for attending the event is nearly identical to everyone else’s there: opportunistic thrill-seeking.
The sounds of the genre are quite extensive including House, Dubstep, Techno, and Drums and Bass. While it is impossible to predict the next tune – or Track ID –, it is certain that a performance at any nearby venue or neighboring city will attract a healthy turnout from the current and past student body. The sounds of the bass community have found a home in the city of Boulder.
Furthermore, thousands of students have found a haven in the community that hosts and promotes the music. Commonly, both in and out-of-state freshmen are introduced to EDM and discover a passion for its original flavor while enrolled at the university. This addictive nature brings fans back show after show, encouraging road trips and explorations in search of the sound, creating an excuse to explore America by way of the interstate highway system – which is far from a new concept.
The emergence of EDM culture is a viable pivot in the spiraling decay of the American spirit, for the youth has regained a medium through which to explore all 48 continental states – a practice that seemed undoubtedly doomed.
What’s more evident, though, is that the heart of the revival lies in the city of Boulder, and its prominence has led to a near takeover of the student body. The CU Rave Club, which boasts upwards of 600 members, promotes the unreplicable experience of attending an EDM concert and connects students who share an interest in the music. It leads to unification through funky wardrobes, open mindsets, and a desire to set sail for the unknown, just as our Founding Fathers once did.
Additionally, the legion of fans based in Colorado does habitually head out of state for raves around the country. Festivals such as Lost Lands in Ohio, Electric Forest in Michigan, and Bass Canyon in Washington rally groups to travel in packs, road-tripping to their promised land. The binding factor is music, but the clear side-effect is a nationwide exploration and expansion of ideas, customs, and traditions across state borders: a sort of domestic globalization. Oxymoron or not, this dissemination is a rather noticeable by-product. Sharing different ideologies stems from the festival but has positive impacts even beyond its explicit limits. The Lot, as it is called, is where fans set up shop outside the show, exchanging thoughts and customs, creating a big melting pot. Sound familiar?
The American spirit is nearly impossible to define in just one sentence, for it is continuously evolving with the ever-present dynamic attitude of American culture. Though what is clearly observable in the modern day is a revival of the adventuring spirit that, just centuries ago, brought our country to life. It may be weird, fresh, and odd to the conventional observer, yet it is nothing short of an irreplaceable endeavor that one must personally experience to truly understand its impact.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Eli Suchman at email@example.com.