Editor’s note: Kandi Culture will be a recurring segment that highlights the significance of kandi. We will feature posts on headliner kandi designs, DIYs, and information on the history and evolution of kandi.
Throughout the ever-changing fashion trends that have permeated the dance music scene over the years, one of the most unique and persisting trends is the presence of kandi. At any event, you can find vibrantly dressed individuals showcasing arms garnished with infinite stacks of colorful beaded bracelets. Kandi has been a vital contribution to the fashion of dance music events since the early 1990s. However, these impressive collections of crafts are so much more than pieces of decorative arm candy. Kandi carries a unique and iconic symbolism unlike anything else. It signifies a friendship, and each piece is chock full of deeply personal meaning. Kandi bracelets represent unique and timeless stories for the people who don them, and for the people who receive them.
The dance music community was founded on the principles of PLUR: Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect. These four values encompass everything that our community strives to radiate and uphold. When two people exchange kandi, they perform a handshake with motions that represent each of the four letters of PLUR.
First, the two friends hold the fingers of one hand into peace signs, and touch their fingers together. This first motion represents peace, and the belief that violence is never the answer. This step represents the shared agreement that inner and outer peace is of the utmost importance.
Next, each person shapes the same fingers into a half heart and brings it to their new friend’s hand, creating a full heart between them. This part of the handshake symbolizes a mutual feeling of empathy and compassion. The third motion signifies unity. To represent this, the two friends hold their hands together palm to palm, acknowledging the connection between one another.
The final step of the PLUR handshake exemplifies respect. While keeping their hands locked together, each individual will raise the piece of kandi that they wish to exchange and transfer it over their joined hands to the other person’s wrist. The kandi exchange most often ends in a hug, completing the ritual and symbolizing the mutual acceptance of a newfound friendship.
This highly personal exchange is a special gesture of love and acceptance. It has the power to turn complete strangers into lifelong friends. It is a symbolic way of saying that no matter your background, your interests, or your experiences, there is a place for you here. The selfless gifting of kandi holds timeless value, and aids in the never-ending spread of positivity and good vibes that we strive to epitomize.
Each piece of kandi is characterized by unique color patterns, special beads and charms, and meaningful words or phrases. Today, kandi is no longer confined to arm decorations, and many people have decided to implement their own unique takes on the art of kandi-making. From belts to headpieces to water bottle holders, kandi creations have become an elaborate and impressive aspect of personal creativity in the dance community. We love to witness the originality and dedication that you put into your kandi designs, and the beautiful self-expression that emanates through your work!
By Bree Melero and Alyssa Stockman