EDM contains elements of spirituality, meaning and religion. As mainstream culture has become more individualised and less community orientated, and as it has lost its celebratory traditions, rituals and religions, some of the original roles of organised religions have been replaced by EDM, which acts much like a religion.
It draws upon those traditions around it in a ‘pick and mix’, postmodern fashion, using material from various wisdom traditions. It has adopted elements of Christianity from African American music culture, but because of their transmission through secular black music culture and gay disco, these elements are referenced in a transgressional fashion. Also transmitted through African American music traditions are trance practices that have their roots in African possession rituals, with particular similarities to Pygmy/Bushmen traditions.
These trance practices are reinforced by the use of illegal drugs to cybernetically enhance the effects of the trance, and add to a sense of subcultural authority and transgression. The crisis that this trance responds to is that of the individualisation of society, and the trance ritual acts to help the individual feel reconnected to or reinserted into a community.
Clubbers do not see this activity as religious, but this may be because the religion is implicit rather than explicit, with clubs acting as what may be described as a secondary institution. However, EDM acts much like a religion, providing a site of escape and transcendence, a sacred space separate from everyday existence and a key focus of community. As the traditional dominant religious Christian tradition dies away in the world, many young people in particular have had no religious context in which to practice ritual together.
The fundamentality and universal human desire for such activities is shown in that EDM scene in general, which has grown to provide these functions for a large body of young people. ‘Chill Out’ rooms provide the equivalent of prayer, meditation and spaces to meet and discuss, and the dancefloor provides a liminal space, offering self-loss within the group. Music replaces thought and takes people out of normal time. This is a youth cult however, and it lacks sustainability, becoming less attractive as participants age, who cannot generally participate. As musical trends change it is uncertain whether the EDM cult will continue or die out, but there remains much to consider, study and evaluate about this musical religious movement of postmodernity.