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About This Festival

Mad Decent Block Party is most certainly not for the faint of heart: It’s a dancing, raving, youth-infused bash that you’ll recover from just in time to begin prepping for next year.

Humble beginnings

The high-energy experience that is the Mad Decent belies its humble Philadelphia beginnings. In 2008, the festival’s namesake record label, Mad Decent, held a low-key party in their headquarter city—complete with dunk tank and barbecue—as a way to celebrate and showcase their various acts in the genres of global pop and dance music. The label, headed by the producer/rapper/DJ known as Diplo, has since allowed the celebration to sprawl out into a multiple-city festival over the past few years. What started as a small showcase, then, is now a 20-plus city tour that hits major metropolises all over America, including Brooklyn, D.C., L.A., Atlanta, Detroit, and Vegas.

Its own style

Mad Decent was basically invented for its own style, which is reflective of that of the eponymous Mad Decent record label. Sure, it’s officially known as EDM, but it’s a strain inflected with a heavy dose of hip-hop.

In recent years, the label has been responsible for viral phenomena such as the Bauuer's "Harlem Shake" and Snoop Lion’s Rastafarian album “Reincarnated.” The festival spotlights a lot of Mad Decent’s artists in popular subgenres like dancehall and electro-pop as well as invented offshoots like moombahton, Brazilian baile funk, and Angolan kuduro.

In addition to a heavy dose of Mad Decent acts on the roster, recent headliners have included Outkast, Sleigh Bells, and RJD2. In this setting, collaborations, mashups, and unknown artists are de rigueur, so prepare to be surprised.

A hard-partying crowd

If you prefer a more intimate, communal, and family-oriented festival, Mad Decent may not be for you. Thanks to its up-tempo music, hard-partying culture, and young-skewing demographic, the crowd can be as rowdy and unpredictable as the music.

While EDM is ostensibly based on the tenets of PLUR (peace, love, unity, respect), recent years at this festival have seen some unrest and even tragedies. While festival organizers do their best to keep things in order, attendees must know that vigilance and alertness are key: Don’t have so much fun that you lose awareness of your surroundings. In response to these past events, you can expect some significant security to aid in crowd management.

While there are quite a few restrictions on what festival organizers will allow into the grounds, the rave tradition definitely still reigns here. If you’re inclined to break out the crazy outfits, furry boots, and neon bikinis, you won’t be judged. The focus here is still firmly on having a raging good time.

Plugged in

The Mad Decent label is an entity that’s firmly a product of the internet era. Music critics and analysts point to the label’s use of savvy online marketing and the “memefication” of their bona fide hit, "The Harlem Shake," propelling it to the top of the charts and YouTube.

Fittingly, the festival has a similar vibe. As with anything that involves the Millennial generation, internet references, seamless social-media integration, and memes dominate. Click the Twitter hashtag #turnt and you’ll find a host of references to a phenomenon that one Vice reviewer described as “being in the proximity of bass-heavy dance music, preferably released by Mad Decent.”

It may be over the heads of those older than 25, but it serves as further proof that at this festival, youth culture prevails.

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