Light It Up

EDM Hawaii Lei

Dance the neon night away at Hawaiʻi’s electronic dance music shows with famous deejays and enthusiastic, welcoming crowds.

Text by Nicole Furtado
Images by Daylin Pelletier, courtesy of BAMP Project

Evoking the psychedelic thrill of a modern-day Alice in Wonderland, electronic dance music festivals today are electrifying the dance party scene in the islands. Kaleidoscopic lights pulsate in time to the beat drops of deejays—Mad Hatters who command crowds adorned in neon with a flurry of clicks on their laptops.

The roots of Hawaiʻi’s present-day EDM scene can be traced to the 1980s, when synthesizers created a new wave of music that led to the beginning of electronic dance music. By the late 1990s, due to an influx of artists and deejays from the continental United States bringing new styles of music called “house” or “trance,” the word “rave” became commonplace to define lively parties involving dancing (and, oftentimes, drugs) to this wave of electronic music. In Hawaiʻi, small, exclusive raves in ever-changing locations kept the scene relatively underground. Deejays and promoters passionate about the scene, music, and attendees created a community of ravers in the islands. Here and elsewhere, they created a revolution that introduced words like “techno,” “ravers,” and “PLUR (peace, love, unity, and respect)” to local vernacular. In 2000, the popularity of the scene reached new heights when Hawaiʻi hosted one of the biggest New Year’s Day shows to celebrate the new millennium. The number one deejay in the world at the time, Carl Cox, hosted the event.


1. Dress up in fun, bright colors (glow sticks, reflective clothing and diffraction glasses always make an outfit pop).
2. Make beaded candy bracelets to trade with other ravers.
3. Make sure your phone is fully charged. Events can sometimes last longer than 8 hours.
4. Carpool or take a rideshare to the event.
5. Be sure to hydrate and eat food beforehand. You will need your energy to dance all night.
6. The admission line is always crazy. Just follow the flow of the crowd.
7. Make sure to go with a friend. Have a time and meeting spot and time figured out to find each other before the festivities begin for if you get separated throughout the night.
8. Stay hydrated with water throughout the event. Water and alcohol are usually not free, and most events are cash only. Prepare accordingly.
9. Bring a small bag to carry some items in. It’s very hard to keep track of your things in busy crowds.
10. Have fun and trust your instincts.

Flash-forward to 2017. EDM festivals have entered mainstream culture. Hawaiʻi’s scene has expanded to include festivals attended by thousands of people, from the 18-and-over crowd to experienced ravers who remember places like Asylum, Pipeline Cafe, and the Love Festival. World-renowned deejays like The Chainsmokers, DeadMau5, Diplo, and Tiesto have all performed for packed crowds in the islands. Compared to massive festivals, Hawaiʻi’s crowds tend to be smaller, and within them, ravers intermingle easily and look out for one another, creating a unique feeling of aloha spirit among the global movement.


One of the most anticipated events this year is the DIM MAK 20th Anniversary, featuring Steve Aoki and hosted by Electric Palms Hawaii on Maui and Oʻahu. Steve Aoki is a world-renowned deejay and the founder of Dim Mak Records.  Another exciting EDM event on Oʻahu coming up this month features Bro Safari, NGHTMRE, and Boombox Cartel, and is hosted by Wonderland Entertainment Group. These deejays are known for their high-energy performances, insane bass drops, and trap remixes. Whether you end up dancing amid Aoki’s famous champagne showers and cakes to the face, or find yourself awash in the sounds of Boombox Cartel, you’re sure to feel like Alice in a fantastic, tropical, neon world.

To find the latest raves happening in Hawaiʻi, check out @wonderlandhawaii and @electricpalmshawaii on Instagram.

Steve Aoki on Oʻahu:
Where: Makers & Tasters in Kakaʻako, 1011 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu
When: 5 p.m. Saturday, February 18
Prices: $65 pre-order, $115 VIP (Must be 21 and up), both increase day of show

For more information or to buy tickets, visit Tickets can also be purchased at Local Motion stores, Navy and Hickam ITT offices, Army LTS Offices, UH Campus Center, and The Republik box office.

Steve Aoki on Maui:
Where: Maui Arts and Cultural Center, 1 Cameron Way, Kahului
When: 6 p.m. Friday, February 17
Prices: $45 to $55 preorder, $60 day of show

For more information or to buy tickets, visit

Bro Safari, NGHTMRE, and Boombox Cartel on Oʻahu:
Where: Hawaii Country Club
When: 6 p.m. Saturday, February 18
Prices: $65 limited presale

For more information or to buy tickets, visit Tickets can also be purchased at Local Motion stores, ButiGroove, Prototype Pearlridge, and the UH Campus Center.

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