Electric Forest bans headdresses for the festival’s 2016 edition
Every year, festival fashion evolves slightly to incorporate the newest looks du jour. Unfortunately, many of these fleeting styles in the Instagram-fueled quest for trendiness, appropriate a physical manifestation of “exotic” culture for a few hours, without proper understanding of its cultural meaning.
One perennial offender of the festival circuit is the Native American headdress. The headdress is traditionally restricted to only be worn by high-ranking men of the Plains nations. A non-native or woman wearing such a headdress would be akin to a civilian wearing a military medal that they did not receive, or displaying a medical degree on their wall that they did not earn. Not only offensive to natives, those who chose to don headdresses at festivals are tremendously irritating to stand behind at any set. In short, headdresses have absolutely no business at festivals. Most attendees with a modicum of self-awareness have realized this by now, but for anyone still unsure, Electric Forest has made the message crystal clear. American Indian headdresses will be banned from the festival in 2016.
Along with headdresses, no threatening signs or clothing will be allowed onto the festival grounds. Electric Forest’s co-creators Insomniac and Madison House explain that the new policies were set in place because “at Electric Forest, all should feel safe, comfortable, and welcome.” Other festivals have taken proactive steps in banning certain items to help improve safety and positively shape the culture of their festival- Ultra Music Festival doesn’t allow face masks or totems, and Mad Decent Block Party forbids kandi altogether. Music festivals are free spaces in which attendees should feel free to express themselves- but not at the expense of others’ safety and heritage.