Vanyaland encourages every American to vote on November 3. Click here to register.

City of Chicago defines ‘EDM’ in order to ban it at troubled nightclub

Chicago electronic music trio Krewella

With all of the incidents going down at EDM shows over the past year or so, it was only a matter of time before a city started stepping in and banning the form of music from nightclubs and concert venues. In Chicago, the EDM genre was leveraged against a nightclub looking to re-open after it shuttered shortly after its liquor license was pulled in May of last year.

According to a pretty troubling post by Timeout Chicago, liquor commissioner Gregory Steadman and Eddie Carranza, owner of the Congress Theater, signed a six-page plan of operation allowing the hall to re-obtain a liquor license and re-open. That’s all well and good, until you read one small condition of the agreement: the venue “shall not allow any EDM shows/events at the premises.”

Timeout notes that then the next step was to define exactly what EDM is, because you need a definition in order to ban it.


Here’s how the definition reads:

“…music created by a DJ or multiple DJs primarily using specialized equipment and software instead of traditional instruments…. And an EDM performance shall be defined as a performance of Electronic Dance Music or any performance by a DJ or multiple DJs featured the playing of prerecorded music. Performers that incorporate electronic beats or prerecorded music in their acts shall be allowed, provided those performers either sing vocals or play an instrument(s) (or do both) during their performance.”

Yikes. Everyone must now play “traditional instruments,” like the guitar, or French horn, or triangle. And sing.


The author of the Timeout post, Brent DiCrescenzo, points out how dangerous — and ultimately ridiculous — all this is, and how it’s not only impossible to enforce, but absurd to deem one artist more authentic than another based solely on his or her methods of creating music.

DiCrescenzo writes:

There are a couple of immediately ridiculous things about this definition. Take Krewella and Big Gigantic as two examples. Krewella features live vocal performance (two of them, technically). It is a pop band with EDM beats. (In a way, you could almost make this argument for Kesha or Rihanna.) Yet the Krewella audience and crowd experience are no different than that of Dillon Francis. Should Krewella be allowed to play and not Dillon Francis? Big Gigantic has a live drummer and the occasional blast of saxophone. So they’re cool?

What about a performer like Purity Ring, where a dude is playing a machine, but with drumsticks? Is an Akai MPC an “instrument”? If not, how is pushing buttons on an MPC any different from pushing buttons on a clarinet? Does human breathing matter? If so, what if there were an act that played dance music on a melodica?


This is probably only the beginning of this sort of thing, but as electronic music continues to grow into a mainstream art form, the line between genres will continue to blur, and laws like this will eventually just shut down everyone. You can just see the Boston lawmakers reading over the fine print already.