By Christopher Louie
Director of the Netflix film XOXO
A couple weekends ago I went to the biggest rave in America—Electric Daisy Carnival. From what I experienced as a kid—joining 1,000 people in abandoned warehouses—to being among 150,000 people at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, it’s clear that rave culture has reached the masses. From kandi to cuddle puddles and shuffle dances, the core traditions still stand: dance, adornment, totems and most of all, community. These customs go all the way back to aboriginal tribes (more on that in a moment). As the mainstream embraces the primitive roots of rave culture, what does that tell us about our own evolution?
I am finishing and will soon release my first Netflix Original feature. It’s a coming-of-age ensemble set at the biggest (fictional) rave in America, XOXO. I grew up going to raves in SoCal and went from a kid tripping out in cuddle puddles to becoming a DJ at 17. Now I’m making a movie about those experiences, and it’s important that the community for whom I made the movie understand XOXO is a movie ‘by the people, for the people.’ So my executive producer and girlfriend, Dessarae Harrington, and I cooked up a grassroots campaign to spread the word of XOXO at EDC… and we failed miserably!
We made 5,000 love letters on Post-its that included uplifting taglines from the movie like Jump and the universe will catch you, Good Vibes, I fucking love you!, and signed them XOXO. We were going to plaster the festival with the Post-its and ask ravers if they wanted to get an exclusive listen to an unreleased Galantis song from our soundtrack or if they wanted a sneak peek of the movie on my iPhone. Wow, that even sounds stupid just typing it out. Who in their right mind, when at one of the biggest parties in the world, would stop to listen to a song on headphones or watch clips from an unknown movie on an iPhone? Obviously not many people.
We left Day 1 dejected. I thought maybe the scene has changed? Maybe I’m too old? Maybe nobody cares about my movie? Or maybe we just suck at promoting? The answer was a little bit of all the above…