Yulia Karra
June 27, Updated July 3

The Supernova open-air electronic dance music (EDM) festival last October was supposed to be a celebration of music, billed by the organizers as “a journey of unity and love.” 

“The type of audience and people these types of festivals attract are the warmest, sweetest souls you could imagine,” Natalie Sanandaji, who attended the festival, tells ISRAEL21c. 

Instead, the area of Kibbutz Re’im, where the event took place, became the site of one of the biggest massacres in Jewish history and indeed the world’s largest terror attack on a festival. 

Some 364 partygoers out of 3,000 attendees were murdered, and many more wounded after Hamas terrorists descended on the festival in the early hours of October 7. 

At least 40 hostages were kidnapped and taken to Gaza, among them Noa Argamani, Almog Meir, Andrey Kozlov and Shlomi Ziv. The four were recently freed following an Israeli operation conducted in the Palestinian enclave. 

Sanandaji, who now works with the Combat Antisemitism Movement, was one of the lucky ones who managed to escape the harrowing ordeal and survive. 

Surprisingly, she says that since October 7 she has attended similar events because they serve as a form of “therapy.” 

But many other electronic music lovers have not returned to the dance floor since the massacre. Event organizers and DJs, meanwhile, say that the past eight months have been the most transformative in their careers. 

50% drop in workload

Veteran full-time DJs Omer Zaafrani and Guy Bar, who make up the Tel Aviv-based electronic music duo Dip Treep, say the amount of work they’ve been getting has dropped by over 50 percent since October 7.

Omer Zaafrani and Guy Bar of Dip Treep. Photo by Omer Saloniko/Dip Treep
Omer Zaafrani and Guy Bar of Dip Treep. Photo by Omer Saloniko/Dip Treep

“For the first three months [after October 7], no one was staging any events at all, and rightfully so because it didn’t feel right,” says Bar. 

“Now, it has gotten to a point where event venues, like clubs and bars, are going under because people choose to stay home because of the war. It sucks, but there is nothing we can do,” he adds.

Electronic music duo Dip Treep. Photo by Alon Lachman/Wild&Savage
Electronic music duo Dip Treep. Photo by Alon Lachman/Wild&Savage

Zaafrani and Bar, both 27, add that open-air raves in the style of Supernova don’t take place at all, unless they are at a really small scale. 

“Firstly, it’s not as easy now to get permits from the police; secondly, the demand is not high, so it wouldn’t be that profitable; thirdly, no one is planning too far ahead because of the security situation,” explains Bar.

“For instance, you could plan a techno festival that would take millions to produce, and on the day there could be a rocket attack and the whole thing would be canceled,” adds Zaafrani.

Dip Treep’s music style would be classified as mainstream in the electronic music world, which on paper is the easiest to attract audiences to. 

Yet, the two say that even the parties where they do get to perform record drops in attendance of up to 30-40% compared to the pre-war period. 

Zaafrani and Bar play a DJ set. Photo by Alon Lachman/Wild&Savage
Zaafrani and Bar play a DJ set. Photo by Alon Lachman/Wild&Savage

“At the beginning, men aged 24 to 40 were absent almost entirely, now they’re starting to slowly come back. Although they look more subdued now; you can tell they’ve been through something,” notes Zaafrani.

The duo admit that it’s difficult to progress as artists when you don’t play enough shows, and they don’t rule out moving overseas for work, at least temporarily. 

“If the security situation stays at least at the same level of severity as it is now, the scene will slowly rehabilitate,” says Bar.

“But if it goes the other way and a war breaks out in the north, we’ll see more and more artists leaving to other countries.”  

“It’s the uncertainty; it affects everything,” adds Zaafrani.

Renaissance of niche electronic styles

However, not everyone in the industry has had the same the experience as Zaafrani and Bar.

Roman Semchuk, 34, a pioneer of the “Hardstyle” electronic dance genre scene in Israel and a part-time DJ, says the local electronic music scene has been experiencing a sort of renaissance since October 7.

Semchuk, who goes by the stage name Sanchuk and has a “day job” in high tech, is also a co-owner of an event company, “Life is Hardstyle.”

“It took around three to four months for the scene to start opening up again, with most of the initial shows being charity events for the victims and survivors,” says Semchuk. 

In March, Semchuk organized Life is Hardstyle’s first event post-October 7. “It was almost a necessity for many people,” he tells ISRAEL21c.  

“The audience needed an outlet to unload all the hate and anger they had been holding onto up until that point.”

Semchuk has seen a rise in ticket sale, higher than even the pre-war figures. “I hear similar things from other show producers as well,” he notes.  

Liron Linker, a sound designer, music producer and a DJ in the Dubstep EDM niche, says in the past month this specific music scene has returned to full capacity. 

Liron Linker. Photo by Idan Havakuk (@id_wav)
Liron Linker. Photo by Idan Havakuk (@id_wav)

“There’s a limit to how [long] you can put your life on hold; people want to get back to their lives, while respecting everything that happened,” he explains. 

“It feels like we have wars here almost every summer; every time people are afraid at first, but then everyone gets used to it.”

Linker, 28, says that since returning to DJing, he began adding more tracks in Hebrew to his playlist to boost morale. “I started playing the Dubstep version of Harbu Darbu at almost every show,” he laughs. 

Both Semchuk and Linker note, however, there is still an aura of sadness floating in the air during shows. 

“It seems as though until the war is over and all the hostages are back, we will not be whole as a nation,” adds Semchuk, whose two friends Mor Cohen and Itay Adar were killed at Supernova.

Both men have no plans to leave the country. “There’s a lot of potential for growth in Israel; we need to strive to be a self-sufficient scene rather than rely on abroad,” says Semchuk.

“We can’t let Hamas or whatever else stop us from living our lives,” Linker adds. 

We will dance again

Natalie Selvin, ISRAEL21c’s social media coordinator, has been involved with the EDM scene for over a decade, mostly as a Dubstep and Hardstyle partygoer. 

“This community is like a family, even if you don’t know the people. Everyone at these raves and parties has a mutual appreciation for the music,” she says. 

Selvin says that she has noticed more events being staged in recent months, even compared to pre-war times. 

“Before October 7 we had shows once every couple months, but now I can barely keep up because these events are popping up all the time,” says Selvin. 

She has been seeing more women at these events, whereas before the war the Dubstep and Hardstyle scenes were almost entirely male-oriented. 

“You see Nova flags and yellow ribbon pins [for hostage awareness] at almost every event as a sign of unity and respect to those who no longer dance — celebrating with a cause,” adds Selvin.

“‘We will dance again’ is not just a catchphrase; it means you won’t take away our spirit.”  

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