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Youth Culture - Punk 1980s-1990s
Image by brizzle born and bred
If you're a fierce individualist who has a bone to pick with the profit-driven world, you might be a punk. Don't be a punk just because you think it's cool. Punk is a mindset and you don't have to dress or look like anything or conform to a name. You can not be a blue collar and be punk.
Purchasing the hair products, the clothes, and the music; that's buying into society, which is exactly what punk is against. So know who you are, know the reason for the culture, and understand the meaning behind the word.
The punk subculture includes a diverse array of ideologies, and forms of expression, including fashion, visual art, dance, literature, and film, which grew out of punk rock.
The punk subculture emerged in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia in the mid-1970s. Exactly which region originated punk has long been a major controversy within the movement.
Two UK punks in a train carriage in 1986; note the hand-stencilled Crass symbol painted on the coat of on the man on the rightEarly punk had an abundance of antecedents and influences, and Jon Savage has described the subculture as a "bricolage" of almost every previous youth culture that existed in the West since the Second World War "stuck together with safety pins".
Various philosophical, political, and artistic movements influenced the subculture. In particular, punk drew inspiration from several strains of modern art. Various writers, books, and literary movements were important to the formation of the punk aesthetic.
Punk rock has a variety of musical origins both within the rock and roll genre and beyond.
The earliest form of punk rock, named protopunk in retrospect, started as a garage rock revival in the northeastern United States in the late 1960s.
The first ongoing music scene that was assigned the punk label appeared in New York City between 1974 and 1976.
At about the same time or shortly afterward, a punk scene developed in London.
Soon after, Los Angeles became home to the third major punk scene.
These three cities formed the backbone of the burgeoning movement, but there were also other scenes in a number of cities such as Brisbane and Boston.
Around 1977, the subculture began to diversify with the proliferation of factions such as 2 Tone, Oi!, pop punk, New Wave, and No Wave. In the United States during the early 1980s, punk underwent a renaissance in the form of hardcore punk, which sought to do away with the frivolities introduced in the later years of the original movement, while at the same time Britain saw a parallel movement called streetpunk.
Hardcore and streetpunk then spread to other regions just as the original subculture had. In the mid-1980s to the early 1990s in America, various underground scenes either directly evolved from punk or at least applied its attitudes to new styles, in the process producing the alternative rock and indie music scenes.
A new movement in the United States became visible in the early and mid-1990s that sought to revive the punk movement, doing away with some of the trappings of hardcore.
Punks seek to outrage others with the highly theatrical use of clothing, hairstyles, cosmetics, tattoos, jewelry and body modification.
Early punk fashion adapted everyday objects for aesthetic effect: ripped clothing was held together by safety pins or wrapped with tape; ordinary clothing was customized by embellishing it with marker or adorning it with paint; a black bin liner became a dress, shirt or skirt; safety pins and razor blades were used as jewelry.
Also popular have been leather, rubber, and vinyl clothing that the general public associates with transgressive sexual practices like bondage and S&M.
Punk fashion in the early 1980s
Some punks wear tight "drainpipe" jeans, plaid/tartan trousers, kilts or skirts, T-shirts, leather jackets (which are often decorated with painted band logos, pins and buttons, and metal studs or spikes), and footwear such as Converse sneakers, skate shoes, brothel creepers, or Dr. Martens boots.
Some early punks occasionally wore clothes displaying a Nazi swastika for shock-value, but most contemporary punks are staunchly anti-racist and are more likely to wear a crossed-out swastika symbol.
Some punks cut their hair into Mohawks or other dramatic shapes, style it to stand in spikes, and color it with vibrant, unnatural hues.
Some punks are anti-fashion, arguing that punk should be defined by music or ideology. This is most common in the post-1980s US hardcore punk scene, where members of the subculture often dressed in plain T-shirts and jeans, rather than the more elaborate outfits and spiked, dyed hair of their British counterparts.
Two dance styles associated with punk are pogo dancing and moshing. Stage diving and crowd surfing were originally associated with protopunk bands such as The Stooges, and have appeared at punk, metal and rock concerts. Ska punk promoted an updated version of skanking.
Hardcore dancing is a later development influenced by all of the above mentioned styles.
Psychobillies prefer to "wreck", a form of slam dancing that involves people punching each other in the chest and arms as they move around the circle pit.
Punk rock is a rock music genre that developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in garage rock and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music, punk rock bands eschewed the perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. They created fast, hard-edged music, typically with short songs, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics. Punk embraces a DIY (do it yourself) ethic, with many bands self-producing their recordings and distributing them through informal channels.
By late 1976, bands such as the Ramones, in New York City, and the Sex Pistols and The Clash, in London, were recognized as the vanguard of a new musical movement. The following year saw punk rock spreading around the world, and it became a major cultural phenomenon in the United Kingdom. For the most part, punk took root in local scenes that tended to reject association with the mainstream. An associated punk subculture emerged, expressing youthful rebellion and characterized by distinctive styles of clothing and adornment and a variety of anti-authoritarian ideologies.
By the beginning of the 1980s, faster, more aggressive styles such as hardcore and Oi! had become the predominant mode of punk rock. Musicians identifying with or inspired by punk also pursued a broad range of other variations, giving rise to post-punk and the alternative rock movement. By the turn of the century, pop punk had been adopted by the mainstream, with bands such as Green Day and The Offspring bringing the genre widespread popularity.
Punk Rock Bands
Punk rock was developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States and the United Kingdom. Rooted in garage rock and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music, punk rock bands eschewed the perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. They created fast, hard-edged music, typically with short songs, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics. Punk embraces a DIY (do it yourself) ethic, with many bands self-producing their recordings and distributing them through informal channels.
As well as The Clash's and Sex Pistols, Punk threw up a multitude of bands who often released the one single on their own record label before fading into obscurity. Some never even made it that far.
100 Greatest Punk Rock Artists
Punk's not dead - it just emigrated...
Hang out at a UK punk gig today and you'd be hard pushed to describe what you see as anything other than some good old harmless fun in a genre that long since became another subsidiary of rock 'n' roll.
While punk has produced its fair share of careerists, traditionalists and spotty herberts, let's not forget it has produced a few genuinely provocative bands, from the MC5 and Crass to Fugazi and Refused. But that was then, this is now and it's easy to forget that punk still means something - and I don't mean your drunk Uncle Terry or that bloke who still hangs around the town centre in his Angelic Upstarts T-shirts. Instead, the spirit of punk as an anti-establishment force lives on today. You're just not likely to find it in the UK or the US.
Instead, punk is kept alive in places like Cuba where simply criticising the communist regime can get your ass thrown in jail. As has been reported, that's what has happened to Gorki Águila Carrasco, leader singer of Porno para Ricardo, currently facing four years in prison for "peligrosidad" - literally meaning the dangerousness of his music - specifically for dismissing the ruling Castro brothers as "geriatrics". It's hardly GG Allin is it? Maybe it was their vaguely wacky song 'El Comandante' that upset, um, El Comandante.
Elsewhere the appetite for punk rock grows unabated. Readers of Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel Persepolis or its film adaptation will know the type of trouble faced when caught with contraband punk music under the theocratic tyranny of Islamist fundamentalists in post-revolution Iran. And indeed, how that hunger for anti-social sounds merely grows when challenged. The Sex Pistols might be a joke today, but for millions of oppressed youth they still represent a signpost to freedom.
The perceived controversial nature of punk bands merely highlights the conservative world we're living in, where fundamentalist religious regimes or paranoid governments still perceive punk bands as threatening. Just ask Canadian punk band The Suicide Pilots, who have a government file on them for their name alone. Or ask leading Chinese punk band Hang On The Box, who have previously been denied visas to travel abroad after their government deemed their music an "inappropriate" export. Punk scenes exist in China, but bands have to tread carefully and make sure not to criticise their government. "We are good citizens who obey the law and love our country," said Li Qing of Chinese punk band Snapline, when asked about governmental intervention when interviewed in 2007. And do you know how hard it is locating a Gang Of Four record in North Korea?
Even UK punks aren't immune - when Mike Devine, guitarist with a Clash tribute band, texted his friend some lyrics from The Clash's 'Tommy Gun' the father of two was paid a visit by the Avon & Somerset Special Branch.
Ultimately, though, Western punk has got soft and largely apolitical thanks to us living in one of the freest countries in the world. Punk in America and Britain is John Lydon selling computer games and Green Day filling stadiums.
Iggy Pop's endorsement of car insurance has prompted accusations of selling out. But does anyone really care any more?
As the flailing, wild-eyed frontman of US garage-rock band The Stooges, Iggy Pop helped pioneer punk long before the Sex Pistols.
His solo career is approaching its fifth decade. Live, he's earned a reputation as one of rock's most exciting performers, with a frame that's not so much athletic as freakish.
So why is one of rock's most iconic rebels now selling car insurance on TV? Will we ever be able to listen to his music in the same way again? Or are we now inured to the fact that at some point our cultural heroes are going to turn round and exhort us to buy, buy, buy?
"Iggy Pop will return to continue Swiftcover.com's campaign to help UK motorists get cheap online insurance and make it clear that now even musicians can 'Get A Life'!'" she said.
However, Pop recently called his involvement with Swiftcover "embarrassing".
John Lydon Country Life (pictured)
Denis Leary Holsten Pils
Lou Reed Honda scooters
Black-Eyed Peas Pepsi
Mitchell & Webb Apple Mac
But is this just a generational thing? Would fans of Pete Doherty take such exception seeing him selling cough medicine or train tickets? If Amy Winehouse was unveiled as the new face of a coffee brand, would the sales of her next album plummet?
But if you think punk - the spirit of punk - is dead, go to South America, go to Russia, go to Eastern Europe and see what the young punk fans there have to say about it.
Were you a Punk? Do you have any stories from that era?
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