Subcultures Will Never Die, They're Just Different Now
The punks became old, the internet brought everyone together and someone invented offensively overpriced streetwear for children.
Photo by Joel Benjamin
A lot of people will tell you subcultures are dead. "In the past," they'll say, lighting their fourth cigarette or flicking a speck of self-aggrandisement across the room, "we had distinct cultural tribes: the punks, the Teddy Boys, the ravers. Then the internet came along and ruined everything."
At this point an insipidly expired reference may then be made about Snapchat or hoverboards, fidget spinners or emoji, as though the culture of today's teens can be defined by a few semi-recent inventions. This way of thinking, however, is wrong. And that's meant objectively, with a capital O, because it's painfully obvious how British subcultures are flourishing.
For the sake of posterity however, and to ruffle the perineum of Britain's elder statesmen, here's a rundown through the young, well-dressed dynasties crawling through our country's cities and parks, wasting money on clothing they will likely regret in the years to come. Take a look, see which one you are, then congratulate yourself on being so easily put in a categorisable box!
The Innocent Children of Grime
Yes, yes, yes – grime has been here for time, it never went away, it is rooted in the country. This paragraph isn't about those who owned a copy of Ruff Sqwad's Guns and Roses (Volume's 1 & 2) or went to Rhythm Division, though. It isn't even about the people who clambered through Skepta's "All Over The House" video, pleasured. This is grime 3.0: led by innocent children with saving accounts and impeccably white socks, polite yet cheeky teenagers, uni students with a penchant for leading their charge into the night with a rallying call of "chyyyyyz!".
Separated from the culture that birthed grime, yet so defiantly close to it with the purchase of one shotter bag and a pair of tight-fitting tracky bottoms, these responsible likkle children poured cement into the foundation of Britain's most exciting new genre. Then they got a haircut like Little T.
Ever since the first crumb of MDMA trickled down the throat of the 1970s, the nightclub has spawned plenty of drug-addled, music-savvy bambinos. The late 2010s are no different. Cocaine, MDMA, speed, weed – they're as popular as they ever have been, with stuff like GHB and (for the weak) Nos balloons thrown in, all topped off with the smooth after-taste of a blue-coloured Valium.
As always, there's a distinct divide in groups: the PC Music pals of yesteryear; the bondage-heavy, male and female techno sluts; the fuccbois in exceptionally clean T-shirts, waiting to cooly slide into your DMs the next morning – they've all come together for this party, celebrating people in a way that will never end so long as humanity survives the great ball of heat that will soon come and torch us all. Anyone over the age of 30 (or in a loving relationship) doesn't realise this, because the only time they go outside is to have brunch or a heated argument.
The Strange, Streetwear Denizens of Instagram
Fuck knows what tunes these guys and gals listen to. One thing is certain though: they love the shit out of overpriced streetwear. Who is to blame here? Is it ASAP Rocky? Tyler, the Creator? Jonah Hill? In a way it's as though the people of this subculture have all merged into one all-consuming entity, pushing each other into purchasing lucrative items, moving as one like a ratking but with an Adidas and Palace collaboration on their feet, a Supreme-branded lighter in their pocket – and a devastatingly apathetic political opinion marinating somewhere in their brain.
Bruh, have you heard of Hyper Japan?
Students of the Art School
Like their clubbing cousins, this too is a subculture that will never die. Covered in paint; clothes purchased from a charity shop; a few pills of 2CB rolling loosely in the depths of their wallet. These are the signs. The music: a blend of bands most people collectively never think about until seeing them on the bill of a festival and thinking "Who? How?" or something very redundant and similar. Somewhere they will be doing some weird-ass shit, keeping their tradition very much alive.
The Super Fan
You can find Ryan on Twitter.