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Culture

OMG, You Guys Are All So Street! But What Is Street?

I just need to know so much.

by Joshua Haddow
08 May 2012, 2:00pm

This weekend in a car park in Shoreditch there was an event called Streetfest. At Streetfest there is “street” art, “street” music, skateboarding, BMXing, graffiti and other things that have been broadly defined as being “street”.

But what is “street”? What does it mean? It's difficult to pin down exactly what "street" is... and what it isn't. So I went down to Streetfest to find out.





Leo, 19, student (left) and Nick, 27, fashion designer.

VICE: Hey guys, what is “street”?
Nick:
Everything you see in London.

Like what, specifically?
Nick:
Hi-tops [is wearing hi-tops].

OK. What’s not street?
Nick:
You can’t pinpoint anything. Nowadays, you can make a bow tie street.

Really?
I’d make it street.

Are you street?
That word’s not big enough to describe me.

What’s your street name?
I don’t have a street name at the moment.

What’s your street name?
Good question. I’ll let the street decide.

What’s your street name?
Flawless.

OK. But what’s your street name?
Flawless.

No, what’s your street name?
Oh! Camden.

That’s a big street. What makes a street "street"?
Reputations, you know, like if someone gets stabbed…

Getting stabbed is street?
Everything’s street.



Becky, 24, window dresser (left) and Jessica, 23, visual merchandiser.

VICE: What is “street”?
Jessica:
The fact that you have skateboarders and dancers here is quite sick. Like, it’s outside, as well...

Does it have to be outside to be street?
Becky:
No, street can be inside.

What makes something street?
It’s not about an expense and it’s not about a label. It’s about being real. I think street is just being cool and who you are and a representation of where you’re from.

Where are you from?
Ipswich.



From left to right: Dirty Harry, 18, Bob Keith, 18, and Frazier, 19.

VICE: What makes something "street"?
Bob Keith:
Keeping it real.
Dirty Harry: Anything urban.
Bob Keith: Urban is real recognise real.
Dirty Harry: City kids, innit, not the sticks, it’s the city kids.
Frazier: Real eyes recognise real lies.

What’s urban?
Bob Keith: Urban is just a word. But the end of the day these are just words, what do the words mean?

I don’t know.
They mean nothing. The words are made up for rich kids who wanna follow something.

What isn’t street?
Dirty Harry:
Posh girls and skinny jeans.

Are you guys “street”?
I’m just a cool dude.

Seems to me that everyone wants to be “street”, but everyone’s too modest to admit that they are.
Dirty Harry: Nah listen, if a nine to five’s street then count me in, innit.
Bob Keith: Recognise real.

Nine to five doing what?
Dirty Harry:
Me? Office relocations.

Ash, 27, web developer.

VICE: What makes a person “street”?
Ash:
Someone who’s trying too hard. Today I’ve seen way too many tie dyes and leather studs. Stop trying too hard! But I guess we’re in Shoreditch.

Says the man wearing pink leopard-print trousers. Do you think Shoreditch is a “street” area?
No, it’s full of middle class hipsters.



Alex, 20, designer (left) and his Spanish friend who doesn’t speak English.

VICE: Is art “street”?
Depends what art you’re talking about. Art in a gallery isn’t street because it’s not on the street. Even just leaving cardboard cut-outs of people in city centres, that’s street.

What else isn't street?
Going to uni isn’t street. But we’re at uni so… You gotta do that. You just gotta keep the balance of being street and not being street.

What’s the balance?
Probably like 80:20.

You're 80 percent street?
Nah, 80 percent being not street.

That’s very sensible. What music is street?
Piff Gang are street. They’re showing the world, the 90 percent of it that’s not street, what is street and that you don’t have to conform to what everyone else wants.

What does everyone else want?
Whatever the government says, man. They do a lot of things behind people's backs that no one knows about, but street people, they seem to know about that.

How do street people find out what the government is up to?
Through Facebook.



Sammy, 21, student.

VICE: What is “street”?
Sammy: Street is me right now! Individuality.

What makes you street?
I’m from Edmonton, North London! Everyone dresses a bit street there.

What isn’t street?
Corduroys. Old man creps.

What other things are street?
You gotta have a zoot in your hand, you gotta smoke weed and drink alcohol to be street. If you’re sober, you’re not street.

Does it depend on where you’re born?
You need to pursue a persona that doesn’t represent you as the ghetto mentality you may feel. If I dressed like where I was from I’d look like some idiot chav and I don’t want to be a chav.

Chavs aren’t street?
No. They’re just Burberry and fucking tack. You have to own the street to be street. If you don’t get recognition because you look like a chav, you’re not really street, you’re just a tramp.

What’s your street name?
It used to be Lady Blue Eyes because I thought I was a chav. Now it’s Fruit Salad. Can you add me on Facebook? I’m wearing Elton John glasses and I’ve got a fringe.



Alicia, 21, student (left) and Chris, 24, builder.

VICE: What’s “street”?
Alicia: Stoners are street, although I don’t actually smoke weed. Shoreditch definitely is street, but at the same time you get too many people dressing the same.

How so?
I don’t know, disco pants, a pair of Nikes.

Does it matter where you come from, if you wanna be street?
No! I used to live in Devon.

What’s your street name?
Chris:
Chris.

But what’s your street name?
Chris!
Alicia: I don’t agree with that sort of thing. When I was 15 I used to call myself Little Miss Hush but that’s just fucking gay, isn’t it?

Leanna, 24, PR (left) and Lara, 25, trend forecaster.

VICE: Hey guys, what isn’t "street"?
Leanna: Essex.
Lara: They are intruding. I feel like everyone should embrace a bit of everything. But they embrace it in a negative way.

OK. I think I got it.

Follow Josh on Twitter: @joshuahaddow