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Old 04-06-2010, 06:23 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Where have all the skinheads gone?

...to paraphrase Slaughter & The Dogs.

Off at a tangent a little here, and not strictly music orientated, but something thats bugged me for a while.
This may be a UK only observation, but to me ska seems to have lost its crowd. Look around at any gig you go to these days and the place is bouncing with skaters, punks, metalheads (whaaaaaaat???), wannabe surfers and assorted other 'types', but no sign of the traditional ska fan, the skinhead.
Sure, you stick a 60s ska legend on and you'll find them all dusting down the Fred Perrys and brogues, but face them with a new offbeat band and where the hell are they all hiding?
Has ska become a cross section thing, or has skinhead become so tainted with the racist brush that it is a no longer acceptable fashion statement?

The odd thing is that there are a lot of bands out there that still hold to the skinhead style on stage, but it's not picked up by their fans.... weird.
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Old 04-06-2010, 10:16 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Is there still a real scene in the UK?
In the US it has definitely been in the periphery for a couple decades at least. When I was in high school in the late 80s/early 90s the only skinheads were kids who threatened to kick my ass and take my Doc Martens (just 3-holes) and also liked to fight with other skinheads, usually over racism or more general violent gang issues. I don't think any of them were even into Jamaican music. Since then, in the US, skinheads are generally tagged as violent racists and it seems that almost nobody even knows what an original skinhead is.

Now, my current town (austin, texas) had a shop devoted to skinhead things but it recently moved to Phoenix, Arizona I think. Anyway, I don't see too much of the real thing around here. Occasionally a band like the Toasters will play and presumably bring them out
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Old 04-06-2010, 12:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 04-06-2010, 03:50 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Has ska become a cross section thing, or has skinhead become so tainted with the racist brush that it is a no longer acceptable fashion statement?
i always thought it was pretty obvious.

it's like people wanting to use the swastika symbol for it's original purpose of a good luck charm. regardless of any individual's intent the current social stigma associated with those styles and symbols will continue to trump any sort of past tolerance and justification.
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Old 04-06-2010, 05:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Fun fact:
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Old 04-06-2010, 05:50 PM   #6 (permalink)
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i always thought it was pretty obvious.

it's like people wanting to use the swastika symbol for it's original purpose of a good luck charm. regardless of any individual's intent the current social stigma associated with those styles and symbols will continue to trump any sort of past tolerance and justification.
This is true about the swastika, but I just want to point out that it really is used as a symbol of good luck in a great many countries. If anyone happens to see someone walking around with one, just try to remember this. A way to tell is that the Nazi swastika is positioned to look like a diamond while its traditional use is positioned to look like a square.

This was a random aside, I know, but there have been several occasions where the person I am walking with doesn't know the difference and wants to start something. Though it would be smarter these days to just do without, there are people that are not willing to give up hundreds of years of tradition in using that symbol to the Nazis.
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Old 04-06-2010, 06:08 PM   #7 (permalink)
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^ right and i totally agree with you, but the fact remains that there's a large scale social taint applied to certain symbols.

the swastika had been a recognized symbol for centuries if not a millennium or two prior to being re-appropriated by the nazis. it's unfortunate that something with such a long and diverse history became tarnished like it has.

on the other hand, the skinhead 'culture' has only been around for a handful of decades and had hardly finished establishing itself and anything before becoming associated with national and racist movements. not to say that all skins are bad, but if i need to actively ask the individual which side of the fence they're on in order to find out, then i'm left to wonder just what kind of distinction there really is between the so-called sides.

racist or anti-racist it still seems to me that both sides are using race as a distinguishing factor in dealing with others.
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Old 04-06-2010, 11:32 PM   #8 (permalink)
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There is a skinhead movement in the UK, it's generally people my age - 45 - or older who keep it going. Oddly, and contrary to popular belief, the majority are either left wing or apolitical, and refer to the right wing skins as boneheads.
How can a culture so rooted in black music be racist? Ska and soul... the twin seeds of the skinhead scene.


Though they may possibly be bowling I suppose.
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Old 04-07-2010, 01:16 AM   #9 (permalink)
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How can a culture so rooted in black music be racist? Ska and soul... the twin seeds of the skinhead scene.
the exact same way that a symbol of good fortune can be re-branded to mean hate.
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Old 04-07-2010, 11:01 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Thats REALLY stretching it a bit, isn't it?

I don't think there is anything in any history lesson I ever took that suggested that the National Socialist party of prewar Germany was ever anything than racist, whereas the skinhead movement of the late 60s/early 70s, and again in the late 70s/early 80s were anything but racist.
There was certainly a racist element - same as there is any group of society - but to suggest that they somehow hid that racism behind a veneer of loving black music shows nothing more than a complete lack of knowledge of the skinhead scene.

Look more into the history, and there has always been a large left wing element to skinhead, even in its darkest days. 2-Tone was a profoundly anti-racist musical movement, SHARP were active from the mid 80s through to reasonably recently, and both AFA and its descendant Antifa have strong skinhead connections.

So... where have all the skinheads gone?
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