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Something You Probably Didn’t Know About Punk Music and Subculture

Punks, rock and roll and even rock music all intermingled in the 1970’s. The mini-skirts and hedonistic life style of the sixties, which so revolutionized London; gave way to a new idealism; punk!

There are many elements of punk still in existence today and a strong subculture; it was a strong influence in the early songs created by The Beatles and continues to be part of many genres of music.

You may not realize that the origins of punk are actually said to be a shop; it was called ‘Too fast to live, too young to die’. The shop was opened in London in 1972 by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood; both fashion designers who still have huge amounts of influence in the fashion industry.

The shop became known as a place to buy leather and rubber products; usually of unique designs. The result was a central point in London for all budding punks. At the same time the movement was starting in New York; the two cultures fed off each other to create a new trend; in both fashion and music.

Punk has remained a signature statement of the 70’s; there are a few facts you may not have been aware of regarding this unique culture and musical tastes:

Rebellion

The sixties had seen an explosion of colors; everyone choose bright and even floral patterns to represent the outlook of the hippy; life was living and chilling! The punk movement really started as a rebellion against this type of lifestyle. It was a combination of a new, fast paced and harsh music alongside black clothing; the more menacing it looked the better.

Ironically, what started as a protest against fashion became one of the biggest fashion movements in the second half of the twentieth century. In fact; many elements of punk fashion is evident in today’s modern clothing trends.

Leather was a big part of the punk scene; provided it was accompanied by metal studs, chains and a solid pair of boots; preferably Doc Marten’s. It was also common to see punks wearing dog collars, razor blades and even safety pins.

Fashion

Despite the origins of Punk it managed to produce a huge range of products. These included hairstyles, makeup and even jewellery. This is the era that the spiked hair really came to the fore; not just small spikes! You needed huge spikes jetting out of your head; preferably held in place with Vaseline or some other product to ensure they couldn’t move all day. Shaven heads and Mohawks were also quickly adopted and common place in the punk scene.

Piercing

Having various parts of your body pierced is not a new phenomenon. However, punks were the first to undertake cheek, nose and eyelid piercing. A fact that is made even more unique because they used safety pins!

The End

Punk has never really left; but it has changed form. The beginning of the end of punk as a rebellious sub culture was in 1977. A young designer, Zandra Rhodes, saw the potential and created a string of fashion hits. Her fashion line was based on a watered down version of the punk clothing. It was soft enough to appeal to the masses but still rebellious enough to appeal to most people.

Sub Cultures

Whilst punk continued at a more sedate pace there were those which were inspired by its attitude and spirit. These people created new styles; based on punk but with their own, personal touch. You may be surprised to realize that the following are only present today because of punk:

  • Goth – Whilst most people see this as a recent fashion statement, it has, in fact, been around since the 1980’s in England.

Following the decline of punk as it became socially acceptable; this group of people took the punk trend one step further. Black was the color. Black hair, fingernails and clothes were essential to become a Goth. There are a variety of bands from the 1980’s which embody the spirit of the Goth; the same menace of the early punks combined with an almost sinister nature. The Goth scene has flourished and is still a valid genre today; it now has sub-genres of it s own!

  • Grunge – This was another offshoot of punk after it became main stream. Grunge focuses more on the music. A slightly slowly pace of music is the main difference in the style and sound of this genre. The idea was to have music which could be accessed by the general population and not just the punks. It has been said that punk was the result of anger at the system and everything else around people. In contrast, grunge has the attitude that you can take it or leave it; doesn’t really matter what others think of you.
  • Hip-Hop – This is perhaps the most surprising modern version of punk. However, when you look at the rebellious style of both types of music you can see the instant connection between these two genres. In addition both of these types of music are known for launching complete unknowns into the spotlight. They are the average person’s attempt at breaking into the music industry; with impressive results!

In addition; hip-hop and punk have both gained massive followings. The music and artists who create it are emulated by thousands of people every day!

Additional Facts

There are a variety of additional, little known facts that are sure to amaze you:

  • The word punk originally meant a prostitute; although this was as far back as the 16th
  • More recently, in the early twentieth century, a punk was a homosexual. It then came to mean ‘kid’ and finally ‘young criminal’.
  • Creem, a popular magazine in the 1970’s was the first to use the term ‘punk rock’. This was in 1971.
  • The style wasn’t that unique! Many punks were young, rebellious but limited on funds. The result was a style which used what was available; skinheads and Teddy Boys were particularly popular style icons. Of course, personal touches made a difference!

Punk was all about the shock factor; this is a tradition which still continues today. When people want to be noticed shock is the simplest way to achieve it. In this way, punk can live forever!