What Is Punk?

A Brief History of My Subculture

What Is Punk?

As people may know, I’m a punk. There can be different definitions for punk; like my definition for punk is that it’s not a genre or a style but it’s more like a state of mind—though the music and fashion are pretty badass. In our subculture, we fight for freedom and individuality. But let’s go back to when this awesome subculture started.

When It Started

Sex Pistols

The punk scene started in the mid-1970s in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia. Parent genres that gave birth to punk were rock, glam rock, garage rock, and proto-punk. Punk rock bands rejected mainstream 1970s rock bands. The songs they produced were short, fast, more aggressive melodies and singing styles, with lyrics talking about anti-establishment, political issues, etc. They have a DIY ethic, where they make their own recordings and produce them through independent record labels.

The Style (Fashion)

For punk fashion of the 70s, in the United States, it was the simple dirty stuff like a T-shirt, jeans, leather jacket Ramones look. For the United Kingdom, it was leather jackets, modified blazers, offensive T-shirts with symbols like inverted crosses or the Nazi Swastika, patches, and offensive images. Other accessories would include fishnet stockings, spiked bracelets or other studded jewelry, safety pins (used on clothing or as piercings) and dark eyeliner worn both by men and women. Female punks rebelled against gender stereotypes associating pretty and delicate clothing with women. So what they did was combine feminine clothing with masculine clothing like wearing a tutu with clunky boots. They also incorporated everyday objects and DIY ethic into clothing. Like ripping up shirts and jeans. Tearing things apart and holding them back together with safety pins or sewing them back together. Other items incorporated as clothing or used as jewelry are razor blades and chains. Footwear for punks included All-Star Converse, Doc Martens, military or combat boots, etc.

In the 80s, fashion took on a look that was more raw, angry, and intimidating. This style was influenced by hardcore bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat, and Fear, but the 70s punk scene was still thriving. 80s punk fashion included footwear like Doc Martens, motorcycle and combat boots. Bandanas were popular, chains, or spiked jewelry. Jeans, skirts, or plaid kilts were also worn. Studded or bullet belts were worn too. Punks also bought T-shirts or flannel shirts and wrote political slogans. T-shirts with band logos or punk related logos were also popular. There were also extreme hairstyles like mohawks and bleached or colored hair.

Evolution (How Punk Has Changed Over the Years)

Misfits

In ‘77, a second wave of punk bands came like The Misfits, The Exploited, GBH, Black Flag, Stiff Little Fingers and Crass would soon give birth to the Hardcore subgenre. In the 80s, Hardcore Punk was born and hardcore bands of the 80s included Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Bad Brains etc. In the late 80s to early 90s, punk bands were termed as alternative bands and others would incorporate the DIY ethic into a new style which gave birth to indie rock. Bands of the indie genre would include bands like Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr. In the early to mid-90s, punk would make a revival and popular bands of this decade were bands like Green Day, Poison Ivy, and Rancid. In this decade, punk gave birth to subgenres like skate punk, ska punk, and later on, pop punk. Bands of the skate punk genre would be The Offspring, Pennywise, and NOFX. Bands of the pop punk genre would be bands like Green Day, Blink-182, Good Charlotte, Sum 41, etc.

Is Punk dead?

Well, the answer is simple, no! Punk is very much alive in North America, Australia, Asia, and Europe. I’m part of the early 2000s generation trying to keep punk alive and there are others part of my generation trying to keep punk alive as well. I wish I could go more in-depth about the punk scene, but there’s still much that I need to learn about my subculture.

Welp, I hope you learned something about my style and subculture. Still much I need to learn though, so there may be another about the punk subculture in the future, but I can’t make any promises though.

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Kevin Harness
Kevin Harness
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Kevin Harness

I’m a punk with a love for rock music and horror. I also like to write and rant about stuff.

See all posts by Kevin Harness