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The “In Crowd” & Where they Frequent in Vancouver

At the forefront of any generation, we can find a group that defines the counterculture or, as an overzealous academic might say, a group that exhibits an aesthetic exclusive to that of the other sixty-eight-percent underneath the bell curve. During the fifties, we had pompadour sporting, leather-jacket-wearing bad-boys “from the wrong side-of-the-tracks” who, more often than not, where ex-communicated socially and economically from their upper-middle class counterparts – counterparts that got good-grades, drove American Sedans and ate, breathed and slept the “Leave it to Beaver” Lifestyle.

In the sixties and seventies we had a culture that was defined by conscientious motives that were anti-war, anti-establishment, anti-exclusionary and pro-sustainability. Politically, we had the Kennedy’s who were steadfast in their anti-segregationist stance. Musicians, as it would characterize this era, where said to have been more story-tellers who ventured into the philosophical than people who could spin a good tune i.e. Janis Joplin. Little did we know that Individuals of this era would then later “sell out” and take the reigns of commerce and industry, and shape them into what most major business conglomerates resemble today (Steve Jobs, anyone?). In the nineties, we had the grunge rock-scene, which exploded after the advent of bands like Kurt Cobain’s Nirvana and Eddie Vedder’s Pearl Jam. Baggy jeans, Air-Walk sneakers and dock martins made up the uniform of the average urban-dweller – all too reminiscent of a generation trying to mitigate between self-concept and the free-market-society built on the backs of their forefathers.

Today, however, we have a different genus: Hipster. In relation to the Hipster, re-visiting the aesthetic and philosophy components are not as cut and dry as their predecessors above. More than before, we see more “fusion” than distinct philosophy; perhaps a consequence of technology, its extensive reach to the masses and its ability to distribute vast pools of information to middle class homes. Hipster, a term that is as controversial linguistically as it is meme-wise, raises both eye-brows and noses with the mere-mention of the word – mainly due in part of it’s robust obscurity. A hipster can be adequately described in the famous word’s of Brampton Ontario’s Michael Cera’s character, Nick, from the movie, Nick and Nora’s Infinite playlist, “I don’t subscribe to any label.” Telling a hipster that he/she is, in fact, a hipster, will get you nothing more than a middle finger or an eye-roll – yet they seem to gather in the same establishments in clusters. A common signifier of group-identification can manifest itself in a variety of ways – but mainly, as it would seem, commercial establishments, venues and residential neighborhoods seem to best of such signifiers.

Below, we have listed common hot-spots of the in crowd in Vancouver:

  •  Broadway and Commercial Drive
  •  The Naam on west 4th
  • The Foundation
  •  The Waldorf
  •  Gastown

Now, what do all of these establishments and residential areas have in common? There are various themes one can abstract, but they are very clear. The Naam on west 4th and The Foundation just off of Main, although in distinct parts of the Vancouver Metropolitan area are symbols of sustainability. More specifically, the notion of vegetarianism and its subsets are very much a part of the hipster subculture. Clearly, we are dealing with a group that is conscientious about self, as well as overarching environmental issues. Gastown and the Waldorf are both away from the mainstream, overly gentrified commercial establishments of Downtown’s Granville Street. More often than not, you see hipsters gathering around venues that can be discovered through primary and secondary sources only. Finally, Broadway and Commercial Drive are a central hubs of Vancouver where the mainstream and obscure converge; however, its residential denizens, more often than not, are defined as Hipster. Bikers donning fixed-gear and the obligatory toque/beanie cruise the streets with visible distaste of their disgruntled, yuppie counterparts.

When we consider the above, a Hipster cannot be defined by mere description and clean-cut distinctions. We have a couterculture that possesses the components of their counterculture predecessors – especially with hints of underestimation. We can only look to places where they gather, and see how they interact as if conducting an ethnographic study; however, we will truly never know what it means to be a hipster.

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