So you want to join the ska scene? Becoming part of a subculture can be the biggest decision a young person can make; therefore such a decision should not be taken lightly. There are many factors that must be taken into account before you take such a life-altering step, for the wrong decision could have a lasting effect. So to help you in this time of personal reinvention, a few angles should be considered.
1) Find a scene that doesn't conflict with your economic standing. Or if it does, at the very least try to hide any inconsistencies. An East Village punk who drives mother's Mercedes when at home clashes with the philosophies of the movement.
2) Try to choose a scene that you can comfortably assimilate into. For example, an incredibly polite skinhead with impeccable table manners whose drink of choice is a martini with a twist and two olives in a long stem glass will indelibly fail to become a fully accepted member of the group.
3) Try to choose a scene who's music you actually like, or, if not, who's music won't make you physically ill after ten hours of aural bombardment.
Once you have chosen "Ska" as the subculture for you, there are some more guidelines you should follow.
1) Try to understand the music you will be listening to. The Specials were not the first ska band, nor are all their songs actually originals, but what are known as covers -- redone versions of older classics.
2) Dress rude, not rudely. Suspenders for the sake of suspenders are not necssarily appropriate, even if they ARE of the 2-inch thick variety. When it comes to accessorizing, remember to keep the theme consistent. A Madness patch, a peace sign, and an anarchy symbol may clash.
3) Try to be considerate of others at shows. The people you slam into while "skanking" just might be skinheads awaiting a "guest" for a "Boot Party".
Hopefully these helpful hints will assist you as you take a brave step on your new path. And remember, if these guidelines fail to lead you to cultural enlightenment, you could always just be yourself.
*excerpted from Easy*Life #2*
Dancing is an integral part to most subcultures; ska is no exception to this rule. As a matter of fact, dancing plays a large role in the Ska subculture. Why? Ska was originally played at clubs and dancehalls in Jamaica. These spaces provided Jamaicans with the opportunity to dance the night away, as well as hearing the latest releases from their favorite stars.
As you have guessed from the title this article, we will explore other methods of dancing besides the played-out skanking and most other tactics utilized by today's teens. First of all there should be a strong internal rhythm that corresponds to the beat of the music. In other words, you must really feel the music with your soul. Another important thing to remember is that one should always apply & maintain one's own style to every dance technique, whether it's skanking or jiving. Originality can put you on top - try not to do what everyone else is doing. A mix & match approach is always good. For instance, don't spend all your time doing the same repetitive move. Just as the songs differ, so should your dancing.
Moves from the late fifties to the late sixties include "The Peppermint Twist" (over 100's of different versions), "The Dog", "The Hitch Hike", "The Shake", & "The Monkey". These are American Soul based, but were popularized by the mods in the U.K. at this time. Other dances such as "The Reggae", "The Ska", & "Kingston Head Roll" are rooted in Jamaica. All these methods are valid when dancing to Ska/Rocksteady.
I will only describe and provide visual aid for a few of these dances. If I was to describe them all, you'd probably get a bit bombarded & confused by all the information. For those of you who are ambitious, try throwing in some spins, head rolls, or side slides. These are just a couple of tips to help you get some style. Don't forget, real dancing comes from the heart and if you truly enjoy the music you'll always come out on top.
*Mod - Sharp dressed, middle classed, pill popping, soul dancing, scooter riding, artsy youth.
*excerpted from Easy*Life #3* You’re on your way to a show, thrilled because your favorite band is playing. Maybe you go with a few friends or meet people there, maybe you go by yourself, for the love of the music. The first band goes on, you like them or you don’t but it doesn’t really matter. You’re just waiting for your favorites to appear.
Finally, there’s your band, playing away. You’re dancing, having a great time. Then, two, maybe three songs into their set, they start insulting you. Not you personally (they don’t know you from anyone else in the crowd), but people who look like you, maybe talk like you. Suddenly the show doesn’t seem so great anymore. The music’s still wonderful, but how can you dance along when the lyrics are insulting your people? You’re torn, what do you do? Welcome to one of the problems with being a woman in today’s scene.
There are a lot of people who would consider this whole article a load of bull, but everyone has different experiences. I went to shows and listened to ska for 3 years before I started encountering any kind of misogyny. A friend of mine met up with anti-female sentiment within a month. Some people will be fortunate and avoid it altogether. It’s a personal issue.
So here’s my personal experience: For all it’s talk of respect and solidarity, the rising sentiment in ska is becoming, if not anti-woman, then certainly exclusionary. More than one band uses the terms “bitch” and “whore” like candy, sprinkling them throughout their lyrics for “color”, and I’ve heard more songs lately that portray women as whores who ought to be beaten down then I can stomach. How can women be expected to participate in a scene that only offers them the role of whore?
Some people may argue that I’m a prude who can’t deal with a little fun, but that’s bull. I have no problem with crudity or crass sexuality, but this lack of respect is a totally different issue. It has nothing to do with sex – it has to do with people not taking girls seriously, and thinking that the only thing women are good for is a quick lay.
I don’t know what the solution is to stop the ska scene from turning into something analogous to hard rock (do the Pietasters get to be Aerosmith?), and I don’t want to change the NY Scene into some Disney Land version of itself where everything’s warm and fuzzy and ridiculously meaningless. But I’d like people to start treating each other with a bit more respect, and to start valuing different voices and what they have to say.
So if you’re a girl who wants to form a band, for god’s sake do it. Concentrate first of all on making your music good, (we definitely need more of that) but also try to say something original about what it means to be you. If you can’t play an instrument, write for a zine, or put on shows yourself, or just don’t go see bands who offend you. But most of all, support the other women and rude girls and girls that you see at shows – they’re not your enemies, they’re not out for your “man”, they don’t think they’re better than you (most of them anyway). As soon as everyone, women and men, rude boys and girls, realize that we’re all in the same boat together, the better things will be.
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