by johnny fantastic

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.