Urban tribes in the passage of time

When the boom of social networks was just beginning, an act of intolerance arose that is still in the memory of many: the confrontation of urban tribes in Mexico.

In 2008, a call began to circulate on the Internet inviting other urban tribes to “exterminate” the emo community. The notice was spread through Facebook, My Space and YouTube where the main objective was to attack any person linked to the emo scene.

The aggressions began to occur in different states of the Republic, especially in Querétaro, where the National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination (Conapred) reported the agglomeration of more than a thousand young people in the Plaza de Armas to attack the emos.

Similarly, in the Glorieta de Insurgentes, in the then called Federal District, young people identified as dark, metalheads, skatos, pachucos, skaters and punks staged an aggression against almost 200 emo youths that finally ended due to police intervention.

The rise of these aggressions put in the media spotlight the issue of urban tribes, a socio-cultural phenomenon, which usually occurs in adolescence, when people seek to define their own identity, but at the same time demand a sense of belonging, to be part of a social group where they feel safe, motivated and in a comfort zone.

Specialists in sociology and anthropology agree that the aggressions against the emo movement were a clear sign of the intolerance, machismo and discrimination experienced by minorities in Mexico.

Others pointed out that the call on social networks was issued by Catholic, conservative and political groups, as a way to discredit the movement of any urban tribe and some claim that it was a smokescreen to disperse the attention on the political and economic situation of the country that year.

Due to these various theories, days later, the anti-emos, especially darks and punketos, filled the Mexico City subway cars to go to Insurgentes, unfurl a white flag and sign peace among all the urban tribes because they no longer wanted to be victims of discrimination.
Urban tribes in time

Urban tribes or subcultures appear in the world since the 50’s, most of them arise through a social historical movement. These groups coincide in specific social demands. For example, hippies demanded peace in a time of war, punks opposed the political and economic system, while emos sought equality.

At first, some urban tribes were associated with gangsterism, but over the years they were classified according to their lifestyle, musical tastes or simply fashion.

In Mexico, the boom of urban tribes occurred in 2008 with darks, cholos, goths, metalheads, skateboarders, skaters, punks and emos, but over the years more were added to the list: floggers, chacas, hipsters, rockabillys, otakus, cosplayers, lolitas, etc.

URBAN TRIBES IN MEXICO

  • Pachucos: They emerged in the forties due to the border interaction between Mexicans and Chicanos. Their main characteristics were a taste for swing, danzón and mambo.
  • Punks: The punk style was the symbolic heart of the eighties generation, which had a greater following among certain young people. This youth culture was the first to insert itself into an identity that manifested its rejection of the social and cultural system. Spiky and colored hair, denim and leather, boots and chains symbolized the rejection of the system.
  • Cholos: This subculture had its origins among Mexicans in the border area of the country. They have an exaggerated aesthetic: bloomers, baggy t-shirts, tennis shoes, sometimes suspenders and bandanas.
  • Darks / Góticos: Their members listen to gothic rock. They wear dark clothes and have marked preferences for death and related themes.
  • Metalheads: Their appearance is similar to gothic or dark, but their main difference is that they have a predilection for listening to or playing music related to the metal genre or any of its variants.
  • Skaters: These young people are known for skateboarding, especially skateboarding, and some are also known for their graffiti or graffiti. Their clothing consists of baggy clothes, baseball caps and large-soled tennis shoes.
  • Skaters: This urban tribe is a hybrid between skaters and those who like ska music.
  • Emos: Their name comes from the emotional accent they put on everything they do. The emos are people with a sad attitude, they wear black and tight clothes, as well as dark makeup around the eyes and bangs around the face.

MORE RECENT TRIBES

  • Chakas: These are young people under 22 years of age who combine urban music with the use of religious accessories. Most of them are reggaeton lovers, in addition to having bizarre tastes as far as their wardrobe is concerned.
  • Hipsters: This group includes young people who tend to move away from the trends of the moment and profess a pro-nature thinking. They do not have a particular dress pattern, but they are perceived as bohemian style individuals with vintage accessories.
  • Rockabilly: Its name comes from the combination of two musical genres: rock and roll and hillbilly. Rockabillys are characterized by using attire, hairstyles or makeup typical of the 50’s or 60’s, such as pin up style on girls.
  • Otakus: This urban tribe originated in Japan, and groups people who are fond of Japanese comics (manga), Japanese cartoons (anime) and video games.
  • Cosplayers: It is a derivative of the otaku subculture; they usually replicate the clothing of manga, anime or video game characters of their choice. This practice is called cosplay (costume play), and is very common in thematic events or movie premieres.
  • Lolitas: They are an urban tribe native to Japan, but in America they have also gained popularity. It consists of groups of young girls who dress to look like a “flesh and blood doll”.

Do urban tribes still exist today?

Despite the passage of time, urban tribes have not completely disappeared. However, most of them have had a strong decline, which is attributed to the aggressions and discrimination suffered by these groups, as well as to the disinterest that arose among their own members, either because of boredom or emotional maturity.

Currently, new “subcultures” known as mirreyes, rockers, reggaetoneros, lobukis and godinez have been identified, although their designation is due more to pejorative terms that society attributes to certain social sectors whose habits or personal tastes coincide.

Even so, there is a debate among specialists, since many point out that an urban tribe is not the same as a nucleus of youth identity.

The main difference is that an urban tribe has established guidelines, such as a dress code, a common political or social ideology and some rules of coexistence among its members, while a youth identity core refers more to a group of young people whose identity coincides in the way they dress, have fun, musical tastes, etc., although they often do not get to live together in person.

For example, in recent years, youth has been divided by “taxonomy of generations”, such as millenials, centennials, generation z, or baby boom, whose interests are no longer primarily to obtain a sense of belonging, but tend to be more self-centered and seek a direct personal benefit, rather than belonging to a group.

Finally, as a society it would be important to understand that adolescents need to have their own identity and urban tribes can be a means that is part of that search, not without paying attention to the practices that young people may adopt, since some social groups can be a bridge to delinquency, drug addiction, alcoholism and other problems.

The passage through an urban tribe can be temporary, but for an adequate emotional maturity it is always necessary to have a good education and the accompaniment of a stable family that knows how to educate the youngest and instill positive values for their good emotional development.


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