They Call Me A Hipster

San Marco - June, 1989
San Marco – June, 1989

But I’m really a Gen-Xer. Somewhere along the way, a hipster and someone from Generation X got conflated. I’ve thought a lot about this since I recently moved to a heavily hipster neighborhood in Washington, DC. They remind me of that old film, The Blob, which is actually quite apropos as hipsters dig all things vintage. But here’s the thing: we Gen-Xers are the original hipsters. Like them, we drank black coffee in cool coffee shops – Bohemians in the 20s and Beats in the 50s made that popular – and rejected mass clothing, music, and food in exchange for something cool. We just craved something different, something that was more about hanging out drinking coffee and talking about our dreams while our contemporaries hung out at the mall. It didn’t have to have a name or a book or a movement. It was just called rockin’ your own style.

We shopped in thrift stores and reclaimed a 60s sort of Samantha & Darrin Stephens style in the wake of the shoulder-padded, gold lamé shirts, blue eye shadow, and spiked bangs that pervaded 80s fashion. I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, and my friends and I wanted no part of that brightly colored extravaganza of Dynasty & Dallas fashion. My sense of style was honed in the overflowing racks of vintage silk dresses, pencil skirts, Bakelite jewelry, chunky glasses, & faux mink stoles of La Di Da, a vintage clothing store in Five Points. I went to prom, but I did so in a 1950s silver moire taffeta tea length dress that would have outstunned even Cha-Cha DiGregorio. We hung out at Einstein-A-Go-Go, the bona fide CBGBs of the South, and saw bands that would later be seen as the progenitors of alternative & grunge music. Yes, I saw Jane’s Addiction and Nirvana in this little dive bar for $5. Although the food culture certainly wasn’t what it is now, we found our favorite little joints and only went to the chain restaurants when we were with our parents. Coffee and French pastries at Café on the Square in San Marco, followed by walking to the nearby river and singing Simon & Garfunkel songs late into the night, was our favorite. Now if that’s not hipster, I don’t know what is!

We Gen-Xers had experiences that digital native hipsters could only dream of. This is not to say that our generation was better than theirs, but instead to highlight the fact that we Gen-Xers have gotten lost in the hipster fray. We’re still here, and we’re still über cool. We’re a little older and a little wiser, but we’re still rockin’ our own style and living life on our own terms.