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Explosive Subculture: Cities and the Punk Movement

From London to Los Angeles, the punk movement was always an urban phenomenon. But punks needed to fight hard for a place in the cities they called home.
March 28, 2017, 6am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Sandra Druschke

Punk's not dead, but these days it may have more to fear from gentrifiers than the police. Jamie Thomson writes, "As a host of cultural historians will attest, punk never died, it just went underground. Mutating into hardcore, it retreated to the basements, the garages and the backstreet dives – but like a weed pushing through the cracks, it has fought to find its place in the hostile environment of the modern city."

As punk came up, police crackdowns weren't the only issue. "For the scene to survive, hardcore bands needed places to play – and in venues free from intervention by authority figures or age restrictions (in the US, the drinking age of 21 would exclude a good 80% of the audience)."

While London was always a punk capital, a dedicated art space took along time to coalesce. "It's somewhat surprising, then, that London has taken so long to establish its own autonomous space – and it was only due to the efforts of a small group that, in 2015, DIY Space for London was established."

These days, the punk ethos thrives online, while it's more muted on gentrifying urban streets. But it has also spread to new places like Japan and Indonesia. 

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Published on Friday, March 17, 2017 in The Guardian
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