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The History of Skinheads

Give me some of that Ooool' MOON STOMPIN'!

"I want all you Skinheads to get up on your feet. Put your braces together, and your boots on your feet. And Give Me Some Of That Oool' MOON STOMPIN'!!" Symarip, Skinhead Moonstomp, 1969

How much do you know about Skinheads? Do you automatically think 'racist' when you hear the word? Well if you do, you're in the wrong, hopefully this will help educate you a little bit. The Skinhead culture began in Jamaica, and was very closely tied to the Rude Boy culture. Some of the original Rude boys were also considered the original Skinehads, like Desmond Dekker, and Bob Marley. (yes, that Bob Marley, he didn't always have those dread-locks) When the mass migration of Jamaicans to Brittain occoured in the late sixties reggae was at the height of it's popularity. Quickly it was picked up by the working class, cockney kids in England. Working class is working class, no matter where in the world you go, so naturally these poor, young white kids felt a connection with these poor, young black kids. The Jamaicans also brought their Skinhead culture with them, and the English kids adopted this along with the music. Mods, Rudies, and Skins The Mods, who were young, rough kids on scooters were the first to pick up the culture, and contributed a great deal to the style. (rolled pant legs, tonic suits, scotters, etc.) In 1969 "Skinhead MoonStomp" was released by Symarip. It was the first albumn to celebrate the Brittish and Jamaican Skinhead mix. Other classic Reggae hits were "54-36" by the Maytals, "Israelites" by Desmond Dekker, "Phoenix City" by the Skatellites, "Oh Cherry Baby" by Eric Donaldson, the list goes on.... The original is still the Best. Through the early seventies the Skins enjoyed their day in the sun. They were rowdy and violent by nature, and most of that aggresion was directed at the upper classes. One venue for their fights was the soccer field. The upper crust rich kids had their soccer teams and the lower class cockney Skins had theirs. This situation was fuel for a riot every Saturday. The police eventually started arresting anyone who arrived at the soccer games with steel-toe boots, and they were rumored to have been kept locked in irons under the stands for the duraton of the game. This soccer violence continued into the mid-seventies. Oh yeah, We're bad... By now Judge Dread was beginning to grind out classics like "Ska Fever' and "Big 8." The music always followed the movement, and in many of the Reggae hits of the time you can pick up the stories of what was going on. And now the Skins had new targets...greaser punks. Safety pinned, bike chain totin', leather sportin' slime balls. They also went after the discos, and just don't even get me started on disco. Skins were against (and still are against) disco because of the promiscuous sexual attitudes and the prevalent drug use that went along with the disco scene. If you want to know where the punks came from go to somebody else's history page. It doesn't matter anyway, they came onto the Skinheads turf, and the Skinheads were not about to let them stay there.

Oi! What'd you say, punk?

It was at this time that an organization known as the infamous National Front was gaining popularity in Brittain. There was considerable dislike among the general population of Brittain concerning the immigration of Asians into England, and it was off this anti-Asian sentiment that the National Front drew its ammunition. They were attempting to stop all immigration from everywhere, they were basically a racist organization. They used bully tactics to scare the new immigrants out of their homes, and one of their main tactics was to recruit young tough kids off the street, shave their heads to make them look tougher, (leaching off the Skinheads rough reputation) and send them to smash some private property. The media titled them "Anarchist Neo-Nazi Skinheads" and the traditioanl Moonstompers' name was forever tarnished by the racist scum bags. Many bands of the time screamed in oppostion to the National Front; the Specials, The Clash, the Business (an Oi! band), Judge Dread, and many others.

Skinheads began to disappear in the late seventies, for some unknown reason. Judge Dread lamented this decline in the Reggae anthem "Bring Back The Skins." By the end of the seventies they were all but gone in England.

Then Suddenly, they sprang up here in America! Oh, Joy!! With the arrival of the Third Wave of Ska Skinheads suddenly had a place in the world again, and in the early eighties there was a sudden surge of the movement on our own native soil. This time there was a deffinate anti-racist mood to the movement which quicky grew into the S.H.A.R.P. ideology. Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice were a backlash against the sterotype created by the media's title of 'Skinhead.' Ska was also the main thrust of this movement rather than the Reggae beat of the early Brittish movement. By the ninties Oi! was also a major force. Oi! Oi! Oi! (it almost seems like more than Ska sometimes) The original Skinhead working class attitudes are still alive, as seen in bands like the Dropkick Murphys (Oi!), the Skoidats, Inspecter 7, and Bad Manners (2-Tone band who's still around). Unfortunatly at some point there sprang up a contingent of "Gay Skins." They are typically stippified by wearing green boots, or at least green laces, and also green or pink braces. They are by far the smallest faction of Skins (even smaller than Nazis) and they get no support from any other group. The largest group are the Trads, or Traditional Skins, then the Sharps, then Red/Anarchist Skins, then Mods (my personal standing), then racists, and then the gay skins. The racist Skins are by far the most vocal, and becuase of this they are plastered all over T. V. giving the world the idea that Skinehads are Neo-Nazis, when in fact the opposite is true. "Pride without prejudice" was always a motto of the Skins, and true Skinheads still hold to it. The "Crucified Skins" cry has gone up in oppostion to this bad press. Many other small factions like Liberty Skins and the South Florida Tri-County Skins exist within the major divisions. Disco is still fought, and with the release of movies like "Boogie Nights" and "Studio 54," which glorify disco's loose sexual attitudes and cocaine usage, the need for opposition to disco seems to be needed more than before. Punks aren't fought anymore, in fact there is a great deal of Skin-Punk unity now. Of course Skins and Rudies are still tight, but when mainstream Reggae, under Bob Marley's banner, took a turn towards marijuana promotion the skins split and left the hippies to their own inevitable destruction due to their apathy. (by the way, the hippies get no love from Skins either) The main under-current of the entire movement has been respect, both of one's self and of others. Skinheads, United and StrongI have seen nazi's and Sharps become best friends simply by accepting eachother and putting their differences in attitude asside. Hate will destroy anything it is involved in, but you can be against an attitude without hating the person holding it. (Soap-box time) The Sharps hate the Nazis, the Trads hate the Reds, and everybody hates the Gay Skins. If we could accept eachother for our differences there would be a lot fewer problems, but Skins take pride in what they believe and they stand by it one hunderd percent, many times different oppinions aren't tollerated. Good or bad, Skins stand by their principles, but in any event the Skins, like Ska, seem to be here to stay this time...

Big, Shiny, Monkey Boots

A Few Words On Skinhead Fashion

Now don't take this the wrong way, this is not a manual for getting up in the morning. It's just typical Skinhead gear. There is no official rule book for how to dress, but people get a frist impression when they see your clothes, so look good.
Made For Eachother

Boots: Ya' gotta have some boots. Steelies are best, anywhere from 3 to 14 hole, anything bigger is for the boneheads. Colors don't particularly matter, but if you wear green you're wearin' the gay pride boots (and most Skins are likely to stomp you for wearing them), and blue just makes you look stupid.

Braces: 'Suspenders' for you uneducated types. Half inch to an inch is typical width, but seatbelts are bonehead gear. In most places color doesn't matter much, but there are places it does. In parts of New Jersey I know that you can get hospitalized for the wrong colors. Generally people try to say that white is for nazi, red is anarchist/SHARP, pink/green is gay, and other stuff, but generally it makes no difference. But to be on the safe side if you just started claiming find out about the "laces and braces game" in your area, and wear black (neutral color) ones until you do, just to be on the safe side.

Jeans: Wear some pants that fit why dontcha'? JNCO's SUCK! Levi's 501's are classics, but anything that fits good works. True Skins roll them a bit (quite stylish, shows off the boots), and boneheads tuck them inside their boots nazi style (trust me it looks stupid).

Shirts: FRED PERRY'S 'nuf said. Oh yeah, and Ben Sherman's. 'Wife beater' style tank t-shirts are a classic as well, and of course just like everybody else in the world, just plain old T-shirts.

Hats: Bowlers (clockwork orange), Porkpies (check out some rudies head gear, find pic of Andy), Scally caps (watch some movies about the twenties and you'll see 'em, find pic of John).

Laces: Most Skins have their boots cross-laced, meaning the laces go from one hole to the hole exactly opposite making little flat lines all the way up the shoe. People will tell you that color matters here, but it's not overly critical. This falls under the "laces and braces game, rule book of fashion" heading, and is usually less looked at than braces, just don't wear green.

Flight Jacket: Classic Skinhead gear. Black and green are the most popular along with burgundy, but burgundy is most often worn by girls. Cover your flight with patches and pins, it's like Skinhead insignia. It's not your braces, or your shoes, but it's your patches that show other Skins which side you're on.

Denim Jacket/Sheepskin: You can't ever go wrong with denim, cover it with patches and buttons and stuff again.

Tonic Suits: Sharp, stylish Mod suits. Kinda like leisure suits, but not so baggy and shoddy looking.

Where would we Skinhead Boi!s be without our lovely Skinhead Girls?

Get your tongue back in your mouth!Quintessential Skingirl

Don't get too mad at me if I've gotten any of this part wrong. I'm not a girl, I just know what I see them wearing.

Cardigans: Fred Perry makes good sweaters, as well as other companies, but the sweater is classic Skin Chick wear.

Loafers: Another style borrowed from the Rudies. Penny loafers, and almost any other small black leather shoe.

Fishnets: I don't know how or when fishnet stockings became part of the Skingirl's ensemble, and I don't care; they look great. Trust me every bald head on the dance floor will be turned toward the Boot Girl in the fishnets. Other stockings are worn too, plain black, other flat colors, and patterns, but fishnets are a classic and look the best. Usually worn with white ankle socks and loafers.

Mini Skirts: There's that Mod influence again. A mini skirt with matching suit jacket and shirt is archetypical Skingirl.

Chelasea: The Skingirls haircut, originally cropped on top and the fringe grown out. Today most girls will shave the top. Some girls only wear the fringe in the front and not the back, but that's leaning towards the Oi! side of things.

Go ahead, make her day.

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