Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Very First Hipsters

This is the first art of my two-part blog entry on the first hipsters

When reading about the word hipster I was struck with how old the term was. Considering that today’s version of the term is used to describe people who effectively try a little too hard to be ahead of their time it is surprising that the first “hipsters” hail from the 1940s! You know when Hitler was such a threat that no one would imagine such a thing as Hipster Hitler!

Back then the word hipster, or hepcat, was used to define lovers of jazz music and the wider lifestyle associated with bebop legends of the time. Ultimately it comes from the slang word ‘hip’, which means to be ‘in the know’ or ‘fashionably current’. In other words being hip is heavily tied to awareness, which happens to be one of my favorite words. One look at the dictionary and it is easy to see why. What is not to revere from having knowledge, being conscious, cognizant, informed, alert, knowledgeable and sophisticated?

The hipsters from the 40s were known to adopt slang and dress styles of the aforementioned jazz players. They also possessed a more open mind with regards to race and sexual attitudes, in particular towards interracial lovemaking and homosexuality. In fact so much was this identity tied to black culture that Norman Mailer released a pamphlet in 1957 called “The White Negro”.

Tune in tomorrow for part two of my blog post on the original hipsters.

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