Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Coloureds did it first

“Naaaaaaah man, you know what I would like to have?- one of those loop earrings with a spade shape accessory thingy hanging on them, now those are classic”, those were the words that inspired this article. I recently had a rather interesting conversation with my girlfriend about Johannesburg's coloured youth culture; a conversation that revealed to us both a number of emerging urban/JHB  trends that have for the longest time been embraced by the coloured community.

I have had the privilege of being exposed to Johannesburg's coloured youth street culture as a black boy at various stages in my life. From attending primary school in a  dominantly coloured community, to having coloured team mates on the sporting field, coloured class mates at a model C school and later making more coloured friends at Varsity. This experience has been something of a bitter/sweet fest equivalent, simply because of the obvious reason that every culture has its fair share of negative aspects in as much as the inverse. This article will however not feed into the negative stereotypical knowledge of the coloured youth culture (for many have already done this, shout out to Khuli Roberts)  but rather discuss what they have long embraced and the rest of us caught on to at a later stage of our street culture growth.

Backstreet – Don’t leave me, Bone Thugs n Harmony and Dear mamma by Tupac Shakur would be that anthem I would hear from every second taxi on my way to Reigerpark primary school back in 1997. At the school gate would be a kool senior character that would have an even cooler name like Zane or Rocky. Zane would often be caught and forced to take off his loop earring that had kool accessories hanging on it (a common earring known as the sleeper earring) by the principle or prefects. Rocky, who is Zane’s equally kool friend would also be reprimanded for wearing a chuff kop spottie (Old school design of a bucket hat), Converse All Star sneaker and a gold necklace and bracelet (simply known as a “chain”) and as part of his uniform; he would remove the jewellery yet still feel kool cause of the permanent gold dental jewellery they can’t possibly find a way to remove from his teeth.

Fast forward to eight years later, I find myself in the same high school as Zane’s younger brother, Dexter. Dexter had his older brother’s old school cool demeanor except that his was more new school vibe. Dexter would be seen hanging out with his fellow coloured friends, most with that curly high top fade hairstyle (Coloured's should have patented this hairdo already- I mean really) with the exception of that one friend you’d swear was black cause of his nappy hair. Dexter's nappy hair(ed) friend is Dustin; Dustin had a high top fade except his was not curled. He had the meanest boat shoe collection he referred to as Sebago which is the brand’s name and not the actual shoe style. Dexter’s younger brother on the other hand had crazy colour ways of Timberland boots. Dustin’s younger brother is Paisley; Paisley had a phly girlfriend which complimented his swag with her crazy Nike Air Max 90, Nike Court tradition sneakers and patent Cavella shoes that she would religiously wear with track pants and eclectic Lacoste T-shirts.

Before this article seems like an interlude preceding an episode of Intersexion, allow me to break down its moral if you haven’t as yet figured it out. Current South African street trends such as the sudden appreciation of Air Max 90 kicks, the trendy high top fade hair cut and the hype on gold chains amongst other trends have long been part of the urban coloured community. You may have a narrow, hence stereotypical knowledge of the coloured community as a unruly and uncultured nation but little do most know that the trends they are hype beasting on today were and are still pioneered by this great nation that has arguably established the longest standing street culture and remained loyal up to this day. So next time you ride a street culture trend, best believe that coloureds probably did it first. and oh, before you talk side ways, check the 5 panel cap your wearing or wanna cop, do research about the first local brand to pioneer it in South Africa and who owns it.

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