Wednesday, February 3, 2010
A Skinhead is a member of a subculture that originated among working class youths in the United Kingdom in the 1960s, and then spread to other parts of the world. Named for their close-cropped or shaven heads, the first skinheads were greatly influenced by West Indian (specifically Jamaican) rude boys and British mods, in terms of fashion, music and lifestyle.Originally, the skinhead subculture was primarily based on those elements, not politics or race. Since then, however, attitudes toward race and politics have become factors in which some skinheads align themselves. The political spectrum within the skinhead scene ranges from the far right to the far left, although many skinheads are apolitical. Fashion-wise, skinheads range from a clean-cut 1960s mod-influenced style to less-strict punk- and hardcore-influenced styles.Mods of lesser means made do with practical styles that suited their lifestyle and employment circumstances: steel-toe boots, straight-leg jeans or Sta-Prest trousers, button-down shirts, and braces (called suspenders in the USA). When possible, these working-class mods spent their money on suits and other sharp outfits to wear at dancehalls, where they enjoyed soul, ska, bluebeat and rocksteady music. By the 1970s, the skinhead subculture started to fade from popular culture, and some of the original skins dropped into new categories, such as the suedeheads (defined by the ability to manipulate one's hair with a comb), smoothies (often with shoulder-length hairstyles), and bootboys (with mod-length hair; associated with gangs and football hooliganism). Some fashion trends returned to mod roots, reintroducing brogues, loafers, suits, and the slacks-and-sweater look. The skinhead subculture was originally associated with music genres such as soul, ska, rocksteady and early reggae. The most popular music style for late-1970s skinheads was 2 Tone which was a musical fusion of ska, rocksteady, reggae, pop and punk rock.
In the late 1960s, some skinheads (including black skinheads) had engaged in violence against Pakistanis and other South Asian immigrants (an act known as Paki bashing in common slang). Although these early skinheads were not part of an organized nationalist or racist movement, by the early 1970s, there were skinheads who aligned themselves with the white nationalist National Front. As the 1970s progressed, the racially-motivated skinhead violence in the UK became more partisan, and groups such as the National Front and the British Movement saw a rise in skinheads among their ranks. Although many skinheads rejected political labels being applied to their subculture, some working class skinheads blamed non-white immigrants for economic and social problems, and agreed with far right organizations' positions against blacks and Asians.