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Hungarian Hipsters

Because of the internet and the globalization of culture, what becomes popular in one place becomes popular pretty much everywhere, but often, the meanings and beginnings and initial thoughts behind a movement or a culture become lost or deviated.

In Hungary, there are hipsters, and not in the sense you think. The “retro look” and love for tapes and facial hair has permeated mainstream culture and is now the look that pretty much everyone who is not involved in some subculture or other looks like. But is there something deeper, something more to hipster culture than just stupid looking glasses and tattoos of triangles? Can this look be appropriated without some form of cultural baggage attached to it? If you look at Hungary, the answer is a resounding “kinda”.

Hipster Triangle

Mostly Budapest

Although you will see hipsters almost exclusively in Budapest, it is not the only place where you will find them, and the ones in the capital are usually from a smaller city like Miskolc, Debrecen or Győr (places that are very worth visiting if you are in Hungary). Ideologically they tend to be a little bit left of mainstream, but in Hungary that is true for almost everyone who has any sort of internationalist sentiment, as the right wing dominates all aspects of life here. The main thing about being a hipster in Hungary is to try and create a lifestyle that is only achievable in the West, thus retro gains a new meaning. While loving the Soviet, old looking things, and donning clothes that would make their grandmother proud, that is about the only thing retro about hipsters here. They tend to have ideas and ideals that are actually quite progressive.

Hipster Triangle

Hipsters are almost always aesthetes, either musically or in the visual arts, but they are always pushing the boundaries between tacky, trashy and high art, and are always playing with the idea of acceptability, being drawn to it and close to it, but always a step ahead, on the not yet acceptable, on the still tasteless and tacky, but somehow rather stylish side.

Seeing as the whole retro fashion look has permeated the cultural world, hipsters have to stick out by being quirky, by being something more than just an aesthetic phenomenon. This is why you have cliques of people who live lives that are centered around certain cultural institutions and certain places in Budapest, by being here and being found here, they hope to transform parts of the city into places where this sort of culture can flourish, and can become a little deeper, a little more meaningful. The Anker köz right near Deák tér is the only hipster street, as it were, with a bar that caters to these fine folks. The prices are unattainable to the average Hungarian, but hipsters tend to come from upper middle class families anyway, and have plenty of money to waste while going to college for 12 years, so this creates a mood in which they do not have to be confronted with the average Hungarian, who is quite unsympathetic to their goings on, especially with the hipsters love towards androgyny and tolerance of homosexuality, something that the average Hungarian is appalled by. Too bohemian for the working class, and too loose for the upper classes, hipsters are stuck in a niche of their own, and are creating spaces in the inner city in which they can flourish.

Btw, did I mention you our Budapest Pub Crawl?

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