The American Caliban (substitute) wrote,
The American Caliban
substitute

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Where we sat at lunch

What were the cliques at your high school or equivalent (ages 14 to 18)?

Clarification: This isn't a request for your particular affiliation or lack thereof; there's loads of quizzes and "memes" where you can relive that for good or for ill. I'm fishing for descriptions of the social groups from your teen years as you observed them, whether from the inside or the outside. It's a survey of environments: what were the groups you saw? If you weren't at anything like a school with social groups then, none of this really matters.

I went to an almost entirely white public school in a Southern California beach resort town from 1979 to 1983. Think Fast Times at Ridgemont High. So, mine were, in roughly hierarchical order:

Preppy/"Sosh" (rich pretty kids or those who could pass for rich, anyway): pink and green clothing, lots of chinos and khaki, cashmere sweater knotted around the neck, penny loafers.

Jock/Cheerleader (sports and beauty competition winners in the classic American vein)

Surfer (specific to my locale; not quite the same as jock: they were too obsessive about surfing to participate in much of anything else or deal with the hierarchy at all)

"Band-O": marching band members as obsessive social phenomenon

Theater club: actors singers dancers and technical theater types and wannabees

Pop Music Lifestyle Subculture: at the time this meant rockabilly revival kids, metalheads, and some of the new wave stuff.

Mods and Punks: this was the early 1980s, so a Mod Ska/The Jam flavored revival was going on, and punk was a seriously transgressive style that set you apart. the two groups were pretty interchangeable because they were scarier than the other pop music identities. The mods were always high on black beauties and the punks burned things and put safety pins in their noses.

Academic/geek/nerd. You know the drill. The straight A's crowd plus anyone who liked computers or Dungeons & Dragons and science fiction.

Stoner

Total outsider of some kind (doomed).

I'm interested for a few reasons. Subculture identities are multiplying, for one thing, and most of the pop music-related ones that have appeared in the last 20 years became permanent options on a kind of menu. And high school has a huge presence in American life. Some people spend their whole lives rebelling against the slights they got in their teens. Others don't ever move beyond the subculture they found then. If you know what clique an American middle-class person claimed at age 16, you know a lot about them right away.
Tags: culture, school, subcultures, usa
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