By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Around 9 on a recent Friday night, the Echoplex is filling up quickly with skinheads. Men sport closely cropped hair — sometimes with a parting cut — while the women wear either shaved patches up top or mod hairstyles. Button-down Ben Sherman shirts, rolled-up Levi's 501s or permanent-press trousers known as Sta-Prest are popular on both sexes. A sizable minority, meanwhile, are in their nattiest: well-tailored, slim-cut suits or mod dresses with boots or loafers. On the smoking patio, old friends reunite over cigarettes and beer, showing off new tattoos, talking about jobs they hate or maybe sharing war stories about old shows, old bands and old fights.
3040 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Category: Bars and Clubs
Region: Silver Lake
They're here to see Jamaican reggae legends The Gaylads and Brenda Holloway, the first Los Angeles Motown artist. As Holloway takes the stage, small groups skank in circles, with some couples paired off and dancing close, face to face.
L.A.'s skinhead scene has been around for decades but has gotten particularly popular during this latest revival in the past few years. Unlike the skinheads you've seen on TV, the L.A. scene is not only anti-racist, it's overwhelmingly Latino. Though scenesters are into punk and Oi!, early reggae and obscure soul records dominate their collections. At least once a month, several hundred people turn out for old Jamaican stars or mostly forgotten Motown singers. DJ nights at Fais Do-Do in Mid-City offer superdeep cuts of early reggae and "Northern soul," a neologism for American soul tracks first popular in Northern English dance clubs in the early '70s. The Rocksteady Lounge at Silver Lake's Akbar, a gay pub, offers a more intimate monthly affair with no less drinking and revelry.
Skinheads range from teenagers to middle-aged scene veterans. Their boots get an extra coat of polish for a night out, but otherwise they leave for work in the morning looking the same as they do for the club. Unlike the East L.A. punk scene, skinheads aren't preoccupied with rebelling against The Man, and the police aren't always busting them up. Instead, they're focused on the simple pleasures of beer, music, friends, dancing and fashion. Women are as much a part of it all as men, and there's always a good chance for romance.
This working-class subculture grew out of the British mods of the late 1960s. Ten years later during a punk-oriented revival, the neo-fascist National Front targeted English skins for recruitment. This cleaved the scene into two groups: racists, known as "boneheads" (or "glue sniffers"), and "traditional skinheads," also known as "sussed skins." While the former degenerated into fascist street gangs, the latter remained true to the skinheads' original ethos of beer, boots and monster beats.
Boneheads look like old-school racist rednecks in wifebeaters and combat fatigues. Traditional skinheads, however, look more cultured, with a preference for Italian scooters (rather than cars) and high-priced polos — a basic Fred Perry costs around $80. A suited and booted traditional skin easily could be mistaken for an extra on Mad Men, if his hair were longer. Strip off the tattoos and sideburns and they're positively clean cut.
Los Angeles might have the biggest skinhead scene in the country, though cities like San Jose, Portland and Boston have sizable contingents. There's no distinction here between Latinos and whites, though the latter are a distinct minority. Skinheads live all over L.A. County, but their hot spots are in Mid-City, Echo Park and Silver Lake.
One particularly devoted enthusiast is Mark Morales, a 35-year-old psychology researcher at USC, who promotes soul and reggae events. He's at the Echoplex tonight but doesn't have much time to party, as he's working not only as DJ but also stage manager and liaison for a video crew taping the event. Having grown up in East L.A., he became obsessed with the ska-revival label Two Tone as an adolescent, before falling in love with early Jamaican classics.
A stocky, easygoing guy who's quick with a smile, Morales hasn't donned skinhead gear in years, but he's an influential scenester, bringing top Jamaican acts of yesteryear and obscure soul players to spots like this one and downtown's Alexandria Hotel. Being a skinhead "is not just a look, like rockabilly or mod or whatever," he says. "There's a working-class mentality to it that other scenes don't have."
Indeed, you'll find folks with occupations like line cook, warehouse clerk and assembly-line worker in the crowd. Step into a skinhead's home and you're likely to see memorabilia from years past, such as vintage housewares, posters from original 1960s releases and records too scratched to play. Further, skins tend to marry and reproduce within the cult: Melrose shop Posers Hollywood even sells Fred Perry and Ben Sherman baby clothes.
And though this retro-obsessed crowd voraciously consumes tunes that originated in Jamaican shantytowns and American tenements, it's not protest music per se.
Instead, it's a document of downtrodden people keeping their collective heads up through hard times. Lyrical themes include colonial oppression ("Israelites" by Desmond Dekker), romance ("The Tide Is High" by the Paragons), sex (the list of dirty reggae tracks runs a mile long) or nothing at all (nonsensical songs like "Skinhead Moonstomp" by Symarip).
This complicated musical evolution began with American R&B singers like Fats Domino and Huey "Piano" Smith, who inspired early Jamaican ska, which evolved into rocksteady, then reggae. The first British skinheads embraced these sounds during tough economic times in late-'60s Britain; more than 40 years on, traditional skinhead tastes haven't changed much.
But don't listen for "Redemption Song" at these parties. Though Marley is beloved, skins prefer him with the classic Wailers lineup that includes Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. In fact, skinhead parties feature beats and bass that bear more resemblance to a good hip-hop break than what most people think of as reggae.
Unlike many other musical subcultures (punk, for example), skinheads don't usually "grow out of it." Some have been around since the early 1980s and are pushing 60. Their preferred look — sharp, smart and clean — certainly helps them to age gracefully, but Morales believes something else keeps people in the fold. "It's that attitude: the idea that I work for all my shit. Nothing has been given to you, so you're proud of the stuff you have." It's not just about wearing the right clothes or having the right records in your collection; it's about representing your working-class way of life.
Morales gets a bit of downtime when Holloway takes the stage, though he's still on the job, so there's no time to grab a drink at the bar. His eyes darting about the room, he looks over the scene that has shaped him since he was an adolescent. He's living proof that what makes a skinhead is not what you wear — or even how your hair's shorn — but what you've got in your heart.
Check out the skinhead scene June 9, when reggae legends The Pioneers perform at Los Globos.
East LA Hooligans mijas a new chapter branched off from west end skinheads..... beer bxtchs and guns...working class mexicans...brown skins only... puro bootboi's
@locoskin Fuck West End Skins! Salchicha put you guys on check levas! You guys are just Cholos trying to be white, but your not white and never will be levas. You guys are a bunch of bitches. Mob Boss got his face beat in by Chava Salchicha. You guys are a bunch of fake as fools that are ashamed of what you really are! Mexicans!
"I Am You": If you attended any of the mod/ska functions in mid-'80s L.A. then you would've seen skinheads, mods and rudies as racially diverse as L.A. itself. I know because I was there, I was a skinhead and so were all my friends. Sure, It's safe to say that the vast majority of us had never been to England, but knew very well that it all originated across the pond, and respected it for that matter. But hello, the original (English) skinheads themselves adopted much of their fashion and music from American and Jamaican culture. And who's gonna blame them for doing that? They found a music and style they dug, so they dug it…just like we're all digging it today.
hahahahahahaha Yeah, for sure. Shouldn't your tired, old wrinkled up prune ass be at home taking care of your kids and not be squeezed into a micro skirt, fishnets and docs?. Nothing sadder than an old lady trying to relive her youth. The torch has been passed, deal with it. And, of course you are not TCEM, who would think such a thing?.
Um maybe you didn't know enough skinheads because Latinos have ALWAYS been a part of the LA skinhead scene - north side firm- south bay skins and Carson and ghost town- not to mention the valley and oc... But I guess German and Italian and south American skinheads are odd to you as well? It's been worldwide for quite awhile...
Who does not see the oddity in this Latino skinhead scene? It is BRITISH CULTURE and looks peculiar when you see overweight Latino men and women (see pic) hooked on GMO and processed foods that consciously or inadvertently disassociate from who they really are (just look at their parents for some insight). It is safe to say that a majority of these “skins” either 20 or 40 something’s have never even been to England. I am forty and attended mid 80’s hardcore and punk shows whether in ELA back yards, Fenders Ballroom, Oxnard, etc. I had friends who were skins and punks during the 80’s and have frequented England (seen real Brit culture) and so I think I know just a little bit on this matter. Haha.
Whoever is telling people that TCEM is Melissa Ross is fucked up. I posted as Rally 200 but have no idea who TCEM was/is. And to lie and say you've traced the messages back to my cell phone? Thats funny since the only cells I have are NOT registered in my name. I dont have my own. So first it's Gonzo and now its me. Try again you lame fuck. I would never talk crap about Spanky or Kimo.... They are friends. And to pass around fucked up rumors is just starting shit.
Gonzo is not a Skinhead. Just an average street thug using Skins and punks to promote bands and take their money. Maybe Tiffani is blowing him - they both have fucked up faces
On it. Sounds really cool and I'm totally jealous. Thanks! UPDATE: I'd heard of this and now I'll definitely read it.
i wrote a book on it... history of major skinhead gangs as well as the subculture..looks like a lot of the young ones need to read the book too.... find it on amazon under my name Nicholas.
what George replied I'm amazed that anyone able to earn $5349 in one month on the internet. did you see this site lazycash42.c()m
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