Punk as a movement has evolved during its 30 plus years history; it has changed from its original intent, while continuing to be a contested “social free space” that challenges dominant norms/ideologies, to incorporating some of those norms and rearticulating their meanings.
Who am I, how did I get into punk, and why do I continue to be a punk? Well to start off, my name is Lorenzo. I’m a first generation Mexican-American, an army veteran, a sociology graduate student at UTSA, and eclipsing all those identities, I’m a punk who grew up in the Westside of S.A.
I easily embraced the punk identity. All what “skater punks,” “alternative/grunge”, and “metal heads” cared about was to be true to oneself. I was fascinated by the fact that they openly expressed their anger toward being “socially acceptable” and took passionate pride in not fitting any expected/constructed dominant ideological identity categories.
Through the punks at school, I was introduced to other punks of diverse racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and educational backgrounds of all ages from across S.A. that formed a larger subcultural community that regularly frequented various places; like shows/concert venues (the White Rabbit), local record shops (Hogwild), skateboard shops/parks, or hung out at the gazebos across from the Alamo.
As collective autonomous individuals throughout S.A., we strove to construct our own customized identity in a social space of our own design. We did not fit in anywhere nor did we want to, thus our master cultural identity became punk.
It’s been 17 years and I still love living every minute of it.
Punk is open to anyone, but it’s something you have to find.
At a recent show, I observed some teenagers scaling the venue wall to get in because tickets were sold out; I met a man from Florida who had a “rap sheet” and came to S.A. to straighten out his life; some Christian punks passed out fliers for the local punk church called Rise Above Ministries; in the distance I saw a petite girl elbow a guy almost knocking him out. A few couples just made out all night amidst the ongoing chaos while beer cans and water bottles were thrown from every direction.
Others crowd surfed, sang along, danced or moshed (a seemingly uncoordinated type of dance in front of the stage). The non-punk newcomers in attendance, as usual, were awestruck as they tried to make sense of immense amount of that physical, visual and auditive stimuli that are prevalent at punk concerts. I focused on having fun all night. As the band NoFX put it, “I’m here because old habits die hard and seriously, what else am I supposed to do? This isn’t my job, my hobby, my habit, it’s sad, but this is my life!”