Hipsters Don’t Actually Exist

09/20/2012 9:00 AM |

The site of an upcoming beer garden
  • The site of an upcoming beer garden

The owner of a decidedly non-hipster bar in Bay Ridge, Kettle Black, plans to open a beer garden for hipsters called The Lockyard, also in Bay Ridge, and the locals are pissed. First, know this: the Brooklyn Paper won’t publish a story unless it centers on a conflict, even if they’ve manufactured it have to stir it up. So let’s not all get up in arms please about this one intentionally provocative article. It’s just meant to rile you up, to attract page views and customers. Let’s not allow it also to divide communities and create phony dichotomies like “authentic” and “transplant.”

I’m a hipster, by which I mean I fit many of the stereotypes: I’m under 30, I wear a beard, I eat vegan, I sympathize with bicyclists, I enjoy good beer, I work in media, I like art. But get this—I’m not from Ohio, but from Brooklyn! Bay Ridge in fact, third generation (more or less), born and raised and almost never left.

I also like sitting outside, especially while drinking beer, especially in warm-weather months, so I’m happy to hear that there’ll be a new beer garden in the neighborhood. We have a lack of outdoor drinking spots, save the backyard at Harp (any others?); I recently tried drinking a beer on the bike path and a cop gave me a ticket. It wasn’t a coincidence that the first time I visited Greenwood Park in South Slope, the (middle-aged) couple at the table next to mine was also from Bay Ridge, and that thereafter I noticed my Facebook feed was full of photos of Bay Ridge friends hanging out there.

Those would be my “hipster” friends: the guys with beards, the young people in bands, those with thick-rimmed glasses. “Hipsters” might identify them as townies, the townies vice versa. I suspect that’s because “hipsters” don’t actually exist—it’s a crude stereotype haters have mistaken for an accurate description of reality. Sure, there are people who dress funny and don’t work and look down on others. And they can be really obnoxious! But they’re not a group coming to destroy your neighborhoods. Some people are assholes: that goes for hipsters and townies alike.

“Hipsters,” really, are just boogeymen; they’re a catch-all that contain the cultural anxieties of the moment: about homosexuality (“they’re all wussy!”), about class (“they’re all rich and they don’t even work!”). What actually do exist in Brooklyn are young people who make art, who go to see art, who hang out together, work day jobs and night jobs, and/or try to live lives they want to lead as best they can. I know this because I meet these people and talk to them and socialize with them, professionally and personally. Some of them are from other places in America and the world, others from New York City itself.

Here’s the news: somebody’s opening a beer garden in Bay Ridge because people like to drink outside. It’ll probably attract young people. Strip away the Brooklyn Paper hysteria-generating hyperbole—the H word—and what’s actually the problem here?

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

45 Comment

  • They exist, just not so much in Bay Ridge. Honestly, it sounds like a marketing ploy. “The hipsters are coming, the hipsters are coming!” is just a less direct man’s “If you build it, they will come.” How will hipsters know the bar’s meant for them (or that it even exists) if there’s no “outcry” about the invasion of the hipsters?

    Bay Ridge never got seedy enough to be ironic, and it’s way too far down on the Subway map (and way too inconvenient to the L, M, & G) for anyone who’s all that hip to creep southward and land here. And all the cool kids who still live here mostly grew up here (or moved in with them), so what are they trying to prove to anyone? Hipster parents might see the appeal, but they’re not moving here to get wasted at Kettle Black.

  • I love this article. Thank you, Henry.

  • this article is a waste of webspace

  • I am born and raised in Brooklyn, I am a 39 yr old male.

    I have been living in Bay Ridge for 4 years, but grew up in Sheepshead Bay, which is now DISGUSTING. I also lived in Park Slope for 4 years, and Midwood/Gravesend for 2.

    Anyway – Bay Ridge.
    The LEAST CHANGED part of Brooklyn in some ways.
    What I mean is that it is still very “neighborhoody”.
    Very little to no crime, tons of great places to eat and shop.
    Affordable rent.
    A TON of bars.
    I love it and have no plans to leave anytime soon.
    Maybe too many Guidos – but this is the last part of Brooklyn for them and the birthplace of the Guidio so I deal. I am Italian/Irish by the way.

    Hipsters do exist…come on now!
    But Hipster parents would like Bay Ridge for a major reason – safety and low crime.

    I want a ROCK/METAL bar in Bay Ridge more than anything (no, The Wicked Monk is NOT a Rock/Metal bar) but if a Hipster one opens, perhaps my dream bar will follow?

    That’s all I got.

    Bring on the new bar!

    M.

  • Lonestar has the biggest beer drinking backyard in Bay Ridge, how does the author not know that?

  • Everything you’re saying is true, but “hipster” is still a word that reflects more of an attitude and vacuousness. Because hipsters dress like regular, hardworking, artsy kids, doesn’t mean that regular, hardworking, artsy kids are hipsters. A businessman dressed like a fireman does not make a fireman a business man in disguise.

  • In response to the first post. The area immediately around the Mosque on 5th off Bay Ridge Avenue is seedy enough to have “hipster cred”. Especially when you through in the hookah places and the cheap but good middle eastern resturants like Bab al Yemen. Through in the crappy but cheap housing stock of the apartment buildings right around there, and I can see hipsters moving in. Would be a very good development in my estimation.

  • Please. Hipsters are a fact. Perhaps it is your relatively young age that makes you not see them because the way you describe yourself – “I’m under 30, I wear a beard, I eat vegan, I sympathize with bicyclists, I enjoy good beer, I work in media, I like art” – fits a disturbingly large amount of ppl in this city and that, THAT, is what’s truly scary. Brooklyn used to be impossible to nail down that easily because it was vast and more diverse than any other place on the globe. That is no longer the case, hence the revival of the word hipster. I believe its current meaning captures much more than your description above: it’s a word that describes the current culture in (most parts of) Brooklyn and attempts to point out what this borough has become with this never ending herd of people of the same age, who looks the same, and eats the same food, and listens to the same music, and who does and likes the same things… It’s the anti-thesis of diversity, really.

  • as a native Brooklynite, I am really insulted by the fact that you wrote this article. it is a discredit to all the native Brooklynites.

  • Native or not, or even Brooklynite or not, I find it a little naive to claim that hipsters don’t exist. Hipsters have a generational look and lifestyle that’s been exported internationally, and is deeply connected to economics and cultural capital (Robert Anasi explains this quite well in a paragraph or two in his book “The last bohemia”).
    I understand that it is difficult to have a historical perspective on your own existence, but you’re simply going to have to accept that not everyone is going to like what actually is a homogenization and bastardization of something that claims to be alternative or sub-cultural, Henry. So just own it! No-one can be loved by everyone.

  • just b/c you choose to dress like a moron doesn’t make you a hipster. Hipsters don’t really work, they’re supported by their mommy n daddies, even though they haven’t been in college in quite some time. If you refuse to accept any responsibility, don’t work and support yourself, are no longer in college, you might be a hipster. Lots of people have beards, ‘hipsters’ choose to have unkempt, filthy beards. $3k for a studio in brooklyn sounds like a fair deal to a hipster, as a local you know that’s ridiculously over priced. thick rimmed glasses tend to be a hipster staple b/c it’s hard to imagine anyone other than elvis costello having such bad taste. Do you belong to a ‘every one gets a turn and a medal for participation b/c it’s not a bout winning’ team sport, than you might be a hipster, b/c it’s all about winning. W/o competition there’s no ambition and no improvements on old ideas/methods. I can sit here all day defining hipster to you, but you obviously want to be one, you’re trying so hard to be one, but in truth you’re just a dumbass from the Ridge with bad taste in fashion. Everyone enjoys drinking outside when it’s nice out, that’s why we have sidewalk cafes, the restriction exists so that people don’t get themselves hurt while drinking and not paying attention to other pedestrians, traffic, etc.

  • What bubble are you living in? Hipsters exist and have driven normal rents through the roof! Brooklynites can’t afford their own neighborhood anymore due to the influx of gentrifying flyover state hordes that have sanitized our neighborhoods. What is worse is when you encounter one of them and speak to them in your local accent they look down upon you! They think they are from Brooklyn because they live here now! They are willing to pay astronomical rent for a ridiculous store that sells organic anything and the guy next door who has been there for 40 years gets driven out! Please, put down your craft beer, get a shave and open your eyes. You deserved the ticket for the beer, you’re from here, you should have known better. Whatsamatta wit you?

  • To clarify, everybody: “hipster” as a term is shorthand that various people use to signify various things. Obviously, there is such a thing as a specific current youth culture with a dominant aesthetic, like grunge in the 90s or hippies in the 60s/70s. It’s exportable, identifiable. And then there’s “hipster” as a class of people who, as the above commenters write, don’t work, look down on you, raise your rents, etc. The point I was trying to make is that that second definition doesn’t actually define a real group: you may be able to point to examples of people who fit those stereotypes, but to then broaden it to define a whole swath of the borough is a logical fallacy. It’s stereotyping; it’s an irrational hatred of your neighbors. It seems to me like hipster-haters are using a seemingly fair objection to the high cost of living in New York to validate their distaste for organic groceries, people from other states, beards, Elvis Costello, etc. It’s just one more way to define one’s fears of a changing world: fear of homosexuality (consider DieHipster’s suggestion that I “stick a Mast Bros. chocolate bar up [my] Hershey highway”), of the eroding middle class, of whatever.

    If you’re upset because rents are too high, blame your landlords and the politicians who conspired to rezone the borough to encourage overdevelopment. Don’t just look at the person sitting next to you and decide all your problems are his fault.

  • If there’s a hipster sitting next to me, I generally smack him, then decide it’s all his fault.

  • “I’m not a hipster, I’m just a unique, zany, creative person who likes fedoras, beards, art, and thick-rimmed glasses!”

    LOL !!!

  • Unoriginal hipster douchebag.

  • Douche. Bag.
    End of Comment.

  • “I have a lice ridden beard, thick eyeglasses, wear a fedora and skinny jeans, love artisanal craft cum in a mason jar, and pay $3500/mo to live in a dumpy apartment in Brooklyn, sit in coffee shoppes all day. I’m SOOO creative and a unique snowflake! But I’m NOT a hipster!!” And now that you’ve been here for five minutes, you look around and there are 50,000 of you looking EXACTLY THE SAME, doing your exact same “art”, “music” unicycles, kickball, all that stupid sh!t you all do. Except now you say “oh I just happen to like PBRs, thick eyeglasses, beards, skinny jeans, ironic tees and performance art.” But you still won’t admit you’re a hipster. A hipster’s biggest wet dream is to be considered a townie. But if you came here in 2007 with your U-Haul packed with your entire action figure collection from your room at your mom’s house in Flyoverlandia, wearing your fedora,thick eyeglasses, your little sister’s jeans, and a graphic design/liberal arts/film theory/drama studies degree from Michigan State, YOU ARE NOT A TOWNIE. YOU ARE A HIPSTER, you fit 100% of all the stereotypes, and the rest of us REAL townies can’t stand your attention-seeking narcissism. Just own it already and stop pissing the rest of us off. And why do all you hipsters sound like Kim Kardashian with post nasal drip when you talk?

  • I was a hipster at 16 , at fucking 16!!!!!! the fact that im only 19 years old and i grew out of that shit , at the same time , hipster shit caught mainstream attention , pisses me off , coming from a wigga that grew up in bay ridge . The fact that i stuck out amongst everyone in bay ridge was awesome , especially amongst everyone else in New York City . In that 3 years time, being a hipster caught mainstream attention and now everyone wants to be one , i realized that being a hipster is another way of being a pussy and no self respecting man wants to be that way . Fuck being whimsical , take that kazoo out of your ass you fucking manchild faggot. And no , im not a fucking hipster , Im just more advanced in life than you faggot 30 years olds acting like a 16 year old bitch . And the fact of the matter that i’m not giving a shit if i come off to you pussys as a discerning individual . BUT I COMMEND ALL OF YOU , EVERY SINGLE INDIVIDUAL THAT SUPPORTS ALL THAT SHIT , I APPLAUD EVERY SINGLE OF ONE OF YOU FOR HELPING ME SEE THE LIGHT , AND CHANGE MY WAYS OF BEING A PUSSY ASS BITCH .

  • “I’m not a hipster, but I fit the description..just to be witty and ironic”…next! this article is a waste of space. The only hip thing happening currently is the fact that everydaypeople are starting to grow rather tiresome of the childish and ill mannered antics of this ‘trend’. What happens when you stop paying attention to a child who demands attention? they eventually will grow tired of their tantrum and stop….it’s only a matter of time, this trend will die down..

    How is it that these ‘hipsters’ think they ‘own Brooklyn’ and have a smug attitude about it and not eventually run into real locals who will kick their teeth out for being a douche?

  • “Oh Henry…I love this article…you’re so hip…so current…thank you.” bleh…take the stick out of your ass you pathetic piece of nothing and go write something that has substance and appeal.

  • Hipster isn’t about specific dress or specific tastes. Hipster is about feeling like your tastes are so important that they have to be proclaimed in an annoyingly overt manner. Moreover, hipsters are cultural thieves and middlemen – they are masters of doing something (think of whatever ‘artisinal’ thing some hipster thinks up) that has been done completely unselfconsciously for ages by regular folks and trying to elevate it to some sort of high art – thus facilitating their ability to once again loudly proclaim their incredibly important tastes and preferences.

    Hipster is all about doing something unoriginal and then wanting everyone to fawn all over it like it’s ‘like amazing’ – just like their mom and dad did when their soccer team lost when they were 6. Yeah, pretty much like that.

    Unfortunately the hipster way of self-aggrandizement is simply the zeitgeist – that’s why hipsters don’t have any consciousness of the fact they’re hipsters – they’re the new (unfortunate) normal.

  • Just because you were born in Brooklyn does not mean you are not a hipster. It’s more like a points accumulation system. “I’m under 30, I wear a beard, I eat vegan, I sympathize with bicyclists, I enjoy good beer, I work in media, I like art.” thats a pretty good start. Lets take points off for being born in Brooklyn OK, -15. Now, lets add on a few. You blog at the “L” magazine +10, scratchy wool hat all year around? +5. Summer scarf? +5. The “art” you like is probably “art” most people would not consider art? +5. Snooty coffee? +8. Only like bands until more that 73 people like them? +12. Urban lumber jack look? +12, Thick frames without any actually need for glasses? +20, tattoo sleve? +10, match stick arms? +10. Can I lock a padlock to your earloeb? +16, You see, it all adds up. You sir, are a hipster

  • What’s with this “townie” crap? That term is straight outta Burlington, VT. Leave it there. Townie is not a NYC term, it is hipster classism.

    As for this artisanal biergarten, look if Bay Ridge wants to become the overpriced, theme park version of itself, as has happened from Washington Heights to Sunset Park, go right ahead. See how that turns out for you.

  • Has anyone asked a ‘hipster’ why is part of their ‘trend’ to look down on people and behave boorishly and ill mannered? Is rudeness part of their whole ‘trend’? is that in the hipster handbook? They (hipsters) tend to pride themselves on this thread of ‘world peace’, ‘love everyone’ ‘go green’ love your planet earth’ yet they are some of the rudest pieces of shit to people who are not like them…its almost like someone said “Display Sociopathic Behavior and wear a fedora and you’ll fit right in!”

    very odd..someone write an article about the delusional behavior patterns of this ‘trend’…

  • The hipsters are only going to read these posts and the scale-tipping likes for people who agree with them and look down on all of us. We are all un-evolved slime that occupy nearby spaces.
    I’m from the midwest and although my parents have the means to support me I don’t ask them for help. Hell when I got here I spent a few days riding the L train back and forth for sleep and woke up @ 8AM sharp to go to work. NYC for me was all about pursuing my dreams and hustling to get there. I tend to not care what the hipsters do but it pisses me off when I walk into my neighborhood bars for a relaxing drink and to mingle with my neighbors only to be looked down upon because I don’t wear vintage clothing and smell like I haven’t taken a shower in a week :) When I lived in China I had an easier time mingling with the native Chinese before I knew much Mandarin.

    I have some friends from home who live in my “East Williamsburg” block near the Morgan Av L who are true artists trying to make a name for themselves in their studios til the wee hours of the morning truly creating something to be appreciated. You can’t generalize everyone in the neighborhood, but there are an overwhelming amount of douchebag hipsters in the neighborhood. To say they don’t exist is self serving and ridiculous.

  • “Hipsters don’t exist”? I’ve seen 10 here in downtown Seattle just today alone, the cliche wacky beards, the shaved heads, the pretentious displays of oh-how-unique-i-am and oh-how-i-stand-out-look-at-me. And you know? Selling 16 dollar “hand-crafted” hamburgers from a deliberately kitschy mobile truck really isn’t the cultural contribution that some seem to think …

  • Hipsters exist alright. Hipsterism is more than just a lifestyle choice, it’s a failed business model.

    Speaking of burgers: Yo, Cliff; fax me a Dick’s Deluxe, would’ja?

  • Hey Mr. Stewart, you posted:

    “It’s just one more way to define one’s fears of a changing world: fear of homosexuality (consider DieHipster’s suggestion that I “stick a Mast Bros. chocolate bar up [my] Hershey highway”), of the eroding middle class, of whatever. “

    Fears of a changing world? LOL! GTFOH! What kind of change do hipsters represent? What do they represent at all? I look at hipsters and all I see is crass consumerism, pretentiousness, narcissism, and hypocrisy (to name a few) all wrapped up in a package of parentally funded ersatz rebellion.

    Predictably, you played the “DH and its readers are homophobic” card. Hipsters have been throwing that one at DH for years. I live in a liberal, gay friendly midwestern city and let me tell you, the gay dudes (like most people) don’t like those snarky Fauxhemian f*cksticks either. A lot of gay dudes celebrate their masculinity, while hipster (beta)males totally reject theirs.

  • Yes, there is a hipster uniform which you ably described and a hipster lifestyle of “craft this or that” beekeeping, rooftop gardening, kickball games, sailing on the Gowanus Canal, calling routine activities “art” and fetishisizing foods like mayonnaise, chocolate and pickles. There’s nothing unique when everyone & their brother is doing it.

  • Hopefully when (if) you finally grow up you will realize there is an entire class of people that are totally useless and perfect candidates for forced sterilization. If you fail to recognize them and want to BE one of them, then you will never ever be considered a mature individual.

    You actually make real New Yorkers ashamed.

  • They want a biergarten that caters to hipsters? That would be more like a Kindergarten. If that’s what they want they better be ready for the douchebaggery that comes along with it. There’s a lot to be said for fleecing hipsters, but it will take an infinite amount of patience putting up with those entitled fucks:
    1. There will be no sports on the bar TVs. Ever. No Superbowl, no World Series. Obscure art films only.
    2. Be ready to deal with the stroller nazi daddy mommies who insist on bringing their kids to the bar. The stroller nazi parents will complain that the art films contain adult content and is inappropriate for little Sebastian or Juniper, and will insist that you turn them off. Trying to compromise by putting Dora The Explorer on one screen will not be satisfactory. They want them all turned off and nobody is allowed to curse or get too rowdy because they’ll wake the baby.
    3. There will be Performance Art. A Performance Artist will destroy the entire interior as part of the Art, and you will have to pay/possibly close for all the repairs. It’s ART, Maaahhnn.
    4. There will be people who insist you book their shitty bands, promising you lots of revenue, because said shitty band “is the next big Brooklyn band, L Magazine said so”. You’ll fall for it. They will bring 5 customers, and drive anyone who was already there away.
    5. Hipsters will force you to rearrange your entire menu, because it doesn’t have enough artisanal locally sourced, rooftop grown, fairly traded items-of-the-day on it for them.
    6. Then when you get them their locally sourced cadmium battery factory urban rooftop beekeeper items, you’ll have to deal with people going into anaphylactic shock because the thing they insisted you get gave them an allergic reaction.
    7. You’ll have to serve gross shit like prosciutto-wrapped Twix bars, chocolate flavored whiskey and pickle juice.
    8. Make sure you have great bouncers for when Caleb’s credit card comes back unapproved for the $450 bar tab, and he insists “why should I have to pay?? It’s my Dad’s fault the card was shut off, he was supposed to pay it already” and tries to skip out.
    9. There will be the fights that break out over Candyland, Battleship and Sorry games.
    10. Wifi hobos who never leave and never buy anything.

    I know it’s tempting to quadruple the prices and fleece the hipsters for a quick buck, but hipster “culture” is absolutely insufferable. That guy must’ve had his head up his ass when he said he wanted a bar to cater to hipsters.

  • I know you’re vegan but I won’t make you swallow my meat nectar after you finish my organic rimjob.

    So you won’t go to vegan-hell, or purgatory, or where ever the fuck idiots like you belong.

    God hates fags,

    Hail satan,

    Amen.

  • Who are all these rich-kid hipsters? Because all my friends are broke.

  • @Jamsica Hipster definition of broke: only being able to spend $8.95 on a latte, not $16.99.

    Let’s face it, just one little phone call home to Dogfelcher Falls, WI for you — “Mommy and daddy, pleeeeeeeeease?” — and they drop 30 grand in your bank account.

  • Only a Hipster would write an article like this.

  • beat the shit out of these kids on general principle.
    take their money, and go get high.
    send them back where they came from.
    maybe a few get it and stick around, fall in with the rest of us.
    give a fuck what you want to call them.

  • Hipsters don’t exist????? Are you drinking your bath water? Go walk around Savannah for 30 minutes, and you’ll be ready to kill these obnoxious fuck-tards

  • Hipsters do exist. Some of them just dress that way because it’s a kind of niche trend. Others are hipsters with their look-at-me attitude and have the feeling that they’ve discovered something just by renaming it, using the word “artisanal” instead of “organic”. It’s the look-at-me hipsters that are annoying. Why? Because they drive up rent, that’s why. Also, some of them proclaim to be artists when they are merely finger painting. That is not art. That is … finger painting. I’ve met a lot of cool people who dress like hipsters because that is their style, but they are nice, hard-working, and genuinely friendly. It’s the look-at-me hipsters that get everyone annoyed.

  • Here’s proof that hipsters do exist. I work as an extra and received this email, requesting hipsters for roles in a movie that’s coming out. Here’s the link to the picture: http://kriskemp.com/wp-content/uploads/201…

  • The sad part about this, no matter what your opinion is on the article, is how many people choose to attack someone maliciously based on writing a simple point of view. Whether you agree with it or not, at no point in this article did this guy call anyone names or belittle anyone, yet in the comments someone can go off calling him a “pussy ass faggot” and get ten ‘likes.’ Regardless of how you feel it honestly made me feel sick to read these comments and see how vile and flat out mean people can be. And I know that people will completely miss the point of this probably and go off about their right to their opinion, which has nothing to do with what I’m saying. Okay… I guess let the comments about me being a pussy come rolling in. I gotta go smack some bitches that have different opinions than me.

  • I think hipsters should be forced to sew yellow “H”s on their clothing so the volk can more easily identify them, just in case the volk need to do something about them. Hipsternacht, anyone?

  • Homosexuality is a “cultural anxiety of the moment?”

    What?

    When you resort to such a weak and absurd claim and use it to defend a weaker and more absurd claim (that hipsters don’t exist), that’s called failure.

    They do exist and they are despicable, phony attention whores.

  • Hipsters and the rich a$$ hats that take up Manhattan are the reason that I regret coming to this city and wonder if art is worth pursuing at all. They’ve ruined everything that they for everyone else, there’s irony for you.

  • Reading these comments, I realize once again why I left New York to return to Flyoverlandia. The venom, the endless recycling of old hatreds, the total absence of compassion, the snap judgements, the street-fighting macho posturing. You’re welcome to it, you “real” Brooklynites.