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Chicago’s SXE Community Part 1: How We Got Here


Jay Williams, 21, pulls a jumbo Sharpie out of his backpack while he waits for a show to begin at Galaxie 2.0, the city’s newest north side straight edge venue. Williams draws two bold lines on each hand to form dark X’s before passing the pen to his girlfriend, Hailey Rose, so she can follow suit. The couple explains to me that, regardless if they’re seeing a show in Chicago, in Rose’s home state of Georgia or anywhere in between, this is a habitual ritual for them and many of their friends that claim straight edge.

Tonight’s show is Galaxie 2.0’s inaugural event. The lineup features five bands: CoronaryDecline, and x one foot in the grave x from Chicago; Dare from Fullerton, California; and Ingrown from Boise, Idaho. With the exception of Coronary, every band playing proudly boasts their identity as a straight edge hardcore band. Sharpied X’s adorn the backs of the two out-of-town band members’ hands, and both groups are wearing clothing that explicitly labels them as people who claim straight edge. More than a handful of people in the room have X Swatches proudly displayed on their wrists, and even non-straight edge fans are wearing merch from straight edge bands.

jay sxe

Individuals that claim straight edge (sxe) do not drink alcohol, take drugs, smoke cigarettes or use other intoxicating substances. Sometimes, bands comprised of entirely straight edge members brand themselves as a straight edge band.

“There’s a base set of rules: no alcohol, no cigs or drugs, being sexually responsible. People add on veganism to that. People are totally abstinent,” says Williams, who has claimed “edge” for over three years.

In Chicago, there’s a great variety in the type of bands straight edge musicians form and join, and an even greater diversity in the type of people who claim straight edge. There is not an abundance of straight edge venues, which usually prohibit drinking and drug use both in and around the venue. There is only a handful of sxe hardcore bands located in the city, and I have yet to attend a show at a non-straight edge venue where the amount of sxe fans outnumbered the non-sxe ones.

Read the full article on The Locals Only Blog

Mother, wife, small business owner.

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