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Breaking the Edge: Returning to Straightedge?

The Allure of Straight Edge

So you went and broke your edge. For whatever reasons, whether it was peer pressure, a new partner, a broken heart, an unfortunate tragedy, or simply the very normal and natural, human curiosity, you went and left all that you stood for behind. Where can you possibly go from here?

When the Scene Turned Strange

According to the Straight Edge Handbook, chapter 1, section C, paragraph 3-6, written by the almighty leader and master supreme: “You just changed for the same!” There is unfortunately no coming back from that. Chapter 6 through to 11 clearly stipulates that all edge breakers will be formally judged and ostracized by their peers in accordance with policy regulations. Punishment will then be enforced and handed out by the straight edge police and gatekeepers within the scene, followed by your lifetime membership being permanently revoked. Tough break.

A Journey Through Sobriety

Luckily for you though, there is a loophole. Turns out, there is no handbook, there are no rules, there is no membership fee or initiation process and despite what some elitists, supremacists may believe, straight edge is not a club, a religion, or a crew. It’s an idea. Based on a song. A song about an idea. That’s it. It’s simply a frame of mind that has gathered a lot of support and garnered a lot of influence and inspired a plethora of like-minded individuals over the years.

The Resurgence of Straight Edge

It’s a motivational speech at best. I got into punk rock at the start of the nineties and finally felt like I found music and people that spoke to me and understood me in a way that nothing before it ever could. The music was angry and frustrated just like me. The people were freaks and outsiders just like me. There was finally a place to belong for the rest of us that simply didn’t belong.

Returning to straight edge?

As I aged into a young adult through the nineties, the straight edge movement was gaining a lot of momentum and popularity in the underground and quickly becoming the dominant life force of the scene. It was expletive weird!

Not weird that people wanted to live a healthier, cleaner way of life surrounded by excessive boozing and partying at every show and festival. But weird about the type of people it was attracting. Tough guy, chauvinist, macho expletive jocks! Swarms of them! The very same people I was happily avoiding in the scene in the first place. Big groups of them dominating the dance floor pits with windmills, kicks, and elbows flying like professional wrestlers. Large groups of them with crucial fades, sportswear, and hoodies congregating at and around the entrances of the venues like gorillas protecting their territory, intimidating anyone who wasn’t part of their “crew”. Laughing, joking, name-calling, and making what was once a refuge for the outsiders feel like a high school gymnasium where the long-time, old school punks were no longer welcome in their own home. What the expletive happened?

The Welcoming Embrace of Straight Edge

It was at this point that I was completely turned off of straight edge as a scene. It was also at this point that I knew I needed to become straight edge myself because I was beginning to rely far too heavily on booze and substances, including cigarettes to get me through my days. What a conundrum.

I quit everything, all at once, cold turkey. No problem. I’m punk as expletive and I do what I want when I want. No gods, no masters. I still had great inspiring bands to listen to and motivate me and let me know that I can make positive choices for myself and still hate the world for all of its’ oppression and greed and still demand changes through direct action, protests, and communities.

Breaking the Edge: Can You Return to Straight Edge?

Back to being an outsider in a group of outsiders surrounded by a bunch of wannabe outsiders. A bunch of dudes that could walk into any mall, any store, any church anywhere and never have glanced at twice. Suburban douche bags. Generic, name-brand-wearing expletive holes that have never fought for anything in their lives except for that scrawny kid’s lunch money and a higher allowance from mommy and daddy. I had to get the expletive away from them. Far away. I moved to the other side of the planet where I bought a twelve-dollar straight edge watch, I taught English as a second language and never saw another x’ed up expletive jock again! Good riddance!

Fast forward eight years full of self-control, healthy living, and restraint, suddenly a long-term relationship ends, I’m back in my old stomping grounds and I want to see some loud, angry, bands screaming in English again. The jocks are still here but more established and dominant and I hate everything they represent. Conformity, capitalism, bullying, chauvinism, machismo, and everything in between. Out of complete disgust and disdain, I decide I want to be nothing like them. I’m going to get expletive wasted! I’m doing it out of spite. I’m doing it out of anger, self-loathing, animosity and I want to be surrounded by people doing the exact same thing. Expletive straight edge!

I continued down that path for years. And years. And years. I did it this time with more self-control. More mindfulness. Less dependency. I did it just like everybody else. An adult. Free to let loose and enjoy myself. Free to forget and relax. Free to spend my hard-earned money slowly destroying my mind and body from the inside out. Cheers.

So here I am, after the height of the pandemic, eight months into complete sobriety. No booze, no smokes, no drugs. My twelve-dollar straight edge watch broke years ago and is now in pieces. Pieces that I carefully took apart, to use the important piece, the face, the big black X is now shining through the glass cover of a nice new silver watch with clasps, a fitted band, and style, proudly adorning my wrist whenever I leave my house. It’s a reminder. It’s a statement. It’s a proud declaration that straight edge is still here. It’s still a part of me and it’s something I still believe in.

It’s been years since I’ve been to a show but from what I can tell from being online, is that the scene is changing. The jocks got tired out. The fad died. The crucial fades grew in or fell out. Sororities accepted new members and adult jocks just changed for the same. There are more women involved now. There are more activists involved now. There’s more diversity and more acceptance. There is more care and positivity and demand for a better tomorrow so we’re starting today. I discovered new bands that still kept the same message and passion, that still speak to me today. Bands like Have Heart, Mindset, Carry On, and The First Step along with websites like XSisterhoodX and Straight Edge Worldwide that are still committed to the essence of straight edge as an idea with a future.

The Question of Returning

After that long-winded rant about how I viewed, accepted, hated, and came back to straight edge, the question posed in the title, can you break edge and come back? I believe you can. I believe you should. I did. There might be some elitists who would claim otherwise or have you believe differently, or would like you to think that there is a tier system and you’ll never be “True Edge” with your pitiful deviation from the “oath,” but who the expletive are they? A bunch of nobodies in a sea of nobodies who are simply propping themselves up by putting others down. Just remember, it was only a song. Just an idea. Ideas change, ideas evolve and ideas are meant to grow into action. As far as I’m concerned everyone is welcome and the more, the merrier. So whether you broke edge once or a thousand times, the fact that you still want to try it again is a good enough reason to claim edge as any. The door is always open and the soup is still warm. Have a seat and stay awhile. The less we all participate in escapism and intoxication culture the more we have time to communicate, elevate and solve the world’s problems, together. Let’s keep this idea alive and well. Let’s open our minds, our arms, and our doors to welcoming one and all who want to work and strive for a better future, a better planet, and a better scene. Let’s turn a simple song into world-changing action.

X Straight Edge X

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