“If you’re not now, you never were” – The Journey of Straight Edge
“If you’re not now, you never were”. We’ve all said it, and perhaps there is some truth in this statement. It’s not for me to decide. Instead, I want to know how we got here. Why we came to this place, and what holds us here? So whether you’ve been straightedge for decades, or you’ve only recently claimed to be Straight Edge, You have a story, and that story has led you to this mindset. You wake up every day and make this choice. There are days when your values and ideas allow you to feel connected to something bigger, and there are days when it can feel very isolating.
The Birth of Straight Edge in Changing Times
The straight edge movement came in waves, a scene with so many variations. It’s been 30+ years since the day in San Francisco when The Teen Idles x’d up for the very first time. This was a transitional time for the middle class. The family dynamics of Suburban life would be forever changed as divorce rates reached an all-time high, and both parents worked to support separate households.
The ’80s brought us, latchkey kids, the least parented and least nurtured kids. Generation X found themselves bored, lonely and seeking ways to feel connected. Latchkey kids often gave in to peer pressure.
After-school activities shifted from sports to huffing glue, smoking cigarettes, and drinking alcohol. Those who refused to follow suit were often teased and labeled straightedge. Once the music and DC movement took off, kids began to recognize there was another way. Another choice.
Straight Edge as the Alternative Way
Straight Edge started off through word of mouth but quickly spread from coast to coast through songs, DIY zines, and sold-out shows. As the movement took on a life of its own, so did the ideology. The Youth Crew mentality voices grew louder and more violent.
The 1990s into the 2000s brought us chat rooms, followed by the launching of social media sites like MySpace and Facebook.
Social media enabled kids from rural towns and big cities to connect with like-minded people from around the globe. , People could access anything anywhere with the click of a mouse. On one hand, social media
Strengthened the scene, giving access to everyone and creating a community; on the other hand, it gave every asshole with an opinion a soapbox to stand on.
Through the years many have come and gone from the scene.
Reflecting on Our Commitment to the Scene
For some, straightedge served a purpose during a time and place. It pulled them through when they felt stuck, it gave them something to cling to when they felt they had nothing. For others, it is and has always been a way of life. Though we all came here for different reasons, straightedge is and has always been the bridge that keeps us connected to the music, to the message, and to the idea that things can get better. We can be better. Whatever it is that brought you to this place, I’m glad you’re here.
Thirty years later I ask myself, what am I giving back to the scene that has given so much to me? Our foundation will only be as strong as the generations who carry on the name. Still here. Still Edge.
Pay it forward.