Morocco: Not a Country for hipsters (Yet)
Translation by:Kait Bolongaro
What happens when a mass phenomenon spreads to a country with different cultural traditions? Explore the world of Moroccan hipsters in Casablanca, a youth much more complicated and diverse than its Western cousin. A picture is worth a thousand words....
The quest to locate the hipsters of Casablanca began from afar. In Europe, it’s a real obsession: hipsters are already hated. Some people are so frightened of being labelled a hipster that if they are caught wearing a tartan shirt or a pair of Allstars, they immediately disassociate themselves from the moustachioed fashionistas. Some time ago the crusade began in Berlin, Paris and London against the massive invasion of a style that has quickly mushroomed from a few followers to the dominant fashion phenomenon in major European and American cities.
If this style is already part of mainstream fashion in the West, what happens in countries who maintain strong traditional values such as Morocco? Is it difficult to dress in Western influenced garb? Has the world of huge glasses, of fixed-gear bikes and high-waist trousers arrived even here? On the Internet, it would appear so, at first glance. Trip Advisor even recommends a bar, the Art Club, as being renowned as the meeting place for Moroccan hipsters. In Casablanca, hipster youth sport clothing that is more colourful and diverse than the regimented conformity among hipster ranks in the West. Long moustaches are still worn by circus enthusiasts, tartan shirts are still nerdy and fashion is as diverse as in countries like Italy, France or Spain. But let’s take a closer look.
People of all kinds roam Casablanca at night. Saad @B-rock, one of the trendiest clubs in the city
Wayfarers remain an accessory characteristic of old school style
Circus performers still don big moustaches. Snoopy chilling at the circus school @l’abatoir
DEFining Your Own Style
Over the past 15 years, Morocco has progressed in the right for freedom of expression, especially since Mohammed VI ascended to the royal throne in 1999. For this reason, it has apparently become easier to dress in clothing that differs greatly from tradition or to define your own personal style, despite the difficulties that exist in a developing country. Purchasing garments isn’t an easy task in a country where the average salary is around 200 Euros while the cost of living is comparable to Spain. So far as religious attire, long gone is the time when the law obliged women to wear the veil. Those who do so wear it out of conviction, not by force.
Dani works in TV and radio. There aren’t many stations that play Western music, but the few that do are very popular
The United States has a strong influence in Morocco. It appears the American dream is alive and well here
Taha: “I am not a hipster, even if I like to dress like them once in awhile. Every day I change styles, sometimes the neighbours look at me as if I am weird”
Strolling down the street, you discover some extravagant styles
In Europe, hipsters are considered the new squatters, but without the political inclination. While in Casablanca, interest in politics and belief in civic responsibility abound. “There is a lot to be done here in Morocco,” explains Ali, who graduated with a degree in languages and dons reggae-influenced attire. “There are places [like l’Abatoir] and more people attending concerts and choosing the music they like thanks to the internet. Music festivals are full of people of all kinds, from hippies to hipsters, from head bangers to rappers from different social backgrounds. This youth is hungry to build and create the new Morocco.” Such a statement leaves little room for the nihilism and self-loathing of hipsters.
Ismael, a young photographer: “If you wear a tartan shirt and big glasses at university, you will be mistaken for a nerd”
This retro look is a throwback to the 70s
Women are very reserved and difficult to photograph even if they dress in Western clothes. Here, Mary is at university
Ali listens to rock and reggae. He tells me that different types of free music festivals have sprung up in the past few years and the organisers of such events have multiplied. There’s a big demand for cultural and musical events; the offer is slowly catering to the growing demand.
So, if you are looking for a place to take a vacation, away from fixed-gear bikes, moustaches and greased self-talk, you've found the right destination. Casablanca is not the place for hipsters.
This REPORTAGE IS PART OF A SERIES OF ARTICLES IN THE EUROMED Project, an initiative by cafébabel, the anna lindh foundation, i-watch and Search For Common Ground.
Translated from Non é un paese per hipster (ancora)