So my co-worker/friend and I got into a discussion today about hipsters and scenesters, and what the difference between the two are. Before moving up here to Berkeley for school, I had no inkling whatsoever as to what the terms meant, and while I hear "hipster" far more these days in the Bay Area, it still makes no sense. I've heard definitions that range from "cool kids with American Apparel as their fundamental wardrobe" to "people who sport the grunge look and listen to 'hipster' music" to "people who wear tights pants and smell funny." Rather than getting more and more confused, I finally Googled both terms and here are the most popular definitions by Urban Dictionary - they are rather full-bodied, crack-me-up definitions.
Hipsters listen to bands that you have never heard of. Has hairstyle that can only be described as "complicated." (Most likely achieved by a minimum of one week not washing it.) Probably tattooed. Maybe gay. Definitely cooler than you. Reads Black Book, Nylon, and the Styles section of the New York Times. Drinks Pabst Blue Ribbon. Often. Complains. Always denies being a hipster. Hates the word. Probably living off parents money - and spends a great deal of it to look like they don't have any. Has friends and/or self cut hair. Dyes it frequently (black, white-blonde, etc. and until scalp bleeds). Has a closet full of clothing but usually wears same three things OVER AND OVER (most likely very tight black pants, scarf, and ironic tee-shirt). Chips off nail polish artfully after $50 manicure. Sleeps with everyone and talks about it at great volume in crowded coffee shops. Addicted to coffee, cigarettes (Parliaments, Kamel Reds, Lucky Strikes, etc.), and possibly cocaine. Claims to be in a band. Rehearsals consist of choosing outfits for next show and drinking PBR. Always on the list. Majors or majored in art, writing, or queer studies. Name-drops. May go by "Penny Lane," "Eleanor Rigby," etc. when drunk. On PBR. Which is usually. I am not a fucking hipster! (sweeps bangs to side dramatically and takes a swig of PBR).
Scenesters encapsulate the sub-culture of a particular musical genre. One heavily relies on aesthetics and sartorial image to signify adherence to a particular scene. Scenesters of the post-modern era heavily rely on pastiche, imitation and revival. For scenesters, fashion is the most obvious sign of adherence to a sub-culture or musical genre. The history of the scenester image is rather rich. Perhaps more strongly for some and less for others, the scenester image encompasses not only the evolution of 20th century music, but also the deeper, underlying sociological change in culture and humanity by the inevitable force of globalisation and technological change. Scenesters are not only those who enjoy certain genres of music with the company of their common peers. The decadent scenester image is also attributed by the hedonistic lifestyles embraced by disillusioned individuals in response to political and cultural conflict and change, circa 60-80s. Scenesters are often labelled today as pretentious and self righteous. Central to the scenester image is the culture of elitism. This has caused the subjugation of various scenesters to mockery, critique and hatred. Different scenes follow by their often beliefs and principles, which conflict with other scenes or mainstream culture. Scenes gives individuals a sense of belonging to a clique. In western society today, the scenester image has been quickly adopted and marketed by corporations to sell and accumulate monetary profit. Some see this as the disintregration of the scenester image, as much of it is too brutally contrived by the consuming masses, absent of understanding or meaning.