January 30, 2009
Urban Youth Tribes
A current craze in Argentina is that of the urban youth tribes. It seems Argentina is a lot more modern than Paraguay in terms of youth culture, at least in the Buenos Aires region. They have formed cliques of different "tribes" that operate like fairly friendly gangs, although they "war" between the tribes. The pictures I've included are mostly of guys, but the girls are also highly involved.
The Floggers all have an internet network, akin to Myspace or Facebook, wherein the group members post self-taken photos of themselves in their flogger fashion. Just what is flogger fashion? It's the same whether the flogger is male or female: giant round sunglasses, longer straight hair with a sling-bang parted far on one side, tight pants, wide V-neck t-shirts, skater shoes (Converses, small Nikes), and everything in the brightest colors available--flourescent at times. And in one hand at all times is the digital camera, ready to take a picture of oneself at any given moment. The Floggers listen to techno or electro disco music, and have these neat little dance moves where they shuffle their feet really fast and do some on-the-floor breakdance sort of stuff.
Closely related but arch-enemy is the Emo, a vague interpretation of the North American Emo (short for Emotional), with mostly black clothes, black eyeliner, powdered face, facial piercings, and hair over the eyes. The difference I found is that they cut themselves for decoration. When a young person in the US cuts himself (and it's very common, unfortunately), it's usually done in private, on the wrists and arms, and hidden by long sleeves even in the summer. It's done as a form of self-injury and is a symptom of a psychological problem, obviously. Some who cut say they have taken on the sadness of the world and must express it this way. Others say they hurt on the inside and get some release from their emotional pain when they feel physical pain. The latter explanation is the one I've heard most, in cases I know where someone is cutting. So their cuts are deep and often bloody and leave lasting scars. The cuts of the Argentinian Emo are for others to see, and usually not very deep. Sometimes a dating couple will make matching cuts.
The next group is the Cumbieros. They take their name from traditional music of Argentina, called cumbia. It's a peppy folksy style with a whole different type of dancing than the Floggers. They wear more sporty type clothes, with long basketball shorts and jerseys or t-shirts. Their music is usually very suggestive. Let me rephrase that. It's vulgar. The traditional version of cumbia music is not, but the modern versions that this group like are very graphic and sexual. (Sidenote: There are Christian bands who have great songs in the cumbia style, minus the vulgarity, of course.)
There are a couple of other minor groups, but these are the biggies. They sometimes fight in malls and public areas, but most are just "followers," only involved in the fights by their choice of friends. You won't see a Cumbiero hanging with a Flogger very often. I am happy to say that although this trend has affected the youth of the camp we attended, we didn't see any fights or drama, and they all seemed friendly to each other. I even got a few to demonstrate their unique dance styles for me. I guess some things never change. Young people want to feel like they belong to something "bigger than themselves" and that they fit in with a group somewhere.