If a brutal, steamy clash of crushing synths and percussion, battered by trauma-inducing ear-bleed techno doesn’t sound like your thing , then you may not have heard of gabber.
It is not only a sub-genre of hardcore techno, with its origin in Rotterdam in the early 90s, but also a birth of an entire youth culture. One with its own set of social codes and visual signifiers. Identifying as a gabber was both empowering and dangerous. With the music being so loud and in your face, it draws inspiration from hardcore sounds.
Shaved heads, shiny fluorescent tracksuits, flags on sleeves of bomber jackets and militarised rhythms in laser-lit sports hall. And it’s not just fashion. Photography, graphic design and even typography have drawn on the visual extremes of gabber cultures. Over the ensuing decades, gabber culture is surviving spectacle due to the diehard devotion of its fans.
Who are today's gabber?
To get more insight into the longest-lived subculture of recent years, we spoke with @xtcippo, who identifies as a gabber.
How old are you ?
I am 20 years old
Where are you from ?
What do you do in life ?
I am an Italian pizza maker and a dancer on "the hakke show" by Gabber Eleganza.
What does being gabber mean to you?
For me, being a gabber means being part of a group (or rather tribe) that has the same passion for hardcore music of the 90s. For me, being a gabber also has its own particular way of dressing. Gabbers dress in gaudy tracksuits, for greater flexibility in dance (hakkûh), bomber-jacket and Nike shoes. Also shaving your head is a non-verbal communication of belonging to the group, as I said before, we are a tribe. Moreover, if you are a gabber, “You're not Gabber for a moment, you're Gabber for life!” It's not like in everyday life you are an ordinary person and on the day of the party you put on clothes to go dancing and only there you are a gabber, No! "A gabber is always and forever."
How did you first get involved in the gabber scene?
I was first introduced to the hardcore scene by my ex-girlfriend. I was 13 and listened to a bit of everything (hip hop, metal, deathcore, deathmetal, grindcore, psytrance). One day she made me listen to a hardcore track, "3 steps ahead"- it was delicious, and from there I knew this was my music. I was getting informed everyday about what hardcore music was and who the gabbers were, so I knew it was my destiny, to be a gabber.
I went to my first hardcore party at the age of 14, but I didn't see the same people, the same atmosphere and the same music that I saw in the 90s documentaries and videos. I was disappointed at that moment . Later, I discovered underground parties in Italy for people like me who listen to real hardcore. I met so many great people and started traveling all over Italy and beyond for the gabber life.
What is the ideal outfit for you to go dancing when you go to the festivals?
My ideal outfit for parties (which is also my daily outfit) is an Australian acetate suit (preferably blue, I love blue), a long-sleeved shirt or some t-shirt (for example, I listen to KNOR Rec. of which I am a great collector, as well as the D-boy black label, Rotterdam Records and others), a bomber-jacket always of some brand, an Australian cuff to dry the bald head and Nike Air Classic BW.
Is it true that every gabber wears Air Max 90s, right? Regardless of where they come from.
I wouldn't agree with that. Yes, a lot of them do wear the Air Max 90, but there are also some who wear the Air Classic BW, and some who wear the 95, the TN, the TRIAX etc. I would say, we wear NIKE. Nike shoes with the bubble underneath, make them very comfortable for dancing. For example, I do not like Air Max 90, I prefer the BW and the 98.
Describe the gabber style with three adjectives.
Bald, Hard, Fast
What do people think of your particular style? Because Gabber has quite a distinctive style and look.
People with a similar style think it's very unique, even people who are not part of the hardcore scene have told me that I am original. And well, they got it right, because as a group we gabbers can all look alike, but I want to stand out, not just in the way I dress, but also in hakkûh and everything in general .
What do you want to be?
I just want to be myself. I would have preferred if I had been there in the early 90s, when the gabber scene started. I want to be a gabber, who despite being part of a tribe, stands out, and I want to make others understand this thing, that you don't need to have the same style, with the same dance techniques etc. we're gabber, we're not clones. I'm a gabber now, I was a gabber yesterday, and I'll be a gabber forever. Peace.
To know more about Gabber culture and @xtcippo follow him here.