Writing about youth subcultures is a risky project. Once they are noticed, the trend is usually already over. Austrian media keep writing about `Krocha` these days, a subculture that was born in Vienna a few months ago and quickly spread over all of Austria. What is there to know about these `Krocha` people?
The Krocha dress code is rather peculiar when seen through outsiders` eyes. The skin of a Krocha is supposed to be slightly brownish, but may change to yellow or orange if the member in question does not have access to a solarium and uses selfbrowning cream instead. A cap with short text in neon colour is required. The cap masks a hairdress that is short on the front and long in the neck, possibly again with different neon colour accents. Shirts should be plain black with a silver-coloured brand sign on the front, preferably at Hardy. According to Flo (21), who claims he isn`t `one of them`, Krocha can further be recognised from their high shoes with trouser legs packed into them.
..serves as a bridge between his Krocha and non-Krocha friends
Lukas (15) says that the dress code is not as important as whether people know how to dance Krocha style: a mixture between Charleston, jumpstyle and gabber, which particularly includes the wild movement of legs. `There are many Krocha wannabe`s`, says Lukas, who can only be recognised as a Krocha by his hair style: artificial blond with a lot of gel. `But it`s not the clothes that are decisive. It`s about having fun dancing and listening to music. Krocha culture does not have any particular heroes, although we do take some of the older members as examples. There are very few Krocha`s over 18, because from then on they need to work and all.`
Lukas claims that his parents do not know that he calls himself a Krocha: `They probably haven`t ever heard of it. I don`t always put my hair like I have it now. When I go to school, it`s just normal. They got used to the different colours. I have had it red before and also once black. I think you can get away with such things at my age. I think I will be Krocha for another year, and we`ll see what comes next, if anything.`
Martin (16) also counts himself as a Krocha when he explains that the phenomenon is typically Austrian. If there`s anything like it, it`s the gabber culture that existed in The Netherlands some time ago. Krocha is however not linked to racism or any political ideas. Instead, it has many non-native Austrian participants. Martin can imagine that big groups of Krocha`s may sometimes frighten people passing by in the streets. We sometimes do get aggressive if we have drunk too much. If somebody then says something we don`t like, it does indeed happen that we end up in a fight. But that`s by no means a goal in itself. I am more interested in meeting nice girls who are also part of the scene. I will try to get their phone numbers and then maybe go out on a date afterwards. There is also a lot of contact between people on the internet. Either via short Youtube films about dancing techniques, or simply through chat programs like MSN Messenger and profile websites like Netlog.`
Many of the youngsters who follow the Krocha dress code do not consider themselves part of the subculture. Philip (18, photo) thinks that many people are too fanatic about it: `I do look slightly look like a Krocha, but I don`t count myself as one of them. Many of my friends are. Let`s say that I serve as a bridge between my Krocha and non-Krocha friends. I can understand both worlds. Unfortunately, I can`t dance the right way.`
Anna (21) likes the Krocha style for their love for dancing, but otherwise has nothing to do with it. `I think everybody who is growing up wants to be part of a group in some way or another. My strategy would be to wait for a group that suits me, rather than deciding that I want to be part of a group and simply choose whichever one passes next.`
Paul (21) never belonged to any group, but he liked to go skateboarding when he was younger and many of his friends did too. `There are so many groups, subgroups and subsubgroups in Vienna, and new ones keep popping up every now and then. Two years ago, we had the whole Emo trend: people painting there hair black and whining about whatever. Before that, and until today, we have also had Gabbers, Skaters, Skinheads, Punks, Hiphoppers.. I kind of like the `Krocha`s style for the way it focuses on music and dancing. These guys will also dance in the streets whenever they feel like it, which I think is quite cool.`
`Many 15 to 18 years old want to join such groups because it gives them a feeling of belonging. Entry barriers are usually not very high. Just match the dress code of your group and you will be allowed to be part of it. Using the right words also helps. In case of Krocha, be sure to use a lot of Fix, oida literally meaning `for sure, old one; Braq for `wow`, Bam for astonished and Bombe, pronounced `Bombay`, for saying `cool`. Then you hang out at the places where the others hang out and listen to the music they listen to. There isn`t much to it. It`s easy to find the Krocha people: they all go to the Nachtsicht discotheque, because that is what they do`, Paul says.
Carolina (22) says that the Krocha trend is like a separate society to her: `I don`t know why the media keep reporting about it though. It`s just a trend like any other one before. There`s always one that happens to be bigger than others at a certain moment. I missed out on it, partly because I was going to this posh secondary school to learn French rather than English as a first foreign language. Secondly, I never found a community that was suitable for me. I did have a bit of a hippy period, but my group of friends is rather diverse now. And also, by the time you turn 20, you tend to find out that you don`t need the common identity of a group to express who you are.`
Ben (21) and Tom (21) don`t know much about the `Krocha` culture. Ben admits to have spent his teenage year as a `nerd` if any subculture type applied to him at all. `Most of the Krocha come from low-income families, often with immigrant backgrounds`, Ben says. `It may help integration between young immigrants and Austrians, although I`m not sure it will work that way. Teenagers join because their friends join ? that`s how things work at that age. In any case, Krocha is much more innocent than a different types of groups that appeal to people`s sense of belonging. Many Bursenschaften, student associations, are also built around the principle of creating strong bonds. Unfortunately, several of them have extreme-right sympathies. But in the case of the Bursenschaften, it`s well-educated people, not teenagers. It`s the ones who arrange important jobs for each other: grown-up people who are set to join the political or corporate elite of Austria.`
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