The Stilyagi: History's Most Stylish Soviets
In 1950s Soviet Russia, young folks were disenchanted by their fathers' baggy trousers and potato lines and yearned to ape the culture of America. Problem was, Soviet censorship being just shy of a George Orwell novel, they weren't always entirely certain what the hell said culture was.
And yet they somehow managed to anachronistically mimic '80s American culture.
The result was a bizarre mishmash of Americana: tight, short pants and Hawaiian ties under zoot suit jackets, accented by James Dean sunglasses and greasy Tarzan hair. Derogatorily referred to as the Stilyagi, or Style Hunters, they rebelled in the precise way that would best piss off their Stalin-era parents: They didn't work, they danced to jazz, they bet on billiards, and they called themselves "Bob" and "Peter."
The girls were "Cindy" and "Jan."
It happened again when America collectively got naked and chased pretty colors during the Summer of Love in the late '60s. That's right: The USSR had its very own hippies. Like the Stilyagi before them, Russian hippies existed to tell The Man where to stick it. Their slogan -- "Better to work tomorrow than to work today" -- was a direct inversion of communist propaganda.
Lev Nossov / RIA Novosti
"From each according to his LSD, to each according to his weed."
Sadly, no amount of weed could cloud the fact that they were living under an oppressive communist regime. On June 1 of each year, former Moscow hippies gather at Moscow's Tsaritsyno Park to commemorate the day in 1971 when KGB agents gathered up their long-haired ranks and shipped them off to serve in the Soviet army, tossed them in jail cells, or locked them in mental wards. On the bright side, should you ever find yourself in Moscow on the first of June, you now know where to score.
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What do Chuck Norris, Liam Neeson in Taken, and the Dos Equis guy have in common? They're all losers compared to some of the actual badasses from history whom you know nothing about. Come out to the UCB Sunset for another LIVE podcast, April 9 at 7:00 p.m., where Jack O'Brien, Michael Swaim, and more will get together for an epic competition to find out who was the most hardcore tough guy or tough gal unfairly relegated to the footnotes of history. Get your tickets here!
For more bizarre groups of people you never heard of, check out 25 Insane Subcultures You Won't Believe Actually Exist and 5 Insane Subcultures That Might Become The Next Hipster.
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