The Lonely Life of the Bavarian Hipster


Right now, I’m looking at Holger Badstuber’s butt.   Is there enough of it, I ask?

Badstuber’s glutes appear in a photospread about the National-elf.  (English speakers: that doesn’t mean the German federal gnome, which would, of course, be called the Bundeszwerg. It simply refers to the National Eleven, our football team.)

The shots form part of a feature which  argues that our team contains the coolest dudes in Europe.  The editors point to hipness-highness  Jérôme Boateng and his fellow Berliners, before moving to the rebelliously T-shirted Bank-Platzers from Dortmund. caught Badstuber at Oktoberfest, sagging his Lederhosen.   “Sagging”, in English, is a technical fashion term.   To “sag”, is to allow the trousers to rest low on the hip, or perhaps beyond it, merely clinging to the thighs.

The caption uses the English phrase “baggystyle”.   Curiously, this English phrase does not occur in English.

Of more interest is the content of the caption. tells us that Badstuber wears these leather pants “like a hip Münchener does.”

From what I can understand, Bavarian hipsterhood has everything to do with the positioning of the trousers.   In the same article, Bastian Schweinsteiger earns World Hipster Meisterschaft points for sitting on his belt from time to time.

He would only consider a tattoo under medical advice, he later told the Bild, to hide his recent collarbone scar.  One wonders if he imagines an inking to be a hospital operation.

Apart from a low waistline, one can see little other hipness in the so-called Gärtnerplatz–Gang.   Mario Gomez uses hair-gel, I think.  That’s it.

Unless these boys have pierced something privately, one couldn’t apply the word “hipster” in good conscience.

Bavarians give hipsterhood a try, though.  We seldom make a fist of it.   There are too many alternatives.

Retro clothes are the first badge of a hipster.  The classic Brooklyn style apes the rat pack in the fifties: sharp black suits, fedoras, Wayfarers.  Berlin hipsters, understandably, drift toward the eighties—punk hair, carefully chosen athletic shoes, rude T-Shirts.

Bavarian hipsters go back even further.  They’ve rediscovered Tracht.

Tracht is about as retro as clothing gets.   If you wanted to get more retro than Tracht, you’d have to shoot a suit yourself, with a bow and arrow.  Even the lofty Goethe Institut, using a quaint turn of phrase which works in both English and Bavarian, declares that “Tracht is in”.

Young Bavarians, in their prime and eager to show off their bodies, embrace Tracht.   Not for them the pencil-thin skirts and form-fitting jackets.  Bavarians like to dance, leap, and point at a friend vigorously when they contradict him.   Tracht, though now considered formal, started out as workwear.  And young Bavarians love the freedom of movement it affords.

Bavarians of hipster age grew up on ski-fields, mountain trails and bicycles.  Their bodies are just a little too muscly to squeeze into hipster garb, which flatters the pale and consumptive.

Another badge of the hipster is his drinking habits.   Preposterous wine varieties and elaborate cocktails pass their lips nightly.   And the more they can talk about what they drink, rather than drink it, the better.

Bavarians, whether hip or unhip, have no need for anything beyond beer.  It’s the best in the world, you see.  And it has half a millennium of retro-cred.   But there’s little wiggle room to squeeze an extra slice of cool—in fact, post-modern beer experimentation is practically illegal.

Hipsters love art, but not all art.   The typical hipster wears the clothes of a hobo, but carries an expensive SLR, phototgraphing graffiti.  Along with arranging trash into an Installation, graffitarazzi snapshots reach the height of hip artistic refinement

Bavarians make no truck with this.  First, we don’t have enough graffiti.  Second, we know about art.   Real art.  Like, made by people who can draw.    Centuries of the finest galleries and academies make us rather too fussy.

To be a great hipster requires detachment.  One observes life, rather than climbing aboard and living it.   To many, this disdain of actual emotion earns a certain amount of status—I’m looking at you Berliners.

And that, perhaps, is the greatest thorn in the heel of Bavarian hipsterhood.

Bavarians look on life, and like it.   We have fun.  We find no need to use irony to comment on the misery of everyday life, since we’re not miserable very much.  We prefer optimism to pessimism, cheer to sneer, and energy to understatement.

Face it.  Bavarians will never be hipsters.  The best we can do is to wear sunglasses a little too often than is strictly necessary.  I guess it’s a start.