Hipster, Shit stir

Call me old fashioned, but I won’t drink out of a jam jar and not every ‘craft’ beer is, by simple designation, good.


The hipster approach is about as borrowed and as makeshift as their name. A friend of mine opened a bar in Manhattan’s not then so fashionable, Lower East Side in the early ’90s. He called it Sin é, or, in English, This is It. He stripped the walls back to bare bricks and stripped the floor to its original, bare, wooden planks. There were candles on the tables, tea lights on cracked saucers and the tables were old, wooden doors, salvaged from skips.

hip1His idea was a bar that harked back to the vibrancy of Greenwich Village in the early 1960s where you were as likely to hear The Clancy Brothers, as you were to hear Bob Dylan. Of course, he was also strapped for cash, got the premises on a short lease at a knockdown rent and better still, he loved music.

Before long, Sin É became the place to play, to see and be seen in. It became the ‘go to’ place for visiting Irish acts and soon, the likes of Bob Dylan, Sinead O’Connor, Bono, Madonna, The Pogues and many others, were regular visitors. People went there and got up and performed.

It didn’t last long but it spawned more than half a dozen copycats within a year and within the same neighbourhood. There is even a Sin É in Dublin, now. What I always liked about it was it felt organic since it grew out of its own impecunious circumstances but was never cowed by them. In truth, the place and what it represented, was far more than the sum of its existence because, quite frankly, it was a dive.

Then came the Irish bar global explosion and pretty soon, there wasn’t a far flung corner of the world that didn’t boast one, often with as much connection to Ireland and ‘Irishness’, as a Utah Mormon missionary has to the Kama Sutra. I even went to the opening of the first ‘Irish’ bar in Shanghai, back in 1997.

Hipster bars today, well, they’re a kind of post ironic nightmare. I mean, c’mon, first, there’s the look, all skinny jeans, Edwardian beards and knitted or tweed waistcoats. I mean, am I the only one who could see this coming just as soon as the Great War Centenary marketing wheels began to turn in 2012. That’s when that ‘look’ first began to creep into the adworld reality.

It soon took on a life of its own and before you could say, dandy, the whole world took off for hell in a garage built rickshaw. People began to eat chips out of buckets and some have been served on the heads of shovels. Of course, before long, Newton’s Third Law has begun to kick in – for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction – and the first sign of this was a Twitter campaign in London to bring back the humble plate as a receptacle for food. The jam jar’s days are numbered. Soon, they’ll be burning their skinnies in the streets.

One recurring nightmare I’ve had and I blame this hipster palaver for it, is to have my chips served in a pair of knickers.