Saturday, June 18, 2011


Hipster (n.) -- One who possesses tastes, social attitudes, and opinions deemed cool by the cool. The Hipster walks among the masses in daily life but is not a part of them and shuns or reduces to kitsch anything held dear by the mainstream. (Source:
Egypster (n.) -- A hipster + falafel and an accent

I had my first encounter with the cool kids of Egypt last weekend. Tucked behind once-majestic 19th century buildings, at the end of alleyways populated by old men in ahwas (coffeehouses), my friends and I arrived a free electronic music festival full of Egyptians -- and a bunch of expats -- wearing Western clothes and listening to weird experimental European electronica. Expensive cameras and cell phones were more abundant than headscarves, and some people were even drinking beer openly inside the venue.

I left the main room after suffering through about 30 seconds of the electronic music, and wandered next door to an art gallery-cum-performance space where teenage Egyptians were rapping before an audience of about 20 or 25 people. The various performers and audience members mixed freely, and a lot of people seemed to know each other. Cigarette smoke wafted upward toward the high ceilings.

After some freestyling and beatbox, I returned to the electronic music and was pleasantly surprised to find that a Parisian DJ had started mixing more danceable music (read: not weird, metallic noises).

Note the DJ's ridiculous/awesome bird hat:

After the show ended, Mike and I emerged from the alleyways packed with Egyptians young and old, and we walked back over the Nile in the direction of our apartment -- back into the traffic-infested, loud, crazy, and conservative Cairo I've come to know over the past couple weeks. The Egyptian capital is an enormous metropolis with a plethora of subcultures; I'm really looking forward to discovering the diversity of this city over the next year.

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