1. The first rule of being a hipster is, you do not acknowledge that you're a hipster.
There's an extraordinarily attractive, extraordinarily bored-looking guy leaning against the bar when Gabe heads back there for a drink between sets. Gabe nods to him, because he tries to make a habit of befriending anyone cute who likes the same music he does. The guy motionlessly observes him from the corner of his eye as Gabe talks to the bartender, then, after an approving glance at the PBR Gabe ordered, he nods back.
"Decent show so far," says Gabe. "Better than their last one. They've fixed the reverb problem, at least."
The guy shrugs. "Place is overrun with hipsters, though."
Gabe grins. "What gave me away, the trucker hat?"
The guy raises one eyebrow at him briefly and then looks the other way, effectively ending the conversation.
2. The second rule of being a hipster is, you DO NOT acknowledge that you're a hipster.
The next time Gabe sees the guy, they're both at a party at Pete's house. Gabe spots him from across the room. He looks like he's holding court, except he's not actually saying anything. Everyone near him somehow seems to be paying attention to him anyway.
"You know who that is?" Gabe asks William. "The guy with his hair tucked under his earpieces?"
William looks, then snorts gracefully. William does everything gracefully. He probably shits gracefully, not that Gabe ever wants to actually find out. "That's Mikeyway," he says, like he's identifying Angelina Jolie or the president.
Gabe has never heard the name. "Is he someone I should know?"
William shrugs. "He's basically the king of the hipsters."
"Hey," Gabe jokes, "are you calling me a hipster? I resemble that remark!"
William gives him a long-suffering stare. Gabe wilts a little and files away the lesson more carefully this time.
3. Making eye contact during arguments about obscure bands is equivalent to tapping out.
"It's not about the music, man, it's about, like, the aesthetic."
Gabe doesn't even know this person, but he is staggeringly, epically wrong about everything. "Dude, listen to what you're saying," he protests. "You just told me that a band isn't about the music. How can you even live with yourself?" He leans forward, looking right into the guy's eyes. "They're a fucking band. Of course they're about the music. And their music fucking sucks."
The Person Who Is Wrong smirks, like he's won the argument. Gabe scowls at him, but apparently they're done talking now. Fucking unwritten rules of the scene.
4. Only two hipsters to a square yard of floor space at concerts. If the concentration of hipsters exceeds this limit, the band has become too mainstream to follow.
Mikey is making out with the Person Who Is Wrong. Gabe is displeased.
He's not jealous, of course. There's no point in getting territorial over people like Mikeyway. That would be like getting annoyed because you're not the only person who gets to look at the Mona Lisa. If Gabe gets a chance at all, he'll be grateful as fuck, not bitching about how many other people are lined up across the Louvre. He's not jealous, he's just irritated that he hasn't gotten a chance, while Mikey is over there sucking face with this kid who likes to use crayons of colored bullshit to metaphorically scribble pictures of penises all over every metaphorical art exhibit he comes across.
Gabe looks away. The room is scattered with twentysomethings, carefully spaced out for maximum elbow room. Occasionally two of them express affection by narrowing the gap between their bodies to less than a foot. Gabe shifts toward one of these pairs experimentally. They don't condescend to look at him, but the stony gazes they're directing toward the stage become a little stonier, and they tense up until he moves away.
5. One earbud at a time.
The first opening band finishes, and Gabe joins the mass of audience members pulling out iPods to keep themselves busy until the second opening band comes out. It's only cool to look bored if you've got something to ignore.
He blasts Sonic Youth, although not loudly enough for anyone to be able to hear it and silently judge him for listening to recognizable music. After a few minutes, he becomes aware of a presence nearby, a little too close for hipster comfort. He turns his head and nearly drops his drink. Mikey is there, standing right next to him and talking in his direction.
Gabe pops out his earbuds, surreptitiously changing the music to something more obscure in case Mikey catches a glimpse of the display. "Sorry, what?"
Mikey gives him a look of mild disdain. "Nothing."
Gabe swears internally, making a mental note to leave one earbud out when cute scene queens are available for potential conversation. He's trying to think of a way to keep Mikey from walking away when Mikey says, "Ryan thinks you're a poseur."
Gabe follows his line of sight to where the Person Who Is Wrong is propped neutrally against a wall. Gabe snorts. "Yeah, because he's so hardcore with his makeup and high-heeled ankle boots. I don't think I'm gonna worry too much about accusations of poseurdom from someone who tries to seriously argue that a band's choice of font in their album artwork should affect my opinion of their music."
"I agree," says Mikey, and shifts to within a foot of Gabe.
Whoa. This relationship is moving forward fast.
6. No scarf, no glasses, no cred.
The second band is shitty enough to ignore, especially since it's looking highly likely that Gabe might be getting an up-close viewing of La Gioconda tonight. He and Mikey have migrated to the opposite end of the bar from the bartender, where there's space to lean without being crowded.
"They are not," says Mikey, in a more interested monotone than his usual one. "I need them to see."
"Not your glasses, specifically," clarifies Gabe. "I'm not calling you a hipster." He has sure as fuck learned his lesson on that one, even if Mikey is wearing skinny jeans and a threadbare thrift-store t-shirt with a probably-ironic unicorn on the front. "I'm just saying, people wearing glasses show up at indie concerts in way greater numbers than the actual incidence of visual impairment in the general population. They can't all actually need them."
Mikey shrugs, or rather twitches his neck in a vaguely shruggy manner. "I don't think the glasses matter, in particular. It's about looking interesting, you know? I appreciate accessories that are different. Like your Justin Timberlake icon necklace, that's original. That's a statement."
Well. That actually is ironic, not just hipster-ironic. Gabe knows better than to thank him for the compliment or try to return it, though. He just basks a little in the hint of approval.
7. Never stay for the headliner. The best bands are always the openers.
"C'mon." Mikey sets his glass on the counter. It still has about two dollars' worth of cocktail in the bottom.
Gabe drains his beer and follows him. "Where we going?"
"Backstage," Mikey says casually. "I was just here to see the first openers, they're friends of mine. Way better than the next one, trust me."
Gabe was actually here for the next band, but he doesn't risk losing the opportunity to get Mikey alone by saying so.
8. If you want to establish any kind of reputation on the scene, you have to make out with Mikey Way.
Mikey kisses like Gabe is auditioning at first, then Gabe seems to pass some kind of test and they're making out for real. Apart from his lips and one hand draped over his hip, Mikey doesn't touch Gabe. He's a master of the art of the tease. It's as fun as sex.
Later, after the rest of the show is over, he introduces Gabe to all of the bands. Gabe lifts an eyebrow and doesn't say hello. He's learning the rules.