Alternative Lifestyles

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Dictionary Definition

al·ter·na·tive

noun

1. a choice limited to one of two or more possibilities, as of things, propositions, or courses of action, the selection of which precludes any other possibility: You have the alternative of riding or walking.

2. one of the things, propositions, or courses of action that can be chosen: The alternative to riding is walking.

3. a possible or remaining course or choice: There was no alternative but to walk.

adjective

4. affording a choice of two or more things, propositions, or courses of action.

5. (of two things, propositions, or courses) mutually exclusive so that if one is chosen the other must be rejected:
The alternative possibilities are neutrality and war.

6. employing or following nontraditional or unconventional ideas, methods, etc.; existing outside the establishment: an alternative newspaper; alternative lifestyles.

7. Logic. (of a proposition) asserting two or more choices, at least one of which is true.

life·style

noun

1. the habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, economic level, etc., that together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group.

adjective

2. pertaining to or catering to a certain lifestyle: unhealthy lifestyle choices; lifestyle advertising; a luxury lifestyle hotel.

3. (of a drug) used to treat a medical condition that is not life-threatening or painful: lifestyle drugs for baldness.

Our quick definition

Living an alternative lifestyle would be living a lifestyle that would differ from what is generally perceived to be outside the cultural norm that's been set by mainstream society.

What is a "normal" lifestyle? It is often defined by media and common culture, normal is a term that is sometimes derived from a style of art, or genre of music, or what's popular in the media.

"Alternative", usually, but not always, implies an affinity or identification within certain subculture, for example; hippy, goth, punks, those into Swinging, those into Fetishes, the music played by the Djs of the Alternative World

Some people with an Alternative Lifestyle outlook will mix certain elements of various subcultures, we all know how bands like Nirvana or Rancid were influenced by classic Punk artists, like the Sex Pistols or The Damned, all sides will be influenced by others, but a number of these artists are now on the commercial radio day in day out, does this mean they're no longer "Alternative"? Here at Altopedia we would present the theory that it comes down to an attitude.

Not all minority lifestyles are held to be "alternative"; the term tends to imply newer forms of lifestyle, often based upon enlarged freedoms (especially in the sphere of social styles) or a decision to substitute another approach or not enter the usual expected path in most societies.

Alternative in history

Alternative lifestyles are often perceived to date back to the 1950s Rock n Roll days, although the emergence of subcultures can be commonly seen back in the 1920s with the Flapper Movement, when women cut their hair and wore their skirts short as a symbol of freedom from oppression and from old ways of living. Women in the Flapper Movement were believed to be the first group of women to practice things like pre-marital sex, dancing, using offensive language, also, of course, we all know that many of the Classical composers were known to be the rebels of their day.

Alternative Culture 60s-70s

The Hippie movement was one of the earliest major movement in alternative culture in the late 60s, encouraging people to move away from the mainstream environment at the time and showing the general public that there is in fact another way to live inside society. This movement grew at a drastic rate, encouraging people to go against the government, against the laws, the mainstream fashions and rules including the most well known movement they promoted known as the 'free love' movement.

This ground breaking growth of alternative culture was the first major time that people where wearing 'strange' brightly coloured clothes, encouraging the peaceful use of recreational drugs and going against the governments and society's current rules. Developments and changes can often be seen through the Movement of Music

Alternative Culture 70's

Another Movement of Music was seen during the 70s, this saw the rise of the Hard Rock music genre in the public eye with greatly successful bands such as Deep Purple, AC/DC, Nazareth, Black Sabbath, Rush and Aerosmith topping the charts and showing everyone the the extent of the heavier alternative culture movement which had previously been lesser known.

Not only did the decade bring a recognition of the rock genre as a whole, but it created further sub genres within, such as Punk, Blues Rock, Soft Rock, Progressive Rock, Glam Rock bringing more and more major markers on the music industry and recognition for the previously 'outlaws' of the public.

Another major feature of the 70s was the Blaxploitation movement, this was a movement where the African American community used Film and Music to fight for their identity.

Alternative Culture 80's

During the 1980s the Movement of Music changed a lot, this included Gothic Rock, New Romantic, the Industrial movement and into the later 80s the Rave Scene, which was highly underestimated in it's influence on society and it's bringing together of sub genres of musical cultures.

Alternative Culture 21st Century

In the 21st century, it wouldn't be uncommon for a Gothic, a Punk, a Raver and a Soul boy to walk into a bar together, (yes we know that sounds like the start of a bad joke) in the 21st century, they'd just be mates, hanging out. As the years went along, Youth culture tribes began to behave quite differently. In fact, it could be argued that the Youth culture tribalism has changed from when it used to be the be-all and end-all of growing up, gone are the days how one wore their hair really mattered and defined who and what that person was. Gone are the days that one would have a drive and a desire to fight people from "opposing" Youth cultures.

As we're sure you know, at one time Youth cultures used to oppose and fight each other, the classic being the Mods and Rockers, this music of The Who is a great example of life from the perspective of a young Mod, from the album "Quadrophrenia" and is completely rooted in the notion of youthful tribalism and what it means to be young and searching for one's identity.


This form of tribalism has been a major part of western music/youth music since the the days of the Rock n Roll invasion from the 1950s. The "teenager" finally had their own fashion and music, and were thrilled to just look different to their parents and to identify with their own age group and to have a way to display this rebellion and identification. The generation gap opened up, and it was 'us' versus 'them'. But, Youth culture became more sub-divided over the years. When the skiffle boom happened, on the "opposing" side were the Trad Jazz fans, both sides were "looking down their noses" at the other, with the Trad Jazz fans thinking of the Skiffle fans as "noisy oiks" in their denim jeans and check shirts. In the early '60s you were probably either a fan of The Beatles or a fan of the Rolling Stones. A few years later, it became about whether people were a Mod or a Rocker. Fights broke out depending on which haircut or trousers you sported. In the '70s you might be a Mod, a Rocker or a Punk. As music splintered and mutated throughout the '80s there became New Romantic, fans of Heavy Metal (Metal Heads), Trendies, Yuppies, Punks, those into New Wave, or those into Rasta, there was Soul-boys and girls, Hip Hop heads, Gothics, and Casuals ...

But, come the Noughties, Pop tribes seem to have dissipated or been assimilated to a large degree, and into the 2010's there's becoming a blending of all sub genres, almost a fashion for being more open minded, fans of Rock can also be fans of Reggae as much as they are fans of Rock n Roll as well as Electronic Dance Music and Hip Hop, many would see this way of thinking as a positive step forward. Proving the Movement of Music never ends.

One generation to the next

The Movement of Music and the youth culture has been going on for many generations has seen many changes, the current will always be a rebellion to what went before, will always has a clothing style and since the 1950s, will have its own sound of music, each of these sounds will always be a rebellion against the previous and will always be hated by the fans of that previous as well, for example; in the 1950s all fans of previous sounds hated Rock n Roll, the Rock n Roll fans hated the sounds of the 1960s, who in turn had issues with the 1970s, who went on to not like the sounds of Punk, who then thoughtthe early 1980s New Romantic/Gothic sounds were "weak" versions of what they liked, these New Romantic and Gothic fans thought the Rave scene was "weak" and "untalented", Nu Metal of the 90s wasn't liked by the majority of those who followed Rave, and so on and so forth, it is our best guess, here at Altopedia, that this will always be the way, and is an important part of the process of growing up.

Alternative Lifestyles or Visionaries

The following are examples which may be considered by some to be alternate lifestyles:

Nudism, aka Naturism, aka clothing optional lifestyles.

Communities, such as communes, ecovillages, are these alternative, or are these sensible ways to treat each other and the planet??.

An Alternative Lifestyle could also include;-

Travellers, Alternative, or just free from restriction??

Homeschooling, rebels, or a better way??

New Age, Alternative, or the future normal??

Vegetarianism and Veganism, different, or healthy, or protective of animals?

Meditation/Hypnosis/Feng Shui, Alternative, or people who know things that others don't?? . Also, a non-typical sexual lifestyle can be seen as Alternative, although, what one society believes to be wild or Alternative, another will think of as perfectly normal, just wonder who's right.

The list of Alternative sexual attitudes is so long it would be almost impossible, to gather the whole list together, hopefully various people will create and link many pages about more and more Fetishes and free thinking sexual attitudes.

A few suggested things to try for now, would be S & M, Swinging, maybe, being Polyamorous (as long as both partners are aware and concenting of the situation). Of course, one can experiment with all sorts of sex toys.

Alternative Medicine and natural methods of medical care are often used as remedies, Chinese Herbs are well known as health remedies, but also so are old English herbal remedies, in fact, many many other countries have traditional remedies, that are now perceived as Alternative Medicine one day we do hope to have a full list of these available for everyone to read.

The practices of many Eastern religions are sought and followed by a number of western converts, it could be argued that there's some sound advice within al faiths and beliefs, everything from a Christian Faith (not a religion, there is a difference) also faiths based in East Asia and South Asia, like Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Shintoism and so on, as opposed to Monotheism or Judeo-Christian belief systems that would be more based upon a set of strict rules and regulations rather than a relationship with deity.

Can it also be debated that "Non-mainstream" religious minorities, such as the Amish who pursue a non-technological/anti-technology lifestyle, could be seen as Alternative?

The same could be said to apply to single parents, this is a growing trend of children being raised by one parent, at one time this was viewed as an "Alternative lifestyle". Whereas now, this is understood to be a perfectly acceptable lifestyle choice,

Can we ever answer this Question?

So we return to the question, "Alternative" originated to stand for "not the norm", "not allowed" by social standards of the present time, but as you can see above, many things start "Alternative" and as a rebellion and are now societies normal, it leaves the question, is "Alternative" really that "Alternative" or is it just people with vision and understanding???