Scene culture resurfaces on TikTok in wave of digital nostalgia

Scene culture, a pop-culture aesthetic rising after the year 2000 and then fading, is seeing a revival on the video-sharing platform TikTok.

While the internet is much more crowded these days than it was during the 2000s, being a scene queen or scene kid today is more like a self-identifier than an internet status.

What is scene culture?

@darklunakawaii

I am starting school again T-T NO DRESS CODE CHECK UWU #emoscenegirl #scenekid #emogirls #scenekid #nodresscode #dollskill (dress: @dollskill )

♬ Show & Tell – Melanie Martinez

Scene culture was big in the early 2000s in the United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK).

As a result, it became popular among South African adolescents also, and reached its peak between the years 2000 to 2010.

Followers of scene culture are “scene kids” or “scenesters”.

It featured a generation who had dyed-and-teased hair, dressed in a particular way and who sought out alternative bands to listen to.

8edd5d38 emo girl adobe - Scene culture resurfaces on TikTok in wave of digital nostalgia
Image: Adobe Stock

What makes the culture so interesting – aside from bold fashion choices  – is that it grew primarily out of music styles such as deathcore and electronic music.

Its popularity goes hand in hand with music groups like My Chemical Romance, Bring Me the Horizon, Asking Alexandria, Paramore and Pierce the Veil.

The culture prides itself on rejecting mainstream superficiality and commercialism in the beauty, fashion, and music industry.

“Along with emo, its sister subculture, scene provided a niche for teen outcasts and rebels to express themselves outside of these narrow expectations,” says fashionindustrybroadcast.com.

From MySpace to TikTok

The increasing popularity of the internet just after the year 2000 meant that it was easier to discover unknown bands.

It also meant many #scenekids could connect and share ideas through channels like MySpace and MSN.

This was a time before smartphones, which meant that basic knowledge of HTML would get you quite far.

On MySpace, the early internet scene icons at the time were people like Audrey Kitching, Hanna Beth Merjos, Jac Vanek and others on MySpace.

“MySpace provided the perfect place for kids to hang out online. Each page was completely customisable. Music could be chosen to play on the page, with each user’s MySpace song an integral part of their online identity,” says fashionindustrybroadcast.com.

Since the “death” of MySpace, however, scene culture has been lying dormant for many years. That is, until now.

Due to the absence of MySpace, #scenekids were less visible after 2010.

Scene culture queen @madmolly

However, social media’s scene queen @madmolly has taken to TikTok to remind viewers that scene culture is here to stay.

“All the original scenes have seemed to move on from the scene culture to go onto other types of fashion or just to get a job. Or maybe they just didn’t like that look anymore” said @madmolly in an interview with VICE.

Despite not knowing where all the other iconic scene queens went, @madmolly has truly taken off on TikTok where she has picked up over 491.4K followers.

Today she is one of the most recognisable faces of scene culture on TikTok.

The hashtag #twentyninescene made its rounds on the platform during 2019. It has now given way to the #rawring20s, which has earned over 34.4 million views. 

Despite all the hype surrounding the #rawring200s craze, those outside the sub-culture often ridicule #scenekids.

Now, scene culture might seem smaller than it was 10 years ago, but @madmolly is not alone in rediscovering it.

@ravskiii_

repost* forgot the tags. thought of a scene name tho🙀(her username is in my previous vid) #fyp #foryoupage #homechef #scenegirl #scenekid #scenecore

♬ Pretty Rave Girl – S3RL

Get in on the look

In terms of aesthetics, scene culture fashionistas wear  brightly coloured clothing, skinny jeans, dark and colourful tights, piercings, large studded belt buckles and wristbands.

TikTokers post tutorials full of side-fringes, extreme backcombing and neon coloured makeup.

One of the most iconic parts of scene culture aesthetics is the hair. There are often short, teased layers on the top and long, straight layers on the bottom. Often, long fringes cover the forehead, and sometimes even droop over the eyes.

When it comes to colour, #scenekids are free to dye their hair dark, blonde or bright colours.

“You’ll uncover DIY razor cuts, how to apply extensions and the best beauty products on a budget,” says refinery29.com.

The makeup is generally heavy, with winged eyeliner, extreme contouring and generous amounts of neon eyeshadow.

“To me, scene makeup is a statement; a middle finger to anyone who would insist that people behave or present a certain way for the sake of other people’s comfort,” said scene TikTokker @crystalxromance in an interview with refinery29.com.

The hashtag #scenehair currently has more than 12.4 million views, while #scenemakeup has more than 827.2K views.

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