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24 September 2014

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Rocking in the park
It's rocking in the park

Emo-motion in 'Pigeon Park'

By Ben Walker, contributor
With endless shops, bars and a thriving entertainment scene, Birmingham city centre has a lot to offer at the weekend. But why is an urban graveyard on that list?

Drawing roots from 1980s punk rock on the east coast United States, 'emotional hardcore' or 'emo' culture has gone through many incarnations, but it's well and truly alive in Birmingham on weekends.

Emos all over
The park is full on Saturdays

The stereotype of 'an Emo' takes much from the punk and gothic looks of the 1980s and '90s. The wearing of tight skinny-jeans and t-shirt, with a long straightened fringe and an overwhelming inclination for anything black.

On a Saturday afternoon the lawns surrounding St. Philips Cathedral on Colmore Row are populated with the blacks and greys of goth fashion.

Emo is most definitely in the hearts of some Birmingham teenagers, but why?

Community spirit

The majority of the guys and girls in the park are busy with school and college commitments during the week, but all look forward to the weekends, no matter what the weather, although the recent sunshine has made it even more appealing.

Hanging around
Groups on the grass

"We get along with anyone," I was told by self-proclaimed 'old-rocker' Max, (who's 19). He's been going to the park for three years.

"I have so many friends here; the only time I get to see them is on the Saturday. It's just about being yourself without people, having a-go, we're like one big happy family."

Friends come from far and wide. Az, who's 17, is  from Great Barr, his friend James from Selly Oak - they both met in Pigeon Park.

"At my school I didn't get on with everyone, but I get on with everyone here." Az said. James added: "We all look after each other."

It seems to be this kinship that is the overwhelming pull of the park.

Gothic steps
Door to another world

Other than surfing on the Internet or watching television, those interviewed said there's no alternative to rival the attraction of meeting their friends at St. Philips.

"If you don't have any money, you can always come here and wait for someone else who's in the same situation," says Trish who's 18.

"We're in a routine. I'll usually come up here in the day, then go straight to the pub with my friends." Max told me. "We normally go about four or five o'clock."

Closed labels

It all sounded like a pretty relaxing day, which was reflected in their attitudes to emo culture.

The last group to leave
All that's left in the park at 7pm

Many don't abide by the labels of 'emo' or 'goth'.  "It's a stereotype.  If you're an Emo, people expect things from you," said Az.

What about the clothes?

"Apparently if you've got a fringe and you wear normal jeans then you're an Emo, it's just about the music," said Max's girlfriend Sammy.

But Black? "It's like camouflage," her friend Dorothy weighed in, "black's the colour of protection."

The main attraction

Everyone is different, but if you can find a community of like-minded people to blend-in with, you have friends. And let's face it - sitting in a park in the city centre on a sunny day with friends is a pretty nice way to spend a day.

last updated: 18/04/07
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