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No drugs, no alcohol, no animal flesh -- A modern counterculture movement

X's symbolize straight edge on many people's hands.
X's symbolize straight edge on many people's hands.
Christopher Clark

The youth in Connecticut are faced with a lot of decisions while growing up. Seemingly endless messages are filtered through the media and insistent peer pressure help to assert the idea that drinking in excess is normal, doing drugs is just a phase, and promiscuity is what a typical teenager goes through. The case isn't true anymore for a growing number of young teens around the state. Many minors (and adults alike) have taken a stand to resist the use of alcohol and drugs, unbridled sexuality, and even sometimes the consumption of meat and animal bi-products. This lifestyle is called straight edge. The youth that have chosen this way of life made a conscious decision to resist the idea that drinking and smoking are necessary to live a fulfilling or meaningful life. By setting a positive example for those around them, this subculture of Connecticut's population have made it their goal to rid themselves of the vices they see the people around them abuse.

Connecticut has a growing population of 16 to 21 year old young adults who are using straight edge as a lifestyle choice to not pollute their body, attempt to think more clearly, and find other ways to have fun in their youth beyond parties, social drinking, and drug use. Past the legal drinking age in the state, many choose to continue following their ideas and make a statement to protect their values for life. This idea can seem alienating to some who struggle to make friends in their communities with different ideas, but there is an entire underground music scene that has grown side by side with the morals involved with being straight edge. Connecticut has long since been a beacon of the punk music scene where these free thinking and revolutionary ideas spurred from. Many notable bands from Connecticut and the tri-state area, including Youth of Today and In My Eyes, paved the way for the straight edge scene to grow exponentially in this area along with an awareness of punk music. The small rooms, basements, and VFW halls where these bands play every weekend around the state became a safe haven for those who felt out of place by not subscribing to the standards everyone else around them was following.

Straight edge as a philosophy has become a way for teens and adults to live freely from substances, to think clearly, to find new ways to meet other people, and to escape the bar culture surrounding Connecticut's major cities. Former Connecticut resident tattoo artist, Nick Baxter, recently said in an interview, “I feel that my mental clarity, intelligence, perception and willpower are all benefited by my choice to remain completely sober and drug-free. It’s forced me to continually work on, and work with, my own mind in order to handle life’s problems and struggles; and there’s an extremely grounding and unshakable truth in that... I have a much truer sense of who I am and where I stand, unclouded by interference or dependence... my accomplishments are sincere acts of self because they aren’t propped up by any kind of chemical crutch or facade.”

Encouraging a strong sense of reflection, the merits of being straight edge are felt deeply by many in Connecticut. A heightened sense of community has been brought about by straight edge, allowing people of all ages to come together and have an open forum concerning these moral issues. Within the turn of the century, this counterculture movement has seen the growth of many positive ideologies which coincide with being drug free such as veganism, vegetarianism, spirituality, compassion, and personal growth. This movement is certainly a guiding light for many youth and adults in the state, preserving the idea that it truly is okay not to drink.


  • Ray Cappo 5 years ago

    "There is evil in every berry of grape."

    Trust me, I would know.

  • Skip Candelori 5 years ago

    Great article.

  • nick baxter 5 years ago

    ray--i completely agree. this article, although i loved what it said about straight edge, was very one-sided and stroke-jobey. clearly there are many pitfalls of any idealogy. sXe has seen them all, with the elitism and violence and clique-ism that comes with it. not to mention how temporary and fake it is for 95% of people who claim. HOWEVER, the good parts of it, its true positive potential needs to be celebrated and made known any time we can do so. so im glad for this article. ad quite frankly, for you and what you've done for sXe, and with sXe, even if you don't claim anymore.

  • Erin Kahn 5 years ago

    Your article is a breath of fresh air!! I’m extremely tired of continually reading about the negative aspects of being Straight Edge. There is nothing more significant in a teenager’s life than having a positive role model- especially someone who tells them that it's OK to not drink & in turn they can feel confident in their decision. It’s such a shame that more kids never meet that one friend who shares with them that one Minor Threat tape or the like. Christopher, I think focusing on the positive relationship between adolescents & claiming edge is dead on. People are flawed but I certainly don’t believe that any of the morals accompanying Straight Edge are.

    It’s funny because I am who I am because of the boy who first drew X’s on my hand & he is probably barfing up Vodka/Root Beers on 6th street at this very moment. Just because it’s a phase for some doesn’t make it any less genuine for others.

  • Jinxi 5 years ago

    This is a fantastic article and I appreciate every bit of positive commentary given to the sXe community. I am definitely not a "youth" any longer, but I became Straight Edge at the age of 37 (I am now 39). While I had been a vegan and was passionate about my dedication to that lifestyle, I was oblivious to the destruction that alcohol was slowly doing to my life. It all came full circle & I woke up one day to realize that many of the reasons I was a vegan were precisely what I needed to apply in terms of being sober. It changed my life & my perspective towards everything. I wish that I hadn't allowed 15 years of poisons into my body, but I felt a sense of freedom the day I dedicated myself to living Straight Edge and have never looked back.
    We need more articles like this. I'm glad I happened upon it. And though sXe is directed towards a younger generation, I am proud to associate with it even as an "old timer." =)

  • joe blow 5 years ago

    Vodka/Root Beer? Are you kidding me? That sounds delicious. X's on my hands.

  • Sean Martin 5 years ago

    Connecticut's only Straight Edge band.

  • Molly 5 years ago

    So is this section officially dead? Are you ever going to post again? What's happening in CT straight-edge culture?

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