Finding Emos ...and goths, moshers and scene kids

CHARLOTTE Shakespeare has fluorescent blue studs poking out of the bridge of her nose, dyed red-black hair and a string of piercings in her left ear.

'Chazeh', as she likes to be known, comes to the Corn Exchange every Saturday to hang out with her friends.

Goths, emos, scene kids and moshers; they envelop the domed landmark like a black blanket.

They stand around discussing the bands whose names are plastered over their hoodies or to swap gossip about what they got up to last night.

Their appearance – typically, jet-black dyed hair and a variety of pierced body parts – prompts disapproving looks from the shoppers who flurry past.

"We get judged all the time by people who don't even know us," says Chazeh, who is 16 and from Rawdon. "It's like they feel threatened or something."

Clearly these weekly meet-ups are a big deal. For a start the whole thing looks like a fashion show, with styles and trends delineating one youth movement from another.

One group, sitting on the railings, are wearing bunny ears. Chazeh says these are emo kids.

Another lot clustered near the entrance are dressed head to toe in black. I guess these must be goths.

Lingering near them are a few scruffily-dressed lads with equally long hair but far less make-up.

"Are they goths too?" I ask Chazeh.

"Oh no," she says, "they're moshers. I used to be one of those. Before that I was a goth."

So what is she now?

"I'm a scene kid," she smirks, clearly relishing the blank look of bewilderment on my face. "Or a ska kid."

Chazeh tells me, with a wistful look in her eye, that all the Emo and Scene Kids look the same these days. There's just no real variation any more.

Jimmy Holburt, who I spot as a tall black blur striding past us, says much the same thing. Jimmy has black-eyeliner spikes painted round his eyes, chipped black-varnished fingernails and a studded dog collar.


I ask him what his parents make of his get-up, realising as soon as I say it that I had finally turned into my dad. "It annoys them," the 17-year-old grins. "But my sister's been dressing like this for six years so you think they'd be used to it by now."

Jimmy is here with friend Lizi, a 14-year-old fellow goth who has travelled down from a village near Skipton.

They say the Corn Exchange is one of the few places they can go where they don't get hassled. Though their appearance does earn them a few double takes from the passing shoppers.

"They give us the evils," says Jimmy, who lives in Armley. "They think we're devil worshippers about to sacrifice something but the Corn Exchange is the only place where can all get together without getting hassled.

"Actually there used to be more goths down here but it's died down now. Everyone's turning emo."

Ah yes, emo. Nineteen-year-old Richard Schofield is very emo.

Clad in matching white hoodie and trainers, he has a black fringe flapping artfully over one eye and copious amounts of metal threaded through his bottom lip.

He looks just the sort of lad you would usually cross the street to avoid but is in fact as nice as pie, which is true of all the Corn Exchange kids I meet.

Richard, from Harehills, is into My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy. These are the only bands I hear mentioned all day that I have actually heard of.

"My mum was a bit dodgy about the piercings to start with," he says. "But she was just worried what would happen if I got hit in the mouth."

Richard, like most of the teenagers here, is in further education.

Far from being the delinquent drop-outs you might think they come across as intelligent and creative, studying everything from maths and physics to media and photography.

Chazeh, for instance, wants to be a forensic scientist or an anthropologist. For now she makes do with going to Woodhouse Grove School and playing in three bands.

She sells clothes too and also runs her own promotions company, called Peanut Butter and Jelly.

"We put on up and coming bands at Joseph's Well and the Snooty Fox in Wakefield. We do different nights – heavy metal, grindcore, emo. There's going to be a Yorkshire tour in July."

Interestingly, many of the Corn Exchange crowd, like mosher Tom Halson and goth Ana Mattocks, have parents who themselves belonged to the youth movements of their time.

Tom, whose hair is a centre-parted scraggle of unkempt curls, is into seventies rock and heavy metal.

"Mostly the classics," he tells me. "Led Zep and Deep Purple. My mum and dad were rockers in the seventies so we listen to the same music."

That doesn't sound much like teenage rebellion, I tell him. "I guess not," he smiles bashfully, "I suppose it's more like joining in."

Tom says his parents don't mind him coming down here. Better than making mischief round the estate.


Ana, whose mum is a vicar and whose dad was a punk, says much the same. "They don't really mind what I get up to. As long as I'm not out doing drugs or something."

Later I speak to Lizi's mother, Anne, who tells me she has no problem with her daughter dressing the way she does.

"When I was a kid I was a hippie and I think children have to go through that phase in order to define themselves," she says. "I see it as a way in which she can express herself."

Does she mind Lizi hanging around outside the Corn Exchange, I wonder.

"No because if we're in Leeds on a Saturday we can see them and see what they're doing.

"It's a busy place so they're unlikely to get into much bother or come to any harm and they're surrounded by like-minded people. It's a bit like a youth club really."

Chazeh wishes more people were like Lizi's mum.

"You can't even go on Briggate without someone saying something," she groans. "That's why this place is so good. It's our part of town."

And with that she plugs in her iPod to listen to some more of her scene kid music.

Unless of course she has become something entirely different in the time we have been chatting, which is eminently possible.

The Scene Kid

Charlotte 'Chazeh' Shakespeare calls them: "Scene is a mixture of emo and preppy. They like to go to shows, where the scene is."

Music they like: Cute Is What We Aim For, Hit The Lights.

How to spot them: Boys wear skinny jeans with tight-fitting band T-shirts and bracelets. Girls wear jeans, polka-dot or striped tops and cool belts.

The Emo Kid

Richard Schofield calls them: "Like a Goth, only much less dark and much more Harry Potter."

Music they like: One Line Drawing, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance.

How to spot them: Hair covering three-fifths of their face, hoodies and skate shoes. The term 'emo' is derived from the emotive style of the music they listen to, so look for someone sitting round looking sad.

The Goth

Jimmy Holburt calls them: "Someone who likes the darker side of things, they tend to be thinkers and quite creative. They understand there are more important things in life than popularity."

Music they like: Cradle Of Filth, Death Star, Sisters Of Mercy.

How to spot them: Chunky boots with lots of metal, chalk-white faces and black, black and more black.

The Mosher

Tom Halson calls them: "People who don't feel the need to be branded as fashionable. They have a good time and listen to any type of rock music."

Music they like: Metal bands, Seventies rock.

How to spot them: Long hair, baggy clothes and black band tops. Can be found in mosh-pits moshing (or headbanging to the uninformed).