What does greaser mean in the 60s?

Answered by Stephen Mosley

In the 1950s and 1960s, the term “greaser” was used to describe a subculture of young white men. These individuals were typically from working-class backgrounds and were known for their rebellious nature. The term “greaser” was often used in a derogatory manner by those outside of the subculture, but the teenagers who identified as greasers embraced the label as a symbol of their defiance against societal norms.

The greaser subculture emerged as a response to the conformity and conservatism of the time. This was a period when post-war America was experiencing a sense of stability and prosperity, which led to a conformist attitude among many young people. However, the greasers rejected this conformity and sought to establish their own identity.

One of the defining aspects of the greaser subculture was their distinctive look. Greasers typically wore leather jackets, jeans, and t-shirts, often with a rolled-up pack of cigarettes tucked into the sleeve of their shirt. They styled their hair in a slicked-back fashion, often using pomade or grease to achieve the desired look. This rebellious fashion sense was seen as a deliberate rejection of the clean-cut image that was prevalent at the time.

The greasers also had a distinct attitude that set them apart from mainstream society. They were often perceived as tough, streetwise individuals who were willing to challenge authority and engage in delinquent behavior. This rebellious attitude was reflected in their involvement in activities such as drag racing, motorcycle riding, and frequenting local diners and hangouts.

While the greasers were primarily a white subculture, they often interacted with other marginalized groups such as African Americans and Latinos. This cross-cultural interaction often led to the adoption of certain elements from other subcultures, such as the love of rhythm and blues music and the incorporation of certain slang terms into their vocabulary.

It is important to note that the greaser subculture was not without its flaws. Some members of the greaser community did engage in criminal activities, and there were instances of violence and gang-related behavior. However, it is crucial to understand that not all greasers were involved in such behavior, and the subculture as a whole was primarily centered around a desire for freedom and self-expression.

The term “greaser” in the 1950s and 1960s referred to a subculture of young white men who rebelled against societal norms and embraced a distinctive look and attitude. They sought to establish their own identity in a time of conformity and conservatism. While the greasers were often misunderstood and labeled as delinquents, they represented a desire for freedom and self-expression that continues to resonate with youth subcultures today.