What's up w/ the huge number of white people with dreadlocks in Montreal
May 22, 2016 11:00 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I are visiting Montreal and we've never seen so many white people with dreadlocks in one place. What's up with this?

For reference, my husband grew up in the Bay Area, so it's not like this is a totally foreign thing to us. In particular, there are a lot of white punks with dreadlocks in Montreal, which surprised us: you'll see a lot less of that in NY, I assume because of more of a concern over cultural appropriation? Not super familiar with the dynamics of race and cultural appropriation in Montreal, so was wondering if there's something we're missing here?
posted by dysh to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total)
It's close to Vermont and there are hippies here who do that. It's also Canada which is close to Bieber who had that hairstyle until recently. Can't speak to the other appropriative issues, but there are a lot of white folks with dreads over the border in VT and we've had a long winter and at least some people haven't gotten their summer shearing yet (only sort of joking) so hairstyles that might have been less noticeable in hats are now out there for everyone to see.
posted by jessamyn at 12:14 PM on May 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

That's just Montreal. They are a little different there. If you visited in the winter, you would probably have asked "What's up with all the people in Montreal wearing court jester hats?"
posted by barnoley at 12:44 PM on May 22, 2016 [8 favorites]

Yup that's just Montreal, you have a LOT of hippie artist musician youth buskers drummers and the like living there. It's like the one place that hipsterdom forgot.

It has been like that since time immemorial. I lived there in 1996 and it was like that. I've visited numerous times since then most recently last spring and it was still like that. It's what makes Montreal special and unique.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:47 PM on May 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

In terms of cultural appropriation, many people aren't very exposed to American media where cultural appropriation is discussed, and a lot of white people never really set foot in the areas with a large concentration of black people.

Also, hippies never really went away in Quebec, so you get a lot of pot-smoking, peace and love types; many of them are in Montreal, but you'll also find them concentrated in various enclaves outside the city.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 2:30 PM on May 22, 2016 [6 favorites]

Montreal is in some ways the living dream of the 90s, and the 90s were kind of appropriative like that :/

a lot of white people never really set foot in the areas with a large concentration of black people.

True about Quebec; also, people from other provinces studying/living in Quebec.
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:30 PM on May 22, 2016

I live in Montreal. I've been wondering if we really do have more white people with dreads and why that might be.

Maybe it's because we have a lot of students. Montreal is often considered a great place to be a student and this organisation rates Montreal 7th in the world, and 1st in North America, for student living. Lots of students means lots of different personalities and approaches to life.

Maybe it's because Montreal can be a relatively cheap and lively city. We have lots of "squeegee" kids, "hippie artist musician youth buskers drummers," and folks travelling through. This is possibly best captured by our weekly Tam-tams - a drum circle where folks sell diy stuff and smoke and drink and beat the drums all Sunday long. We have a bunch of tourists that pass through here too, which may add to the whites with dreads numbers.

Maybe it's because we actually do have a relatively high population of black people here (compared to the rest of Canada). Cultures and practices sometimes blend together and sometimes someone who looks white is not quite as white as you imagine (like me!).

Maybe we really are generally slower to pick up on American Cultural Appropriation "trends." I only started thinking about whether it's appropriate for white people to wear dreads when I saw this video in April.

Maybe there aren't more white people with dreads here and it just seems that way to you for whatever reason. Or maybe there really are more white people here with dreads and I've never really noticed it because I didn't have to because of my whiteness. When I take a moment to think of the people I know, none of the white people have dreads, though a few black people I know do. When I was in university it was mildly popular to have one single dread in the circles I hung out in. Though, a good chunk of my friends were/are diy-ers, musicians, tree planters and generally shower-less-to-save-the-environment types. You know - hippies.
posted by eisforcool at 6:45 PM on May 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

(Montrealer here; you're totally right, it's very much a thing).
I associate dreadlocks on white Montrealer with young Francophones, who wouldn't really be reading English-language articles on cultural appropriation. American cultural trends and movements are a few years behind in Quebec, I assume due to the language barrier.
posted by third word on a random page at 1:09 AM on May 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

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