Stab Magazine | Squirrels of the East

Squirrels of the East

Does the thought of Bondi Beach, with its fashion bent and packs of high-end fashion models, repel you? Does it make you vomitous? Or do you want to come, come, come and dive into the best party in Australia? Insta-artists, fashionistas, bum rubbers, faggots, metros – call them what you will, they ain’t going nowhere, at […]

news // Feb 22, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Does the thought of Bondi Beach, with its fashion bent and packs of high-end fashion models, repel you? Does it make you vomitous? Or do you want to come, come, come and dive into the best party in Australia?

Insta-artists, fashionistas, bum rubbers, faggots, metros – call them what you will, they ain’t going nowhere, at least not until the hands of father fashion click over to the next trend. The cultural schism they have created in the surfing community has split so wide, the sport is threatening to fall straight down it. Nowhere is this rift more exaggerated than Australia’s Bondi Beach.Once upon a time, say back in the eighties, Bondi went by the name Scum Valley. Then, it had been in the throes of a heroin epidemic,had a beachside sewage outlet and was topped with all the ills of a low income population – gangs, broken homes, substance abuse, yadda, yadda, yadda. Today, postgentrification, Bondi is the only Australian city that combines surf and cosmopolitanism.
The result has seen young “creative” types descend en masse to the suburb. So visible have they become, local surfers have taken to naming them and even creating a Facebook page in their honour. The title of both, is the Squirrels of the East and they are defined on the webpage as follows: Do you have a shit hair cut? Do you wear shit clothes? Do you drink at wine bars? Ride bright retro surfboards? Have you lived in Bondi six months? Among the Squirrels are some of surfing’s highest profile athletes, including Dion Agius, who recently relocated to Bondi, Jarrah Tutton, who is considered a forefather, and Taj, who is a regular at their “wine bars.” With his legs spread either side of this growing rift, is Scum Valley boy and pro surfer, Perth Standlick. “They’re a lot of fun and they’re all really friendly. Squirrels are quite gentle creatures,” says Perth of his new pals. Plus, he says, they’ve got Sydney’s social scene totally dialled. In a night out with the Squirrels, grinding with models, free entry to all of Sydney’s most exclusive clubs and free drinks are the norm. The only downside, “They always act real, ‘Look at me, I’ve got fluoro pink shorts,’ which is a bit weird sometimes. When I go out at night I don’t mind it so much, but during the day when you’re down the beach and they are checking each other out, you’re just like, ‘Fuck mate!’” Liam Constantine is considered a figurehead of the Squirrel movement. At 28, he already part owns a popular Bondi nightspot, the White Revolver, is a surfer and shares an interest “for the creative side of life; the arts, music, design, photography. Anything with some kind of creative flair.” When I hit him with the criticism that the Squirrels of the East are little more than image obsessives, who ride novelty equipment and are skilled in cultivating ‘a look’, he was astute in his response. “It’s like in any culture, some people conform and others don’t. It’s about having fun, not letting the claws of reality drag you down but rather escaping it with all your mates and having a fucking hell time.” While the local surfing community will continue to rolls their eyes at the beaver tailed, alaia-wielding faux-bohemes that traverse the promenade, what is perhaps most telling in this whole saga is that Liam was oblivious to a rift even existing. “My kind? I wasn’t aware there was really a social division but I guess the fact that your asking about it, means there is and others are talking about it.” – Jed Smith


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