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Jamison Doran Headshot

D.C. Might Not Be "Hipster" But That's OK

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WASHINGTON DC
Alamy

A lot has been made in D.C. over Forbes list of American's Hippest Hipster Neighborhoods and how D.C.'s very own H Street made it to No. 6 on the list.

It caught the attention of Gawker's Hamilton Nolan who wrote a sarcastic profanity laced tirade over the rankings and D.C.'s obviously unhip status and The Atlantic Wire's Rebecca Greenfield used rent costs, average drink prices, "scandalous" behavior and not being able to drink coffee on the Metro as her arguments why D.C. isn't and never will be a "hip" city. So because of this silly list about H Street being "hip" we have now seen people all over the internet bashing D.C. as a whole because of our rigid and square status.

As a D.C. resident who rather enjoys the city, I couldn't care less about some stupid ranking by Forbes and am quite fine not being associated with the word "hipster," which in most circles is actually used as a derogatory term. However, I think arguing that we aren't or could never be cool or hip is a fallacy.

Greenfield uses the price of an entrée at a restaurant as a reason why the city is too expensive to be hip and says "there's no mid-price in the D.C. food scene: it's either Equinox or Panera." It is obvious she has not delved deep into the D.C. food scene. With spots like Taylor Gourmet, Fast Gourmet, Founding Farmers, Sticky Rice, etc. you can absolutely get a delicious entrée for $14 or less (which is the cheapest dinner entrée at Equinox... and no offense to Equinox, but I'm still not sure why that restaurant is the end-all-be-all for mid-price eating in D.C.). I work in a nonprofit and certainly don't make enough money to eat at Mini Bar, yet I do enjoy eating out and am able to do so regularly on my budget without any issues.

Yes, it isn't cheap to live in D.C. When I moved into the District from Arlington I saw my rent rise by 30 percent. However, while that certainly impacted my wallet, rents in D.C. have actually been increasing at a slower rate than Seattle and San Francisco, two places that also had neighborhoods make Forbes' list. The "height ceiling" Greenfield rails against as reason why rents are so high hasn't stopped apartment and condo buildings from being built (one only needs to walk up 14th street to see all the building) and I wouldn't be surprised if this over saturation of the market actually brings rent prices down in some areas of the city.

She also uses the argument that "many residents are professional squares" something which seems to come straight out of DCist's explanation as to why D.C. was omitted from Travel and Leisure's 20 best cities for hipsters. Greenfield notes that many people who live here work for the government and there are *gasp* Republicans. Us "professional squares" can't do "scandalous (fun and hip) things, because [our] job[s] drug test." I'm not sure why being "hip" automatically means taking part in illicit activity that would lead you to not pass a drug test. I know plenty of people, including myself, who work in nonprofits or government, and who love to take part in "fun and hip" activities (though those words just sound so middle school) which wouldn't necessarily look poorly on an "FBI background check." We go to bars and drink local beers, dance at divey "clubs," and eat far too much food on local rooftops. Sure. It might not be as titillating as doing a line of coke, putting on our skinny jeans and a smug look and heading out to an abandoned warehouse party in Williamsburg, N.Y., but it works just fine for us.

One of the measures Forbes used was walkability. Yes, H Street is a pain in the arse to get to, especially at night. But from a lot of areas in the city it is walkable, and the city as a whole is very walkable. In the past two months I have taken the Metro twice; once to attend a baseball game, and the other to split the difference to go to H Street. I walk to work, walk to the grocery store, walk to restaurants, etc. This was one of the many appealing features of living in D.C... the ability to walk where I needed to go. D.C. might be small in the square footage department, but because of that, people are able to get to where they want to go without having to drive, which is safer and better for the environment in the long run.

Besides all of this, D.C. has a lot of things going for it, with farmer's markets, including the brand new Union Market D.C. We have locally owned restaurants and celebrity chefs who have put the D.C. food scene on the map. We are extremely bikeable and have some of the best museums in the world in our backyard for free. We have green space and parks and trails. We can find food for literally any craving we might be having. We have breweries and distilleries.

So sure, D.C. might not be perfect, and Gawker, Travel and Leisure and Greenfield might think we, as a whole, aren't hipster enough and are a bunch of squares, but I'm quite in love with my city regardless of our hipster ranking. The neighborhoods in Los Angeles and San Francisco can keep their fixie bikes, large rimmed framed glasses and hipster cred. If not being hipster enough means I don't have to cram myself into a pair of skinny jeans daily or rock a shag haircut, then I'm just fine with being square.

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