Hipster Before It Was Cool


By Haley Oliphant, Editor-in-Chief

When you think of Salt Lake City, the first subculture that comes to mind is Mormonism, right? Well, SLC is now dubbed one of the most hipster cities in the world. In a study conducted by MoveHub, Salt Lake City ranked third on the list of the world’s top hipster cities. The study took into account “the number of vegan eateries, coffee shops, tattoo studios, vintage boutiques and record stores per 100,000 city residents.” With a score of 7.8527, MoveHub said, “The Utah capital excels in every category, probably providing the second most ‘complete’ hipster experience after Portland.”

The ranking comes as no surprise to Kestrel Liedtke, who owns Tin Angel Cafe with her husband, Jerry Liedtke. In an interview with The Utah Chronicle, she said, “Salt Lake City has an unusual dynamic in that it is a particularly progressive city in a decidedly conservative state. This has always driven our counterculture to be more strong [and] our community roots to run deep within the city.”

If a dominantly conservative environment is what’s needed to create a thriving hipster culture, then Utah is certainly the place. According to LDS Newsroom, Utah has over 2 million members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), over 5,000 congregations, 17 temples, 11 missions and 170 family history centers. Basically, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Mormon. Liedtke believes this strong presence of Mormonism has indirectly created an anti-culture by forcing many to create their own unique identity in order to find their place in Salt Lake City’s community.

“Much of what is considered ‘hipster’ right now has its beginnings in community-based, ‘stronger together’ ideas,” Liedtke said. “I think that because SLC has had to develop a strong network of people who don’t belong to the state’s dominant conservative religion, we had the foundations of the hipster movement already in place.”

Liedtke stated Tin Angel’s own contributions to hipster culture may be considered small, but are significant nonetheless.

“If Tin Angel has contributed to the blossoming of this scene, our influence lies mostly in our own commitment to community and to progressive ideas.”

One of the simple ways Tin Angel Cafe helps foster the hipster scene is by allowing its staff to “express themselves in any way, including tattoos.”

Despite the influences and ideals of the LDS church, which advises members to “treat their body as a temple,” Salt Lake City’s tattoo culture thrives. According to Business Insider, “Salt Lake City has the fifth highest density of tattoo parlours in the world (24 per 100,000 people).” With popular shops like SLC Ink and Heart of Gold, Salt Lake City is brimming with ink.

The ink that flows through Salt Lake City’s veins is only a small part of the body of hipster culture in this unique city. Though they may stick out in a primarily Mormon state, hipsters stand strong and their people stand together to create a distinctive culture that challenges the conservative ideals surrounding it. With this new badge of hipster honor, let’s hope Salt Lake City continues to surprise the world with its commitment to standing out.

[email protected]