School of Creative


BA(Hons) Arts Management

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The spaces of the Singapore punk subculture

While subculture studies are popular around the world, there is little understanding of the punk subculture in Singapore. More crucially, what are the spaces that the punk subculture in Singapore occupies, and why do they inhabit them? This research will act as a guide for policymakers in determining the importance of such areas. A simple definition of a subculture is a "social network with a shared identity, distinct meanings surrounding certain concepts, behaviours, and objects, and a sense of exclusion from or opposition to a perceived 'normal' society". Academics have argued that the punk subculture determines such spaces by strategically establishing, transforming and managing the space. The study will expand on how the punk subculture in Singapore establishes, transforms and manages the spaces that they use and further explore other determining factors explaining why they inhabit such spaces.

To best examine the punk subculture in Singapore, I will be conducting an ethnographic study on the punk subculture. The methods conducted in this study are a semi-structured interview between four respondents and two on-site observations. Respondents were largely asked about the qualities that draw punks to certain locations and whether or not those attributes can be recreated in other spaces. While I have collected responses and field notes that indicate how punks developed such spaces, there are three key themes that explain why such venues are appealing to the punk subculture. Accessibility, authenticity and lack of regulations are the three main qualities.

These findings suggest that if a location possesses these traits, the punk subculture in Singapore will be drawn to it. The Substation, which has since closed down, is an example of a space that exhibited these traits. On this basis, while the punk community in Singapore is responsible for managing such places, policymakers should be aware that establishing these attributes can help to create a new attractive place for the punk subculture, while reducing any of the qualities can lead to the space's eventual demise.

Keywords: punk, subculture, spaces, Substation

Subtopics: accessible, authenticity, regulation of public spaces

Taufiq Wahab (Tau)

Taufiq Wahab (Tau)

With a background in theatre and acting, Tau pursued his BA(Hons) Arts Management degree at LASALLE College of the Arts to further his understanding of the different art forms in Singapore and the region. Since then, Tau has led an operations team for the Rock & Indie Festival, worked as a sound designer for the audio tour Project Rediscover: Telok Ayer and produced Arts with Benefits, a local arts podcast. He aims to continuously create new platforms for aspiring artists, while finding creative and engaging ways to create an accessible bridge between art and the audience. Tau takes an avid interest in anything 'sub' — subcultures, the lesser known and the non-mainstream.

Work experience

Apr 2018 – Aug 2019
Images of Singapore LIVE!, Madame Tussauds
Live performing actor

May – Nov 2020
Rock & Indie Festival (2020)
Lead operations

May 2021 – present
Arts with Benefits podcast
Producer/outreach manager