Vampire Weekend get ready to get their headline on in Brisbane.

Vampire Weekend used to be hipster icons

THIS IS a column in defence of hipsters. I’m writing it because I’m worried I might be one, and I don’t want you to make fun of me, the way Taylor Swift has done in her song We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together; the way Macklemore has done in Thrift Shop; the way Christiaan Van Vuuren has done in his “Bondi Hipsters” series of YouTube videos; and the way US comedian Fred Armisen has done in his TV series and book entitled Portlandia.

I say there’s a bit of hipster in all of us, and we should embrace our inner hipster, because mockery is so mainstream.

My suspicion about myself started in a music store last week, when I found a nostalgic tear running down my cheek as I looked at a bin full of newly minted LP records. I saw Bob Dylan’s album Highway 61 Revisited, with the original cover, and I thought “I must buy a record player again”.

Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen star in Portlandia.

Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen star in Portlandia, a celebration of la vie hipstere. Photo: Kathryn Kernohan

A craving to hear music at thirty three and a third revolutions per minute is a primary symptom of hipsterism.

That symptom lets us track the spread of the disease. Vinyl LPs were replaced by CDs in 1985, and sales went into a nosedive until the low point in 2007, when Australians bought just 18,000 of them (while buying 44 million CDs). In 2008, the hipster fad arrived and vinyl sales started rising again. By 2012 we were buying 127,000 LPs a year (while CD sales had dropped to 27 million, as the mainstream shifted to downloads).

At this rate of rise and fall, LPs will be outselling CDs by 2016, when hipsters will need to stop buying them, because one of the defining features of hipsters is that they rejoice in being eccentric. Their most common expression is “At the moment I’m into [name of musician/ foodstuff/ café/ author/ clothing style] … but you’ve probably never heard of it/ them.” Their other defining feature is that they deny being hipsters.

Taylor Swift.

Taylor Swift knocks hipsters but wants to be one Photo: Getty

If you’re worried you are displaying some symptoms, you may find these FAQs helpful.

What do hipsters eat? Everything organic, alternative, and unknown. Consuming strange grains and weird leaves makes them healthy enough to roll their own ciggies and take the occasional sniff of cocaine. If they’re not vegans or pescatarians, they have highly specialised allergies, intolerances and preferences, such as  “The only meat I eat is kangaroo, to save the forests” and “I won’t eat octopus, because they are as intelligent as dolphins.”

They drink Bonsoy lattes in dark cafes, but you’ve probably never heard of that.

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl.

Zooey Deschanel was a hipster icon until New Girl became a hit

What do hipsters wear? Males wear their hair short back and sides with a very long fringe that pokes out from their oversized beanie, but they protect their eyes with horn-rimmed glasses. They button their check shirts to the neck, but wear their pants short enough to display their vintage socks and loafers.

Females wear their hair partly shaved and multi-coloured, with a bowler hat, red lipstick, ironic t-shirt, long skirt and Doc Marten boots.

Both genders often carry a 1950s-style Penguin paperback (Catcher in the Rye, preferably) while pushing a fixie (single gear) bicycle.

Lena Dunham is the creative force behind <i>Girls</i>.

Lena Dunham was a hipster icon until Girls started winning awards

What do hipsters enjoy? Vinyl albums, of course, but they also have iPods, on which they listen to esoteric bands and rare musical forms. Angus and Julia Stone and Vampire Weekend were hipster faves until they became successful.

Television is too mainstream, although they were moderately interested in Zooey Deschanel before New Girl became a hit, and in the Pay TV sitcom Girls before its writer Lena Dunham started winning awards. They love indy movies, and right up their alley was On The Road, based on Jack Kerouac’s 1957 beatnik bible of the same name, even if Kristen Stewart was obviously desperate to regain hipster cred.

Where do hipsters live? If they’re in Sydney, the short answer is Newtown or Surry Hills, but if your question refers to the kind of accommodation they like, the book Portlandia describes the ideal residential development: “It has supercheap rent and tons of character. It’s probably owned by an Eastern European immigrant who doesn’t seem to understand the value of his property. Inside it’s cozy and cute with brightly coloured walls; on the outside it’s crumbling, with visible signs of tough teenage vandalism … You want to be associated with the first wave, the artists, the junkies, the carefree, those who have as much joie de vivre as the ethnic community they pushed out.”

Odd man out ... Bondi Hipster Christiaan Van Vuuren.

Bondi Hipster Christiaan Van Vuuren Photo: Steven Siewert

See anything there you can relate to? Don’t be embarrassed. It’s just between you and me. And remember: The only thing worse than being hipster is being mainstream.

Go to Comments to alert us on other symptoms.

The Tribal Mind column, by David Dale, appears in a printed form every Sunday in The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age, and also as a forum on this website, where it welcomes your comments.

David Dale teaches communications at UTS, Sydney. He is the author of The Little Book of Australia - A snapshot of who we are (Allen and Unwin). For daily updates on Australian attitudes, bookmark The Tribal Mind.