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The popular image of a Rainbow gatherer has long been of a long-haired hippie dressed in colorful tie-dyes, with lots of Grateful Dead and Bob Marley logos. If a woman, she has on a granny dress and shawls with fringes and lots of jewelry. But for many years the gatherings have also been attended by an increasing number of young people dressed in goth and punk rock outfits of black, brown, gray, and olive drab.
They prefer heavy metal to psychedelic rock and reggae, and their concert tee shirts are almost always black. Lots of them are fond of body piercings and tattoos, and Mohawk hairdos are popular. Both the men and women like military pants with lots of cargo pockets, with the legs either full length or cut off. The women often wear just a halter top above, if they don’t choose to go topless. The men also can go descamisado during the hotter parts of this gathering. Men as well as women sometimes wear skirts, but they are always in the same shades of brown or khaki – never in the frilly and flowery patterns that the hippies wear. And many of them will wear the same garments for several days in a row, if not the whole gathering.
Some of the older gatherers have called these people “dirty kids”, because they are usually young – in their teens, twenties, or early thirties – and their clothes get pretty dirty living in the woods and this doesn’t seem to bother them. This has been used as a derogatory term by some of the olders, but many of the dirty kids themselves have taken this as an appellation of pride. Sometimes the phrase gets shortened to just “kids”, with the tacit understanding that it doesn’t mean the people that Kid Village devotes itself to. Some of the dirty kids prefer “crusty kids”, and some of the olders who really don’t like them call them “gutter punks”, a term more often used for homeless kids who live on the streets in big cities.
Becoming apparent by the 2008 Wyoming annual gathering, the two sides have increasingly segregated themselves from each other, with a hippie side and a dirty kid side emerging as the kitchens arrive and choose places to set up. In many recent years three of the largest and longest existing of their kitchens, Fat Kids, Montana Mud, and Shut Up and Eat It, have located themselves near to each other in a place that has been called Dirty Kid’s Corner. Other dirty kid kitchens set up around them, and the whole area is sometimes called Dirty Kid’s Meadow.
The names that the dirty kids use for the gatherers that call them that name are several, with “yuppie”, “hippie”, and “high holy” being popular. In the most extreme dirty kid view, yuppies live in houses, have jobs, and only visit the gathering one week a year. Dirty kids are travelers and casual laborers who often live on the road or the street and are free to spend months at gatherings. Yuppies are weekend warriors; dirty kids live the Rainbow life fully.
Relative to the hippies the kids tend to be more practical and pragmatic, and not so much inclined to trust in spirits and spend long times in ceremonies. A lot of them like to eat meat some believe that alcohol can be used prudently by responsible people, and don’t feel so much the need for absolute prohibition. Some of the kids can be just as rebellious against their parents’ generation as their parents were against their grandparents’, and both sides complain of not being treated with respect by the other. An increasing amount of time at Vision Council is being spent in discussing ways to bridge this generation gap.
In recent years the dirty kids have taking over many of the vital parts of the gathering’s infrastructure, such as the main supply tent, the water pipes, and especially cleanup. Many of them take pride in being the muscles and backs of the gathering, and being able to face dirt that other people can’t.