While you’re probably aware of furries and cosplayers, there are lots of weird subcultures out there that have managed to evade the mainstream. The strangest subcultures are just people with a specific style, talent, or fetish who gather to share their interests with fellow enthusiasts. You might not have heard about them because they are kept secret on purpose, or because the groups exist in obscure enclaves that most of us never stumble across.
Almost every country in the world has a handful of subcultures that seem truly odd to outsiders, and the internet has spawned thousands more virtual communities, linking people across continents and languages in their unusual preferences. Some of these communities are sweet and harmless, while others are dangerous by design. From strange sports to disturbing body modifications to fairytale fashion trends, these are some of the world’s strangest subcultures that you’ve probably never heard of before.
Bagel Heads Transform Their Foreheads
There are a lot of bizarre body modification subcultures out there, but bagel heads might be one of the strangest. Bagel heads achieve a bagel shape on their foreheads through a saline injection, not surgery. It isn’t a permanent modification, either; it doesn’t last more than a few hours, which is part of the appeal. The trend originated in Canada but has taken hold in Japan. As you can probably guess, health professionals have expressed concern about the safety of the procedure, especially when performed unsanitarily.
Competitive Endurance Tickling Is A Tightly Kept Secret
Competitive endurance tickling videos can be found in the dark corners of YouTube, hinting at a slightly sexual and vaguely sinister sport. In the 2016 documentary Tickled, journalist David Farrier attempted to find out the story behind the videos. He discovered that a company called Jane O’Brien media was bankrolling most of the vids, flying almost exclusively young white men across the country to participate in the sport. The company fired back against the documentary with a defamation lawsuit, which only added to the sport's intrigue.
Stalkers Risk Their Lives In Chernobyl
In 1986, Chernobyl became the site of one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. It remains a highly dangerous radioactive zone. This fact doesn’t deter a group of young Ukrainians who have taken to exploring the highly dangerous off-limits area, called the “Dead Zone” or "Exclusion Zone." The group, sometimes referred to as stalkers, share tips for getting into the Exclusion Zone on Internet forums. Many document their excursions online, ignoring the fact that visitors need governmental permission to enter the zone.
Lolitas Dress Like Victorian Dolls
Lolitas are people who participate in a fashion subculture that takes its cues from a little girl’s tea party. Lolitas wear lots of ruffles, pink, petticoats, and banana curls. The trend originated in Japan in the 1970s but has caught on internationally, with Lolita-style clothing stores opening in the United States, among other places. While you might imagine that the style takes its name from the Vladimir Nabokov novel about fetishizing a young girl, Japanese designers in the 1970s apparently picked the name because it sounded cute and girly. In fact, some Lolitas insist that the clothing style is empowering for women because of its loudness and distinctiveness.