Putting on the style
Time traveling in Austin, Texas
Photography by Sabine Jacobs
Photographer Sabine Jacobs was raised in the Rock-a-Billy scene in Ghent, Belgium. But what does it mean to be a Rock-a-Billy in Belgium, the rest of Europe or even Japan or Australia? It is just as weird as being a sumo-wrestler in Belgium. You can attempt to imitate another culture, but you will loose the meaning of some rituals, you won’t know why to dress a certain way and in the end it will always remain an imitation. That is why Sabine traveled to Austin, Texas, to photograph the roots of the real rockers.
“When I arrived in Austin, I was convinced time had stood still. I entered a recently opened club and thought I was traveling back in time.” Everything, even the smallest details, was “fifties”. Girls, dressed like pin-ups, were selling cigarettes. The bartenders were dressed in black trousers and a white shirt. There was even a shoeshine boy. But also in the streets the fifties influence was everywhere: neon signs, gas stations, old-timers and hot-rods, … Everything, that back in Belgium was “part of the act”, is a way of life in Austin. Austin is the fifties!
Off course Austin is not just populated by rockers, but everywhere you look you are reminded of the fact that this is where the Rock-a-Billy scene was born. Hairdo, vintage clothes, bar interiors are some of the most obvious examples of how Austin reminds you of its history. Even the moves people make and the pauses they take “rock”. The series of portraits Sabine took, illustrates that very well. This isn’t act. This is not a costume or a mask these people wear… They breathe Rock-a-Billy, they are Rock-a-Billy!
The success of the music industry was built during the fifties with the money of the Rock ‘n Roll generation. It is only natural that music still plays a central roll in today’s Rock-a-Billy culture. Rock ‘n Roll gigs and clubs where there is still real dancing going on, set the scene for the documentary series of Sabine. This series underline the authenticity of the portraits by placing the same people in their natural habitat. Rock on baby!