I often read the woeful comments of readers and bloggers alike bemoaning their complete isolation from the underground scene in their area. "I'm the only Goth in my town!" "No one likes the same things as me!" "I never have people to go to concerts and cons with me!" "My cats won't cosplay with me!"
Of course, an edgy mysterious new friend isn't going to show up in your city with piercing eyes (that for some reason, only seem to see you) beckoning you onto their motorcycle with their vintage collection of comics and WGT tickets as incentive (a la perfect 80's teen movie at Monster High). However, nine times out of ten things aren't as dreary as them seem.
The underground scene isn't a small village beneath the sewers - it's a coincidental community of like-minded individuals that come together for the sake of some fantastic event. And I'm not talking about concerts or M'era Luna Festivals. I'm talking about regular old hobbies that will introduce you to more than regular people.
Roller Derby is a fantastic sport for a variety of reasons. It's quick moving, has a built in niche community, leaves room for creativity & self expression, and is one of the few times you can see your old english teacher don fishnets and completely deck people for the sake of female empowerment. It really doesn't get much better than that.
If you're not athletic yourself, or bruise easily, it may not be the best course of action to join a team, but there's plenty of ways you can enjoy the roller derby community without having a complete set of scars to show for it. You can help manage a men's or women's team, volunteer to do dramatic bout makeup, photography or sell or design t-shirts. You can loiter around the games, and join the pack of vendors that set up shop on derby nights and take your Etsy store out into the world. Even simply going to games is a fun way to spend time, and meet lots of interesting people.
Join the Zine Scene
More and more the underground zine scene is gaining momentum in lots of cities. Zines are best described by wikipedia as "an abbreviation of fanzine, or magazine and is most commonly a small circulation self-published work of original and/or appropriated texts and images usually reproduced via photocopier."
"Most zines suck. There's no nice way to say it...Zines (pronounced "zeens," from fanzines) are cut-and-paste, "sorry this is late," self-published magazines reproduced at Kinko's or on the sly at work and distributed through mail order and word of mouth. They touch on sex, music, politics, television, movies, work, food, whatever. They're Tinkertoys for malcontents. They're obsessed with obsession. They're extraordinary and ordinary. They're about strangeness but since it's usually happening somewhere else you're kind of relieved."—Chip Rowe, Excerpted from The Book of Zines
Zines can be a cacophony of images or organized anthologies of prose and poetry. They become a sort of currency, and ticket to meeting new people. They can be left stapled to telephone poles, hidden in coffee shops, or exchanged from author to author. They can generate an audience for zine conventions and meetups, or be based online, gathering submissions via tumblr and mailed worldwide.
Zine conventions aren't just happening downtown and near college campuses either. Don't believe me? Zinebook.com is a great resource for understanding zine culture and finding zine events, and more importantly, meeting the interesting individuals that come along with the scene.
Magic & RPGs
There are few things more underground than the basement where you play D&D.
Though there are many trading card games, none can compare to the complexity and following that MTG has. Take the item closest to you at this moment, throw it out a nearby window; it will probably hit someone who plays magic. FNM, otherwise known as Friday Night Magic is the weekly meetup of magic players worldwide at many local game, card and comic shops. FNM allows players to have organized tournaments, be beginner friendly, and simultaneously provide traffic and revenue to these indie shops while giving players a place to hangout, meetup, and enjoy the smells of magic.
In the realm of role-playing games, Dungeons and Dragons is not only the best-known and market leader in role-playing games, but also boasts an estimated 20 million players. Like MTG, its following is expansive and represents a hobby gone subculture. The community to this day remains very welcoming and amicable, organizing D&D Meetups worldwide. You don't mess with the D&D community, they got eyes everywhere, man.
So your cats really aren't into the whole cosplay thing? That's ok! There are people all over the world who are!
Some of the biggest names in costuming clubs today remain The Rebel Legion, The 501st Legion, and of course, The Mandalorian Mercs. All of which are —you guessed it— Star Wars Costuming Clubs. In addition to providing con eye-candy, many organizations are also known for their charity work, children's hospital visits and community service. (Rebel Scum?)
Though many clubs have moderate to strict costume quality standards and can be very pricey to be a part of, there are just as many clubs that are more relaxed and budget friendly for the average geeky college student.
Cosplay.com offers DIY costuming advice, event calendars and forums for cosplayers seeking cosplay companions with a special emphasis on anime culture.
First Fridays, & Art Walks
You know what's a great community? The art community. You know why it's so great? Because it's so diverse within itself!
First Friday is the collection of events in some cities the first friday of every month. They offer such fun as pub-hopping, gallery openings, a wide array of street vendors (Etsy street team, anyone?), live music and performance art. Whether you're there to debut your art, book your band, have a couple drinks or just socialize, art walks are a great way to do so.
First Fridays are most common in the United States, but similar events exist all over the world under titles like "Market Days" and "Art Walks"
An activist, an art snob and bass player walk into a bar. They sit there for several hours partaking in lively discussion and fostering a lifelong friendship. Ziiiing!
Meetup.com is an amazing site where you can find everything from Lolita Meetups to Coffee Shop Geek Discussions within your area, and all over the world.