Yes, We Still Have a Lace Code

“The lace code is dead,” said a poster recently on a Facebook group dedicated to punk music, memes, and shitposting. “No one I know believes in the lace code,” said another.

Southerners called them out. We still need the lace code.

For those of you who refuse to (punk) rock, the “lace code” refers to a codified system surrounding the color of your Doc Marten shoelaces. Sound pretentious and Hot Topic-y? You probably think so. But it’s been floating around punk culture since the 1970s, when it was developed by skinheads in London. It was adapted as more people used it to signal things other than, you know, being a Nazi punk.

General breakdown: yellow means you’re anti-racist. Blue says ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards), and you killed one. Purple stands for LGBTQIA+ rights. Black? You’re neutral. Red or white? You just found a Nazi punk.

I recently bought tickets to a show, mostly as an excuse to support the local scene and jump into a mosh pit. I didn’t know the bands playing. So I started listening to the top bill, Murphy’s Law. One or two lyrics made me… uncomfortable. I hit Google.

The lead singer of Murphy’s Law went by the name “Jimmy Gestapo.” He switched to Jimmy Spliff, but he’s still using Jimmy G. or Jimmy Gestapo.

I had planned on hitting that show alone. I skipped it. Fascism with a high chance of Nazi punks? No way. Like the Descendents sing (yes, they intentionally misspell their name), I come from the land of the slaves and the Ku Klux Klan. Nowadays they’re more likely to shout about critical race theory while papering their yard with “Trump 2024” signs than actually kill Black people, but sometimes they do that, too.

I took my kids to the zoo recently, where we ran into a girl with multiple faces piercings and a pair of Docs. “Nice yellow laces,” I said. She grinned (and that’s how you find yourself explaining the lace code to your eight-year-old). It’s still a thing.

And it’s still a thing because we need it to be a thing. In a world where wannabe fascists in Punisher T-shirts invade the Capitol and NASCAR fans yell “Let’s go, Brandon!”, there are Nazi punks. They have not fucked off, despite the Dead Kennedys’ entreaties. They’re out there.

My laces? They’re black. My husband begged. He’s afraid some goon will bash my head in over a pair of yellow laces. Considering Dylann Roofe bought his ammo a few miles from my house before shooting up a Black church, he’s probably not overcautious.

The lace code’s alive and well in the South, honey. In Portland, where I’m told the dream of the Nineties is still alive, they probably lack skinheads. But we’ve still got ’em. “When Fascism comes to America,” said Upton Sinclair, “it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

Sounds like Newsmax to me.




Mama, writer, angry punk. Scary Mommy staffer before BDG bought us out. | parenting | education| mental health | gentle parenting |

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Elizabeth Broadbent

Elizabeth Broadbent

Mama, writer, angry punk. Scary Mommy staffer before BDG bought us out. | parenting | education| mental health | gentle parenting |

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