Juggalos are probably the last musical subculture that is openly reviled and still vastly misunderstood. This vast network of underground musicians and fans can be described, in a few words, as serious fans of the Detroit duo the Insane Clown Posse. But frankly, that's just scraping the surface. ICP is the group around which the fandom hinges, but it goes much, much deeper than that.
Sure, aesthetically, they arm themselves in clown face paint, vaguely hip-hop-influenced clothing, and hairstyles mostly last seen during nu metal. But one of the main juggalo themes -- and chants, in public -- is "family." It's a clan of admitted outcasts who have taken to radically supporting each other in whatever forms of expression they choose to take.
Juggalos, simply put, do not give a crap if you understand them, their looks, their music, or whatever else. In a way, it's a contemporary, total expression of punk rock's original fuck-you m.o., in a time when punk rock is totally commodified.
In a way, because of this, the juggalo world has increasingly been held under a sort of sociological and critical microscope, especially in the context of the scene's ultimate event, the Gathering of the Juggalos. The Gathering is a totally independent festival run and booked entirely by Insane Clown Posse and its record label, Psychopathic Records, and has recently been featured in documentaries, photo essays, magazine stories, and more. The festival is infamous, strange, the object of both derision and fascination.
The Gathering returns in just about a week, and runs from August 8 through 12 on the site where it's taken place since 2007, in Cave-in-Rock, Illinois. And, frankly, despite whatever horror stories you may have heard about the festival, it does, in many ways, offer one of the best values and most unique experiences on the summer circuit -- even if you don't like ICP all that much. Here are ten reasons why.