This photo essay was created by Zhou Zhuangchen, a student in the Program for Narrative and Documentary Practice at Tufts University, which took 11 students to St. Petersburg, Russia to explore the country up-close. The stories and photographs they brought home focused on the cultural, the social, and the sense of place. The workshop was led by award-winning photographer Samuel James.

Back in the 1990s, when this underground music culture started in Saint Petersburg, skinheads were the mainstream. They chanted about racism and Nazism. Riots broke out in the streets, disturbing public safety. The city government cracked down, and many skinheads were sent to prison. Few still perform publicly now.

Today, the punk scene in St. Petersburg is mostly apolitical. The bands featured on stage are more diverse in their beliefs and tastes. The songs are mainly about their lives and about their ideas of anarchy. 

Many work in low-income jobs and find it difficult to fit into society; instead they form an insular community among themselves.  Some punks choose to be strictly vegan, some avoid alcohol, cigarettes or drugs, some go in the opposite direction.

On the dance floor, though, bumping and pushing each other, they seem to find a bit of their true selves.