Indonesia has a proliferation of children living on the streets of its larger cities. To the state and dominant society, they are perceived as committing a social violation. In response to their marginalisation and subordination, street children in Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia, have developed a 'repertoire of strategies' in order to survive. These include the appropriation of urban niches within the city, in which they create collective solutions for the dilemmas they confront in their everyday lives. This paper discusses a street boy community that exists within these marginal spaces: the Tikyan subculture of Yogyakarta. It presents the Tikyan subculture as a technique for street children to resist the negative stereotypes which are given to them by mainstream society. As they get older and become increasingly alienated by society, the Tikyan actively reject their 'deviant' label, and decorate street life so that it becomes agreeable in their eyes. This is achieved by deviating from dominant styles of dress and conventional behaviour, and through the development of a specific symbolic identity. These symbolic challenges to the dominant culture are communicated and dispersed within the social group and conveyed to the world via the subculture's 'specialised semiotic': their style of dress; their acts of bodily subversion or dissent (in the form of tattoos, body piercing and sexual practices); the music they play and listen to; and their use of drugs and alcohol. I describe these practices as the Tikyan 's obligatory performances, and the expected ways of behaving in order to remain accepted by the group.