In 1980 a youth movement began reshaping Britain.
Its stars didn’t call themselves New Romantics, or the Blitz Kids – but other people did. This writer’s words and pictures tell the tale
❚ As a decade the 70s spelt doom. British youth culture had been discredited by punk. A monumental recession followed the Labour government’s “winter of discontent”, threatening the prospect of no jobs for years ahead.
Yet from this black hole burst an optimistic movement the press dubbed the New Romantics, based on a London club called the Blitz. Its soundtrack was a pounding synthesised electro-pop created for the dancefloor by a studio seven-piece called Visage, fronted by the ultimate poser, Steve Strange. But the live band who broke all the rules were five dandies with a preposterous name: Spandau Ballet.
As the last of the Baby Boomers, the so-called Blitz Kids were concerned with much more than music. In 1980 they shook off teenage doubt to express all those talents the later Generation X would have to live up to — leadership, adaptability, negotiating skills, focus. Children of the age of mass TV, these can-doers excelled especially in visual awareness. They were the vanguard for a self-confident new class who were ready to enjoy the personal liberty and social mobility heralded by their parents in the 60s.
For Britain, the Swinging 80s were a tumultuous period of social change when the young wrested many levers of power away from the over-40s. London became a creative powerhouse and its pop and street fashion the toast of world capitals. All because a vast dance underground had been gagging for a very sociable revolution.
“From now on, this will become the official history” — verdict of a former Blitz Kid.
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