WELCOME ➤ TO THE SWINGING EIGHTIES

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.
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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.
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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.
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“From now on, this will become the official history” — verdict of  a former Blitz Kid.
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➢ THE MENU AT TOP leads you into this Aladdin’s Cave.
➢ THE BLOG POSTS on this front page report topical updates which also link to the background pages in the menu.
CLICK HERE to run the anthemic 80s video ♫ ♫ from Spandau Ballet and feel the chant.

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July 2, 1981: Shooting the video for Chant No 1 at Le Beat Route club in Soho, “down, down, pass the Talk of the Town”. Photograph © by Shapersofthe80s


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1982 ➤ “Who?!” Peter Capaldi’s first interview (probably) as a green young stand-up

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Capaldi learning the ropes as a comic: Live onstage supporting Spandau Ballet in 1982. (Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s)

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Capaldi and screwdriver: the 12th in line as Doctor Who [BBC]

◼ “KIDS THREW ORANGES AND COINS at me in Brighton. It’s the first time I’ve tapped into that iceberg of sympathy.” Such was the welcome the 23-year-old Scot, Peter Capaldi, received on his first serious outing as a stand-up comedian supporting Spandau Ballet’s first national concert tour in 1982. I’d been bowled over by his high-octane act a week earlier in Manchester and now the tour was winding up in Bournemouth where I’d come for its Easter weekend finale. His energetic performance suggested an interview was going to be fun, and I’d snapped some onstage pictures that spookily presage an aspect of Capaldi that was to win a Bafta award later in his career.

So here we were in the Royal Exeter hotel talking about his lucky break earlier on the same tour – being spotted supporting Spandau’s Glasgow gig by film producer Bill Forsyth who also recognised talent writ large. One result was me resting my notebook on a thumping fat filmscript titled Local Hero, and the other was Capaldi admitting: “I’m terrified of starting this film – standing in front of a camera.”

Oh the irony. Tonight Peter Capaldi, now 56, stepped into the best role in British television to play the 12th Doctor Who – a rendering as fierce and dotty as any who went before. Today too I finally found my long-lost notes from the first interview he’d given as an unknown comic, plus the cassette tape of our very relaxed conversation about his days at Glasgow School of Art, singing with a local band, and his yen to try comedy, inspired by 1981’s nationwide tour by Rik Mayall and the Comic Strip team, who a year later leapt onto British television screens on Channel 4’s opening night.

Local Hero, 1983, Peter Capaldi, Burt Lancaster , Peter Riegert, movies, Bill Forsyth

Local Hero, 1983: Peter Capaldi with Burt Lancaster and Peter Riegert, a gentle Scottish comedy directed by Bill Forsyth

For Capaldi’s debut in autumn 1981, he had invented a dim character called Fraser Meaky after thinking “I can’t go onstage as myself!” but then Gary Kemp’s circle of Spandau friends, who did not want another band supporting their tour, asked him to be a comedy warm-up before the main event. Fraser was shed in favour of a much more frenetic onstage Capaldi wearing a distressed old showbiz tuxedo, the humour retuned to lampooning the ego maniacs in politics and pop.

Recently, he had been compering a Monday live band night at a Glasgow club. “I like fast clean idea jokes, like Steve Martin,” he said. “The trouble with Glasgow is that it’s a small audience and every time you play you face the same crowd so you have to invent new material. After three weeks I couldn’t think of any more jokes, so it fell through.” How he solved this dilemma was revealed as we spoke. More of the interview will follow soon, meanwhile listen to our chat.

AUDIO CLIP FROM OUR 1982 INTERVIEW:

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➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: How Clare Grogan’s pop entourage put Capaldi on the road, plus an audio track with his band The Dreamboys

➢ Catch Doctor Who series 8 on BBC iPlayer for two months

Doctor Who

Rare self-deprecation: Click pic to view Doctor gifs at thespoonmissioner

➢ Sept update: The new Doctor joins Denzel Washington and Gemma Arterton on BBC1’s Graham Norton Show, 26 Sept – Peter Capaldi’s debut alongside Jenna Coleman was the most watched Doctor Who opening episode in four years, with 9.2million UK viewers.

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➤ After Anna’s drenching, Gaultier leads the world’s fashionistas for more ice-bucket madness

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There goes her bob: editor Anna Wintour gets dowsed. Click pic to view video at Vogue

◼ WHO WOULD HAVE PREDICTED the stern-faced Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour would have played ball with the #icebucketchallenge sweeping America to raise funds for the ALS charity? Well, having been dared to get freezing-wet by her daughter Bee Shaffer, here’s the proof that Anna and her immaculately coiffed bob are good sports. The big question: Will the wet look make it to the September issue?

➢ Click to see Anna Wintour accept the
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Following the rules of the challenge, La Wintour obligingly nominated Roger Federer, tennis champion, and Dominic West, star of the TV drama series The Wire, to get themselves dowsed within 24 hours.

However, before either of them could muster enough supermarket ice-cubes, zat crazee Froggy, Jean Paul Gaultier, led the charge for the international brigade of couturiers. (So far fashion had been represented only by models such as Cara Delevingne and Suki Waterhouse.) Here is JP being given the big freeze by some handpicked hunk in speedos…

MEANWHILE BACK ON THE FASHION RUNWAY

❏ Fabulous fashion footnote: You have until Monday 25 August to catch the extraordinary and witty retrospective of JPG’s madcap couture creations in The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier at London’s Barbican Art Gallery: 165 cutting-edge garments that boggle the imagination, up close and theatrically displayed in a touring exhibition from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: Gaultier celebration trumps all else in London this summer

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No, not JPG himself sporting a mink Marinière, and greeting us in English and French. This is one of many custom-made mannequins at London’s Barbican exhibition, brought flirtatiously to audio-visual life by the UBU/Compagnie de création of Montreal and Jolicoeur International of Quebec. Photographed by Shapersofthe80s

➢ Jean Paul Gaultier’s take on Sade’s style

Iain R Webb,fanzine,Jean Paul Gaultier, fashion,

Fan and hero: Iain R Webb and JP Gaultier

➢ British fashion guru Iain R Webb recently gave a guided tour of the Gaultier show in London – To prepare for the talk, he constructed a scrapbook of his friendship with JP Gaultier preferring to call it a fanzine. You can view it at his blog Hopeandglitter.

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1929–2014 ➤ Bacall slouched, she simmered and she gave as good as she got

Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, cinema, glamour, goddess, Hollywood,

Bacall raised the temperature in Hollywood: Bogie used to tell her, “Keep it quiet. If in doubt, don’t answer”

❚ THE ONLY TIME I MET LAUREN BACALL was at London’s Hayward Gallery in the late 70s. I was minding my own business admiring a huge colourful painting by David Hockney, when that unmistakably smoky voice boomed into my ear: “Aw, that is a perfect match for the curtains in the ocean room back home!” I just about suppressed laughing out loud and we became instant pals for the duration. She did actually like the Hockney, one of his sunny landscapes, and certainly gave the impression of knowing her way round the art world. Did I even ask one personal question? In the orbit of so dazzling a supernova? You’re kidding. And everyone in that gallery was silently begging me to.

➢ Lauren Bacall, the tough-talking femme fatale who taught Humphrey Bogart how to whistle, has died at the age of 89 – Guardian obituary:

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Betty’s star today on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame

She was so nervous in her first film role, at all of 19 years old, that her head shook; so she tilted her chin down to steady herself, and had to look up from under at the camera. She stood at the bedroom door of ‘a hotel in Martinique in the French West Indies’ – the Warner Bros lot in Hollywood – looked up, and asked Humphrey Bogart for a match. And defined her life… / Continued at Guardian online

Lauren Bacall,

The inimitable Lauren Bacall with Sophie, her papillon, in her apartment at the Dakota, in New York City. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz

➢ At 86 Lauren Bacall looked back on a lucky, if often difficult, life as she gave it straight to Vanity Fair:
You are going to cut me to ribbons, I can tell. What’s the argument for this story? That I am still breathing? I don’t talk about the past,” she proclaims, taking a piece of Bissinger’s and pushing the rest in my direction. Nevertheless, the past is present everywhere in this room and all over the apartment. It is, in fact, never far from her thoughts. She has lived in great comfort in this place since 1961, when she bought it for $48,000. “I called my business manager in California and said, ‘Sell all of my stock’ — what little of it I had — and it’s the only smart financial move I ever made,” she says… / Continued at Vanity Fair online

“Go to work, Slim”

❏ Above, we see 19-year-old Betty at her sexiest in To Have and Have Not, her first movie with Bogie when they fell for each other and married for life, making it rather superior to Casablanca for romance. Watch her minx up this quirky number, How Little We Know, with Hoagy Carmichael tickling the ivories.

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1945: Bogie and Bacall married within a year of meeting. She said the 25-year age gap was was the most fantastic thing in her life

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1978–87 ➤ British nightlife snapped by Ridgers as it came out of the closet

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Underground publicity: Derek Ridgers with lavish poster treatment for his photo-book published jointly by Damiani and Transport for London. (Pic by Shapersofthe80s)

❚ THIS FRIDAY AT THE V&A MUSEUM, London photographer Derek Ridgers will try to explain the power of his touching yet confrontational images of London youth taken in the transformational decade of the 1980s. His newly published book 78–87 London Youth can be viewed online. He is best known for these documentary portraits taken on the streets and in the clubs by night, though he has also snapped celebs from James Brown to The Spice Girls, Clint Eastwood to Johnny Depp, as well as Tony Blair, gangster ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser, artist Julian Schnabel, writer Martin Amis, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and more.

The recessionary 70s had precipitated a drone age of rocketing unemployment in the UK, threatening no jobs for school-leavers, ever. Yet from this black hole burst a passionately tribal youth culture that was to create the Swinging 80s, an era of optimism, marked by hedonistic good times and a flair for exhibitionism that played up to Derek’s camera. Ambition and self-improvement were the ultimate goals of the young then, in sharp contrast to the cynical narcissism of today’s lost children.

➢ Derek Ridgers talks on photographing the 80s at the V&A’s late evening, 6.30pm Friday July 18, with yours truly in the chair. Derek will be signing his book afterwards

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Twinkle Bunty comments on this Sacrosanct club pic by Ridgers posted at Facebook: “Just trotted over to Foyles and bought Derek Ridgers’ fab new book. Thrilled to find this pic from 1985 of me and Billie Madley proving that the 80s were ALL about the eyebrows. Mine were jet black Rimmel and Billie’s were red BIRO.” Another from ‪Laura Whitcomb: “When you shaved that eyebrow it was epic… That Westwood shirt and suit and of course those ear muffs your obsession – and the inimitable final touch of a Fosters with a baby blue straw.” Plastic bath cap: Billie’s own.

❚ IN OCTOBER 1982, I INTERVIEWED DEREK RIDGERS while writing the massive survey of London’s newly exploding nightlife phenomenon which became The Face’s cover story, The making of UK club culture in February 1983. Direct from my original notes, here is Derek’s perceptive analysis which helped inform my thinking about the turmoil that was transforming British youth culture…

Derek talking: “The depression of the late 70s made the future oh so inevitable. But from the Blitz club period onward [1979], the feeling has been different. A reaction of ambisexual kitsch. It’s an honesty with the way you look and what you want to do. There’s an enthusiasm to investigate the possibilities. There’s no sense of inevitability.

“As a photographer, I go as the casual observer and stand in the shadows. When I first went to those Tuesday nights at Billy’s [1978] it was like walking into a Hieronymous Bosch painting – furtive but lively, very decadent reflecting what they were into, and yet with a sense of oneness, a dedication that’s never been equalled since.”

In 1980 the Blitz leaders had moved on to another Covent Garden club called Hell which Derek said “was similar but more decadent because they tried to keep it to themselves. In its final weeks, only out-of-towners were going to the Blitz, because by then the media had blown away the furtiveness”.

Click any pic to launch slideshow

In 1982 Steve Strange and Rusty Egan began fronting the 1,600-capacity Camden Palace and the Pose Age went public. Ridgers said then: “At the Palace poses are adopted, yet it’s probably more interesting than the Blitz or Billy’s because it’s more honest… 90% are regulars, 9% out-of-towners, and 1% could be any type of person who’ll choose to go clubbing there, but go nowhere else except their own pub. Sometimes they’re out of their depth and try to dress as they think is expected – they bring with them an unconsidered primitiveness.

“Men are wearing dresses now but not pretending to be women. They are proud to be men – that’s fairly modern.” In autumn 1982 Boy George was in the charts with Culture Club’s first single. “George wants to look pretty, rather than handsome. He asks me whether I find him attractive and I have to pretend he’s a girl and give him an appraisal – which I don’t mind. I don’t feel threatened.”

“What’s important at the Palace is feeling special, being noticed – in a sea of other people. A good club has become a place to go for the right social reasons, rather than just to hang out.”

➢ View more Ridgers portfolio at his website

ESSENTIAL READS

➢ Blitz kids and the birth of the New Romantics – my overview for the Observer Music Magazine

➢ 69 Dean Street and the making of UK club culture
– for The Face magazine, here at Shapersofthe80s

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Cover star Tuinol Barry photographed by Derek Ridgers in 1983. Sadly, Barry was to die young.

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This week: Culture Club’s first live show in 15 years

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Old faces, new photo: Culture Club’s Mikey Craig, Boy George, Jon Moss and Roy Hay stage their comeback at Edinburgh Castle on Saturday

❚ NOBODY HAS YET SAID whether we can expect to hear a track from Culture Club’s new album at this Saturday’s live concert on BBC1. The newly reformed 80s supergroup kick off their comeback among a dozen acts giving a spectacular two-hour concert, Live at Edinburgh Castle, before 8,000 people ahead of the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

The One Show’s Alex Jones will present a line-up of international acts, including Jessie J, Kaiser Chiefs, Culture Club, Smokey Robinson, Rizzle Kicks, Paloma Faith, Katherine Jenkins, Il Divo, One Republic, Alfie Boe, Ella Henderson, Pumeza and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra – plus comedy from Bill Bailey.

This will be the first time the original members of Culture Club have performed together in 15 years. They are Boy George (lead vocals), Mikey Craig (bass guitar), Roy Hay (guitar and keyboards) and Jon Moss (drums and percussion). Time for three numbers is allotted, but not a dickybird yet has leaked out about what the band will play. The past couple of months have been spent in the studio rehearsing new tunes for their 11-date tour with Alison Moyet in December.

➢ Live at Edinburgh Castle starts at 8.30pm Saturday
on BBC1

➢ Buy tickets for Live at Edinburgh Castle, starting
at 7pm Saturday

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: The Culture Club comeback begins

➢ Tickets are still available for Culture Club’s UK tour, December 1–15

➢ 11 Aug update: The newly reunited Culture Club will be broadcasting with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra on BBC Radio 2 at 7.30pm from Salford’s MediaCityUK

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