Category Archives: Clubbing

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

London, New Romantics, Blitz Kids,  Derek Ridgers, publishing, photography, V&A, talks, youth culture, nightlife, fashion style,

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

London,Sacrosanct,  Billie Madley , Twinkle Bunty, Derek Ridgers, publishing, photography, V&A, talks, youth culture, nightlife, fashion style,

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

Derek Ridgers, publishing, photography, V&A, talks, youth culture, nightlife, fashion style,

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

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➤ Launching tomorrow, Soho’s new radio station gives Sullivan the wag a place in its shop window

Wag club, London, nightclubbing, Chris Sullivan,1980s,

On TV in 1984: Wag club host Chris Sullivan talks of his love for jazz (BBC)

❚ DEEJAY AND FORMER WAG CLUB HOST and reinventor of the zoot suit Chris Sullivan writes today: “My first radio show on Soho Radio tomorrow from 4 till 6pm …. Tune in online for an afternoon tickle…. and please like the page if you can. I’d be most grateful.”

➢ His Presenter page at Soho Radio reads like his job app to me:

Soho Radio, online,London, UK The show would be called Sullivan Suits and would cover all the music I come across each week on my quest as a DJ that might be Scorpio by Dennis Coffey, You and Me By Slave, Hustlers Convention by the Last Poets or re-edits by Joey Negro such as Same Old Scene by Roxy or stuff that I refind such as Manhattan Fable by Babs Gonsales, Light My Fire by Erma Franklyn. These would be backed up by old favourites such as A Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash, Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong, Kooks by David Bowie. Howling Wolf, Little Walter, Aretha etc etc.

I’d throw in odd facts, stories and hoaxes. All in all it would be whatever suits me and the listener that day. I would also get a guest from time to time and get them to pick a few tracks – Mark Powell, Phil Dirtbox, Kevin Rowlands, Bernie from Groucho, Mark Hix etc and perhaps discuss Soho and swop stories.

❏ Launching at 2pm Weds May 7, Soho Radio is a new independent radio station with 24/7 live streaming and pre-recorded programming from its own shop/cafe in Great Windmill Street, next to Paul Raymond’s Windmill Club. Wave to the Cuban Brothers and later to Sullivan through the studio’s large shop window onto the street. The station says it aims to provide an eclectic mix of the vibrant and diverse which this district of central London is renowned for – breaking underground acts and bringing together musicians, artists, film makers, chefs, poets and local piano tuners. Nowhere does the website says who’s behind the radio station, so until it proves itself we’d better assume it’s some Russian oligarch, as usual these days.

TALKING OF THE WAG, HERE’S A RARE OLD VIDEO

❏ Newly posted at YouTube, here’s a supercool glimpse inside Chris Sullivan’s Wag club on Wardour Street when it was London’s landmark nightspot during 1984. Monday nights were given over to the clubland’s most fashionable music craze – jazz! This segment comes from the BBC2 Whistle Test music programme on the Jazz Room when David Hepwoth ventures into the Wag to meet clubland’s jazz deejay Paul Murphy, old-timers Slim Gaillard and Will Gaines, Jerry IDJ, Dr Bob Jones, Robert Elms, among others. While club dudes complain “There’s no good pop music around at the moment” we see the American vocalist and true legend Slim Gaillard boogeying on the Wag’s dancefloor and also in a great vintage clip from 1946 singing his “groovy orooney” number, Dunkin’ Bagel.

Chris Sullivan comments: “I’ve never seen this … but then again I really didn’t like the interviewer hence my lack of enthusiasm in our chat.”

Wag Club, London, 1980s,  Paul Murphy, nightclubbing,Slim Gaillard

At the Wag in 1984: jazz deejay Paul Murphy, and American trouper Slim Gaillard (BBC)

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: When the Wag club shaped the New London Weekend

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➤ Calling fashionistas for their tales of Spandau Ballet in the New Romantic 80s

Spandau Ballet, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, Liverpool Empire, 1982, Diamond Tour, fans,

IS THIS YOU? May 8, 1982: A teenage fan shins the drainpipe at the Liverpool Empire giving access to Spandau Ballet’s dressing room on their first nationwide tour with the Diamond album. Snapped by © Shapersofthe80s

❚ WERE YOU A FAN of Spandau Ballet in the 1980s? Here’s an appeal for your experiences from a reputable documentary film-maker…

We are looking to speak to people who lived through the early years of the band’s success in the 80s for a BBC 4 documentary on the history of music and fashion in post-war Britain.

We are particularly interested in hearing from people who took fashion inspiration from them and the New Romantics scene and may still have some clothing from that period. If you can identify with this and wouldn’t mind speaking to a member of the team about your experiences please contact Lucy Joyner: ljoyner [ a t ] oxfordscientificfilms.tv

Spandau Ballet, Blitz Kids, New Romantics,  1982, Diamond Tour, Martin Kemp, fans, Gary Kemp,Steve Norman, Tony Hadley, Peter Capaldi

Unrivalled adulation in the early 80s: Tony Hadley faces the audience during Spandau Ballet’s Diamond tour of 1982. Photograph by © Shapersofthe80s

DID YOU WITNESS POP HISTORY IN THE MAKING?

❏ Who are the two Liverpool music fans so keen to meet their idols that they shinned the drainpipe at the Empire theatre leading to the dressing room of Spandau Ballet, Britain’s premier New Romantic band of the 80s? After knocking on the window, the girls achieved their goal when bass player Martin Kemp helped them to safety inside.

The year was 1982. Spandau’s seventh single Instinction had put them on Top of the Pops during Easter week and sales were rocketing. The night of May 8, towards the end of Spandau’s first nationwide tour, with stand-up comedian Peter Capaldi in support, has become known as The Return of the Scream. The moment the house lights dimmed, a mighty roar lifted the roof off the Empire, the city’s legendary music venue. It didn’t stop for 75 minutes. The band hadn’t heard anything so intense and were visibly shaken when they came offstage. Guitarist Gary Kemp said in disbelief: “I had to stop playing. I couldn’t hear my own monitor.”

What we had all witnessed was the return of the true teenybop scream, the continuous bellow from the lungs, little heard since the days of the Beatles. Security men and women were clearly caught out by the pandemonium as they wrestled to persuade the screamers back to their seats. One Empire veteran said that night he’d heard nothing like it since the Bay City Rollers in the mid-1970s.

A crowd of at least 500 fans surrounded the stage door afterwards and a shadow had only to fall across a dressing-room window for the scream to start again in the street. Two girls then decided to shin the drainpipe and beat the second-storey window with their handbags until they were let in.

Police with batons eventually arrived and the band managed to escape through the front doors of the theatre, but only after two decoy departures had been staged. Even so, in the murderous dash through the crowd packing the pavement, saxophonist Steve Norman lost a bracelet and singer Tony Hadley a chunk of his scalp. As their coach pulled away, I was stranded on the kerb photographing the mayhem.

Spandau Ballet, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, Liverpool Empire, 1982, Diamond Tour, Martin Kemp, fans, Gary Kemp,Steve Norman, Tony Hadley, Peter Capaldi

Inside the Liverpool Empire, May 8, 1982: fans shocked security staff with the roar that greeted Spandau Ballet. Photograph by © Shapersofthe80s

Spandau Ballet, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, ,1980,Scala Cinema, concert,OMM,pop music,
➢ An early Spandau Ballet date at the Scala cinema described above in The Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics – in the Observer Music Magazine 2009

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1955–2014 ➤ Frankie Knuckles, the Godfather of House Music, is gone

Frankie Knuckles,house music, tributes, deejay, Chicago,

2012: an Evening with Frankie Knuckles at Smart Bar, Chicago (© Tasya Menaker). His final live deejay set was at Ministry of Sound in London on Saturday. He had been scheduled to return to the UK for shows at Gatecrasher in Birmingham and The Arches in Glasgow later this month


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➢ Today’s tribute to Frankie Knuckles at Rolling Stone,
by Michaelangelo Matos:

Nobody can agree on who invented the blues or birthed rock & roll, but there is no question that house music came from Frankie Knuckles, who died Monday afternoon of as-yet-undisclosed causes at age 59. One of the 80s and 90s’ most prolific house music producers and remixers, Knuckles is, hands down, one of the dozen most important deejays of all time.

 Chicago, Warehouse,clubbing

The Chicago block where the Warehouse stood

At his Chicago clubs the Warehouse (1977-82) and Power Plant (1983-85), Knuckles’ marathon sets, typically featuring his own extended edits of a wide selection of tracks from disco to post-punk, R&B to synth-heavy Eurodisco, laid the groundwork for electronic dance music culture — all of it.

Knuckles made an abundant number of dance classics, including early Jamie Principle collaborations Your Love (1986) and Baby Wants to Ride (1987); Tears (1989), with Satoshi Tomiiee and Robert Owens; The Whistle Song (1991); and his remixes of Chaka Khan’s Ain’t Nobody (1989), Sounds of Blackness’s The Pressure (1992), and Hercules and Love Affair’s Blind (2008) … / Continued at Rolling Stone

Frankie Knuckles Day, Chicago, Barack Obama

August 25, 2004: declared Frankie Knuckles Day in Chicago by the then-senator Barack Obama

Barack Obama, Frankie Knuckles, condolence

Update April 17, 2014: letter of condolence from the Obamas

➢ Knuckles, the man I knew, by Clive Morgan in the Daily Telegraph

➢ Priest of the dancefloor, by Alexis Petridis in The Guardian

tom johnston, frankie knuckles, cartoon

VIDEO INTERVIEW IN LONDON 2012

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➤ Blue Rondo’s fat has been a long time a-chewing but May is now the month

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Me and Mr Sanchez: 1981’s debut chart hit for Blue Rondo à la Turk with cover art by former Wag club host Chris Sullivan

❚ PROMISES! PROMISES! All-round clubbing maestro Chris Sullivan has been faffing away for a year since he got his hands on the original master-tapes of his stand-out Latin-funk dance-band of 1982, Blue Rondo à la Turk. Going public on Facebook today, he dares to promise a re-release of their first album Chewing The Fat this spring (having originally mooted it for last spring), meanwhile posting online a punchy fresh mix of their debut chart single, Me and Mr Sanchez.

Sullivan said: “This is a remix we’ve done for our forthcoming bonus remix CD to accompany the first ever CD release of Blue Rondo’s first album Chewing The Fat on May 5.” Then comes the killer punch: “We’re looking to license it to a TV company for the World Cup… any ideas? It’s a no brainer and the original was used in Brazil by Globo TV for the 1982 World Cup but this is a better mix.”

A year ago he was downloading the whole Rondo catalogue fresh off the original tapes, saying: “First time anyone will have heard them digitally – other than disc dubs, of course. Looking back and listening to the tunes (especially the Heavens are Crying mix) what astonishes me is the f***-you-we’ll-do-our-thing approach.”

Since then Sullivan has released a handful of mixes from the putative new album, including an earlier mix of Mr Sanchez about which he acknowledged that the dean of swing, ex-Rondo guitarist Mark Reilly, “did the lion’s share”.

➢ Blue Rondo breathe fresh life into Mr Sanchez

➢ A brighter Bluer Rondo for the 20-tweens

➢ Sullivan and his hinterland 1982–2012

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