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 was there and these words and pictures tell the tale.

David Bowie

◼︎ As a decade, the 1970s 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.
+++
Swinging 80s, London, history, blitz club, blitz kids, theblitzkids, theblitzclub, cult with no name, billy’s, gossip’s, nightclubs, fashion, pop music, steve strange, rusty egan, boy george, stephen jones, kim bowen, stephen linard, chris sullivan, robert elms, perry haines, princess julia, judi frankland, darla-jane gilroy,fiona dealey, jayne chilkes, derek ridgers, perry haines, terry jones, peter ashworth, lee sheldrick, michele clapton, myra, willy brown, helen robinson, stephane raynor, melissa caplan,Dinny Hall, Kate Garner, rachel auburn, richard ostell, Paul Bernstock, Dencil Williams, Darla Jane Gilroy, Simon Withers, Graham Smith, Graham Ball, christos tolera, sade adu, peter marilyn robinson, gaz mayall, midge ure, gary kemp, steve dagger,Denis O’Regan, andy polaris, john maybury, cerith Wyn Evans, iain webb, jeremy healy, david holah, stevie stewart, worried about the boy,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. He and other fashionista Blitz Kids were picked by Bowie to represent their movement in his 1980 video for Ashes to Ashes (above). 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 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 music 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.

➢ THE DROPDOWN MENUS ALONG THE PAGE TOP lead you to main topics. Choose “View full site” on your mobile.
➢ THE BLOG POSTS on this front page report topical updates which also link to the background pages in the menu.

Below: View Blitz Club host Steve Strange in all his poser glory in the promo video for Fade to Grey (1982), also starring the club’s cloakroom girl, Julia Fodor, aka Princess

CLICK HERE to run the anthemic 80s video ♫ ♫ from Spandau Ballet and feel the chant:

nightlife, st moritz, club for heroes,le kilt, wag club, beat route,hacienda, cha-cha, holy city zoo, rum runner, camden palace, scala cinema, studio 21,crocs, le palace, white trash, fac51, Dirt Box, mud club, batcave, barbarella's, croc's, electro-pop, synth-pop, Chant No 1, kid creole, blue rondo, animal nightlife, visage, duran, depeche mode, ultravox, human league, gentry, ABC,soft cell, bolan,vince clarke, haysi, wham!, mclaren, heaven 17, yazoo, foxx, omd, bauhaus, phil oakey, jay strongman, Martyn Ware, martin fry ,altered images, 20th-century box, vivienne westwood, PX, axiom, body-map , foundry, sue clowes,demob, seditionaries, acme attractions, i-D, the face, new sounds new styles, Korniloff, andrew logan, kahn & bell, biddie & eve, toyah,

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


❏ iPAD & TABLET & MOBILE USERS PLEASE NOTE — You are viewing only a very small selection of content from this wide-ranging website on the 1980s, not chosen by the author. To access fuller background features and topical updates please request PC version and Choose “View full site” – then in the blue bar atop your mobile page, click the three horizontal lines linking to many blue themed pages of background articles.
➢ Click here to visit another random item every time you click

1984 ➤ How SAW pumped up the volume during the Swinging Eighties

Channel5, Mike Stock, Pete Waterman , Matt Aitken, TV, documentary

Matt Aitken, Pete Waterman and Mike Stock in their heyday. (Photo: PA)

❚ DO CATCH THE SIZZLING NEW TV DOCUMENTARY about Stock Aitken Waterman, the three musical geniuses who only had to press all the right buttons for an unknown singer, and inject a dance beat into their music to create one Top 10 hit after another. From 1984 the writing/producing team of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman were to publish over 100 hit singles, producing and launching the pop careers of Hazell Dean, Dead or Alive, Bananarama, Sinitta, Princess, Mel & Kim, Rick Astley, Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan. International stars such as Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, Chic and Depeche Mode became external clients.

The detail of how SAW evolved their production line with Phil Harding at PWL Studios makes for awesome viewing in two programmes of 90 minutes each, the second going out on Channel 5 next Saturday. Pete Waterman compared their output to Motown in the 1960s: “Every five days we had to churn out a hit.”

➢ Stock Aitken Waterman: Legends of Pop – Catch up with the first episode on the C5 website now

FRONT PAGE

2023 ➤ Bowie anniversaries: One fan’s teenage love remains undimmed

David Bowie, 1976, Man Who Fell to Earth, pop music, films, anniversary, birth, death,

Bowie’s new look for 1976 when he became The Man Who Fell to Earth, here in a Haywain shirt. Photographed by Steve Schapiro and published on the cover of the Sunday Times Magazine

David Robert Jones
8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016

Every January, two dates stir the souls of Bowie fans: the 8th being his birthday and the 10th the day he died. On the seventh anniversary of his death, Eighties Blitz Kid and pop singer ANDY POLARIS recalls the dramatic influence Bowie had on his early teens in the way that his fan base would also be galvanized by his art to inspire their own creative dreams. This extract comes from a much longer piece at his own website Apolarisview.wordpress.com … Andy writes:

Much has been written about Bowie’s Starman performance in 1972. I had begun a fascination with his image a little earlier after the Melody Maker interview, thanks to an older teenager who also had the album, Hunky Dory.

I began to spend the little pocket money I had on buying all the magazines and music papers that featured him, especially on the cover. Fab 208, PopSwop, Music Star, Music Scene and Jackie thankfully were relatively cheap and I began my scrapbook collection. Ziggy Stardust with his bold make-up and glamorous wardrobe (courtesy of Freddie Burretti and Kansai Yamamoto) was unlike anything seen before and blurred the line between sexes. This beautiful creature offered a world of possibilities to this youth already bored with football and the teenybop fandom that dominated our era. Clothes, style, identity – normal teenage rites of passage – all took on a greater importance over the next few years but now helped define a more alternative journey.

Seeking out Bowie’s references in lyrics opened a new door to imagination. His creative output eased my inner void of loneliness and probably kick-started my interest in science-fiction. Humdrum suburbia was replaced by the magical worlds of Alfred Bester, Philip K Dick, George Orwell and Robert Heinlein to a soundtrack of Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs.

Scissors, Pritt Stick or Gloy Gum and a large desk were my 1970s iPad, and all that were needed, as I lovingly read and then pasted articles onto A4 note paper into a hard grey binder. This became a ritual that continued for my teenage life. I never liked to create collages because I hated cutting up articles too much and words were equally important. What Bowie was saying or what people were saying about him seemed as important as the visuals. That shape-shifting style (musically and visually) meant I never got bored and felt that I evolved along with him, my anticipation becoming almost tangible with news of a new release or a TV appearance…

➢ Read Andy’s full article on Bowie: First anniversary of his death and my teenage love is undimmed

Andy Polaris , Billy's club, Derek Ridgers, nightlife

Future singer Andy Polaris and Sue at Billy’s in 1978. (Photograph © by Derek Ridgers)

FRONT PAGE

➤ Hottest Shapers during 2022

Andrew Ridgeley , Wham Rap, video, Face magazine, Club Culture,

Click pic to open the Wham Rap! video in another window … “Man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes his group’s clubbing credentials in the opening shots of the Wham video by reading my cover story on Club Culture first published in The Face in 1983 and in recent years the No 1 read at Shapers of the 80s!

❚ OVER THE PAST 14 YEARS Shapers of the 80s has received 2.2 million views, according to year-ending stats measured by our host, WordPress. Our 850+ published items total half-a-million words, which is several times more than most books, so it pays to explore the various navigation buttons. Here are the half dozen posts which remained among the most popular with readers during 2022…

➢ Photos inside the Blitz Club, exclusive to Shapers of the 80s

FACE No 34,club culture ➢ 69 Dean Street and the making of UK club culture – evolution of the once-weekly party night (1983)

➢ Why Bowie recruited Blitz Kids for his Ashes to Ashes video in 1980 from the club-night founded by Steve Strange and Rusty Egan

➢ 20 gay kisses in pop videos that made it past the censor

➢ First Blitz invasion of the US —
Spandau Ballet and the Axiom fashion collective take Manhattan by storm (1981)

NYC,Axiom,Melissa Caplan, Sade, Elms, Tony Hadley, Ollie O'Donnell

At the Underground club in NYC 1981: Melissa Caplan rehearses Bob Elms, Mandy d’Wit and Sade Adu for the Axiom runway show. Right, Ollie “the snip” O’Donnell goes to work on singer Tony Hadley’s hair. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s

➢ Posing with a purpose at the Camden Palace — power play among the new non-working class (1983)

FRONT PAGE

2022 ➤ Reunion with Martin Creed, the artist who might yet make me rich

Martin Creed, London Art Fair, living sculpture, concart,

Martin Creed meets Your Truly: at the London Art Fair last January (© selfie)

❚ THIS YEAR I ENJOYED a madcap chance meeting at the London Art Fair with Martin Creed, artist, musician and multimedia performer noted for his wayward dress sense as a living sculpture. Our paths first crossed in 2001 just before he won the annual Turner Prize for what some described as Creed’s “most notorious work” – Work No. 227: The lights going on and off – in an empty gallery. I had stumbled across his gentle but subversive wit in Paris in 1996 at an identical light display, and then back in London found his Work No. 140: A sheet of A4 paper torn up in the shop at the Institute of Contemporary Art. It cost me a tenner. A surefire investment.

Coincidentally, when Creed was nominated for the Turner Prize in June 2001, a similar piece titled A sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball was reported being sold for £2,000. My boss at The Sunday Times, who knew I was a collector, insisted I interview him for News Review and ask him whether my piece was also worth £2,000. Here below you can read the feature that resulted…

Creed subsequently won that Turner Prize, and the years since then have been fertile for the audacious artist. Creed’s website lists his latest work during lockdown as No. 3725 Live at home, though he has also been actively touring the world this year. Heaven knows how the current economic dramas must be corroding the value of my torn-up £10 masterpiece.

Click on the image below to read in a new window

The Sunday Times, Martin Creed, living sculpture, art, journalism

Martin Creed featured in The Sunday Times, 3 June 2001

➢ Visit Martin Creed’s website – with video discussion of the crumpled ball of paper

FRONT PAGE

➤ Captured in 1983: the Westwood-McLaren showdown

Over two weeks I watched fashion gurus Westwood
and McLaren go their separate ways. Daggers-drawn,
they both talked exclusively to the Evening Standard…
Mine were the final pix of them together

Paris fashion, 1983, Vivienne Westwood, Malcolm McLaren, Worlds End, post-punk

Their last dance, Paris 1983… Westwood says: “Malcolm has one more chance to be good.” McLaren says: “I’m not incapable of designing the next collection myself.” Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ Click here to read my enhanced version about the day
the King and Queen of Outrage realised
the end was nigh, in 1983

First published in the Evening Standard, 4 Nov 1983

➢ Obituary for Dame Vivienne Westwood 1941-2022 at The Guardian

➢ BBC’s in-depth tribute to Vivienne – the godmother of punk

FRONT PAGE