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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history, blitz club,blitz kids, theblitzkids, theblitzclub,cult with no name,billy’s, gossips, steve strange, rusty egan, boy george, baby boomers, nightclubs, clubbing, stephen jones, kim bowen, warren street, stephen linard, chris sullivan, robert elms, perry haines, princess julia, judi frankland, darla-jane gilroy,fiona dealey, derek ridgers,vivienne lynn,sharah,ostell, sallon, von thyssen,perry haines, terry jones,peter ashworth, andy rosen,scarlett, myra, lee sheldrick,helen robinson, stephane raynor, antony price, miss binnie,melissa caplan,Dinny Hall, Kate Garner,chris sullivan, Simon Withers, Graham Smith, Graham Ball, christos tolera,sade adu,marilyn, peter robinson,midge ure,gary kemp,steve dagger,Denis O’Regan, maybury, cerith, iain webb, jeremy healy, kate garner, david holah, stevie stewart,degville, worried about the boy, st moritz, club for heroes,le kilt, wag club, beat route,hacienda, cha cha, holy city zoo, rum runner, great queen street,camden palace, people’s palace,scala cinema, studio 21,crocs, hippodrome, le palace,white trash, fac51, gaz mayall,comedy store, alexei sayle,fouratt, dirtbox,mud club, St Martins,London Fashion Week,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.
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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.

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

electro-pop, synth-pop, bowie, ashes to ashes, Chant No 1, kid creole, blue rondo, animal nightlife,visage, duran,depeche mode, midge ure,ultravox, human league, rich kids, makers, gentry, ABC,soft cell, bolan,vince clarke, haysi, lennon, cleave,wham!, mclaren, mallet, heaven 17, yazoo, foxx, omd, bauhaus, phil oakey,Martyn Ware,martin fry ,altered images, 20th-century box, westwood, px, axiom, bodymap,willy brown, foundry, sue clowes,demob,seditionaries, acme attractions,ritz, zg,viz,i-D,the face,new sounds new styles,Kornilof, andrew logan, kahn & bell, biddie & eve, toyah,dencil, batcave, barbarella's, croc's

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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➤ 40 years on, Ridgers casts an honest spotlight on the birth of punk

Derek Ridgers, punk ,Vortex , Clare Thom

“I didn’t make a very good punk,” says photographer Derek Ridgers, here snapped by a passing punk at the Vortex in 1977, with future Blitz Kid Clare Thom at right

◼ THE CLICHES ABOUT PUNK are the rage, the nihilism, the safety pins. In fact, punk dawned in 1976, like all British youth cults, as a fashion statement that trumped those clichés. A new and powerful photo book from Derek Ridgers titled Punk London 1977 shows in 152 pages just how considered were its style leaders who had to invent their own iconoclastic looks before they could be bought off the peg. There were no mohican haircuts at the Roxy club when it opened in December 1976 and for 100 days became the platform for Generation X, the Clash, the Jam, the Heartbreakers, the Boys, Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees and a raucous wave of rebel music that spread to Soho’s Vortex and the 100 Club.

Ridgers says: “In ’76 the audience became more interesting than the bands.” As he turned his camera away from the stage, he focused on the unique characters in the audience who were creating a new movement through self-expression. “Most of the early punks didn’t look like punks anyway. They just looked like young people who would alter their clothes: very often it would be school uniform or there would be bin liners, a few safety pins but not very many. The ethos of punk is really ‘Do it yourself’. It’s not dressing up in leather and having a mohican.”

Click any pic below to launch slideshow

The book launched last night in Mayfair with a vibrant exhibition of its photos and a swell party hosted by menswear designer Paul Smith and the British Fashion Council. Rightly Vogue.com asked Ridgers yesterday: What did you wear while documenting these kids? He replied: “Often I’d be going to gigs straight from work, so I simply wore what I’d worn there—usually a jacket, open-neck shirt, and jeans. I was not a punk by any means.” There’s a key picture of the Damned playing the Roxy in early 1977 where Ridgers is visible in the top right-hand corner, standing on the stairs, in glasses, open-neck shirt, cardigan, smiling. “I didn’t make a very good punk,” he says. No, just a very perceptive footnote to history!

Dazed Digital probed further and asked: Out of all the scenes you’ve photographed, which have you most felt part of? Ridgers replied: “There must be a part of me that wanted to be part of all of them. I see my photography as a very vicarious thing. I suppose if I didn’t wear glasses and if I’d been a little bit more of a macho type of guy, I would have been a skinhead. I don’t think I could’ve ever been a punk or a new romantic.”

As an observer he carved out his own beat along the labyrinthine path British youth culture took during the exotic 80s and became the go-to lensman for his take on more extreme outsider cults. Ridgers told Dazed: “There were a lot of photographers around but I stuck it out longer. Woody Allen said something about success is 80% just being there. It’s the thing with me – I was there. I can’t make any other claims apart from the fact that I was there. Through everything. On the edge looking in. With a camera I was able to stare with some legitimacy.”

The trash mag Polyesterzine asks Ridgers if he could compare today’s Zeitgeist to any of the eras he had shot. “No, not at all,” he replies. “The late ’70s and early ’80s was a very different, much darker time. The streets of London were a mess. The poor guy [I photographed] who had ‘We are the flowers in your dustbin’ tattooed across his forehead had it exactly right. They did all seem like the flowers in a dustbin. . . Things are very different now because a lot of those little clubs don’t exist. Soho for instance, where nearly half my nightlife photographs were taken, is rapidly changing. There isn’t the same after dark frisson of excitement about the place any more. Gentrification and the need for developers to maximise the profit from every square inch of the place means that there just aren’t any scruffy, little basement clubs left. Those scruffy, little basement clubs were the area’s lifeblood.”

➢ Punk London 1977 is published by Carpet Bombing Culture

Adam Ant, Jordan, Vortex, punk, Derek Ridgers,

Derek Ridgers immortalises the night that the pioneering punk icon Jordan sang with The Ants at the Vortex, and says today: “They played far better music IMHO than when Adam became a big star in the 80s”

A GALAXY OF GALLERIES OF RIDGERS’ PIX

➢ At i-D – light on punk’s incendiary early days

➢ AllAccess Online in the cauldron of youth culture

➢ Dazed Digital pictures Punk London

➢ Accent shoots Brutus SS16 with Derek Ridgers

Captain Sensible , Damned , punk music, Roxy , Derek Ridgers

Captain Sensible fronts the Damned at the Roxy in 1977: spot Ridgers the cameraman top right in glasses and open-neck shirt. Photographed by Erica Echenberg

Don Letts, Andrew Czezowski , punk,Roxy

28 March 1977: deejay Don Letts and club promoter Andrew Czezowski outside the Roxy when it closed, three months after giving birth to punk. Photographed by Erica Echenberg

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2016 ➤ Bid for your own rare photo of David Bowie

David Bowie , exhibition, auction, Labyrinth, Photography,Chalkie Davies

1985: Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth, photographed during filming by Chalkie Davies who says today that he “only shot this one single frame”

◼ FOR THE NEXT 12 DAYS in central London a free exhibition titled David Bowie: Fame, Fashion, Photography is showing previously unseen archive photographs of the pop icon who died in January. The event is organised by a supporter of Cancer Research UK and curated by the V&A, with the aim of raising money through a silent online auction of 27 lots, of which seven are actual-size contact sheets. All images are signed by their photographers – Chalkie Davies, Tony McGee and Denis O’Regan – who shared working relationships with our hero.

Three pictures in the room command serious attention: Davies’ stunning portrait of Bowie in the film Labyrinth has caught a unique sensual intensity, enhanced by the stylised goblin makeup. At 21 inches square, it is well worth the starting price of £2,500 set by the photographer. Another contribution by Davies groups within one frame nine strong images from Ziggy Stardust’s farewell concert in 1973 showing both Bowie and Mick Ronson live on-stage. Given that each shot measures roughly 10×14 inches, great value at a starting price of £3,000.

One of the largest photographs in the room is by Denis O’Regan: a potent live concert picture of the short-haired Bowie during his 1978 UK tour showcasing Low and “Heroes”. At six-foot square and mounted on aluminium, this black-and-white image is a snip at its £750 starting price.

David Bowie, Chalkie Davies, Tony McGee , Denis O’Regan photography , exhibition, auction, Cancer Research UK, Bidding in the auction continues online until the exhibition closes at 6:30pm on 19 June. While the lots have been framed and printed to museum quality, the auctioneer’s website proved confusing until it was pointed out that it failed both to identify the photographer alongside many photos and to specify what size of print a buyer would receive for opening bids that range between £350 and £3,000!

A limited-edition, numbered catalogue is on sale at the gallery which is in Heddon Street where Bowie was immortalised in 1972 on the album cover of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars. The exhibition space, donated by Regent Street and The Crown Estate, is described by Kevin Cann, author of the definitive guide to Bowie’s early life, Any Day Now, as “one of the natural gravitational points for many fans to pay their respect” after David’s passing.

David Bowie , exhibition, auction, Photography,Chalkie Davies, Denis O’Regan, Ziggy Stardust

Bowie, Fame, Fashion, Photography at The Hub: at left, Denis O’Regan’s wall of images with his 1978 performance picture at centre. On the far wall is Chalkie Davies’s montage of nine Ziggy Stardust stage images from 1973

➢ The exhibition Bowie, Fame, Fashion, Photography runs 7–19 June at The Hub, 10 Heddon Street, W1B 4BX and is free, but a timed-admission ticket is required by registering online at Eventbrite. What a palaver! 7 June update: Just after midday on the show’s first day there were 17 visitors in the gallery. Ten minutes later there were only five.

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2016 ➤ Telling it like it is, Mister Nightlife aka Swindells Junior

Dave Swindells,exhibition, talk, Doomed, nightlife, London

Dave Swindells at Doomed, in front of one of his photos of Taboo in 1985: “It was such an adventure, a crazy night in terms of what happened there, partly because there would be a whole suitcase load of ecstasy” (Photo by Shapersofthe80s)

◼ WE FIRST MET, I VAGUELY RECALL, at the Leadmill in that damp autumn of ’82 when Dave Swindells was still a student at Sheffield Uni. I was the hotshot “Man from The Face” doing a whistle-stop tour of Sheffield clubs for my monthly Nightlife column in Britain’s coolest subcultural magazine, so I was quite used to people standing in front of my camera trying to get into shot. Swindells on the other hand turned his back on me while he lined up his Kodak Box Brownie in a pathetic attempt to capture some new-wave synth band on the barely lit stage. I smiled smugly to myself at his teen gaucheness and leaned in paternally to whisper the advice I’d gleaned from another snapper of the night, Richard Young, himself emerging as the celebrity paparazzo we know and love today: “Give give it f/8 and push the film in the developer.”

The grateful Swindells gushed his thanks and asked: “Please, sir, how do I get into photography for a living?” – “Stick to what you know,” I replied sagely. “Why not photograph what your friends get up to at night?” Ha! I knew full well dark clubs were a nightmare to capture on the slow film of those years before digital, when the trickiest part was having to use flash at close quarters, which reduces faces to a white blotch.

Dave Swindells, Dalston, Doomed Gallery, talks, exhibition,nightlife, photography,

Flyer for the Swindells talk on Tuesday: explain this lot, Dave!

Within two years the little bastard had stabbed me in the back and was toting a very upmarket Pentax as Nightlife Editor of Time Out magazine – a job he then hung onto for the next 23 years!!! His photographs have been featured in i-D, The Face, The Observer etc, while swanning round the world on travel freebies. I’ve been kicking myself ever since.

Next Tuesday 3 May he’ll be telling us all how on earth he got away with it for so long. He’s giving a talk at some achingly on-fleek gallery in Dalston called Doomed, where there’ll be a display of photos and a limited edition Photocopy Club zine to take away. Dave’s title is “Keeping It Real” and he promises “a fascinating insight into the trends, attitudes, and nuances of London’s clubbers. Evocatively shooting the emergence of the rave scene in the late 1980s, Dave follows the journey from the wild attitude of rave to the night-time antics of modern day”.

Frankly, I can’t think of anybody better qualified to tell the tale of the past three decades of hedonism pursued to the hilt as only the Brits know how. Dave’s the one who’s got the proof in pictures, and how.

➢ Swindells keeps it real, 3 May from 6.30pm to 8.30 at Doomed Gallery, 65 Ridley Road, London, E8 2NP

6 May update: Catch Dave’s talk at Vimeo

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2016 ➤ Prince Rogers Nelson: his raunchy earliest videos and his last

Prince Rogers Nelson
(7 June 1958 – 21 April 2016)

1979: I WANNA BE YOUR LOVER (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

1980: MIDNIGHT SPECIAL IN ZEBRA UNDERWEAR

I Wanna Be Your Lover ,Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad, Prince Rogers Nelson , TV, Midnight Special, pop music,

➢ Above: For his first TV performance in January 1980 Prince sports zebra-print underwear, black leggings, stack-heeled boots, and long hair giving us the first two tracks from Prince the album, I Wanna Be Your Lover and Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad. On NBC’s The Midnight Special host Wolfman Jack says: “There’s nothing our next guest can’t do. He arranged, produced, composed, and performed his last album entirely by himself.”

1991: GETT OFF FOR MTV

Prince, Gett Off , New Power Generation, funk, MTV Video Awards,

Prince’s 1991 MTV Video Awards performance of Gett Off with The New Power Generation might be the sexiest thing ever aired on TV. Click on pic to run video in new window

2014: BREAKFAST CAN WAIT (OFFICIAL, almost as sexy)

➢ WATCH 7 OF PRINCE’S BEST TV PERFORMANCES

Beyonce, Grammys 2004, Prince Rogers Nelson , TV, Purple Rain

Grammy Awards 2004, on video: Another killer rendition of Purple Rain with Beyoncé before duetting in Baby I’m a Star

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
Prince RIP: ‘A funny cat’ and ‘sole authentic genius’
of the 1980s

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2016 ➤ Van Jones reveals Prince’s humanitarian activities to CNN

➢ American political activist and friend reveals extent of Prince’s philanthropy on CNN – reported at Bring Me The News:

Stories about the Purple One’s generosity are starting to emerge in the days following his death, with his close friend Van Jones lifting the curtain on his humanitarian endeavours in an interview with CNN (which you can watch above).

Prince, YesWeCode

July 2014: Prince at the #YesWeCode Launch, at Essence Music Festival

As a practising Jehovah’s Witness, Jones says, Prince was “not allowed to speak publicly about any of his good acts” but Jones felt that now was the time people knew more about his charitable giving over the years.

Chief among the projects he helped fund is #YesWeCode, an initiative led by Jones aiming to teach 100,000 low-income, urban youths learn how to code to help them get jobs in the tech world. Jones says 15 major technology companies now work with “kids in the hood” to help them break into Silicon Valley through the project.

According to the L.A. Times, Jones said the inspiration for the idea came following the Trayvon Martin verdict, with Prince saying to Jones: “Every time people see a young black man wearing a hoodie, they think, he’s a thug. But if they see a young white guy wearing a hoodie they think, oh that might be Mark Zuckerberg. That might be a dot-com billionaire” . . . / Continued online

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s:
Prince ‘A funny cat’ and ‘sole authentic genius’ of the 1980s

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s:
Prince’s raunchy earliest videos and his last

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