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.

◼︎ 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.
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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 music 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.

➢ 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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1983 ➤ When The Face led the cultural agenda

art schools, The Face, magazine, fashion, style, music, nightclubbing, cuttings, subcultures, analysis, history, Swinging 80s, London

London,Sullivan,Dirt Box, Mud Club,Wag club,White Trash,Sallon,Nightlife ,The Face,Swinging 80s, clubbing

First published in The Face No 39, July 1983

◼ 1983 PROVED TUMULTUOUS for British youth culture: 17 new British pop groups lorded it in the US top 40 chart that autumn, while our spirited fashionistas were making waves around the world, with Princess Diana playing ambassador for the classic designers, and Boy George pushing the wilder extremes of street style. Among major features I wrote for The Face was February’s cover story The Making of Club Culture, and in the Evening Standard Posing with a purpose at the Camden Palace, a centre spread on the runaway megaclub hosted by Strange and Egan.

Nightlife was a burgeoning story as black beats took over dancefloors everywhere and Manchester’s tearaway megaclub was the Hacienda, despite the oppressive clean-up being imposed by the city’s infamous Chief Constable. Clubbers from across the nation swarmed in to create a grand coalition of all the cults – “your complete i-D line-up, minus the Worlds End spendthrifts”. In my January report for The Face one inmate bemoaned Hacienda music as  “too funk-based” though another, a flat-top lad called Johnny Maher, revealed his secret, despite having launched some new indie rock band minutes earlier. “I schlepp to funk,” he said.

In July The Face published a major piece of reportage, Art on the Run, prompted by numerous friends in fine-art education, and billed it as a “shock report” on the Conservative government’s debilitating squeeze on the art schools. Ironically in the same issue my regular Nightlife column identified the four hottest clubland teams as a Who’s Who in the New London Weekend: “Not since the Swinging Sixties had London nightlife reverberated to such a boom.” These clubs were the unofficial job centres that kept a generation in freelance employment and introduced the verb to vop into the language (derivation: “What are you up to these days?” – “Oh, a Variety Of Projects”). Some of that effort was fuelling the rise of computer games which in the June issue Virgin assured me was “the new pop industry”!

My Nightlife column in The Face’s October issue featured Brighton’s trendiest hotspot (seconds before the very word trendy passed its sell-by outside the Greater London stockade). The Can was presided over by a young Oliver Peyton with Andy Hale as the deejay breaking funk there. Years later Olly thanked me for this exposure and said he would never have come up to London and started opening restaurants without The Face’s prompt! (One of the few people who have ever thanked me for writing about them! Cheers.)

The Face, magazine, fashion, style, music, Eight for 1984, cuttings, subcultures, analysis, history, Swinging 80s, London, Body Map, Stephen Linard, Katharine Hamnett, Sheridan Barnett,Richard Ostell , Sue ClowesBy this fertile year’s end I had FIVE indicative pieces of reportage published in the December issue of The Face including a detailed rundown on the new dance music scene by the leading club deejay Jay Strongman, plus news of the imminent Westwood/McLaren break-up which I’d scented from body language backstage at their Paris runway show.

The launch of the first London Fashion Week that same October confirmed that British street style was being feted in the international spotlight, yet it begged the question how on earth had this suddenly come about? Click through to our inside page to read the feature investigation that set out to answer such questions, by asking decision-makers in the industry to identify the best of Britain’s young designer talent under the headline Eight for ’84. . .

First published in the Evening Standard, Nov 4, 1983

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2017 ➤ His name is Prince and his London tribute is downright spunky

Prince Rogers Nelson, exhibition, The O2, London, music videos, My Name Is Prince, pop music,costumes, guitars

Prince exhibition: chain-hat to conceal his identity in The New Power Generation and lyrics for We Want 2 Let the Funk Unwind (Getty)

Hold your breath! An exhibition that could so easily have been a lightweight commercial ripoff about the myth of Prince Rogers Nelson proves to be a surprisingly affecting tribute. Scores of artefacts have been loaned out for the first time direct from Paisley Park, Prince’s lush Minnesota estate, in a dazzling rush of bling and sentiment for My Name is Prince, his official exhibition which runs in London for the next ten weeks.

It seems a strange idea to visit seven galleries packed with video screens and to stand clad in earphones watching them play out the most vibrant highlights from the American pop icon’s uniquely anarchic imagination. Yet the very impact of so many screens disseminating so much talent only magnifies the intensity of the moment.

This one-man band’s genius is all too evident in every direction you look. In turns, you’re gasping at the audacity of Dirty Mind, smiling at the ingenuity of Sign ‘o’ the Times and shedding tears of envy for his sheer virtuosity in While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

Above all, the entire immersive experience is very, very lovesexy. The attention Prince lavished on his many lubricious costumes is revealing: so many apparently plush brocade garments are woven on light see-through black mesh that reveal the sinewy muscles of his tiny but taut 5ft frame within.

Prince the dandy also took any opportunity to shed his garments and flash his intimate zones, including his bare buttocks in orgiastic videos such as Gett Off, shot amid scantily clad girls and boys (“23 positions in a one-night stand”) at the 1991 MTV awards. Indeed one of the exhibition’s biggest draws is the video for Thieves in the Temple, from the 1990 Graffiti Bridge album, in which cutaway jeans reveal his bum and thighs and bouncing crotch capped with a glittering gold lamé jockstrap, in some of the most frenetic team dancing ever in high heels. The choreography is shamelessly horny.

The sheer range of Prince’s musical gifts during a 40-year career is well recognised – 70 albums, 2,000? songs, an Oscar, a Golden Globe, eight Grammies, 100 million records sold, and a ranking at No 28 among Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. But to assemble in a three-dimensional venue 200 tangible examples of his workaholic creativity as an all-round showman results in an affectionate multi-media tribute. For us to devour the close-up detail in his guitars, his hand-written notes and drawings, and his jewelled accessories becomes a truly moving privilege. And for a fan, the power of his achievements is reaffirmed as you bask in his subversive glow.

➢ The official exhibition My Name Is Prince runs from October 27 until January 7, 2018 at London’s O2

Prince Rogers Nelson, exhibition, The O2, London, music videos, My Name Is Prince, pop music,costumes, guitars

Prince exhibition: stage costumes from his Purple Rain tour (Getty)

Prince Rogers Nelson, exhibition, The O2, London, music videos, My Name Is Prince, pop music,costumes, guitars

Prince exhibition: bass guitar that inspired his trademark Cloud and diamond-studded cane from 2015

PRINCE’S PURPLE REIGN STILL EXERTS
ITS PULLING POWER

London’s Eighties pop star Andy Polaris visits the Prince exhibition to assess the enduring impact of the black performer who in his day challenged the norms of sexuality and race. . .

➢ Visit Andy’s own website Apolarisview for his full review
– here’s a brief taster:

The first time Prince triggered my radar was a review in the music press of his concert at the Lyceum in London 1981, part of his Dirty Mind tour. He was featured in the accompanying review wearing a trench coat covering a lithe brown body and wearing black briefs and leggings, topped by his mop of black hair and pretty face. I was miffed to have missed his only show but before the internet niche events could slip by easily without social media to flag them up.

It was obvious from the start that this was a black artist who, despite the flamboyance of disco/funk stage-wear and album covers, was taking it a little bit extra with some sexual ambiguity. The lyrics of the funky album track Controversy (a bass-driven early dance-floor favourite) set the tone:

I just can’t believe all the things people say
Controversy
Am I black or white? Am I straight or gay?
Controversy

I was fascinated to see the parade of Prince’s petite outfits complete with matching coloured heeled boots that covered Purple Rain, his purple metallic frock coat through to a crystal-encrusted cane and Balmain waistcoat he wore for W magazine. The materials are colourful, sheer and shimmering and in some cases boldly designed. He wasn’t interested in the toxic masculinity that permeates so many black artistes, one of the reasons he flew the freak flag for those who were not interested in paying £50 to see artists dressed in denim and T-shirts. . . / Continued at Andy’s own website


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

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➤ Double drama of the 60s pop dream by Ray Connolly

film, Ray Connolly, Swinging Sixties ,Radio 4, drama, That’ll Be the Day, David Essex , Ringo Starr

Now a radio drama: Poster for the 1973 film

HERE ARE TWO RADIO 4 DRAMA TREATS this Saturday 23 Sept and next at 2.30pm – first an adaptation by former Evening Standard pop columnist Ray Connolly of his 1973 film, That’ll Be the Day (which starred David Essex and Ringo Starr with cameos from Billy Fury and Keith Moon). It’s a very British coming-of-age story that keenly captures the vicissitudes of postwar austerity prevailing in the provinces as the Swinging Sixties dawned.

BBC sell: “It’s 1959 and young Jim Maclaine seems to have it all. He’s good looking and destined to go to a good university. But he’s haunted by the father who abandoned him and his mother when he was small. Is he ready for the normal life mapped out for him? Or is he restless like his old man?”

➢ That’ll Be the Day at R4 – catch up online at the iPlayer for a month

Jim’s story is followed through on Saturday 30th with Stardust. Sell: “Show me a boy who never wanted to be a rock star and I’ll show you a liar. In this sequel to That’ll Be the Day, it’s the early 1960s and Jim Maclaine is now an aspiring pop musician. He seeks out his old mate Mike, because every pop star needs a road manager. Performing to bored audiences in seedy clubs, the Stray Cats live on dreams of becoming as famous as the Beatles…” Based on the film of the same name which featured David Essex, Adam Faith, Larry Hagman and Keith Moon.

➢ Stardust at R4 – also online for a month

ALSO AVAILABLE AS PAPERBACKS

Ray Connolly, books, films

Ray Connolly’s books as spin-offs from their films

➢ Buy That’ll Be the Day as a Fontana paperback

➢ Buy Stardust as a Fontana paperback

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➤ Celebs turn out for ‘Scoop’ Simper’s pop pantry party

popstarsinmypantry‬, Paul Simper, Unbound publishing, books, pop music, nightclubbing, Swinging 80s, London,

Jacquie O’Sullivan, vocalist partner in hot popsters of December 1993 Slippry Feet, with ‘Scoop’ Paul Simper

FRIEND OF THE STARS (1980s division) Paul “Scoop” Simper threw a launch party for his book Pop Stars in My Pantry (PSIMP) at London’s Union Club on Thursday. He was delighted to be in Greek Street, of all the streets in Soho, because that’s where his story began, at the legendary Le Beat Route club directly opposite…

➢ Click through to full report and pictures from the PSIMP party

popstarsinmypantry‬, Paul Simper, Unbound publishing, books, pop music, nightclubbing, Swinging 80s, London,

Simper with his special Bananarama Award for inspiring their gold album Tea at Mrs Simper’s, presented at the book launch by their manager Peter Loraine. Who can forget Robert De Niro’s Baking, and King of the Crumble? (Photo by Shapersofthe80s)

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
My pantry, my memoir – ‘Scoop’ Simper relives the flamboyant decadent 80s

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
1982, Simper tells of Sade’s first foray to New York City

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2017 ➤ Nightlife’s Polaris comes out as fan of the hot girl bands of the 70s

Swinging 80s, Gary Crowley, Andy Polaris,biography, history, London life,pop music,BBC Radio London

Buddies who found fame in the Swinging 80s: deejay Gary Crowley with singer Andy Polaris at BBC Radio London today

WOOOH! JUST COMING DOWN from a breathless hour of lunchtime radio today as Andy Polaris very nearly talked the hind leg off deejay Gary Crowley – which is quite a feat! The BBC Radio London host was inviting former Animal Nightlife singer Andy to reminisce about his life in the metropolis and to pick six landmark tunes that still matter to him. Of course his teen years were dominated by pop, but apart from the obvious gods such as Bowie, Andy surprised us by bigging up those feisty strong female bands of the late 70s who were muscling in after punk imploded. Andy spent weeks following Siouxsie and the Banshees round the country to catch her gigs.

He says: “The women singers like Poly Styrene, the Slits and Siouxsie were way ahead of the guys. The guys were doing more clichéd macho stuff. The women were doing more arty things.

Siouxsie, Banshees, Vortex

Siouxsie Sioux at the Vortex in October 1977. (Photo: Romany WG)

“Siouxsie you would see at a Bowie concert, and at a Roxy concert. The Slits you’d see at reggae concerts. Their music was fantastic: those albums Cut and The Scream and the X-Ray Spex first album – they’ve stood the test of time.

“Imagewise as well they were way ahead of everybody else – I loved that stuff to do with cinema, Poly Styrene with The Day the World Turned Day-Glo, and talking about recycling. She was well ahead of her time.”

ANDY’S SIX KEY TRACKS

Dr Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band – I’ll Play The Fool, 1976
David Bowie – Golden Years, 1975
Siouxsie and the Banshees – Hong Kong Garden, 1978
Sylvester – You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real), 1978
Grace Jones – I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango), 1981
Michael Kiwanuka – Black Man In A White World, 2016

➢ Listen to My London again at 9pm today on BBC Radio London then on the iPlayer

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: Escape to the Nightlifers’ Shangri-la just in time for Christmas

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