Exclusive: Blitz Club pix in colour – 2

➤ Yet more unseen photos inside the Blitz
by Terry Smith plus the verdict of
Time magazine on “dressing blitzy”

Posted on 25 May, 2018

☆ CLICK HERE TO ZOOM DOWN TO
DAY FOUR OF THE BLITZ IN COLOUR ☆

☆ CLICK HERE TO ZOOM DOWN TO
THE REPORT TIME MAGAZINE PUBLISHED ☆

The two Welsh soul-boys, one straight, one gay, who shaped the future of 80s clubland: Chris Sullivan went on to run Soho’s Wag club for 19 years… And Steve Strange, whose Blitz legacy landed him and deejay Rusty Egan the mighty Camden Palace in 1982

DAY THREE: TEN MORE FAB IMAGES
OF THE BLITZ IN 1980

◼ WHEN STEVE STRANGE EYEBALLED YOU at the door of the Blitz on a Tuesday, your look alone did not guarantee admission to his elite club for under-21 posers. He did not want passive consumers but what he called “people who created unique identities”. By taking Bowie at his word to be “heroes just for one day”, you were expected to become one of the new names to drop. Some dressed as shiny robo-futurists, some as utter romantics in lace and frills. . .

Click any pic below to enlarge all these Blitz Kids in a slideshow:

Do please let us know if you can identify
clubbers so far unnamed in Terry’s pictures
– via contact [at] shapersofthe80s.com

The Blitz creed distrusted anyone over 25. Chris Sullivan, a 19-year-old St Martin’s fashion student busy reinventing the zoot suit, himself split the poser ranks by opening a rival decadent club-night in the cellars of the St Moritz restaurant in Soho for what he has called “the more alert end of the Blitz crowd”.

He said at the time: “Young people are no longer prepared to be sold clothes they don’t like or go to clubs playing records they don’t want to hear, being run by grunters three times their age, and having to pay for the privilege. When the Blitz opened, for a start it was cheap, but it was also extraordinary to have someone aged 19 vetting the door.”

The original quiet man of the Blitz at work in his booth: Rusty Egan is
the key deejay who wove synthpop, art pop, glam, new wave and German electronica into a soundtrack for the New Romantic movement

Click any pic below to enlarge all these Blitz Kids in a slideshow:

As 1979 turned into 1980, these precocious teenagers were inventing poser nights elsewhere in London’s clubland: at Studio 21, at the Drugstore, at Witchity, at Hell, at Le Kilt, at warehouse parties, and at Billy’s, as ever. When Bowie dropped in at the Blitz that July, the clubland cat was out of the bag.

➢ Elsewhere at Shapers of the 80s: The year the Blitz Kids took their first steps into the headlines

Lee Sheldrick receives a blessing on his head newly shaven towards the end of April, reputedly the first bald pate to set the season’s trend. Despite dropping out from St Martin’s, Lee shared his exceptional eye for fashion with other leading Blitz Kids

➢ View 20 of Terry’s other Blitz pix in colour also posted this week at Shapers of the 80s

➢ Strange days, strange nights, strange people – my first report on the Blitz in January 1980

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DAY FOUR: TEN MORE FAB IMAGES
OF THE BLITZ IN 1980

Nik & Trick Photo Services, Folkestone

Wicked witch of the west: Blitz superstar Peter Probert renowned for his highly inventive outfits – for Spandau’s HMS Belfast concert he came as an iceberg twinkling with Christmas electric lights. . . Steve Strange behind him, Anne-Marie to the right

Click any pic below to enlarge all these Blitz Kids in a slideshow:

IT TOOK A GOOD YEAR before the media caught up. In a ring-fenced page of cool that I edited in London’s Evening Standard, I had dubbed these preening egos the Now Crowd since they lived so much for the moment. Chris Sullivan’s mantra was set: “One look lasts a day.” Two of the Blitz’s tyro journos – Perry Haines and Robert Elms – had proclaimed their contemporaries Herald Angels and Dandy Dilettantes. The national press came up with New Dandies, Romantic Rebels and in March, the Blitz Kids, which is what stuck.

A turning point came when the Blitz house-band, a highly styled and dramatically staged synthesiser-driven soul-boy pop combo from Islington called Spandau Ballet – a million years removed from the band who would become internationally famous – was filmed in May performing at the uber-trendy Scala cinema for London Weekend Television’s Sunday lifestyle strand, 20th-Century Box, which was transmitted in July. This immediately brought the record companies swarming to snap up the next big thing.

Click any pic below to enlarge all these Blitz Kids in a slideshow:

The competition pushed you on, especially Lee Sheldrick. At the Warren Street squat you might change what you were going to wear EIGHT TIMES on a Tuesday to try to outdo everyone else
at the Blitz – Fashion student Stephen Linard in 1980

No longer a weekly secret society, the Blitz became a publicity machine for the pose age. Attendance became a statement of intent – to lead a life of style seven days a week. When Bowie visited the Blitz in July he hauled away four of the kids to strut with his pierrot through the video for Ashes to Ashes. It earned each of them £50, helped Bowie to No 1 and launched a fad for Judi Frankland’s ankle-length liturgical robes (inspired, she says, by the nuns in The Sound of Music).

Finally, in September 1980 “somebody” wrote the New Romantics headline (ouch!) in the music weekly Sounds. Everyone winced and denied membership.

➢ Elsewhere at Shapers of the 80s:
1980, Just don’t call us New Romantics

Nik & Trick Photo Services, Folkestone

Our host Steve Strange dressed by Melissa Caplan: striking a “moderne” pose emblematic of Rusty Egan’s elektro-diskow music. The spirit of Guy de Bord informed Steve’s every action, whether he knew it or not

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➤ When Time magazine visited the Blitz in April 1980 this is what it reported
Posted here on 21 May 2018
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➤ 1980, In London, an escape into fantasy
A blitz against sameness with far-out costumes and gothic music

ACCOMPANIED BY TOOTH-RATTLING SOUND LEVELS, bizarre costumery and a bottomless reservoir of nihilism, punk rock and New Wave engulfed the world’s youth after-dark scene three years ago. They now appear to be waning. Does that mean young people will be forced to learn the art of conversation? No. In Britain, where these things have a habit of starting, a replacement has emerged: Blitz.

It explodes every Tuesday night at the Blitz bar in London’s Covent Garden, with participants in mink stoles and dancing pumps, in pink gauze and spangles, in greasepaint, black leather and feathers, even, most recently, in ecclesiastical garments. To dress blitzy is to, well, dress blitzy. Theresa, 21 (Blitzers avoid last names), stands at the bar, coyly twirling a black lace parasol, which rounds out her ensemble of billowing white sleeveless dress, gloves, feather boa and pillbox hat topped with artificial doves. Nearby is a synthesis of Marlene Dietrich and belly dancer: white pajamas slit to the thigh, intersecting at the waist with a tight feather top, ruffles, implausible cascades of blond hair and, in one red nailed an elegantly long cigarette holder.

Costumes are only one half of Blitz. The other is the music — an unearthly, nerve-jarring, electronic gothic sound thumping from giant speakers, a mix of tribal drums and shattering plate glass. Amid flickering strobe lights, the dancers do their robot-like steps, shutting out the world until the early hours.

“Post-punk Blitz kids strive for ever more
outlandish garb, hairstyles and makeup
Tuesday nights in their Covent Garden bar”

Escape is the Blitz’s dominant note. Escape, through fantasy, from punk, New Wave and disco, which to the Blitz kids have become too commercialized, too accepted (at least in part) by elders. Escape from the drudgery of earning a living as secretaries, insurance clerks, waitresses. Says Judith, 21, a nurse: “I like to break completely from what I do during the day, and there’s nothing more complete than this.” Indeed, extremism in defense of individuality is no vice at the Blitz. The mission is to be different. Explains fashion designer Michele, 20, dressed in a graduation gown and oversize fur beret: “If you see what you’re wearing on someone else, you find something new, fast.”

The chief Blitzer is Steve Strange, 20, who began his experiment in encouraging patrons to come as they are not 18 months ago. The Blitz bar now claims 500 odd regulars who pay $4.50 for the privilege of showing off costumes and going deaf. Strange used to cut a vaguely Dickensian figure in baggy plus-fours and velvet baker’s hat, but now wears an Ancient Egyptian styled two-piece suit with matching Phrygian headgear. Either way, with tinted contacts that make his eyes look like black saucers, he stands at the door, screening out tourists, punk kinds and conventional celebrities. Says he: “It’s not elitism. I don’t let in people who obviously don’t fit, because they won’t like it.”

Success could wreck Blitz: sameness, after all, is what Blitzers are trying to avoid. Even the desire to be intensely different could lead to urgings to be something other than different, which might mean, horrors, a “trend”. To Strange, the Blitz fad could last longer than most because the wildly varying costumes carry no constant, such as punk’s tight pants and T-shirts, to duplicate and sell. Alas, even he seems unable to isolate what he has created: Polydor will release a single of Blitz music in the US in September and an album in November. At the same time, shops with names like PX and Axiom are springing up around London to cater to the Blitz “trade”. That could, at least theoretically, blitz the Blitz.

© TIME Inc.

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TIME magazine, Sept 8, 1980: Pictured along the top, Blitz Kids Harley Price, Philip Sallon and Lesley Chilkes. Downpage, Steve Strange, all photographed by Terry Smith

➢ Read the story of Spandau Ballet, the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics at The Observer, by Yours Truly

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TAGS – Blitz Club, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, clubbing, elektro-diskow, fashion, history, journalism, Nationwide, nightlife, photography, exhibition, Swinging 80s, 20th-Century Box, youth culture, London, St Moritz, Steve Strange, Rusty Egan, Terry Smith, Ken Banta, Lucy Bell, Guy de Bord, Andy Bulled, Melissa Caplan, Lesley Chilkes, Tommy Crowley, Robert Elms, Julia Fodor, Judith Frankland, Perry Haines, Stephen Linard, Harley Price, Peter Probert, Philip Sallon, Sue Scadding, Lee Sheldrick, Chris Sullivan, Clare Thom, Time magazine, Holly Warburton, Russell Williams

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