Category Archives: Clubbing

➤ 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 ➤ 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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➤ Remembering Steve Strange: Today’s tweet from Midge Ure

Midge Ure, Rusty Egan, Steve Strange,,anniversary, death, Visage, pop music, Blitz Kids, New Romantics

Click to view original Tweet

❏ To which Rusty Egan, Steve’s partner in the Blitz Club and other landmark ventures that helped create the Swinging 80s, replies:

For 2 years prior to this unfortunate event Steve and I were embroiled in a public feud. Sadly we did not kiss and make up and I like most people was shocked he left us so young. RIP Steve. I have still got a few things I need to do… will sort that biz out later.

Visage, Swinging 80s, pop music, Blitz Kids, New Romantics,Midge Ure, Rusty Egan, Steve Strange, Dave Formula , Billy Currie

Visage 1980, left to right: Midge Ure, Rusty Egan, Steve Strange, Dave Formula and Billy Currie. (Photo © Denis O’Regan)

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
2015, Original Blitz Kids say farewell to Steve Strange – read exclusive tributes to the King of the Posers

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
1980, One week in the private worlds of the new young

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
Catch up on New Romantic landmarks reported here at Shapers of the 80s

➢ 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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➤ Steve Strange remembered by Martin Kemp

Steve Strange, tribute, Martin Kemp, New Romantics. Blitz Kids,Swinging 80s, London, nightlife

Steve Strange, right, and Martin Kemp at Tokyo Joe’s in London in 1981. Photograph by Robert Rosen/Rex

➢ Spandau Ballet bassist Martin Kemp recalls the Visage frontman, nightclub host and New Romantic pioneer who kickstarted his band’s career – in today’s Observer:

It’s lovely being asked to talk about Steve now, because I couldn’t right after he died. I’d start, but then I’d just burst into tears. He was one of my best friends and he created a big part of my personality. He showed me how exciting life could be, but how you could be a decent person with it. I also genuinely believe that everything that the 80s was, he started it. What people wore, how they did their hair, the decade of excess – that was all him. . .

Steve Strange, pop music, gravestone

Steve Strange’s gravestone erected 18 December in Porthcawl, South Wales

We were both working-class boys who had always wanted to do something else and here he was, doing it brilliantly. I looked up to him. He’d set up punk gigs back home in Wales, came up to London to work for Malcolm McLaren, and now he was carving out his own path away from punk. . . He succeeded because he was smothered in charisma. It drew everyone to him – the working class and the middle class loved him, but even the most upper-class people were immediately in the palm of his hand.

London made Steve, but it wasn’t good for him. He was a very intelligent man, but he got scrambled and crossed the line with drugs. . . The saddest thing is that I could see the end of Steve’s story long before it had been told. I’d waited for the phone call for years, so it wasn’t a shock. But to go to his funeral in Wales… it was incredibly sad. . . / Read the full tribute at the Observer online

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
Original Blitz Kids say farewell to Steve Strange – read exclusive tributes to the King of the Posers

➢ 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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➤ Burretti movie adds an epic and essential chapter to the Bowie story

Starman, Freddie Burretti, film, biopic, Lee Scriven, David Bowie, Man Who Sewed The World, glam rock, fashion

Connected by “otherness”: In a scoop for the film Starman, Bowie himself gave this unseen 1973 picture of Freddie Burretti wearing his own design for a lush crimson suit to launch the Aladdin Sane album. Both photographs by Masayoshi Sukita

Click to zoom down to Andy Polaris’s film review

◼ BETWEEN 1970 AND 1974 FREDDIE BURRETTI not only became David Bowie’s teenage lover but gave visual expression to the singer’s pop ambition. When they met Bowie was 23 and married to Angie while former Mod face Freddie, with his 28-inch waist and voluptuous long-hair, was as sexy as many another 19-year-old in that moment when David Johansen, Marc Bolan and Bowie were creating what became known as glam rock. But Freddie and David clicked instinctively in what Bowie calls their “otherness”, much of which derived from their sexuality. His career rebirth as an alien on Planet Earth was a masterstroke of pop invention and it was Burretti who created the exotic and brazenly sexual one-piece style of costuming in lush fabrics that we associate with Ziggy Stardust.

A new documentary biopic was previewed in London last night and not only breathes fresh life into familiar Bowie music but pieces together a unique chapter about his personal relationships against the austere climate of Britain in the 70s. Director Lee Scriven captures on film a score of eye-witness accounts, chief among them Freddie’s brother Stephen, his special friend and flatmate Wendy Kirby, his younger It-girl protégée Daniella Parmar, and biographer Kevin Cann.

Freddie Burretti , David Bowie, fashion,

Burretti stripes 1973: Bowie photographed on the Aberdeen express by Mick Rock

Titled Starman: Freddie Burretti – The Man Who Sewed The World, the biopic’s impact is cumulative. Burretti described himself as “just a dress designer” – raised in Hackney, transplanted at 14 to Bletchley in the home counties, then escaping at 18 back to London to live the life – yet by the time the on-screen talking heads arrive at GQ editor Dylan Jones, it becomes clear that a body of opinion today ranks Burretti alongside giants such as Zandra Rhodes, Vivienne Westwood and even Alexander McQueen, whose design talent blossomed more than a decade later.

Indeed, Burretti’s “stylish, yet slightly whimsical approach to tailoring” and the enduring influence of his adventurous cutting in several suits of the moment during 1973–74 is thoroughly acknowledged in the V&A catalogue to its touring exhibition, David Bowie Is. The singer’s blurring of the line between stage wear and day wear persuades an impressive list of high-fashion designers to admit their debt to him, including Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy whose SS2010 show opened with a black-and-white striped blazer in a blatant tribute to the one Bowie was famously photographed wearing on an intercity train in May 1973.

Bowie told Fan magazine in 1974: “Freddie is extremely patient. He just listens to my ideas and has this sort of telepathy, because whatever I think of in my mind he produces for real. I just hope he’ll continue to design incredible clothes for me.”

❏ Up until now very few pictures of Freddie Burretti were known to the public – even the cover of the sex education magazine Curious shown below surfaced in only 2010 with Cann’s chronology of Bowie’s early life, Any Day Now. As the gay liberation movement was gathering momentum in Britain, we see Bowie wearing a floral “man-dress” designed by Savile Row tailor Mr Fish, known for putting Mick Jagger in a frock for the Stones’ 1969 Hyde Park concert. Bowie had two Mr Fish dresses which he wore in 1970 in cover photographs for the album The Man Who Sold the World.

With Starman, Scriven’s company LJS films has scored a major coup. The publicity photo you see up top has never been published before and was given to the project by Bowie himself, showing off Freddie’s good looks, with grey highlights in the hair. Today you’ll come across very few pictures of the gorgeous suit in rich crimson-and-blue velvet with flared crimson trousers created for the launch of the Aladdin Sane album. Its first outing was Bowie’s interview on the Russell Harty TV chat show recorded on 17 January 1973, and in an associated live clip singing Drive-In Saturday.

Uniquely, what Starman has done is to collage together Burretti and Bowie in the crimson suit to simulate a sumptuous set of photos taken that February by Masayoshi Sukita against the glistening art deco interior of Radio City Music Hall in New York. Scriven said: “I have been told Freddie would arrive at studio shoots in advance with the clothes and help the photographer by standing in as a model so he or she could set up the lighting etc ready for Mr Bowie.” Some of the shots play with his mirrored reflection and the collage cleverly echoes the originals.

In the UK an NME headline revealed the new persona, “Goodbye Ziggy, Big Hello to Aladdin”, while at Radio City on 14–15 February Bowie and the Spiders were launching their US tour. One poor black-and-white photograph suggests he might well have been wearing the crimson suit as he helicoptered onto the Music Hall stage. In this 90-minute show Bowie transitioned through the hit songs of Ziggy Stardust to introduce Aladdin Sane and all but one track from the new album – all this, remember, before his official and unexpected “retirement of Ziggy” announcement in London that July. Included in Freddie’s £1,000 invoice for costumes supplied to the tour, Cann’s meticulous book records “Red Check Suit 40 guineas” (about £500 today).

The tragedy is that the Burretti-Bowie partnership ended the next year, over a “financial disagreement”, according to Cann’s book. Immediately, Burretti slipped out of the public eye.

THE NIGHT DAVID MET FREDDIE

, Freddie Burretti, David Bowie, glam rock, man-dress,gay issues,

Curious magazine, 1971: Bowie wears his Michael Fish “man-dress” and plans to create a band called The Arnold Corns to showcase Freddie as “the next Mick Jagger”. In the studio, it turned out that Freddie couldn’t sing

❏ Their affair had begun in 1970 in Kensington’s fashionable gay disco Yours Or Mine beneath the Sombrero restaurant. The Bowies were regulars, and one night David spotted Freddie cutting a dash on the up-lit dancefloor. Angie Bowie crossed the room to ask him and Wendy to join them for a drink.

In an interview with 5years.com Angie said in 2000: “You have no idea how handsome this man was. Freddie was wearing white Spandex hotpants with a navy blue sailors trim and a sailor shirt with short sleeves out of the same white Spandex edged in navy on the collar and sleeves. He looked totally Scandinavian with high cheek-bones and lots of blond hair, but he was tall and had big hands and feet speaking of his artistry and physical stamina. Every night he made new clothes to wear. He was so brilliant.”

At last night’s screening flatmate Wendy also remembered that day: “Angie approached us and asked us to have a drink. We hesitated and that’s what’s missing from the film – our sheer arrogance. We nearly said no!” She added: “Watching the film was quite strange. No one imagines their youth will be portrayed on screen and it was a little unsettling. I think the film was an affectionate glimpse of a time long gone. I didn’t appreciate at the time how talented Freddie really was. Lee’s film brought home how exceptional his work was. I’m proud to have known the man who was ‘just Freddie’ to me.”

Was Bowie’s gay phase in truth a marketing stance, as some argue? In his 2011 biography Starman, Paul Trynka reports American actor Tony Zanetta saying: “He was bisexual, but what he really was, was a narcissist – boys or girls, it was all the same. He was attracted to the gay subculture because he loved its flamboyance. Sometimes it was just an expression of communication – sometimes it was a way of. . . assimilating someone.” Bowie knew exactly what he was doing.

❏ Read on for a review of the film by Andy Polaris, ex-Blitz Kid and 80s pop singer who regards Bowie as one of rock’s serious gods.

➢ Starman director Lee Scriven’s website

“man-dress” , Wendy Kirby, Freddie Burretti, David Bowie, fashion,

Angie and David at home to Freddie: the host wears his Michael Fish designed “man-dress” that was banned from his American album cover for The Man Who Sold the World

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 2011, I danced in Bowie’s lost Jean Genie video, by Wendy Kirby

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 2010, A feast of Bowie-ana served in waffeur-thin slices by Kevin Cann

Last night’s preview: click any pic below to launch slideshow

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
1970, Where to draw a line between glitter and glam

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ANDY POLARIS REVIEWS STARMAN THE MOVIE

Freddie Burretti, Daniella Parmar, fashion,Ziggy Stardust

Bowie’s designer Freddie and It-girl Daniella in about 1971: striking a pose that David and Angie came to emulate

Andy Polaris, singer

Andy Polaris

❏ Starman: The Man Who Sewed The World gives a fascinating insight into the relatively unknown life of fashion future legend Freddie Burretti. This working-class lad had a creative mind able to absorb everything he loved about Mod fashion, having taught himself to make his own clothes at an early age. With enough dedication and focus to learn tailoring as well as the youthful dynamics of the dancefloor, he was obviously adept at observing styles and reworking looks to his own vision.

A chance meeting at the disco lead to the serendipitous collaboration with Bowie and the singer’s as yet not fully realised Ziggy Stardust wardrobe. These bold textured prints and coloured jumpsuits were, and are, extraordinary for capturing Bowie’s otherness at that time. Aladdin Sane prints that looked like Liberty worn by the androgynous male rock star blew our tiny minds back then.

What I loved about the movie was seeing the genesis of Freddie’s glamour vision in a mundanely drab landscape played out with the innocence of his mainly, it appears, female friends notably Wendy bf and Daniella protégée. Wonderful to hear their counterpoint stories of that inner ciricle involved in Bowie’s creation of Ziggy with Freddie’s ascendant talent and confidence.

The pairing of Freddie and Daniella wearing his clothes is groundbreaking. Looking at those photos we see the androgynous beauty of Freddie (like a still from James Bidgood’s 1971 cult movie Pink Narcissus) teamed with Daniella’s Asian complexion and short spiky blonde crop. They had already created David and Angie’s classic image before the rest of the world saw it!

fashion, David Johansen, David Bowie

Coordination of styles, 1973: which came first, Johansen of New York Dolls or Bowie in Burretti suit?

In fact, Daniella also anticipates Ava Cherry singing with Bowie in Young Americans several years later when we note the similar styling – how did that happen?

From my own black perspective, a brown or black face was something I would immediately zone in on, seeing someone like you up there on a stage and hanging out with the stars. Marc Bolan having the black Gloria Jones as his wife was a big bloody deal to some black kids, for sure.

Freddie’s whole look seems to have been adopted wholesale by David Johansen of the New York Dolls, so the influence of this young British designer can today be recognised rippling out into the wider pop culture although it probably wasn’t acknowledged at the time. Maybe a parallel could be drawn between Freddie and Alexander McQueen – both gay and from working-class backgrounds – though McQueen came to work with Bowie as an established star, whereas Freddie created an image that made Bowie a star. Today it is unreal to imagine any designer could achieve such pivotal pop success without a massive team behind them.

➢ Video: Andy Polaris sings Mr Solitaire on Top of the Pops

➢ Follow Andy’s blog APolarisView: one man’s adventures in display and other obsessions

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