Category Archives: London

1982 ➤ Strange takes UK clubbing mainstream

Koko, Camden Theatre, Camden Palace, nightclubbing, music venue, fire, architecture, Music Machine,

Steve Strange in 1982: for ever being filmed at Camden Palace

40
YEARS
ON

❏ In the same season that Next opened its first shops in Britain to bring colour to the high street, Steve Strange and Rusty Egan went mainstream with their first mega-club venue for the growing generation of nightlifers who had discovered that dressing up could change your life. On this day in April 1982, Strange & Egan began fronting what became the Camden Palace a couple of nights a week, way north of London’s West End. This huge Edwardian theatre was most famous in the postwar years as BBC radio’s studio for recording the Goon Shows.

Within its first year and open five nights a week, the Palace came to offer easily the best night out in London because, as well as the usual delights, this poser’s paradise won a reputation for offering more. The world’s media and photographers learned this was the fashionable place to find the next big thing and on the crowded stairways here, posing truly began to pay its way…

During 1982 mega-clubs began appearing across the country, from the Hacienda in Manchester to Rock City in Nottingham and the Academy in Bournemouth. Click below to read my report in the Evening Standard nailing how streetwise New Romantic followers set about expressing their inner talents in ways that helped transform rampant unemployment into a jobs market in which the young began to thrive…

Camden Palace, nightclubbing, Steve Strange

First published in the Evening Standard, 11 May 1983

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
1983, A silly hat and a calculated look might be
the best career move you’ve ever made

London, nightlife

Palace forecourt 1983: in their circle of peers everyone in this picture is a household name. Picture © by David Montgomery

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
2020, Second time unlucky as fire ravages
the former Camden Palace nightspot

➢ 2022, On 29 April Koko, the renamed Camden Palace,
reopens as a state-of-the-art venue after massive refurbs
including a new roof garden. Arcade Fire plays live

Koko, nightclub, London, reopens, live venue

Koko in 2022: a roof-terrace bar as part of its £70m refurbishment

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2022 ➤ New Romantics? Here are some who won’t own to that name

BFI Flare Film Festival 2022, Tramps!, Kevin Hegge, Brian Robertson, movies, New Romantics

After yesterday’s Gala premiere of Tramps! – BFI host at left, then director Kevin Hegge, Scarlett Cannon, Jeffrey Hinton, Philip Sallon, Verity Susman (music), Matthew Sims (music) and Brian Robertson (producer). (Photo © Tessa Hallmann)

❚ MAYBE IT TAKES AN OUTSIDER to see a whole decade with a fresh perspective? Saturday night saw the launch of a documentary called Tramps! that attempts to do just that in almost two hours.  The much-spun truths and fables of a movement which, even after this film’s premiere, refuses to own its given name, appears to have a new champion. In truth there was not just one group of people who started the emerging movement, there clearly were many who at times intermingled but also grew their own quiet revolutions under a greater umbrella that later came to be called a cult: the New Romantics. This is the story of some of them.

Tramps!, BFI Flare Festival, Mark Dooris, review, movies

FILM REVIEW BY
MARK DOORIS
(Photo Tessa Hallmann)

The Canadian Kevin Hegge’s film opens cleverly to a domestic picture of the model Scarlett Cannon tending to her sun-drenched garden as she recollects her formative years. In this unexpected view of a woman whose powerful and iconic imagery has been documented and used as one of the least compromising style statements of the Eighties (playing “key identity” for the V&A Museum’s major exhibition From Club to Catwalk), she speaks about simply being there!

Just like the film’s poster, this is well-placed bait that slowly draws you into what will turn out to be a very well-constructed game plan. A definitive film about the so-called New Romantics has yet to be made but this contribution to the BFI’s annual Flare Film Festival offers a well-stacked sandwich of people and events that gives a very personal view of their experiences through a uniquely creative period of history.

Driven by a musical score that both emotes and supports the story, we see unfolding before us spliced and collaged pictures and film clips of a selection of renegades who love and survive in punk’s underlying gloom and spend ten years carving out a brighter world through Thatcher’s hectic Britain. The patchworking together of views and motivations of some of the witnesses proves that the movement was bigger than its over-used title.

Judy Blame steals the show by saying it as it is. The unrepentant gay designer, who has sadly died since being interviewed by Hegge, is often overlooked for his contribution to Eighties style and gay culture. Disc jockey Princess Julia remains a constant through the film, as indeed she should, as a very relevant force in style and club culture to this day.

In a new twist, nightlife entrepreneur Philip Sallon was given credit and indeed respect for his very singular influence on both the scene and indeed the followers who helped change the growing movement. Unlike many previous interviews, this time they let his wit and views be heard rather than using him as the cymbal-clapping monkey who offers only light relief to the story of the times. At Saturday’s screening, the effervescently clad Philip asked the audience to be kind to each other and to look beyond the superficial outer paint to the person within and that, at its core, is what this film itself does.

BFI Flare Film Festival 2022, Tramps!, Kevin Hegge, movies,

Kevin Hegge, director of the documentary TRAMPS! © Kevin Hegge

“If you have a bone of contention with
the movie… make your own movie”
– director Kevin Hegge

John Maybury talks of his film-making career and the people who appear in the clips we see of his days in the legendary Warren Street squat, plus the influence and support that director Derek Jarman gave him to discover and use his skills after being invited to join what turned out to be the cult film Jubilee in 1977. Artist Andrew Logan with his occasional Alternative Miss World competitions is rightly identified as a pioneering force in the new bohemia party scene that was emerging, while the painter Duggie Fields added some graceful recollections of this time gone by, he too having passed on since filming.

Thrown aside are the frilly shirts in favour of the BodyMap duo of David Holah and Stevie Stewart, offered up as the fashion revolutionaries who, hand in hand with Michael Clark and Les Childs, danced to a different beat. Performance artist Leigh Bowery is featured throughout the film and images of his eccentricity almost drive the visual impact with its cinematic styling and its Venus in Furs-esque vibe. An intriguing insight is given into the apparent genius of Bowery’s room-mate Trojan (Guy Barnes), his part in the Taboo nightclub set and the impact he might have continued to make if not for his untimely death.

Michael Costiff and his amazing partner Gerlinde are acknowledged for their roles in both the club world and the counter culture that was emerging, as were Miss Binnie and the Neo Naturists who are almost forgotten in most reviews of the Eighties. Sadly many people were lost to the Aids epidemic that cut its way through the careers of others referenced within the film and their contribution to gay culture, as was the demise of many in the drug-fuelled parts of club world. What and who are missing is a list too long to type but a refreshing and often underplayed star emerges in disc-jockey Jeffrey Hinton’s outlook during a pivotal chapter in the history of style.

Curiously, the title Tramps! and its poster are misleading about the ground this film covers and what it offers instead, but as an insight into how key people saw their time in the sun, it’s a winner. And impressively moving.

The Gala evening was not awash with big names from the Eighties and indeed a grave lack of New Romantic superstars was evident at both screening and drinks party after. Sadly the promised Questions and Answers section never really hit the mark and no chance was given for the audience to question the director or cast. That said, Tramps! made a great choice for the closing night of the Flare Festival.

❏  The film is not yet on general release

Blitz Kids, film, New Romantics, Swinging 80s, Michele Clapton, George O’Dowd, Lee Sheldrick , Princess Julia, Kevin Hegge, Tramps!, BFI Flare Festival

Leading the Goth wave in 1980: Blitz Kids Michele Clapton, George O’Dowd, Lee Sheldrick and Princess Julia, on the rooftop at St Martin’s School of Art, photographed by Graham Smith and dressed in Gothic mode for Stephen Linard’s “Neon Gothic” collection in the second year’s Alternative Fashion Show

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: 1981, Who are the New Romantics, what are their sounds and how do they dance?
➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
1980, The year the Blitz Kids took their first steps into the headlines

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2021 ➤ Steve Norman returns with The Sleevz and a surprise royal send-off!

Sleevz, Pizza Express Live, Steve Norman, pop music, concert

Sleevz live at Pizza Express 2021: L-R, Steve Norman, Sabrina Winter, Jaco Norman and Paul Cuddeford. (Photo: Shapersofthe80s)


Updated on 27 August 2021
❚ AFTER 18 MONTHS OFF-STAGE Spandau Ballet sax player Steve Norman and his own band The Sleevz have returned to what he calls “our fav venue” Pizza Express Live in Holborn, London. On Thursday night and Friday afternoon they played a “festival set” including Spandau’s most popular hit songs, alongside some of Steve’s own tracks and personal favourites. The lineup included his wife Sabrina Winter, his son Jaco Norman, Paul Cuddeford and Joe Bongo Becket.

During Spandau’s heyday in the Swinging Eighties, the multi-instrumentalist Steve introduced the saxophone as his signature sound then wrote and played one of the most iconic saxophone solos on the band’s No 1 hit True. Steve toured the globe with Spandau Ballet and in 1985 he appeared at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium.

In 2014 the band released a documentary about themselves and 1980s culture more broadly, Soul Boys of the Western World, followed by the album The Story – The Very Best of Spandau Ballet, and another world tour in 2015. In 2017 Steve started playing solo shows across Europe accompanied by his five-piece band.

➢ Click here for tickets for August 26 (8pm) and
August 27 (1:30pm matinee)

The Sleevz, Pizza Express Live, Steve Norman, pop music, concert

Steve Norman, left, with his band Sleevz: Paul Cuddeford,‪ Sabrina Winter, Joe Bongo Becket, Jaco Norman

friends, Sleevz, Pizza Express Live, Steve Norman, pop music, concert

Steve Norman at Pizza Express 2021: with wives of his schoolfriends in Family Corner. (Photo: Shapersofthe80s)

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: Spandau Ballet’s 2014 comeback with a film of their soul-boy journey through pop

ALSO OUT OF THE BLUE THIS WEEK!

The Band of the Coldstream Guards and the Band of the Scots Guard, Changing the Guard, Gold, pop music

CLICK on this pic to view The Royal Family’s video of Gold being played live on the Forecourt of Buckingham Palace this week

❏ As an amazing coincidence, on Monday the Royal Family’s page at Facebook posted this video of Spandau Ballet’s 1983 hit Gold being played live on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. Back on duty for the first time since March 2020, we see the State Ceremonial Musicians performing while the daily ceremony of Changing The Guard took place. Here, the Band of the Coldstream Guards and the Band of the Scots Guard combined in a special tribute to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics which began this week.

Steve Norman commented: “I’m very proud of our Spandau legacy. Almost 40 years on and still going strong. My mum would be so proud. She loved the pomp and ceremony of Changing the Guard. Congratulations to team GB for their Olympic achievements.”

❏ Spandau’s original singer Tony Hadley wrote on Twitter: “So honoured for the Ceremonial Musicians to have done their first performance since March to Gold. What a brilliant job! Many thanks. Tone.”

➢ Steve Norman & The Sleevz play the Wonderhall Festival, Lytham St Annes, Lancs, on Saturday 28th from 2pm onward

➢ Tony Hadley plays Let’s Rock Scotland 2021 on Saturday from noon at Dalkeith Country Park near Edinburgh

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2021 ➤ The man called Seven offers his skills to the next generation of music students

Rock music, education, Business, Seven Webster, IMCP, BA (Hons),

Seven Webster: probably the nicest guy in rock


❚ THE LAST TIME Shapers of the 80s mentioned Seven Webster, we described him as “probably the nicest guy on the entire UK music scene” and it’s with great pleasure we can now reveal his new role championing entrepreneurship in that industry.

He said yesterday: “I am extremely honoured to have been appointed an ambassador for the first ever BA (Hons) Music Business Degree in the UK. Encouraging fresh entrepreneurial spirit is the very essence of what is going to help shape, strengthen and sustain the future of music. To lend my support to future generations of creative like-minded spirits is wonderful.”

Announcing his appointment, The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance (ICMP) declared: “Seven is a successful and well-respected music industry professional, who has worked across various parts of the sector. The kind of entrepreneurial spirit he embodies is at the heart of our course and his insight and experience will be an invaluable asset for our students.

“His 7pm Management company has launched and managed the careers of numerous established top 40 artists and DJs over the last 30 years. This includes the likes of superstar DJs Sasha, John Digweed and Carl Cox through to the multi-million selling singer-songwriter Dido and rock band Skindred.”

Other ventures have included running music publishing companies and organising live music events. In 2015 which Seven described as “a very buoyant time for rock”, people were actively signing rock acts and wielding what he believed was “a cumulative fist”.

7pm Management, Swinging 80s, Rock music, Seven Webster, Geschlechts-Akt, Padded Cell, nightclubbing,

Seven Webster when we first met, 1983 at the Padded Cell… and as guitarist in postpunk band Geschlechts-Akt, 1984


His outfit launched a new music conference at the Rich Mix Cultural Foundation in Shoreditch. RockComm London described itself as “the first UK-based international rock music conference aiming to unite everyone from labels, publishers, managers, distributors, agents, promoters, manufacturers, digital aggregators, the lot”. RockComm was as an appetiser for the UK’s biggest rock music event, the Download Festival.

Seven is one of a seemingly small band of brothers who is determined to assert his creative ideals. He draws on a lifelong love of music, saying “it’s my heart and soul”, having kicked off playing guitar in a post-punk band called Geschlechts-Akt (a messy German mouthful meaning Sex Act). He is also intensely sociable and has a quip ready to account for most eventualities. As he told us at the age of 20: “I just hate staying in. I’ll go to ice-cream and jelly parties, anything.”

➢ IMCP breaks the news of Seven’s appointment

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: 2015, Seven’s easy stages – from jelly parties to saviour of the rock scene

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
1983, Deciphering the code of the Padded Cell

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2001 ➤ Blitz Kids nail the rites for a Tuesday night out

Blitz Kids, New Romantics, Spandau Ballet, pop music, fashion

Before the phrase New Romantics had been invented: Blitz Kids queue for Spandau Ballet’s second pivotal concert at the Scala Cinema in May 1980

20 & 40
YEARS
ON

❚ BBC4 REMINDED UK AUDIENCES this week how entertaining were many of the Blitz Kids who set the New Romantics ball rolling 40 years ago. When the documentary The New Romantics: A Fine Romance was made in 2001, these talking heads were of course 20 years younger than they are today and full of fizz.

However BBC Manchester fell for some faulty memories that had gelled into mythological “truths” to create several laugh-out-loud howlers in the voice-over script as the price of believing odd Blitz Kid fantasies. Another irritation, amid much classic vintage footage, was the repeated montaging of film footage irrelevant to the Blitz club-night run by gender-bending Steve Strange and electro-deejay Rusty Egan, mainly because no more than about 11 minutes of live footage inside the Tuesday-night Blitz exist, and only one of which was used in this doc. That’s history for you. Set in video.

At least we can enjoy the many gnomic quips tossed out by the stars of 1980’s clubworld during the 48-minutes of A Fine Romance…

St Martin’s designer Fiona Dealey on the New Romantic credo: “Dressing for the Blitz was REAL THEATRE. It wasn’t just another uniform.”

Blitz Kid Stephen Linard’s trade secret: “Make-up was the big thing: make-up and Elnett. We used to get our make-up DONE FOR NOTHING down at Selfridges at half-past five and the girls there would do a makeover on you.”

Steve Strange on the term New Romantics: “I’d rather call it THE CULT WITH NO NAME, because the papers can never put one finger on it.”

Rusty Egan on gender confusion at the Blitz: “By the end of the night you’d hope to go home with someone – same sex, opposite sex, NO SEX AT ALL, you were never quite sure.”

Spandau manager Steve Dagger on their music: “Over the period 78-79 in the rehearsal studio the band gradually changed from a rock-pop sound to a modern SYNTHESISED TYPE DANCE SOUND.”

Duran’s Nick Rhodes on first seeing Spandau Ballet live in Birmingham in 1980: “We saw them play at the Botanical Gardens and when we left we were smiling. We just said: WHAT’S THAT ABOUT?”

New Romantics, Duran Duran, pop music, frilly shirts, Top of the Pops

Happy even to work “New Romantic” into their lyrics: frilly Duran Duran’s debut on Top of the Pops in March 1981

“Boy” George O’Dowd: “Duran Duran brought the FRILLY SHIRT through to the masses.”

Gary Kemp on shooting Spandau Ballet’s video for Chant No 1 at the Beat Route club in 1981: “That was our LAST HOORAH – Spandau being part of this movement.”

Spandau manager Steve Dagger on the early 80s: “There was this COLOURFUL BANG which revitalised pop culture and fashion and London as a swinging city.”

Robert Elms on the clubbing revolution initiated by the Blitz Kids: “It introduced one-off nightclubs, warehouse parties, the deejay as the centre of attention, clubs where they tell you you can’t come in UNLESS YOU LOOK RIGHT. None of that had existed before.”

George O’Dowd speaking as an old Boy: “Strange and Egan were the gruesome twosome of the time – the HINGE AND BRACKET of New Romanticism.”

➢ View A Fine Romance (BBC Manchester 2001,
last shown 2015, on iPlayer now for another month)

➢ Says one observer: “If you stepped out and didn’t get
abuse, you hadn’t done it right” – Daily Mail review, 2001

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
How real did 1980 feel? Ex-Blitz Kids give verdicts on the TV play about Boy George, Worried About the Boy in 2010

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