❚ 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?”
“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.”