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MORE INTERESTING THAN MOST PEOPLE’S FANTASIES — THE SWINGING EIGHTIES 1978-1984They didn’t call themselves New Romantics, or the Blitz Kids – but other people did.
“I’d find people at the Blitz who were possible only in my imagination. But they were real” — Stephen Jones, hatmaker, 1983. (Illustration courtesy Iain R Webb, 1983)
“The truth about those Blitz club people was more interesting than most people’s fantasies” — Steve Dagger, pop group manager, 1983
“See David Johnson’s fabulously detailed website Shapersofthe80s to which I am hugely indebted” – Political historian Dominic Sandbrook, in his book Who Dares Wins, 2019
“The (velvet) goldmine that is Shapers of the 80s” – Verdict of Chris O’Leary, respected author and blogger who analyses Bowie song by song at Pushing Ahead of the Dame
A UNIQUE HISTORY➢ WELCOME to the Swinging 80s
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❏ Header artwork by Kat Starchild shows Blitz Kids Darla Jane Gilroy, Elise Brazier, Judi Frankland and Steve Strange, with David Bowie at centre in his 1980 video for Ashes to Ashes
VINCENT FROM EASTER 2021
REWIND GOES AHEAD
✱ Rewind Festival 2021 confirms favourite 80s icons for Scotland, North and South during July and August. Book now
TOLD FOR THE FIRST TIME
◆ Who was who in Spandau’s break-out year of 1980? The Invisible Hand of Shapersofthe80s draws a selective timeline for The unprecedented rise and rise of Spandau Ballet –– Turn to our inside page
- 2021 ➤ Who can identify the face in this Bowie painting up for auction next week?
- 2021 ➤ Spandau’s Gary Kemp goes solo with a love song for the Radio 2 audience
- ➤ Duran reveal secrets behind their songs
- 2021 ➤ Robbie Vincent wins Sunday radio slot!
- 2011 ➤ Relive Duran’s 30th-anniversary comeback with All You Need Is Now
- 1983 ➤ Who’d be a spy while the 80s were swinging?
- 2001 ➤ Blitz Kids nail the rites for a Tuesday night out
- ➤ Fond farewells to Joe Allen who revolutionised London’s restaurant scene
- 1980 ➤ When Duran Duran put Brummie Romantics on the map
- 2021 ➢ Famous last words from Frau Blücher and Nurse Diesel
- ➤ It’s A Sin reviewed: “Supporting the sadness there is an abundance of humour”
- 2021 ➤ Olly Alexander fronts new C4 drama series exploring Aids in the Eighties
SEARCH our 800 posts or ZOOM DOWN TO THE ARCHIVE INDEX
UNTOLD BLITZ STORIES
✱ If you thought there was no more to know about the birth of Blitz culture in 1980 then get your hands on a sensational book by an obsessive music fan called David Barrat. It is gripping, original and epic – a spooky tale of coincidence and parallel lives as mind-tingling as a Sherlock Holmes yarn. Titled both New Romantics Who Never Were and The Untold Story of Spandau Ballet! Sample this initial taster here at Shapers of the 80s
CHEWING THE FAT
LANDMARK FAREWELLS. . . HIT THE INDEX TAB UP TOP FOR EVERYTHING ELSE
✱ “I’m not a rock star” Bowie often said – No, David, you were a messiah – Obituaries and key videos on the godlike one
Archive — Many publication dates are arbitrary, so click and take pot luck!
Tag Archives: Julia Fodor
◼ IN 1980 THE BLITZ CLUB ENTERED its second year: here was your invitation to the Swinging 80s, where daily life would never sound or feel the same again. Paris and New York had taken the cultural lead during the recessionary 70s; now London was to become the creative powerhouse as Britain rode out dark times and its youth culture leapt back into the world spotlight.
In February 1979, the axis of Steve Strange as Tuesday-night greeter and Rusty Egan as deejay had graduated from Billy’s in Soho to the Blitz in Covent Garden. This was a bar decorated with Second World War austerity that was thought to echo the down at heel 70s: bare floorboards, gingham tablecloths, hanging lights with dusty enamel shades, framed pictures of our wartime leader Churchill.
In the post-punk no-wave vacuum, the Blitz’s manager, Brendan Connolly, had been struggling to promote intimate cabaret, and the dressy crowd fostered at Billy’s were cabaret incarnate. Nevertheless it took a full year before the new spirit of optimism expressing itself through fashion caught the attention of the savvy media which in April 1980 included photographer Terry Smith shooting for TIME magazine.
Now in retirement, Terry has exhumed rolls of his film and chosen the best of his colour slides for Shapers of the 80s to publish exclusively. Earlier this week we unveiled 20 of his choice images inside the Blitz and today we showcase a further ten. More to follow on Tuesday.
It is January 1980 – out of the blue comes Steve Strange’s call
to join the late-night party that would run for years.
It turned into the Swinging Eighties. . .
First published in the Evening Standard, 24 Jan 1980:
❚ OF ALL THE BRIGHT YOUNG TIDDLERS in one small, though turbulent London pool, Steve Strange is the Big Fish. His is the pool the new Tatler magazine calls the 80s Set whose exploits it reports after its pages on solid old pedigree Society, under the section headed The Other Society. Only under-21s qualify for the 80s Set and by day you can be anything (broker’s runner, Tesco till-girl) but by night you must put on your Look.
Steve was born with his (at 20, he resembles Marc Bolan’s baby brother), so he emerged as a natural arbiter of who has the Look and who hasn’t. And for a couple of years he has been positioned on the doors of the Right Places vetting entrants and ensuring exclusivity for the 80s Set.
At Billy’s in Dean Street he fronted a David Bowie lookalike night. Then the Blitz wine bar in Covent Garden gave him Tuesdays, which he still calls an Electro-Diskow where everyone has to dress to high-tech standards and create new dances to electronic music.
Witchity in Kensington kept imploring him to stage a party a month for them but that place, he says, “looked like a coal-cellar”, so he demanded, as Big Fish should, that they smarten up and improve their sound system. Triumphantly, next Thursday, Steve hosts an 80s prize ball there (admission £2, plus your Look).
Tonight, however, he begins a wild new night at the Blitz. Thursdays from now on will be cabaret night on a strictly Liza Minnelli level (a Bowles Club, perhaps?). Everyone must dress in Berlin/Pigalle/Vegas style and the band, Spandau Ballet, will attempt to combine vocals akin to Sinatra with “dance music for the future”. Believe it or not, Frank Sinatra and Shirley Bassey, says Steve, are very big with under-21s.
“We’ve already booked a fire-eater and what I want are more acts like strippers and jugglers,” he says, urging aspiring acts to contact him at the Blitz.
Understandably, our Big Fish’s ambition has really been fired and in his next breath he’s saying: “Two nights a week at the Blitz aren’t enough. London is just waiting for a good Saturday place – I mean, where do kids spend their Saturday nights? The Scala Cinema. I’m ready to start somewhere like New York’s Mudd Club. I’m only looking for the right backer…”