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
◼ 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.
➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
Days 1 & 2 of Terry’s Blitz pix in colour
Posted in Britain, Clubbing, dance music, exhibitions, Fashion, journalism, London, Media, New Romantics, nightlife, photography, Pop music, Swinging 80s, Tipping points, zeitgeist
Tagged Chris Sullivan, Harley Price, Julia Fodor, Ken Banta, Lee Sheldrick, Lesley Chilkes, Lucy Bell, Philip Sallon, Rusty Egan, St Moritz, Steve Strange, Sue Scadding, Terry Smith, Time magazine
“Double, double, toil and trouble” . . . Mandy d’Wit, Judith Frankland and Darla-Jane Gilroy await the casting call in case Mr Bowie drops in at the Blitz
◼ A SURPRISING NEW CACHE of photographs of the Blitz Club in colour has been discovered from the spring of 1980 when TIME magazine asked British photographer Terry Smith to turn his lens on the nightlife posers at Covent Garden’s Blitz Club. They were to become feted as the New Romantics.
Tuesdays at the Blitz were all ritual. Everyone supped and danced on the same spot every week according to some invisible floorplan: downstairs near the bar stood the boys in the band (no make-up), their media and management by the stairs, credible punk legends such as Siouxsie Sioux along the bar, suburban wannabes beside the dancefloor.
Deep within the club, around Rusty Egan’s deejay booth, were the dedicated dancing feet, the white-faced shock troops, the fashionista elite – either there or near the cloakroom, ruled first by Julia Fodor (still going strong as deejay Princess Julia) and later by George O’Dowd (known today as ex-jailbird Boy George). Downstairs, the women’s loo was hijacked, naturally, by boys who would be girls. Upstairs on the railway banquettes might be respected alumni from an earlier London: film-maker Derek Jarman, artists Brian Clarke and Kevin Whitney, designers Antony Price and Zandra Rhodes…
➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
1980, Just don’t call us New Romantics
Posted in Britain, Clubbing, dance music, Fashion, London, New Romantics, photography, Pop music, Swinging 80s, Tipping points, Youth culture
Tagged Chris Sullivan, Darla-Jane Gilroy, David Holah, Dick Breslaw, Fiona Dealey, George O’Dowd, Harley Price, Helen Carey, Jeremy Healy, Judith Frankland, Ken Banta, Kim Bowen, Lesley Chilkes, Lucy Bell, Mandy d’Wit, Philip Sallon, Rose Turner, Rusty Egan, Stephen Jones, Steve Strange, Terry Smith, Time magazine, Tracey Rivers
Never before published: Steve Strange, co-founder with deejay Rusty Egan of the legendary Tuesday night at the Blitz in London
◼ AN ENORMOUS NEW CACHE of photographs of the Blitz Club in colour has been discovered from the spring of 1980 when the UK media started to take an interest in the Tuesday-night antics of the nightlife posers at Covent Garden’s Blitz Club. They were to become celebrated as the Blitz Kids by some and as New Romantics by others. Until this moment it has been easy to count the number of surviving professional pictures ever taken inside the Blitz during its 20-month life – all of them in black-and-white – and the total doesn’t even approach 100.
Now a call to Shapers of the 80s by the British photographer Terry Smith has unearthed probably 300 more images, commissioned by Time magazine. Many of them are in glorious colour, shedding extra light on the creativity of the night-owls who were in the throes of transforming the fashion and pop landscape of Britain in the Swinging 80s.
Shapers of the 80s today showcases the first of four batches of Terry’s pictures capturing the Blitz in colour, while a selling exhibition of his black-and-white images is preparing to open on 7 June in St Leonards-on-Sea.
➢ Terry Smith/Blitz and Pieces: Unseen Blitz Club Pictures
& 80s Bands runs 7 June–21 July 2018 at Lucy Bell Gallery,
St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex TN38 0EJ.
Preview 7 June, 6-8pm
Blitz Club 1980: Can you name these early New Romantics in the frilly-shirt posse?
Posted in Clubbing, exhibitions, Fashion, History, journalism, London, Media, New Romantics, nightlife, photography, Pop music, Swinging 80s, Tipping points, Youth culture
Tagged David Holah, Fiona Dealey, George O’Dowd, Harley Price, Jeremy Healy, Judith Frankland, Ken Banta, Kim Bowen, Lesley Chilkes, Lucy Bell, Philip Sallon, Rose Turner, Rusty Egan, Stephen Jones, Steve Strange, Terry Smith, Time magazine, Tracey Rivers