Tag Archives: nightlife

➤ Essential pop-cultural landmarks reported here at Shapers of the 80s

Andrew Ridgeley,George Michael, Wham Rap, video, Face magazine, Club Culture,

Click pic to open the Wham Rap! video in another window … “Man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes his clubbing credentials – along with sidekick George Michael – in the opening shots of the Wham! video by reading this very Face cover story on Club Culture that you’re about to read!


➢ 1983, The Making of UK Club Culture — Definitive Face cover story by yours truly seen here in the Wham Rap! video. This account of how London nightlife had become an international magnet was first published as “an upstairs‑downstairs tale of two key nightspots” in The Face No 34 in February 1983. Photography © by Derek Ridgers. Reprinted in The Faber Book of Pop, 1995; and in Night Fever, Boxtree, 1997

69 Dean Street, Soho, club culture, The Face magazine, London, 1980s, clubbing, nightlife,Billys, Gargoyle,Red Studio,Blitz Kids

From The Face, February 1983


The Observer Music Magazine. Pictures © by Derek Ridgers

The Observer Music Monthly, Oct 4, 2009. Pictures © by Derek Ridgers

➢ Spandau Ballet, the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics — The much-plundered story originally researched by Shapers of the 80s tells who did what to make stars out of a club houseband, change the rhythm of the UK charts — and ultimately rejuvenate the British media. The obsessive fashionistas behind one small club in London in 1980 went on to dominate the international landscape of pop and fashion, while putting more British acts into the US Billboard charts than the 1960s ever achieved.


➢ How three wizards met at the same crossroad in time — an inside scene-setter on the forces shaping the Swinging Eighties

➢ 1980, Strange days, strange nights, strange people: at The Blitz a decade dawns

➢ 1980, One week in the private worlds of the new young: London blazes with creativity

➢ 1980, Shapersofthe80s tells how Duran Duran’s road to stardom began in the Studio 54 of Birmingham, UK

➢ 1981, Birth of Duran’s Planet Earth … when other people’s faith put the Brummies into the charts

Romance blossoms: Drummer Jon Moss gives George O’Dowd a peck at Planets club in July 1981 way before their band Culture Club existed. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ Three key men in Boy George’s life – In 2010 the BBC turned the pop star’s teens ’n’ twenties into a 90-minute drama of foot-stamping, chair-throwing, cry-baby tantrums over his self-confessed “dysfunctional romances”, all of which he had documented in his eye-wateringly frank 1995 autobiography, Take It Like a Man. Shapers of the 80s summarises George O’Dowd’s stormy lovelife.

➢ Ex-Blitz Kids give their verdicts on the TV drama Worried About the Boy – During and after its broadcast in 2010, this authoritative mixture of opinions on the Boy George story reshaped the accepted clichés about the Blitz Kids.

Chris Sullivan, club-host, deejay, Wag club, Blue Rondo, pop music,We Can Be Heroes, youth culture,

At home in Kentish Town Chris Sullivan chooses the right zootsuit for today’s mood: his wardrobe is legendary, his taste impeccable, and his influence immeasurable. Shapersofthe80s shot this for his first Evening Standard interview in June 1981

➢ 1976–1984, How creative clubbing started and ended with the 80s – “We were all kids,” says Chris Sullivan who would eventually host the Wag, the coolest club in town, for 19 years. “We went out and had a go. Empowerment is what’s important about this story.”

Photocall: Spandau Ballet, Richard Burgess and assorted Blitz Kid designers gather for the press conference before their fashion-and-music shows in New York. Yes that is Sade towards the far right. Photograph © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ 1981, First Blitz invasion of the US – 21 Blitz Kids take Manhattan by storm with a fresh fashion show and the live new sound of London. Eye-witness words and pix by Shapers of the 80s


Sade 1983

Wow! Then and now: Sade backstage in August 1983 while still seeking a recording contract and, right, as shot to launch her 2010 album. Vintage picture © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ 2010, Shapers of the 80s finds comeback Shard comfy as ‘Auntie Sade’ – Having wowed the 80s clubbing scene, in 2011 Sade’s band won a Grammy award for Best R&B Performance By A Group.

➢ 2009, Onstage, Spandau Ballet’s Hadley and Kemp finally get huggy in a mighty Reformation – Shapers of the 80s follows the reunion of the band who wrote the new rules for pop in the Swinging 80s.


David Bowie, Starman, 1972, Top of the Pops, tipping point, BBC

The moment the earth tilted July 6, 1972: During Starman on Top of the Pops, David Bowie drapes his arm around the shoulder of Mick Ronson. Video © BBC

➢ 40 years since “I picked on you-oo-oo”! July 6, 1972 saw the seminal pop moment — David Bowie’s first appearance on Top of the Pops as Ziggy Stardust, the day he created the next generation of popstar wannabes

➢ Where to draw a line between glitter and glam – defining what separates the naff blokes in Bacofoil from starmen with pretensions


➤ The original Wag sets the scene for Club to Catwalk at the V&A

Wag club, Soho, clubbing , Swinging 80s, Chris Sullivan ,Ollie O’Donnell

The Wag, for 19 years the coolest nightspot in Soho: its suave doorman Winston is flanked by co-hosts Chris Sullivan and Ollie O’Donnell. © Shapersofthe80s

➢ The July issue of High Life magazine celebrates the launch next week of the Club to Catwalk exhibition in the V&A fashion gallery – Longtime Wag club host Chris Sullivan recalls the unbridled creativity, outrageous abandon and downright cheek of London in the 80s …

It was 27 April 1985 and the opening party for the second floor of the Wag Club – the nightspot I founded and ran in Soho – was in full, unrestrained swing. Fuelled by the unlimited free bar, the place was totally off the hook, the crowd dressed to the nines in their own inimitable fashion – pirates, preachers, punks and picture-postcard peaches – throwing themselves about with Bacchanalian abandon to a soundtrack as arcane and varied as they were.

Club to Catwalk, exhibition, London, Fashion,1980s, V&A High jinks indeed, yet looking around I realised that we as a group had come of age, were taken seriously and that this moment was ours. George Michael danced next to Siobhan of Bananarama overlooking Sade who nodded to the music in front of Suggs and Martin Kemp. Over the way, John Galliano camped it up alongside Leigh Bowery, Judy Blame, Boy George and one of the scene’s most innovative dressers and designers, Stephen Linard, while behind them stood Steve Strange and Princess Julia chatting to Vivienne Westwood… / Continued at High Life

➢ Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s runs at the Victoria & Albert Museum, July 10–Feb 16, 2014. Featuring more than 85 outfits, it showcases new looks from the decade’s most experimental designers and some remarkable photography from back in the day

on video: five shapers still going strong


What larks! Festive fun and games and British ways to make merry

Bobbin’ about to the Fiddle ,Charles Williams, 1817,Thos Tegg,caricature, Almack’s,quadrille,dancing,Lady Jersey,

Bobbin’ about to the Fiddle — a Familly Rehersal of Quadrille Dancing, by Charles Williams, May 1817: published by Thos. Tegg No 111 Cheapside

❚ UNLIKE 21st-CENTURY DANCING, when the quadrille was introduced at Almack’s Assembly Rooms in 1815, its steps were notoriously difficult to perform correctly. This luxurious salon in King Street, St James’s — where the ballroom was partitioned off by crimson ropes — was governed by a committee of despotic lady patronesses who ruled over a “magic list” of those who may or may not be admitted to their weekly balls. Studio 54 had nothing on the power of these women: they effectively decided who belonged to “society”… “All on that magic list depends/ Fame, fortune, fashion, lovers, friends…/ Banished thence on Wednesday night/ By Jove you can do nothing right.

Yet even at Almack’s after Lady Jersey, wife of the 5th earl, brought the quadrille over from Paris as an energetic French precursor to traditional square dancing, wallflowers would sit sniggering as they watched the beau monde’s finest stumbling through the intricacies of its steps and twirls and changes of partner. The quadrille nevertheless soon became all the rage, so required determined practice.

Breeding counted for more than money at Almack’s and the prime role of the magic list was to exclude “cits”, precisely the kind of nouveau riche city-dwellers depicted above by caricaturist Charles Williams, in May 1817. This bourgeois family are preparing for their seaside vacation in Margate by practising their dancesteps at home.

The father is saying to the French dancing master: “I say, Mounseer Caper! Don’t I come it prime? Ecod, I shall cut a Figor!!” [ie, figure], and one of the daughters says “Law, Pa, that’s just as when you was drilling for the Whitechaple Volunteers — only look how Ma and I & sister Clementina does it!!” while the dancing master says “Vere vell, Sar, ver vell, you vil danse a merveille vere soon!” Nobody was spared from the satirist’s pen.

Tom Jerry and Logic, Making the Most of an Evening in Vauxhall,Vauxhall Gardens,George Cruikshank, Jonathan Tyers,Roger de Coverley ,Pierce Egan, Life in London,1821

Tom, Jerry, and Logic Making the Most of an Evening in Vauxhall: by Robert and George Cruikshank, from Pierce Egan’s Life in London (1821)

❚ FOR 200 YEARS THE VAUXHALL GARDENS were the most notorious and important of London’s many pleasure gardens, immortalised in Fielding’s novel Tom Jones by the description “where people come to undo others, and others come to be undone”. Vauxhall lay on the south bank of the Thames, up-river in a rural setting beyond London’s city limits, where the gardens opened before the Restoration of 1660 and closed finally with a fireworks display in 1859. Today all that remains is a small park bearing the name of the original Spring Gardens, while nearby streets do likewise for the enterprising proprietor, Jonathan Tyers, who from 1728 invested in enhancing the grounds so that in their heyday he could charge a guinea admission. (That would be £173 or $267 in today’s money!) He commissioned Roubiliac to make the great statue of the composer Handel for the gardens and added an orchestra pavilion, fountains and temples. Frederick Prince of Wales was his most prestigious patron.

Over several acres Tyers introduced formal plantings which offered attractive paved walks lit by thousands of glass lanterns in the arbours by night, and shrubberies for the making of mischief. Fireworks, hot-air balloon rides and circus performers provided entertainment along with music such as Handel’s from the bandstand.

Vauxhall Gardens, 1732,James Boswell, Dr Samuel Johnson,Rowlandson

Vauxhall, 1732, engraving after a watercolour by Thomas Rowlandson, published by Richard Powell: In the lower box is a supper party of James Boswell, Dr Samuel Johnson, Mrs Thrale and Oliver Goldsmith. Mrs Weichsel sings from the front balcony while Mr Barthelemon leads the orchestra (Princeton University Library)

Elegant painted booths afforded privacy while dining and the ornate Rotunda and other rococo pavilions became famous London attractions. An audience of 12,000 attended Handel’s Fireworks music at Vauxhall which brought together “persons of all ranks and conditions”. The 19th-century history of London Old and New observes “the English assert that such entertainments as these can never subsist in France, on account of the levity of the people”.

By 1712 Sir Roger de Coverley is supposed to have said that he’d have been a better customer to the gardens “if there were more Nightingales and fewer Strumpets.” So it was inevitable a century later that the rakish Tom and Jerry would pay their guinea for admission to Vauxhall. Their rip-roaring “sprees through the Metropolis” would one day give their names to Hollywood cinema’s cartoon cat and mouse, and in their own day they were no less famous.

“Jerry Hawthorn Esq, and his elegant friend, Corinthian Tom, accompanied by Bob Logic, the Oxonian” were young London clubmen created in 1821 by the sports-writer Pierce Egan in his monthly journal, Life in London, which became a runaway success. It was illustrated by the leading satirist of urban life George Cruikshank and its trio of hellraisers became contemporary pinups much copied by other engravers.

The topmost Cruikshank print is not among the best to record the showy splendour of Vauxhall Gardens but it is one of the few to locate Tom and Jerry, their journalist creator and the graphic satirist at London’s hedonist destination — five Regency legends in one image.

Twelfth Night,Isaac Cruikshank, Thomas Tegg,etching,parlour games

Twelfth Night by Isaac Cruikshank: published Jan 10 1807, by Thomas Tegg, Cheapside

❚ BEFORE TV RULED OUR LIVES, playing parlour games was how families amused themselves at the annual Christmastide gathering and Twelfth Night was the traditional day for games, merriment and feasting. The punch called wassail was the drink of choice, and in the Regency era a grand masqued ball often heralded an end to the solemnity of religious observance. Twelfth Night concludes the 12 days of Christmas and precedes the feast of the Epiphany on January 6 (though these dates vary under different sects of Christianity). It was not until the Victorians, influenced by the monarch’s Germanic roots, that we shifted celebrations to Christmas Day itself, which had previously been only a religious holiday.

Cruikshank’s hand-coloured etching from 1807 (above) shows three couples playing the traditional Twelfth Night game of acting out the character depicted on the tickets they have drawn from a bag held by a fat squire seated at left who sings the praises of “good old English customs”. Each ticket is inscribed with a portrait and description. Only two players are happy with their choice: on the left The Queen of Love has been drawn by a self-satisfied lady with a long nose, and on the right The Lovely Hostess by a jolly lady who smiles. The others have drawn unflattering or sarcastic tickets and regard them with expressions of dismay: the dandy in green is affronted by being perceived as a “man of fashion” while the fat woman in yellow has drawn “Miss Higginbottom” and remarks “Put in the bag on purpos to affront me I dare say”. We see a decorated Twelfth Night cake and candle on the side table.

Isaac Cruikshank is one of the four celebrated British illustrators (along with his son George, Thomas Rowlandson and James Gillray) who established satirical caricature as a powerful medium of social comment at the dawn of the 19th century. The Private Eyes of yesteryear.

The Plumb-pudding in danger, James Gillray,  Humphrey, Library of Congress

The Plumb-pudding in danger: by James Gillray, published London H. Humphrey, 1805 Feby 26 (Library of Congress)

❚ PLUM PUDDING IS THE ESSENTIAL CONCLUSION to a traditional Christmas feast. It is made not from plums but dried fruit and for good luck every member of the family should have a hand in stirring the mix before it is steamed or boiled. Since medieval times, the pud has become as symbolic of Britishness as Britannia and John Bull. This political cartoon was drawn by James Gillray in 1805 as a response to one of the most traumatic periods in Britain’s history.

It is titled The Plumb-pudding in Danger and shows William Pitt, Britain’s youngest prime minister, wearing a regimental uniform and sharing a table with the French emperor, Napoleon. A plum pudding represents the world as a globe and each leader is carving himself a slice. Pitt takes possession of the seas with a slice considerably larger than Napoleon’s, who carves off Europe where the French are the dominant military power. The previous year war had been renewed between Britain and the First French Empire that had followed the Revolution of 1789 and a period of continual warfare. With Napoleon intent on invading Britain, Gillray produced many prints in which he imagined the horrors of a successful invasion. By 1805 a British naval blockade on France was successfully frustrating French sea-trade and naval retaliation, so that January the emperor sought a reconciliation with England. Presciently this cartoon was published only months before the decisive British naval victory in the Battle of Trafalgar.

W Belch,January,engraving, ice-skating,1810,Henry Raeburn,Coleridge,Georgian England

January, one of a series of prints depicting the months, c1810: printed, published & sold by W. Belch, Staverton Row, Newington Butts, London

❚ THESE YOUNG BUCKS ARE FLOUTING THE RULES of ice-skating in the Regency period. Among outdoors activities in Georgian England, skating was so hugely popular that the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge waxed exceeding florid in a prose essay about the pastime for The Friend magazine, where he noted “the melancholy undulating sound from the skate”. Inevitably society proposed “a proper attitude for genteel rolling”, the posture illustrated most famously in Sir Henry Raeburn’s painting of the Reverend Robert Walker, who as a member of the Edinburgh Skating Society is seen serenely gliding with arms crossed over his chest. Evidently, the two January bucks above were only too keen to flaunt their own style to catch the attention of their female admirers on the riverbank.

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