Tag Archives: Wag club

➤ Toasting the Blitz Kid dynamos who have driven the success of Shapers of the 80s

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Blitz Kids as stars of David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes video in 1980: from the left, Steve Strange, Darla Jane Gilroy, Elise and Judi Frankland. When they got back to London after filming, they all went clubbing. Video © 1983 Jones Music / EMI Records Ltd

◼ SHAPERS OF THE 80S TELLS THE DEFINITIVE STORY of a subcultural revolution in British music and style 30 years ago. Its detonator was a youthful blast of impossible trendiness and its stars didn’t call themselves New Romantics, or the Blitz Kids – but other people did. This site gathers together the eye-witness journalism and photography of one observer who knew a good time when he saw one and was published in the coolest titles of the day.

Now in its fifth year, this site has attracted a total of 722,500 views since its launch, according to year-ending WordPress stats. The figures also identify the 20 most widely read items out of more than 600 posted here. Most of these pieces were first published back in the day, but seven of the Top 20 items reflect the continuing interest expressed through the recent 80s revival. In many ways, London is again displaying all the symptoms of being the world’s most swinging city, as it was in the 60s and the 80s, when there were a galaxy of reasons to hit the town every single night of the week.

THE 20 MOST VIEWED POSTS AT SHAPERS OF THE 80S

1  ➢ The Blitz Kids — 50 crucial nightclubbers who
set the style for a decade

2  ➢ The key men in Boy George’s life, but why has TV changed some of the names? (2010)

3  ➢ Golden rules for keeping Studio 54
ahead of the pack (1981)

4  ➢ 69 Dean Street and the making of UK club culture – birth of the once-weekly party night (1983)

The Face, magazine, May 1980, launch, Jerry Dammers, David Bowie, The Cult With No Name, New Romantics

The difference seven months made: In May 1980 The Face launched with Jerry Dammers of the Specials on its cover. By November the new direction was Bowie plus a feature on The Cult With No Name, as the New Romantics were first known

5  ➢ The Face and other power brokers of the fourth estate — a new media language for a new decade (1980)

6  ➢ First Blitz invasion of the US — Spandau Ballet and the Axiom fashion collective take Manhattan by storm (1981)

Blitz club, London 1979, Wilf, Stephen Linard, 2010, Worried About the Boy, Boy George, Daniel Wallace,Douglas Booth

Left, real Blitz Kids – right, the TV version… George’s boyfriend Wilf and fashion student Stephen Linard in 1979 (picture, Andy Rosen)… Daniel Wallace as a Linard lookalike and Douglas Booth as Boy George in Worried About the Boy, 2010 (BBC)

7  ➢ How real did 1980 feel? Ex-Blitz Kids give verdicts on the 2010 TV drama about Boy George’s teen years, Worried About the Boy

8  ➢ Hockney’s new vision of the world — Britain’s favourite artist reveals his insights into cubism (1983)

9  ➢ Paradise Point: live leaders of a new Brit pop blitz (2010)

i-D 1980

Seminal spread in i-D issue one: the straight-up style of photography is established with, at left, one then unknown New Romantic and, right, one punkette. Photographed on the King’s Road by Steve Johnston

10  ➢ ‘i-D counts more than fashion’ — launch of the
street-style bible in 1980

11  ➢ 19 gay kisses in pop videos that made it past the censor

12  ➢ Who’s who in the New London Weekend — key clubs that set the capital swinging (1983)

13  ➢ Aside from the freaks, George, who else came to your 50th birthday party? (2011)

© Shapersofthe80s

Londres est arrivée au Palace, 1982: classic set, nouveaux styles. Pictures © by Shapersofthe80s

14  ➢ Steve Strange takes fashion to the French — six British designers rock Le Palace in Paris (1982)

15  ➢ Posing with a purpose at the Camden Palace — power play among the new non-working class (1983)

16  ➢ Who are the New Romantics? — A mainstream deejay’s guide published by Disco International (1981)

Spandau Ballet, 1980

Houseband of the Blitz club: at the London megaclub Heaven Spandau Ballet play their tenth live date on 29 Dec 1980. From left, Steve Norman, Tony Hadley, Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp, plus John Keeble on drums. © Shapersofthe80s

17  ➢ They said it — landmark quotes about the decade of change by the people who made it happen

18  ➢ Rich List puts George Michael top of the popstars from the un-lucrative 80s (2010)

19  ➢ Comeback Shard comfy as ‘Auntie Sade’ — an enduring star who made 2010 her own

20 ➢ Robbie Vincent: 35 years as master of hot cuts and getting our “rhythm buds” going (2011)

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➤ 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!

THE MOST READ FEATURE ARTICLE AMONG 720,000 VIEWS SINCE THE LAUNCH OF SHAPERS OF THE 80s

➢ 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 ORIGINAL HISTORY OF THE BLITZ KIDS

The Observer Music Magazine. Pictures © by Derek Ridgers

The Observer Music Magazine, 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.

EARLY 80s REPORTS REVISITED

➢ 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

ROMANTIC REVIVAL OF THE NOUGHTIES

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.

WE ARE ALL BOWIE’S CHILDREN NOW

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

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➤ 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

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➤ Ain’t no stoppin’ Chris Sullivan as hashtag_coolest_DJ_in_town

Chris Sullivan,zoot suit, Wag club, dancing, mixtapes,clubbing, DJ, Soho,pop music, Blue Rondo a la Turk,

The Sullivan brand: Arguments raged in the 80s with his Wag co-host Ollie O’Donnell over who had designed/drawn/ordered the first zoot suit

❚ AS PROBABLY THE MOST INFLUENTIALshaper of the subcultural 80s, it’s hard to disassociate Chris Sullivan from his 19 years hosting the seminal Wag as the coolest black-music club in Soho. Today he’s a mighty standing stone on the shingle beach of club deejays, and much in demand on the society circuit. This week, however, he took stock: “A pal said to me, ‘I didn’t know you played music that was made past 1990’, so I, rather taken aback, did this mix that, although somewhat Latin and very me, is still very ‘modern’. Point is, I play mostly new stuff but hide it behind the patina of antiquity so no one ever notices.”

To surprise his pal, he’s posted this 73-minute hip-shaking and arm-waving mix at Soundcloud. You’ll find more there when you click through, plus the kind of mind-boggling CV of his life as, variously, a deejay, author, nightclub host, pop star in Blue Rondo à la Turk, painter, style commentator, entrepreneur and fashion designer today cutting a dash in a goatee. Find even more at Shapersofthe80s through the links below.

SULLIVAN AND HIS HINTERLAND …

➢ 1981, First review of Blue Rondo as they create a buzz with their new Latin sounds — from NSNS August 1981

➢ 1981, Hot days, cool nights, as Blue Rondo join the new Brits changing the pop charts

➢ 1976–1984, Creative clubbing ended with the 80s and We Can Be Heroes tells the tale

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1980 ➤ Ribald tales of excess as the kids from The Blitz took over West End clubbing

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❚ FRIDAY NIGHT WAS AN EXCUSE for the wags to tell their tall tales of clubbing in the 80s. This was the first reunion in recent memory of the bright sparks the media once called Blitz Kids and New Romantics. We’re talking about the straighter faction tonight — the make-up brigade had their day at Boy George’s 50th birthday party in June. All of them, whatever their persuasion, were diehard nightowls, the spiritual offspring of the mighty innovator who shaped the 1970s pop scene almost singlehandedly, David Bowie. He taught them to adopt stances: individualism, transgression. He bequeathed them principles for living amusing lives: disposable identities, looks not uniforms. In turn, they then shaped the sounds and styles of the Swinging 80s set in motion by 1976 and the birth of punk, along with a passion for black dance music, on through the decadent glamour of the Blitz Club years, to the watershed of Band Aid in 1984.

On Friday, photographer Graham Smith took over Soho’s newest rendezvous, the Society Club, for a gallery show of his 80s photographs, which capture the panache and derring-do of style leaders such as PX, Stephen Jones, Kim Bowen Melissa Caplan, Stephen Linard, Fiona Dealey, John Maybury and such nascent popstars as Spandau Ballet, Visage, Animal Nightlife, Sade, Blue Rondo à la Turk and others.

Our two videos capture the essence of Smith’s collaborators, Robert Elms and Chris Sullivan, powering through their often unprintable anecdotes, edited on video down to bite-sized chunks and garnished with Graham’s images. The highspot was meant to be Sullivan as guest speaker, but when he was reportedly “still on his way”, in stepped writer and broadcaster Elms to recall the early one-night clubs he also helped to run. He sounded genuinely shocked by the precociousness of his peers — “We were kids!” — who persuaded West End nightclubs to hand over door control to them as teenagers. Eventually, Sullivan  arrived in the guise of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, and of course excelled at spinning his “ribald tale of excess” about the mayhem he helped cause in clubland, en route to running Soho’s Wag club for 19 years.

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The photos form a dossier creative endeavour, as we’ll soon see in We Can Be Heroes, a 320-page coffee-table book containing 500 mostly unseen images and 100 voxpop interviews by Graham Smith. Warts-and-all main text is penned by the mellifluous Welshman Sullivan, with other contributions from Robert Elms, Boy George, Steve Strange and Gary Kemp.

We Can Be Heroes, Graham Smith, Chris Sullivan, Robert Pereno, Society Club , Soho ,books,Unbound Publishing,photography, exhibition,afterparty, Aviary Bar, Robert Elms, Boy George, Gary Kemp ,Steve Strange, Blitz Kids,Wag club,

Smith & Sullivan’s invitation to a party

➢ Visit the publisher Unbound.co.uk to place your order for We Can Be Heroes and secure your name in the limited first edition. This month the authors aim to hit an advance sales target by this new “crowd-funding” technique in order to guarantee publication.

➢ Visit The Society Club, London W1F 0JF where Graham Smith’s photographs are on sale until Christmas. Subjects include Boy George, Sade, Steve Strange, Spandau Ballet, Iggy Pop, Siouxsie Sioux, the Sex Pistols and many more.

➢ Skimmable list of media coverage of We Can Be Heroes so far

Making up the rules of 80s clubbing: Robert Elms, Phil Dirtbox and Chris Sullivan at Friday’s nostalgia fest. Photograph by Shapersofthe80s

Fanatical about music: Chris Sullivan, Jo Hagan (remember 1983’s Gold Coast?) and Darrell Gayle at the Society Club. Photograph by Shapersofthe80s

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