FOLLOW US ON: follow us in feedly
GET THE NEWSLETTER
CONTACT US
Nightclubbing: Fascinating 1981 BBC news report on the New Romantics
06.14.2017
12:02 pm
Topics:
Tags:


Spandau Ballet
 
The Blitz club in Covent Garden was ground zero for the movement that came to be known as the New Romantics, an identity that perhaps represented the most forceful rejection of the premises of punk music, which was then on everyone’s lips. Where the punks preached scruffy confrontation and anarchy, the New Romantics veered in an escapist direction, stressing the rarefied forms of yesteryear (most often the 1930s) and an abiding (even a political) belief in actual beauty with a capital B. 

The Blitz Kids looked to Roxy Music and David Bowie for inspiration, adopting a sartorial flair that included flaming mascara, outrageous accessories, zoot suits. The Blitz club spawned the New Romantic acts Visage and Spandau Ballet, among others, but nature of the scene was insular—the whole point of the weekly meetups was to parade oneself for all the others who had gathered for the occasion. Gigs didn’t have to be promoted because word of mouth would fill any chosen room.
 

Chris Sullivan
 
In May 1980 Strange, Egan, and Chris Sullivan of the band Blue Rondo à la Turk opened Hell, which had a darker feel than Blitz. At Hell, as Dave Rimmer writes in New Romantics: The Look, “many of the Blitz crowd pursued an ecclesiastical theme: dark robes, white faces, a look that prefigured Goth.” At Hell you would hear acts like the Pop Group, Defunkt, the Cramps, and A Certain Ratio, but its “anthem” was “Contort Yourself” by James White and the Blacks. Hell only lasted a few months, and by early 1981 the hot spot had become a joint started by Chris Sullivan and Graham Ball called Le Kilt, which was where BBC sent Robin Denselow to do his report.

Tellingly, the report begins with the strains of Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of Rodgers and Hart’s “Manhattan” as Sullivan carefully dons his tailored duds. A few minutes later, Steve Strange bellows the words “Nobody should knock fantasy!” in fervent defense of the New Romantic ideology in an overt embrace of escapism—and why not?

Gary and Martin Kemp of Spandau Ballet are on hand, Gary in particular speaking with palpable edge about the demands the New Romantic movement places on the participants (for they must dress up as much as any performer).

Continues after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Martin Schneider
|
06.14.2017
12:02 pm
|
Early photos of Boy George, Steve Strange & more at the club that launched the New Romantics

01princessjgeorge78.jpg
DJ and singer Princess Julia with George O’Dowd aka Boy George.
 
Billy’s was a nightclub in Soho, London, where every Tuesday for most of 1978 two young men—Steve Strange and Rusty Egan—ran a club night playing tracks by David Bowie, Roxy Music and Kraftwerk. The club was in a basement underneath a brothel. From this small cramped space a new generation of artists, writers, performers and DJs first met up and planned the future together. Punk was dead. It was uncool. It had gone mainstream. The teenagers who came to Billy’s wanted to create their own music, their own style and make their own mark on the world.

Among this small posse of teenagers were future stars like Boy George, Siobhan Fahey (Bananarama), Marilyn, Martin Degville (Sigue Sigue Sputnik), DJ Princess Julia, Jeremy Healy (Hasyi Fantayzee), Andy Polaris (Animal Nightlife) and an eighteen-year-old Nicola Tyson who would go onto become one of the world’s leading figurative painters.

It’s rare that someone is savvy enough to ever take photographs of a nascent cultural revolution. But Nicola took her camera along to Billy’s and she documented the teenagers who frequented the club that launched the New Romantics and a whole new world of pop talent.
 
07unknownfriendsiobhan.jpg
A blonde-haired Siobhan Fahey with at friend at Billy’s long before she joined Bananarama and later Shakespeare’s Sister.
 
011unknonwsteve78.jpg
Club host Steve Strange (in cap) with an unknown friend.
 
See more photos of Nicola’s photos, after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
01.20.2017
01:47 pm
|
‘Posers’: Vintage doc takes a stroll down the King’s Rd. looking for New Romantics, 1981

01visblit1.jpg
The Blitz Club where the Eighties were invented.
 
Punk was boring. Punk was dead. Punk stopped being interesting when it became chart music. In its place came New Wave—which was really just more of the same played with jangly guitars by bands with a taste for Sixties music. The next really big thing was the utter antithesis of punk. Elitist, pretentious, preening, vain, camp yet utterly inventive.

It was called “the cult with no name”—because nobody knew what to call it. It didn’t fit any easy categorization. There were soul boys, punks, rockabillies, with a taste for dance music and electronica all in the mix. It was the press who eventually pitched up with the tag New Romantics which stuck.

I was never quite sure what was supposed to be romantic about the New Romantics. They weren’t starving in garrets or brokenhearted, writing poetry, indulging in absinthe or committing suicide by the dozen. They were all dolled-up to the nines, flaunting it out on the streets—demanding to be seen.

It had all started with Rusty Egan and Steve Strange running a club night playing Bowie, Roxy Music and Kraftwerk at a venue called Billy’s in 1978.

Egan was a drummer and DJ. He was in a band with ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock called Rich Kids which featured Midge Ure on vocals.
       
Strange had been inspired to move to London and form a punk band after he saw the Sex Pistols in concert. He moved out of Wales and formed The Moors Murderers. The band included punk icon Soo Catwoman, guitarist Chrissie Hynde and Clash drummer Topper Headon. Together they recorded one notorious single “Free Hindley.”

The same year, Egan, Strange and Ure formed Visage—which was to become a catalyst for the New Romantics in 1980 with their hit single “Fade to Grey.”
 
02vistrio2.jpg
Visage: Steve Strange, Midge Ure and Rusty Egan in 1978.
 
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, so let’s be kind and rewind.

1978: Egan and Strange move their club night to a wine bar-cum-restaurant-cum-dance-club called the Blitz. Egan was the DJ. Strange was on the door. Strange has a strict door policy. No one gets in unless they dressed like superstars.

More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
08.22.2016
12:35 pm
|
The Legend of Leigh Bowery

image
 
The Legend of Leigh Bowery is a brilliant documentary about a brilliant man.

Directed by Charles Atlas, the film covers Bowery’s life and times from his suburban beginnings in Sunshine, Australia, to his fame on London’s club scene in the 1980s and his success as one of the most influential and daring fashion designers in the past thirty years.

The Legend of Leigh Bowery has incredible archive footage and excellent contributions from Michael Clark, Sue Tilley, Michael Bracewell, Richard Torry, Donald Urquhart, Damien Hirst, Boy George and Leigh’s wife, Nicola Bowery.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Leigh Bowery interviewed by Gary Glitter from ‘Night Network’, 1989


 
Watch the rest of ‘The Legend of Leigh Bowery’, after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
09.20.2011
06:43 pm
|
Julien Temple’s ‘Mantrap’ starring Martin Fry and ABC
06.20.2011
07:16 pm
Topics:
Tags:

image
 
Julien Temple directed Mantrap, an under-rated and often considered “lost” featurette starring 1980’s New Romantic group ABC. Like a lot of Temple’s work it’s full of quirky originality and style, which compensates for the lack of script. Mantrap can be best summed-up by its Wikipedia entry:

Martin Fry is asked to join [a] band as they embark on tour heading east through Europe. But at the height of their popularity the band tries to secretly replace Fry with a Russian spy in order to sneak him back behind the iron curtain. It is then up to Martin to battle his doppelganger and make the world safe for New Romantic Synth Pop.

Temple is a true maverick, who has more than a touch of genius about him. His films always deliver great visual imagination as disguise for a weak script (Absolute Beginners), but when Temple has a good script, like Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Pandaemonium, or is working with straight non-fiction narrative Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten, the superb documentary on Dr Feelfgood, Oil City Confidential, or The Filth and the Fury, his talents soar.

Though slight, Mantrap is well worth watching for 101 reasons, from its classic soundtrack by ABC, its style, its visuals, its concert footage, Martin Fry’s good looks, its silliness, its joie de vivre….etc.

Seminal New Romantics ABC and punk filmmaker Julien Temple pay homage to 50s espionage flicks in this hour long folly from 1983. Martin Fry has the look of a Hitchcock protagonist, but by his own admission, his acting was a little “mahogany”. Temple captures the isolation and paranoia of the former Communist Bloc, but forgets to tell a story in the process.

Nonetheless, this curiosity from the naive dawn of pop-video has enough to keep fans and casual viewers entertained. The 6th form script about some Cold War double dealing will occasionally make you wince, but is padded out with some wonderful footage of ABC’s (sadly never repeated) World Tour.

B-Movie regulars and wannabes try their best amidst the ensuing nonsense - but it’s pretty much in vain, so don’t expect John le Carré! But do delight in a soundtrack taken from arguably the greatest debut album of all time - “The Lexicon of Love”.

 

 
See the rest of ‘Mantrap’, after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
06.20.2011
07:16 pm
|
Lipstick and powder: Boy George presents a Top 10 of New Romantics

image
 
Out of the ashes of Punk came the New Romantics, rising like a painted phoenix over London’s club scene. From clubs like Billy’s and Blitz, where Steve Strange and Rusty Egan played Bowie, the Velvets and T.Rex, and Boy George was the coat-check guy, came the New Romantics. Clubbers known as the Blitz Kids, who were made-up and beautiful, and knew imagination was more important than money when it came to having fun. 

The Blitz Kids were Steve Strange (Visage), Rusty Egan (The Rich Kids), Boy George (Culture Club), Tony Hadley, Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp, John Keeble, Steve Norman (Spandau Ballet), Tony James, James Degville (Sigue Sigue Sputnik), Siobhan Fahey (Bananarama), Marilyn, Princess Julia, Isabella Blow, Stephen Jones and Michael Clarke, and together they were the generation of New Romantics.

Last year, in the Guardian, Priya Elan talked to some of the “movers and shakers behind the scene that spawned the New Romantics.”

STEVE STRANGE, BLITZ CLUB HOST, VISAGE FRONTMAN: By 1977 I’d gotten very bored by punk. It’d become very violent. The skinheads and the National Front had moved in.

RUSTY EGAN, BLITZ DJ, VISAGE MEMBER: The punk venues got invaded by football hooligans wearing Le Coq Sportif clothes. They’d call us “poofs” because we weren’t dressed in a normal way. Hence why we formed the club. It was for those ex-punks who liked Lou Reed, Bowie and Iggy.

SS: It was about being creative, we wanted to start something that didn’t have anything to do with punk.

RE: It was a horrible time of recession. Covent Garden was isolated and badly lit. But then you’d walk into the club and it was like “Ta-da!” Everyone was drinking and taking poppers. The atmosphere was like Studio 54.

SIOBHAN FAHEY, BLITZ CLUBBER AND BANANARAMA MEMBER: We’d spend the whole week preparing our outfits for the club. We’d go and buy fabrics, customise our leather jackets, make cummerbunds, find old military things and throw them together in a mix of glam, military and strangeness. It was all DIY because we didn’t really have any money to properly eat. We lived off coffee and cigarettes, really.

RE: The song that became the anthem of the club was Heroes by Bowie. “Just for one day” you could dress up and be more than what Britain had to offer you.

 

 
Previously on DM

‘The Chemical Generation’: Boy George’s documentary on British Rave Culture


 
Part 2 of Boy George’s Top 10 plus more memories from the Blitz Kids, after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
02.19.2011
08:21 pm
|