If you remember the eighties, you were probably there. Big hair, bad music, and terrible fashion. Or was it so bad?
This was the decade when no one dominant musical trend dictated the terms—as say the Beatles did in the sixties or as heavy metal, prog rock or punk did in the seventies. Pop culture atomized into many different groups and subcultures. New wave, new romantics, punks, mods, goths, emos, hip-hop, rap, and eventually acid house and rave—which symbolically broke music down into euphoric repetitive beats with little reference to song, substance or subtlety.
Everything was considered equally valid, equally worthy, equally saleable, yet completely disposable.
Pop music was a teenage rite of passage; an entertainment business that vied with rudimentary computers and video games for attention. The revolution was no longer about class war it, was televised concerts to raise money to feed the world and discussions about what kind of trainers to wear. There was nothing to fight for. Affluence was king, feigned poverty was chic (ripped jeans for $100), gangster culture fashionable, and existential angst labored under a ton of makeup and hairspray. The eighties were all about dressing up and having fun which is kinda borne out by these photographs of youngsters from the decade.
Does my hair look big in this?
It’s all about… me.
The pained look of teenage angst.
More teenage fashion victims (and a few fashion victors, too) after the jump…
Most young men in the sixties didn’t look like Charlie Manson in beads and a kaftan. Most wore button-down shirts, drainpipes, and sported short hair. Despite all those documentaries television likes to feed us (e.g. The Sixties), not everyone was at Woodstock. Not everyone was out of their tits on LSD. Not everyone looked like an unwashed extra from The Walking Dead. Most people looked normal. Lived average lives. Wore everyday clothes. It might be nice for the TV execs and the film studios and those with something to sell to make us all think kids in the sixties were far-out freaks who lived off a diet of mind-blowing drugs, sex, and rock ‘n’ roll—certainly a few did and many of them were wannabe or fully-fledged rock stars—but most were like the young men in these photographs—straight, average, happy, and quite dull. Just like the rest of us.
I look at these pictures and see most of my wardrobe—the narrow lapels, the straight-leg pants, the white tees, and the plaid shirts. Denim and cheesecloth ain’t something for me. Indeed, most of these outfits wouldn’t look out of place today, though I’m fairly sure future generations will look back at this decade and believe all young men had man-buns, waxed their beards into novel designs, wore tartan waistcoats with striped shirts and polka-dot bow ties and were master artisans who knitted their own yoghurt.
More real-life fashions from the swinging sixties, after the jump…
When you share a bedroom with a sibling you’re not too bothered about privacy, well, that is until you start growing hair down there or get tired of their taste in music/jokes/conversation or maybe just their lack of personal hygiene.
I shared a bedroom with my brother until I was in my teens when our parents moved up a rung to a quiet leafy terrace by the edge of a river. We then got rooms of our own. He was older so had first dibs and unselfishly picked the larger of the two. I got the six by ten study-cum-nursery-cum-guest room which still had some of its old yellow wallpaper of puppy dogs and cats and orange-winged butterflies.
Like every other brat, I soon covered the walls with posters and photographs and newspaper clippings—just like the kinda stuff youngsters keep on their smartphones today. I was under the mistaken belief I was expressing some unacknowledged aspect of my personality rather than just giving free advertising to rich people who didn’t really need it.
Yes, I was young and I was foolish (and probably far too serious for my own good) but I had a space to call my own. Just like these young boys and girls from the 1980s, who’ve got their rooms and their posters and growing sense of who they’re maybe going to be.
Witness, if you will, these photographs of young teenage girls from the mid-19th-century.
Some of the girls look happy. Some look troubled and apprehensive as only teenagers can. These youngsters will grow up into a world where women have limited rights. Where they have no vote. Where a man is always head of the household. Where, in some instances, they will not be allowed to own property or even keep their own money.
These girls will be expected to marry and have sex with only their husband. If they have sex with other men, they will be ostracized from their society and quietly described as “fallen women.”
Witness too, their limited range of pastimes. Reading, embroidery, and music. Sporting activities were generally frowned upon as damaging to a woman’s health. For example, riding a bicycle was thought to cause orgasms which could inspire an unhealthy interest in sex.
It’s a strange, distant world, but one that is still closer than we think. Yet, each of these portraits is filled with a sense of hope. Each of these young girls (and millions of others like them throughout the years), made a difference just by existing. They were part of a progression, a slowly changing (r)evolution, that furthered the reach and ambition, and eventually lead to the world we live in today.
More teenage girls from 19th-century, after the jump…
The artist Eduardo Paolozzi once described the artist’s studio as a laboratory where experiments are carried out and chemicals react with each other to produce strange and unsteady alliances. A place where the artist’s personality spreads through the room’s collected detritus like some untreated fungal growth and creativity changes dramatically but generally for the better.
The same observation can be said for the teenager’s bedroom which is a similar site of experimentation and chemical reaction towards a creative sense of self. The teenage bedroom is where the revolution usually first starts between slammed doors and “You don’t understand me,” to music blaring at all hours of the day-and-night and the unrelenting desires of puberty.
These rooms tend to all end up looking the same with only the allegiances to content differing. The walls are usually decorated like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with a collage of posters featuring the fashionable pop star, movie actor, and sexy pin-up. While the books and albums which spread across shelf and floor suggest a search for taste and substance. This little selection of photos culled from here and there give a rather personal peek at the typical teenager’s life (and taste in interior design) from the early 1960s to late 1980s.
So, this is what Mom wore in the eighties. And maybe you did too.
Big hair, teased and permed to perfection, crimped, hot rollered, feathered like Farrah’s, with a side high tail, or a whale spout. Colors were in. High colored fluorescents like something Disney had puked up. Pastels and neon, tartans and stripes. Leggings and leg warmers, dancewear, and Spandex, revealing cotton shorts with vests, tracksuits. Jordache jeans, ripped jeans, and stone washed jeans. Fanny packs, scrunchies, and shoulder pads. Reebok, Adidas, and Swatch. Everything was either way too loud or just a tad too soft like something granny might wear. There was no in between in the 1980s.
These found photographs of teenage girls from the 80s certainly give some idea of what the decade was like for mostly affluent, mainly white people back then. It’s a better portrait than say that CNN documentary series, as it doesn’t concentrate on the headlines but on what people looked like, what they wore, and how they had fun.
Flashback in time with more photos of 80s teen fashion, after the jump…
Teenager: that tricksy time when you’re no longer a child but not quite yet the adult. When hormones light fires and the good ole triumvirate of sex ‘n’ drugs ‘n’ rock’n'roll drop by to shake everything up.
Joseph Szabo was teaching a bunch of such teenagers at Malverne High School, Long Island in 1972. Szabo was 28-years old—ancient to most teenagers—and was finding it a hell of a difficult to connect with his young charges. He had all but given up trying when he decided to start taking photographs of the kids in his class. This then led to his photographing all the kids in the school. Then all the kids in the neighborhood. He didn’t discriminate. He just wanted to document every kind of student he could find and let his photographs tell their story.
The kids responded to Szabo’s interest. They soon let him follow them down to the beach, or out to their hangouts and homes after school. Szabo’s pictures moved from posed portrait against wall or on beach to youths caught unawares like nobody was watching.
These kids lived in a world they described as “doing nothing” because they were neither at work or at play. It was this unselfconscious spontaneity that Szabo captured so perfectly that made his photographs stand out. They are beautiful and sublime depictions of a golden season when the world is still magical and mysterious before the first frost of adulthood brings cynicism and fear.
Szabo’s work has inspired movie directors like Sofia Coppola and Cameron Crowe and a shopload of fashion directors on shoots for every glossy magazine you can think of. Now in his seventies and retired from teaching in 1999, Szabo still takes photographs of the teenagers and adults he meets on his travels. But nowadays people are more cagey about having their picture taken and it ain’t so easy to connect in the same way. But Szabo still manages to capture those unguarded epiphanic moments when no one else is looking.
Three Friends, 1976.
Anthony and Johanna.
Priscilla, 1969. It became the cover for Dinosaur Jr’s album Green Mind
See more of Szabo’s iconic pictures, after the jump…
The great photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson said taking a good photograph is all about luck. The luck of the moment. The luck of the chance encounter. The luck of just being in the right place at the right time.
Marc St. Gil (1924-92) was in the right place at the right time when he met a bunch of teenagers on a day-out to the Frio Canyon River near Leakey, in Texas 1973. Marc was one of seventy freelance photographers hired by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to photograph America.
The EPA had been set up by President Nixon in 1970. One of its first assignments was Documerica a six-year project (1971-77) to document environmental issues, EPA activities and rural life in America during the seventies.
The youngsters Marc met were hanging out—chilling along the riverbank and smoking weed. With their permission, Marc photographed the youths. Two teenage girls sharing a joint. One older male lighting up a pipe. Marc was supposed to be photographing the effects of pollution on the river and landscape. Instead he photographed these carefree youngsters toking up and having fun.
One can’t help but wonder—what happened next? What happened to these carefree youngsters? Where are they now?
‘Teenage Girls Wading the Frio Canyon River near Leakey Texas, While on an Outing with Friends near San Antonio 05/1973.’
More of Marc St. Gil ‘s photographs of dope-smoking teens, after the jump…
In 1964 gangs of Mods and Rockers fought battles on the very British beaches Winston Churchill had once sworn to defend.
It all kicked-off over the Easter weekend of 30th March in the holiday town of Clacton-on-Sea, south-east England. Famed for its cockles and winkles, “Kiss Me Quick” hats, amusement arcades, its eleven-hundred foot pier and golden sands on West Beach, Clacton provided the backdrop for the first major battle between the twenty-something Rockers and their teenage rivals the Mods. Clacton was reportedly “beat-up” by “scooter gangs” and 97 youth were arrested.
This was but a small rehearsal for what was to come later that year. Over the May and August bank holidays “skirmishes” involving over “thousands” of youngsters “erupted” at the seaside resorts of Margate, Broadstairs and Brighton.
In Margate there were “running battles between up to 400 teens and police on the beach as bottles were thrown amid general chaos.” But it was the fighting in Brighton that scooped the headlines, with tales of two days of “violence” and some “battles” moving further along the coast to Hastings.
The press latched onto the story of youth out of control like a terrier and squeezed every damning adjective out of it, hyping the events into a small war. Yet, these so-called “running battles” between the two rival factions were no worse than the fights between soccer fans or street gangs on a Saturday night. Still, the press and parts of the “establishment” (the police, the judges, the bishops, the local councillors and politicians…etc.) saw an opportunity to slap down the youth, and the press created a “moral panic” outraged over the falling standards of “this scepter’d isle.”
The Rockers were proto-biker gangs—they kept themselves separate from society, were bound by their own rules and rituals, and usually only fought with rival Rockers. Though considered dangerous—often referred to by the press as the “Wild Ones” after the American B-movie starring Marlon Brando—there was a sneaking admiration for the Rockers as they epitomised a macho fantasy of freedom and recklessness that most nine-to-five workers could only dream about. The Rockers also had the added appeal of being working class and fans of rock ‘n’ roll—which was more acceptable to middle England in the mid-sixties once the God-fearing Elvis had set youngsters a good example of being dutiful to one’s country by joining the US Army.
Mods on the other hand were an unknown quantity—ambitious, aspirant working class kids, politically astute, unwilling to take “no” for an answer. They were feared for their drug taking—speed was their tipple of choice—and their interest in looking good and wearing the right clothes. Dressing sharp was considered “suspect” and if not exactly effeminate, being fashion-conscious was not an attribute traditionally thought of as a masculine one. For an older generation, the Mods were the face of the future looming—the red brick universities, the council estate, the supermarkets, the motorways and self-service restaurants—these entitled brats were the very children for whom they had fought a war.
The events of that heady summer inspired The Who’s Pete Townshend to write his rock opera Quadrophenia. Anthony Burgess, who was never shy about making a headline, said his book A Clockwork Orange had been inspired by these “loutish” and “hoodlum” youth—even though his book had been published in 1962. Fifty years after the infamous “fighting on the beaches,” the BBC made a documentary revisiting the Mods, Rockers and Bank Holiday Mayhem that interviewed some of the youngsters who were there.
The intention of the filmmakers in this short extract from the “exploitation” documentary Primitive London is to take a pop at tribal youth culture and its fashions. The four youth cultures briefly examined are Mods, Rockers, Beatniks and those who fall outside of society.
The Mods are dismissed as “peacocks;” the Rockers are seen as lumpen and shall we say knuckle-dragging; the Beatniks don’t really know what they believe in as they are against everything, man; and finally there are the ones who are not part of any group as they consider themselves to be outside of society—apparently these guys “dissipate their identity in complete passivity”—now that sounds like a group I’d join.
Mostly it’s all about the Beatniks, who are filmed hanging out in their local bar getting drunk, answering questions on fashion, work, marriage and all the other concerns middle-aged producers thought were important in 1965. As a footnote, the bar seen in this clip is the one where Rod Stewart (aka Rod the Mod) hung out. The featured musicians are Ray Sone, harp (later of The Downliners Sect) and Emmett Hennessy, vocals, guitar.
Two enterprising teenagers have found a novel answer to Moscow’s current heatwave by turning a living room into their very own mini indoor pool. The big question is, whose front room have they used?
Photos appeared on social networks of the two nameless lads bathing in their DIY paddling pool. According to the Moscow Times, the pool was constructed “using a basic tarpaulin and held in place by Scotch tape”.
The boys, who hail from the Oryol region about 350 kilometers southwest of Moscow, where temperatures rose above 30 C this week according to the weather bureau, were seemingly oblivious to their unconventional setting as they posed for pool snaps amongst a radiator, some curtains and a chandelier.
It was not immediately clear how the boys planned to drain the water from their living room pool, nor whether the homeowner had consented to the bath’s construction.
You just know this isn’t going to end well for someone…
Thanks to XLR8R staff writer Cameron Macdonald for the heads-up. No, that’s not Cameron above.
In a heartland drenched in booze, Oxy, Xanax, sugar, and TV, it only makes sense for parents to take action on the hugely important issue of their kids listening to mind-altering sounds, right?
We’re back here again, are we, Mr. and Mrs. America?
The whole thing seems to have started this spring when KFOR NewsChannel 4 reported on a letter that Mustang, Oklahoma school administrators sent to parents about the “new and dangerous fad…called I-Dosing, or digital drugs.”