C.x (itsjustc) wrote,

ask me to post about anything - 12th Jan

New Romantics
Suggested by chili_factor

(The first section is made up of snippets taken from the section on New Romantics in ‘80’s Pop’ by Daniel Blythe,)

New Romantics were people who were involved in a pop culture movement in the UK that began as a nightclub scene around 1979 and peaked around 1981. It developed in London, at nightclubs such as Billy's and The Blitz Club, and spread to other major cities in the UK. It was based around flamboyant, eccentric fashion and the new electronic synthesised music. In its early stages the movement was known by a large number of names, including "new dandies", "romantic rebels", "peacock punk", "the futurists", and eventually as the "Blitz Kids". As the scene moved beyond a single club the press settled on the name New Romantics.

At the Blitz Club, Steve Strange worked as the club's doorman and would frequently deny potential patrons admittance because he felt that they were not costumed creatively or subversively enough to blend in with those inside the club. Boy George and Marilyn worked as cloakroom attendants. The video for David Bowie's 1980 UK number one single “Ashes to Ashes” included appearances by Steve Strange with three other Blitz Kids and propelled the New Romantic movement into the mainstream.
New Romanticism was a reaction to punk, and in terms of style it rejected the austerity and anti-fashion stance of punk. Both sexes often dressed in counter-sexual or androgynous clothing and wore cosmetics such as eyeliner and lipstick.

Fashion was varied based on romantic themes, with any look being possible if it was adapted to be unusual and striking, including the styles of the English Romantic period, Bonnie prince Charlie, 1930s Cabaret, and clowns.  Hairstyles were asymmetrical and often had heavier fringes while shaved at the back.

After Tubeway Army and Gary Numan appeared in the British Singles Chart in 1979, large numbers of artists began to enjoy success with a synthesizer-based sound and they came to dominate the pop music of the early 1980s.

The emergence of the New Romantic movement into the mainstream coincided with Vivienne Westwood’s unveiling of her "pirate collection", which was promoted by Bow-Wow-Wow and Adam and the Ants, who were managed by her then partner Malcolm McLaren

Several music acts that adopted the style of the movement were Visage, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Ultravox, The Human League and Japan.

Soon after they began to gain mainstream attention, however, many New Romantic bands dropped the eclectic clothes and makeup in favour of sharp, streamlined suits.

By the end of 1981, the original movement had largely dissipated and, although some of the artists associated with the scene continued their careers, they had largely abandoned the original aesthetics of the movement.


In my last year of school, disco music was very popular. Big hair and flared jeans were very much the fashion. While my school friends listened to Disco I was listening to post punk and what we in the UK call ‘New Wave’ (which is different from American ‘New Wave’ as US New Wave is equivalent to our post-New Romantic/synthpop music) I listened to The Tubes, XTC, Boomtown Rats, The Tourists, Tubeway Army and Kraftwerk.

I left school in the summer of 1980 and for me starting at college in September was the time when music and fashion suddenly changed. Out went the flares and in came sitting in the bath to shrink your trousers tight! I wore a frilly shirt and had streaks of about 25 different bright colours in my hair. The New Romantic scene in Sheffield exploded.

The best nightclub in Sheffield 1978-1982 was "The Limit". New bands would pop up every week and many famous bands started their life doing a gig at “The Limit” Club. Some of the bands from Sheffield associated with New Romantics are – ABC, Cabaret Voltaire, Clock DVA, Heaven 17 and Vision.

Sheffield had so many New Romantic/Synth bands happening at that time it was an amazing and exciting city to live in. I was friends with members of ABC, Heaven17, the girls from The Human League and a few more. Stephen Fry from ABC is married to my friend Julie.

I'm actually glad I grew up in Sheffield as being only 17 and looking about 11 years old I know that realistically I wouldn’t have ever got into the Blitz if I’d tried! That would have meant that I would have been denied the New Romantic scene that was available to me in Sheffield.

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