The Teddy Boys and JudiesThe origins of the Teddy Boys go back to the late 1940's when Saville Row Tailor's attempted to revive the styles of the Edwardian era into men's fashions. The Teddy Boy fashion of the fifties has its origins in what was an upper-class reaction to the austerity imposed by the socialist government in the years following the World War II.Teddy Boys became associated with rock 'n' roll music, even though they mainly listened and danced to jazz and skiffle music. A well-known dance that the Teddy Boys adopted was The Creep, a slow shuffle that led to their other nickname, Creepers. From 1955, rock 'n' roll was adopted by the Teddy Boys when the film ‘Blackboard Jungle’ was first shown in cinemas in the UK.
Some Teds formed gangs and gained notoriety following violent clashes with rival gangs which were often exaggerated by the popular press.
The Teddy Girls (or Judies) were young working class women from the poorer districts of London. They would typically leave school at the age of 14 or 15, and work in factories or offices.The Teddy Girls are considered to be the first British female youth subculture. Not many photos of them were taken, and the only article on the female representation of Teds was published in the 1950s.
The ModsMod is a subculture that began in London in 1958 that spread throughout Great Britain and other countries. The subculture has its roots in a small group of stylish London-based young men who listened to modern jazz. Significant elements of the mod subculture include fashion (often tailor-made suits), music ( soul, ska, and R&B), and motor scooters (usually Lambretta or Vespa). The original mod scene was associated with amphetamine-fuelled all night dancing at clubs.
The RockersRockers (or leather boys, ton-up boys, cafe racers) were members of a biker subculture that originated in the UK during the 1950s. It was mainly centered on British motorcycles and rock 'n' roll music. You can read more about mods and rockers in our previous article.
The Glam RockersGlam rock was a theatrical, bi-curious creation. It emerged from the English psychedelic and art rock scenes of the late ‘60s. Its origins are associated with Marc Bolan (T. Rex). From late 1971, David Bowie developed his Ziggy Stardust persona, incorporating elements of professional makeup, mime, and performance into his act. Glam became dominant in all other aspects of British popular culture during the '70s.Visually it was a mesh of various styles, ranging from ‘30s Hollywood glamor, through ‘50s pin-up sex appeal, pre-war Cabaret theatrics, Victorian literary and symbolist styles, science fiction, to ancient and occult mysticism and mythology. Glam rockers wore outrageous clothes, makeup, hairstyles, and platform-soled boots.
The HippiesThe hippie movement of the ‘60s based itself on the concept of not conforming to socially approved patterns of behavior. Nakedness was celebrated and shopping for pre-worn items at jumble sales, and charity shops were commonplace with long-discarded military uniforms and ethnic dress mixed and matched to create a unique style. The music was heavily folk inspired, peppered with political messages promoting peace and love.
The PunksIn the late ‘70s, punk created a DIY revolution that allowed a generation to express themselves through self-cut and dyed hair, artistically ripped T-shirts, jewelry made from safety pins and dog collars and charity shop trousers made into bondage strides.
The punk subculture emerged in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States in the mid-'70s. Exactly which region originated punk has long been a major controversy within the movement.The big moment in British punk rock's history is a 4 July 1976 concert by the Ramones at the Roundhouse in London. Many of the future leaders of the UK punk rock scene were inspired by this show. By the end of 1976 such bands as The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Adverts, Generation X, The Slits, X-Ray Spex and others represented the British punk.
The SkinheadsThe first wave skinheads (or skins) were working class youths motivated by an expression of alternative values and working class pride in the late ‘60s. Skinheads were drawn towards working class outsider subcultures, incorporating elements of mod fashion and black music and black fashion, especially from Jamaican rude boys.Both first and second generation skins were influenced by the heavy, repetitive rhythms of dub and ska, as well as rocksteady, reggae, bluebeat, and African-American soul music.The second generation were the ‘70s and ‘80s working class kids, closely aligned with the first wave punk, working class Oi! and street punk, ska, reggae, 2 Tone ska, ska punk, dub music, anarchists and anarcho-punks, and hardcore punk. Skinhead fashion ranged from clean-cut mod-influenced styles to less-strict punk-influenced styles.
The SoulboysSoulboys were a working class English youth subculture of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. They were fans of American soul and funk music.
The subculture emerged in North-West England as northern soul event attendees began to take more interest in the modern funk and jazz funk sounds of artists such as Lonnie Liston Smith and Roy Ayers, instead of the ‘60s soul records that characterized the northern soul scene.There was a simultaneous development of the subculture at nightclubs in South East England, such as The Goldmine in Canvey Island and The Royalty in Southgate. DJs involved with the scene included Chris Hill, Robbie Vincent, Froggy, Greg Edwards, Pete Tong and Chris Bangs. Caister Soul Weekenders became one of the main features of the scene and still exist today.
The New RomanticsNew Romantics (also called Blitz Kids) was a pop culture movement in the UK that began as a nightclub scene around 1979 and peaked around 1981. Developing in London and Birmingham, at nightclubs such as Billy's and the Blitz, and fashion boutiques such as PX in London and Kahn and Bell in Birmingham, it spread to other major cities in the UK and was characterized by flamboyant, eccentric fashion.
Several music acts at the start of the ‘80s adopted the style of the movement and became known to epitomize it within the music and mainstream press, including Visage, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, A Flock of Seagulls and Boy George (of Culture Club), Ultravox, Adam and the Ants, Japan.
The GothsThe goth subculture, which began in England during the early ‘80s in the gothic rock scene, an offshoot of the post-punk genre. The goth subculture imagery and cultural proclivities indicate influences from the 19th-century Gothic literature along with horror films.The scene continues to draw interest from a large audience decades after its emergence.
The music of the goth subculture encompasses a number of different styles, including gothic rock, industrial, deathrock, post-punk, darkwave, ethereal wave and neoclassical.
The CasualsThe casual subculture appeared in the UK in the early ‘80s when many football fans and hooligans started wearing designer clothing labels and expensive sportswear (‘clobber’) such as Stone Island, CP Company, L'alpina, and Lacoste in order to avoid the attention of police and to intimidate rivals. They did not wear club colors, so it was allegedly easier to infiltrate rival groups and to enter pubs. Some casuals have worn clothing items similar to those worn by mods.
The casuals (also called ‘lads’ in the ‘90s) listened to such bands as Sham 69, Cockney Rejects, Madness, and many others.