I can appreciate the New Romantic scene now more than I did when I was younger. Looking at Graham Smith’s book We Can Be Heroes: London Clubland 1979-81 I can see that this scene was full of young adults who wanted to get dressed up and have fun. They were a tribe of club kids that were willing to go all out when it came to fashion. I’m stoked that Graham was there to capture night life history….Check out his portraits of New Romantics 1979-81….Go HERE to pick up a copy of We Can Be Heroes: London Clubland!
The story begins more than thirty years ago. I was 18, having grown up in Edgware at the dull end of the Northern Line. With my cocky ginger school mate Robert Elms, I entered a grotty Soho dive bar named Billy’s. A camp Welsh cossack posed by the entrance as the electronic beats of Kraftwerk pounded from the speakers. Several androgynous couples danced a robotic jive and someone else was wearing an iron as a hat. The look was retro but it definitely felt like tomorrow. So the following week I went back…
The press dubbed us the New Romantics, but we paid no attention. We were too busy enjoying ourselves.
We became a gang that made clubs our lifestyle: Billy’s, the Blitz, Le Beat Route, the Mud Club, theWag and the Dirt Box. Nightclubbing was our fuel, family and an after-dark gateway to fulfil ambitions. We were narcissistic and hedonistic, but more importantly we inspired each other to push boundaries. It was about rebellion, creativity, originality and being yourself outside normal and straight society.