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New Romanticism was a youth fashion movement that peaked in the United Kingdom during the early 1980s. Originally often associated with the electronic/synthpop music scene that had become popular at that time, it has seen several revivals since then, and continues to influence popular culture. Developing in London nightclubs such as Billy's and The Blitz, the movement was associated with bands such as Visage, Adam and the Ants, Ultravox, Duran Duran, Human League, A Flock Of Seagulls, and Spandau Ballet.[1] Brian Eno and Roxy Music were also influences.[1] The term New Romantic was coined by Richard James Burgess in an interview with reference to Spandau Ballet.[1]




Billy's and the Blitz

New Romanticism's genesis took place largely through the nightclub Billy's in Dean Street, London, which ran David Bowie and Roxy Music nights in the late 1970s, when some had felt that punk rock which had initially enjoyed great and widespread popularity had lost its original appeal. In 1979, the growing popularity of the club forced organisers Steve Strange and Rusty Egan to relocate to a larger venue in Great Queen Street called the Blitz, which was also a wine bar. Strange worked as the doorman and Egan was the club's DJ. While still at Billy's, the two had joined Billy Currie and Midge Ure of Ultravox to form the band Visage. Before forming Culture Club and having worldwide success, Boy George worked as cloakroom attendant at the Blitz, until he was fired by Strange for allegedly stealing money from a clubgoer's purse[2][3][4]. The crossdressing singer Marilyn (later known for his 1983 song, "Calling Your Name") also worked as a cloakroom attendant, doing impersonations of Marilyn Monroe. The club spawned several spin-offs in London and the surrounding area, including Croc's in Rayleigh, Essex, and The Regency in Chadwell Heath, where Depeche Mode and Culture Club had their debut gigs.

The Blitz club was known for the colourful and flamboyant fashions of its patrons (who became known as the Blitz Kids), which greatly contrasted with the more pedestrian and unadorned attire associated with the punk movement of the time. Both sexes often dressed in counter-sexual or androgynous clothing and wore cosmetics such as eyeliner and lipstick. The quiff was a common hairstyle. Many wore frilly fop shirts in the style of the English Romantic period, or exaggerated versions of upscale fashion and grooming which drew influence from sources such as glam rock fashions of the 1970s, science fiction movies and the golden age of Hollywood. Clubgoers frequently made it a point to dress as uniquely as they possibly could in attempt to draw the most attention to themselves.

The club became known for its exclusive door policy. Strange would frequently deny potential patrons admittance because he felt that they were not costumed creatively or subversively enough. He was known to chastise the fashion sense of those he turned away by presenting them with a handheld mirror and inquiring rhetorically if they would let themselves into the club dressed as they were.[citation needed] In a highly publicised incident, Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones tried to enter the club, but was denied entry by Strange on the basis that he lacked appropriate attire.


David Bowie has been cited as a major influence of the New Romantic movement[1] and his 1980 single "Ashes to Ashes" was influenced by, and was simultaneously considered to be an anthem for the New Romantics.[1] However, as with many art school-based youth movements, by the time this anthem was pronounced, many commentators felt that the movement had been excessively commercialized and lost its original glamour.[5]

Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and Culture Club also became associated with the New Romantic movement, with Duran Duran becoming house band of the Birmingham club Rum Runner.[6] These later groups formed one of the offshoots of the scene, New Pop, and helped by the rise of the music video and MTV such bands managed to successfully commercialise the New Romantic look as style became a marketable commodity. Music journalist Dave Rimmer considered the peak of the movement was the Live Aid concert of July 1985, after which "everyone seemed to take hubristic [sic] tumbles".[7]


In the mid-1990s, New Romanticism was the subject of nostalgia-orientated clubnights such as the Human League inspired "Don't You Want Me Baby" and Planet Earth, a Duran Duran themed night club whose promoter told The Sunday Times "It's more of a celebration than a revival".[8]

New Romanticism was also an inspiration for the short-lived musical movement Romo.[9][10] The movement was based at a small number of club nights in London, including Arcadia[11] and Club Skinny[12]. The movement was championed by Melody Maker, whose free cover tape spotlighted the leading bands, Dex Dexter, Hollywood, Plastic Fantastic, Viva and Orlando.[13][14] Melody Maker writers Simon Price and Taylor Parkes organised a tour which proved unsuccessful and saw the movement disband.[15][16]

The spirit of the New Romantics lives on at Ashes to Ashes club night in London, which is run by a group of enthusiasts. The club is endorsed by Rusty Egan and Steve Strange.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Rimmer, Dave. New Romantics: The Look (2003), Omnibus Press, ISBN 0711993963.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Trevor Royle (2001-05-13). "A big girl's blouse and proud; As the belief that 'greed is good'". Sunday Herald. 
  6. ^ Sims, Josh (1999). Rock Fashion, Omnibus Press, p. 96. ISBN 0711987491.
  7. ^ Rimmer, Dave. New Romantics: The Look (2003), Omnibus Press, p. 126. ISBN 0711993963
  8. ^ "Worst of times" The Sunday Times (London); Nov 19, 1995; Sean Langan; p. 1
  9. ^ Bracewell, Michael. When surface was depth (2002), Da Capo, ISBN 0306811308
  10. ^ York, Peter. "Peter York On Ads: An Eighties revival - or is it modern day Spain?", The Independent, Sunday, 30 July 2006. Accessed 28 April 2009, archived 28 April 2009.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Melody Maker March 9, 1996
  14. ^ "Pop: CD review of the year", The Guardian (Manchester); Dec 1, 1995; CAROLINE SULLIVAN; p. T.014
  15. ^ "Pop Goes the Britpop? As the music press searches for the next pop movement, Adam Sweeting asks if Britpop is dead" The Guardian (Manchester); Dec 8, 1995; ADAM SWEETING; p. T.011
  16. ^ Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, Stephen Thomas Erlewine. All music guide to rock: the definitive guide to rock, pop, and soul, Backbeat Books, 2002 p. 828 ISBN 087930653X

Further reading

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

New Romanticism


New Romanticism

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  1. A youth fashion movement that peaked in the United Kingdom during the early 1980s, associated with synthpop music and flamboyant and sometimes androgynous attire.

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