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1981, New Romantics and all that !

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Old 6th March 2012, 05:16
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Lachlan09 Lachlan09 is offline
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1981, New Romantics and all that !

This is something like a blog but please feel free to add your memories or comments etc !

While I was listening to my “Ministry of Sound Electronic 80’s – Part 1 CD” in the car, it took me back to a favourite era of mine 1979-82 (and to a lesser degree 1983-85). In particular 1981 was a magical year for me socially. I had a good set of mates and weekends were for going dancing and meeting girls. I was always toying with looks and trying to look a bit individual.

I had been through a Mod phase (city look though - no parkas ! – I wore suits, boating blazers, harringtons, Ben Shermans etc) via rude-boy (French-crew-cuts and Jamaican pork-pies) but by the start of 1981 I was a bit tired of its musical limitations and style and at discos I found I had started liking dancing to songs by Gary Numan, Visage, Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, Kraftwerk (eg The Model), OMD, Joy Division, Ultravox, David Bowie etc. It somehow sounded more sophisticated than other music at the time but with a beat for dancing. Being used to dressing to my best during my “Mod era” I adapted it to the new style, grew my hair out and spent a lot of time with the hair-dryer, mousse and firm-spray and moulded it into a “bigger” style. I still wore smart button down Oxford weave Benny shirts, usually white (to shine under the UV lights), my beloved 1 inch knitted ties, my 3 and 2 button suits (including box-jacket styles as well as 3 button with side vents), my equally beloved Chelsea boots (with Cuban heels, top seam – in leather or suede) etc etc. So my style was a bit like Spandau Ballet (smart-suited with styled hair) and supposedly sophisticated ! Better-dressed than most in the discos I usually frequented (Buster Browns, Valentinos, Mad Hatters) and it seemed to work with the young ladies I met there !

I loved 1981 ! I found it exciting and most of all, for some reason I still can’t figure out, all the awkwardness, shyness and moderate success with girls which had been my experience in the 1970's (average 2 or 3 G/F’s a year plus some other dates – very conventional lifestyle), until I changed mates and went for a fun and shallow lifestyle, trying Mod and ska 1979-80 which helped my odds and then at the start of 1981 it all came together and all the doubts seemed to evaporate as I suddenly found myself very self-confident, not shy anymore and I’d just go up and start chatting to any young lady I fancied and I seemed popular with them. I wasn’t into regular girlfriends at that time, life was too much fun and meeting someone new every week was a bonus ! My mate Brian kept saying before entering a disco “Look Gow, I’ve got to find a girl tonight !” and I’d say “Well, that will be nice, but if I don’t find one, no problem, I’ll still enjoy the dancing”. Often, Brian was trying too hard and would leave empty-handed. Yet strangely, though I wasn’t desperate to find a girl, I’d have fun anyway, but I usually found I left with a nice-looking young lady. I never figured out why it just seemed to come naturally !

I admit I used to pose a wee bit but not OTT or obnoxiously and I do admit I was a wee bit vain about my appearance, spending ages in front of the mirror getting everything just right. I never took off or even completely unbuttoned my jacket, even when dancing fast. I always kept a pleasant expression and smile, just acted my natural self (my previous attempts to talk or act “cool” didn’t work – I’m a Gemini after all) and in discos (or night-clubs) always drank vodka/coke or Southern Comfort/American Dry – never beer which sloshed around inside you when you danced ! If I wanted to go to the toilet but wasn’t dancing at the time, rather than take the long way round on the carpet, I would go across the dance-floor, especially if it wasn’t crowded yet, aware that some young ladies would be watching me. Such a poseur ! If standing with a drink, I wouldn’t stuff my hand in my pocket, but would gently fold under the bottom corner of the jacket, then slide my flat hand into my trouser pocket just deep enough so my thumb would hook over the top outside ! LOL !!

I remember a girl I’d previously met and was dating briefly (while still meeting other girls) went with me to Valentinos one time mid-week and it was a completely New Romantics night. The guys there were mainly propping up walls, not wanting to dance, preferring to pose. With high, long hair, some make-up, flouncy, baggy shirts, long sashes wound around their waists, baggy silky (or polyester !) often-tartan pantaloons tucked into ankle length baggy pixie boots, they looked somehow depressed or sultry ! They looked like posing models except – the pint mugs they were sipping beer from completely spoiled the image ! These young Lochinvars should have been holding a glass of whisky and soda or vodka and something ! I remember feeling nervous about the future of the West if the Warsaw Pact attacked and we depended on these guys !

We also saw some girls dressed completely in long slim black gowns with long tight sleeves (almost Arabic in style) and black inverted flower pot hats on their heads. One or two had veils too. (Straight out of “Ashes To Ashes” video). They were pale-faced with black or dark lipstick etc. My date went to the loo and came out telling me of a conversation two of those girls had. One had said “I wish I was dead” and the other replied “I wish I was dead too”. Such a cheery crowd !

I also found even without the “girls angle”, going regularly to certain discos/night clubs made it a social event for other reasons. Girls who were regulars but weren’t looking for guys and went only to have fun dancing recognized me and we’d dance together or chat away quite the thing without feeling we needed to leave together later. My dancing skills improved a lot and I created different wee moves (which came in handy whenever dancing with a young lady who I wanted to impress by performing my mating dance to !!! Mind you, my dancing was often interrupted by me leaning across to chat and ask questions etc)

But it had to end sometime – at the end of 1981 I had met someone and soon got engaged and then married. Ten years later, we divorced. I often wonder what if I had ended with her at GF stage and stayed single a while. I must say, getting involved with her made me take life more seriously and led me to leave Scotland for the flesh-pots of London. The fun was over, but new adventures began which have ultimately led me to being where I am now.

Hedonistic and shallow – definitely yes ! but a fun and unforgettable interlude in my life !

Last edited by Lachlan09; 6th March 2012 at 11:57.
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