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Teddy girls

PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 6:20 pm
by Chris P
"The forgotten 1950s girl gang". Some good pics:

Re: Teddy girls

PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:30 pm
by Kari Salonen
Fantastic pictures! Back in the punk days, when I was a teenager, there was another high profile, rival youth subculture here that revolved around rockabilly and whatever they - called "teddy boys" among other names - had adopted from British neo-teddies and the American Graffiti version of 50's rock'n'roll era.

There were British revival bands like Matchbox and Crazy Cavan & the Rhythm Rockers that were wildly popular here at the time, and the local teddies also adopted the trouble maker attitude from the original rockers. Like the original Teddies, they also were mostly working class youths from the capital area and other big towns. Gang fights between punks and teddies were a common news item, even if i never knew anybody who'd have been to one.

I used to wonder about the Teddy Boy style myself. From what information there was available, I failed to make any kind of connection between Edwardian fashion and rockabilly - and even looking back at it, how likely does that combination sound? But looking at those Ken Russell photos, the girls outdo the boys hands down as far as style is concerned.

Re: Teddy girls

PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2013 1:14 am
by john poole
The original Teddy Boys pre-dated rock 'n' roll - this apparently was the kind of record that some of them liked.

Re: Teddy girls

PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2013 5:37 pm
by NormanD
This seems a decent site, with lots of archive photos, it gives us a good flavour of the times.

Teenagers were invented in the mid-50s. There used to be nothing in between kids at school (with the majority leaving at 14 or 15 to go into work) and then becoming junior versions of their own parents by their early twenties. Whatever individuality they might have developed would certainly be knocked out of them during their compulsory two years military service from the age of 18. Any aggression would be channelled into more creative directions as kids in their teens preserved the Empire in Cyprus, Aden, Malaya and the Rhine.

When did young men stop wearing trilby hats? Pinkie in "Brighton Rock" sports one, but none of the Teds did. Maybe that was the first big revolt into style.

I'd be interested in finding out a bit more about youth style in other European countries, whether it was a response to Hollywood fashions or their own patterns developed.

Re: Teddy girls

PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 1:13 pm
by Pete Fowler
These are wonderful pictures...I can't remember ever seeing snaps of Teddy Girls before and whilst they are obviously staged (it's Ken Russell, after all), they're endlessly fascinating. I just love the way British youth sub-cultures developed styles and fashions like magpies, a bit from here, a bit from there and a synthesis of total originality. Think of the Teds to start with - drape suits from the London 1930s, winkelpickers originally from France, boot ties from US westerns, a hair style from Tony Curtis....these girls, though, in these pictures: where did this come from? They look like the young gay women described in Sarah Water's Night Watch, set during WW2...and these, of course, worked in factories because of the war effort....there's a definite factory look to these women.

I do miss the youth cultures because there's absolutely nothing around that comes anywhere near their distinctiveness. Why did they fade? Was it the fading of collectivism? Was it the stress on the individual and not the group? Was it the atomisation of culture, the wrecking of the group events? Was it staying on at school? Was the hopelessness in the estates that reared them so triumphantly from the 50s to the 70s now so damned and so extreme that oblivion was the only response?

Re: Teddy girls

PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 2:31 pm
by NormanD
I think there are too many styles now to mention. I reckon they're still linked to social class or racial groups that don't cross over much with each other. You can still spot the kids with money. Do kids dressed one way keep out of contact with kids dressed another - for self preservation, as much as anything else?

In the 50s and 60s there was a level of conformity and uniformity that's difficult to believe now. A lot of it tied in with availability and affordability of clothing, and the very idea of disposability was hardly considered, was it? When did certain items of clothing start coming in? Coloured socks for men, for example? Pastel colours in shirts (that didn't mark you out as a queer)? Women's fashions were often far more adventurous, though again, girls in trousers was seen as non-conformist for a long time, especially in non-manual workplaces.

Most of the photos in these links are black and white. The Teds gave those grey times a little bit of colour, and offered a threat too.

Re: Teddy girls

PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:16 pm
by Pete Fowler
Where is the dividing line between 'conformity' and 'solidarity'?

Re: Multiple-choice

PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 10:52 pm
by Gordon Neill
Pete Fowler asked:

Where is the dividing line between 'conformity' and 'solidarity'?

1. If only someone would tell me.
2. Wherever you want to put it?
3. In the sands of time?
4. However the victors write history?
5. When Elvis joined the army? When Lech Walesa became President? When Johnny Rotten advertised dairy spreads?
6. When it becomes a t-shirt?
7. It's a thin line between love and like.
8. Is it somewhere north of Milton Keynes?
9. Coloured socks for men or putting the boot in?
10. Whatever will make me more attractive to ladies?
11. I like to help, but I draw the line at other people.
12. When it becomes the subject of a BBC4 documentary?
13. Is it a trick question? I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together. Goo goo g'joob. Joob joob joob joob!

Re: Teddy girls

PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 11:25 pm
by NormanD
I'm coming up to Northern England where you live, Neilly, with my gang of Teddy Girls, Teddy Bears, and bike chains.

Re: Ted drift

PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 12:54 am
by Gordon Neill
So you think you're hard enough, pal?

Re: Teddy girls

PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 7:34 pm
by Willy
Peter, Is this one of those tricky Q.i. questions? Surely, it's just a numbers game.
*awaits claxons*

I lolled at Gordons eleventh answer. Thanks Gordon.

"If you work for a living, why do you kill yourself working?" -Tuco (The G,B and U)

Re: Teddy girls

PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:50 pm
by Rob Hall
Number 11 reminds me of a guy I used to know: bemoaning the fact that he'd never had a girlfriend as he supped his pint, he complained "I've got nothing against women, but I draw the line at talking to them".

Re: if I had a wonderful body.....

PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:07 am
by Gordon Neill
I have a feeling that no. 11 is one of those 'My Sweet Lord' moments. At the time, I was convinced I'd made it up. But I'm now pretty sure I've read it somewhere. However, despite a half-hearted Google search, I can't find the source. Maybe it was me. But I doubt it.

btw I loved those teddy girl pics. They mostly looked a bit staged and self-conscious. But still very atmospheric and other-timely.

Re: Teddy girls

PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2013 5:51 pm
by Pete Fowler
Strange how an innocent remark, a quick-fire question to Norman, is seen as a potential entry for Pseud’s Corner. I was actually thinking aloud: Norman’s conformity of the 50s was challenged by what became a new conformity in a youth culture (the Teds); equally, a series of challenges to the Teds, who were often, by the early 60s, older brothers and sisters in council estates (grease versus ‘smart’, French hair cuts vs Presley/Nelson/Vincent, bike versus scooter, soul versus rock’n’roll) became the new conformity of Mods. Later, ‘Skinheads’ were the antithesis of ‘hippie’ etc etc.

And yet each movement in turn produced a very definite feeling of solidarity that resulted in real creative breakthroughs. No creative moment I have witnessed equalled the London club scene of 1963/64: there was, literally, a new group every month. The Stones’ Sunday afternoon sessions at Studio 51 succeeded by the Yardbirds, in turn handing over to the Pretty Things and, just a few months later, by The Who (well, the High Numbers). But absolutely rooted in the Mod moment. And a tremendous sense of solidarity.

Trouble is, solidarity always does have conformity as a close relation. The last work I ever did in the rock writing scene was, for me, a scary event. It was a round table discussion at Manchester’s Piccadilly Radio station, 1977 or so. I was there because I’d interviewed the Sex Pistols for the station a few months before. Mark Smith was there, and some guy who managed the Buzzcocks. I dared to say that watching the Clash in a Manchester club reminded me of watching The Who at the Railway Hotel in Wealdstone. I got ripped apart by a 20 year old who asked me how old I was. When I replied ‘33’, the kid laughed out aloud and I realised that this new solidarity encompassed a conformity that ruled me rather definitely out.

I didn’t know his name at the time but I do now. Paul Morley.

Re: Teddy girls

PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:00 pm
by Gordon Neill
Pete Fowler said:

Strange how an innocent remark, a quick-fire question to Norman, is seen as a potential entry for Pseud’s Corner.

Not by me, but apologies if my response suggested that. As someone who is instinctively uncomfortable being part of any gang or movement, I've often thought about how close solidarity and conformity can be. But that doesn't stop me making thoughtless jokes.