Friday, July 20, 2012

Music and fashion (9): Teddy Boys

In Britain in the early 50's, at the time when a teenager called Elvis Presley was breaking into the music industry with his wild moves, post-war kids were about to commence a revolution. Working class youths popularised the neo-Edwardian look, previously only followed by the upper classes. 
The Teddy Boys were born.
The different colours used to make the suit were linked to the music they listened and the gangs they belonged to: black for the hard boys, duck egg blue if you were into Johnny Ray, shiny silver as favoured by the Walham Green gang.
Teds became the focus of male fashion, but they also had a bad reputation: they were the bad boys, deliquents, rioters. Youngsters fighting the establishment. And also fighting a new movement imported from the US, the beatniks.
The novelist Anthony Burgess confessed that he partly based his book A Clockwork Orange on the rise in violence observing that Teds " were the personification of the Zeitgeist and expressed a brutal disappointment with Britain's post-war decline".
The Teddy Boys gave birth to the first youth cult: they listened to jazz and skiffle music, and even had their own dance The Creep based on the song written by saxophonist Ken Mackintosh. And after Blackboard Jungle was shown at theaters, Teddy boys started listening to artists like Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and Eddie Cochran.
After some years Teds will fade away and blended with Rockers, but that's another story.
The duck-arse (DA) hair remained tho...

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