Movement of Music
"the Movement of Music."
Over the generations there has been countless Youth cultures that have been birthed from or have given birth to their own musical genres, some of the better known have included; "Punks", "Herberts", Psychobillys, "New Romantics", "Gothics", "Perri Boys", "Mods, Rockers, "Two Tone boys", "Rude Boys" and "Teddy Boys", these musical rebellions generally grew out of those who would be identified as living "Alternative Lifestyles", or who would be seen as the rebels of their day, although most rebellions have become the normal over the years.
There's been these kind of music trends/gangs and scenes since the 1590s when the "Jacobeans" (jack-o-bee-an-s) noticed a young scene called the roaring boys made of noisy gangs of aggressive individuals who intimidated passers by.
In 19th century Manchester, Salford, and the surrounding townships, a gang called scuttlers identified by fringed hair, tilted caps and bell bottom trousers who would patrol their favorite music halls and would attack rival gangs with sharpened belt buckles.
Members were recruited from the age of 14 to 21 and would include girls as well as boys, the girls often taking the lead in fights.
It is possible to draw parallels with the London street gangs of the 1890s, whose behaviour was labelled "hooliganism", "Scuttling" consisted of the fighting of two opposed bands of youths, who were armed with various weapons.
These gangs were formed throughout the slums of central Manchester, as well as the townships of Bradford, Gorton and Openshaw to the east and in Salford, to the west of the city. Gang conflicts erupted in Manchester in the early 1870s and went on sporadically for thirty years, declining in frequency and severity by the late 1890s.
Scuttling gangs were territorial fighting gangs, as reflected in their names, names such as; the "Bengal Tigers" who came from the cluster of streets and courts off Bengal Street in Ancoats. Most gangs took their names from a local thoroughfare, such as "Holland Street" (Miles Platting) or "Hope Street, Salford.
We should also not forget the Flapper Movement of the 1920s, this movement made a massive impact and did a lot for Womans rights.
During the early 20th century in Britain, after 2 world wars had left little time for young people to dwell on the building of further sub cultures, to an extent the military had provided the sense of belonging that the age group had found through previous and would go on to find through future cultures, as well as a language and a look. Then after 1945, “the teenager” began to appear courtesy of the post war baby boom, at this time there was a definite look, one that was about more than just the plain white T-shirts and jeans image. This was also a time when when the female teenager started to come into her own a lot more.
This era also gave rise to one of the most influential and rebellious phases that music ever saw, the roots of Rock n Roll.
1950s/Post War Era
Previous to the mid 1950s, youth subculture didn’t exist as children aspired to or were forced into adulthood as soon as their physical development would allow.
In September 1953 the newspaper the "Daily Express" described a new youth phenomenon known as the "Teddy Boy", the name "Teddy" being short for "Edwardian" which was the "Teddy Boys" clothing style of choice, this was a dandified throwback to the aristocratic styles of Edward the 7th’s reign, with long draped jackets and velvet collars, as well as slicked back quiff like hair, cut at the neck into a "D.A." (aka Ducks arse, due to the way it looked) and thick soled suede shoes often referred to as brothel creepers. A lot of the imagary was made famous by the likes of "Elvis Presley" and was bought back in the 1970s by the "Fonz" of "Happy Days" fame and movies like "Grease"
To dress well in this style was not cheap. The clothes were often tailor made and were often paid for by higher purchase, it should be noted that the commitment to looking smart and dressing well has often been a characteristic of working class style, and teddy boys were the first Youth culture to diferenciate themselves through their age, look and music tastes.
It was a rebellion to get away from the norms of post war Britain, it was as far as you could get away from that post war time, with the many colours and attitudes, it was outrageous as a man to wear pink jeans and “granny glasses”, the older generation would often tell them “you can't go out looking like that”.
On to the 60s
In this decade, 10 years or so later, the world saw the birth of the Mods, another fastidiously dressed working class youth cult which began to emerge like edgy urban butterflies onto the streets of london. The Mods, having got their queue from the earlier "modernists", as described in the 1959 novel called Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes, they emerged as young modern jazz fans who dressed in sharp, modern italian clothing.
This fashion soon became used to describe sharply dressed working class youths, who collected Rhythm and Blues, Motown and Jazz records, who also watched French and Italian art films and read Italian magazines, they also popped pills, rode scooters and danced in clubs.
In the Mod scene, the men’s clothing progressed a lot faster than the womens, with the women often buying fabric offcuts from suits to make their own skirts.
The Mod, whose heyday was the early to mid 60’s was a follower of black american music and continental chic but the movement sprung its own homegrown bands such as The Who, The Small Faces, The Spencer Davis Group, The Action, and The Creation.
Recreationally they were committed hedonists who worked hard and played hard, with their main focus being;- getting the music and the clothing right and riding scooters such as Vespas or Lambrettas.
Also during the 1960s, there was the other end of the spectrum, the usual "opposing" force, these were the Rockers, they had been around since the 50’s sometimes called "Ton Up Boys" or "Leather Boys" and would customise motorbikes and take trips and to places like truck stops and transport cafes.
Out of practicality the clothing worn by the Rocker was functional, featuring heavily patched denim, leather jackets, t-shirts, jeans, boots and studs that often spelt out words and often names of biker clubs, they wore their hair, slicked back and in a style similar to that of the Teddy Boys, or their hair was worn long.
The rockers were fans of bands such as Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath, Steppenwolf and Jimi Hendrix. They also favoured simple 1950s Rock n Roll music, from the likes of Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, music that was once described as "screw and smash music".
The Rockers “un chic” look meant they were often not welcome in pubs clubs and dance halls, this drove them to become further towards the outsider status and they became identified as the undomesticated lone rider, this was a romantic image from the Marlon Brando movie "Easy Rider".
Rockers often worked in “dead end Jobs” such as manual labour or factory workers, whereas the Mods were more likely to work in offices or a type of white collar occupation. Rockers saw the Mods as effeminate consumerist and phoney, whereas the Mods saw the Rockers as boorish, naive, conservative and ugly, as cultures they were opposed to each others taste and lifestyles, there were frequent fights between each side, and a large number of them took those differences to the seaside in the spring of 1964, where, in the fashion of Churchill, they "fought each other on the beaches", for this fight they turned up with coshes, flick knives, razor blades, bike chains and knuckle dusters, they also took the fight to the promenade at Clacton over the easter weekend of 1964, there were countless moments of violence between the two sides.
If the Mods saw a motorbike they went into a rage and was seen to be like a red flag to a bull, however the Rockers had nothing much against the Mods other than the fact they rode scooters, often referred to by the Rockers as “Hairdryers”
There was an intriguing cross over of styles between the two cultures, with the Mods coming from a working class background, but being more fastidiously dressed and the Rockers tending to come from a more middle class background, but dressed in a more practical way and went for more working class style jobs, with the Mods having a tendency towards more white collar and middle class jobs.
Moving to the 70s
The harder end of the Mod aesthetic gave rise to one of the 70’s most recognisable, feared and misunderstood youth cults; "the Skinhead". They, like the Mods valued smartness and style but rejected the artistic and cultural side there was a more macho conservative and aggressive attitude to the world around them, eventually and ironically what began as a celebration of working class style and self assertion curdled into a narrow cult of nationalism and violence at perceived "outsiders" for example Hippie, "Immigrants" and "Gay people", but the ugly ultra nationalist right wing skinhead of today is a world away from the 70’s “rude boy” in a crombie, folded hankie and white jeans and harrington jacket.