A Brief And Highly Inaccurate History Of The New Romantics.


If you were dressed like a dandy highwayman in 1781 it would probably mean the gallows and a public hanging. On the other hand, if you dressed like a dandy highwayman in 1981 it would probably mean that you’d soon put on roughly 7 stone and sometime in the early 21st century menace the patrons of your local boozer by waving a replica firearm around.

Who can forget those peacocks of fashion ‘the New Romantics’? This crowd were not part of a revival of the artistic movement immortalised by the likes of Byron or Shelley, but a rallying of adventurous types who would give anything for a free day pass into the BBC drama department’s wardrobe. Ahhhh, such days. In fact, the area at Old Eldon Square in Newcastle, on any given weekend, back then looked like the cast of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean film having a break from shooting. Often the target of many a Chav, these lovable ‘arties provided much entertainment during their brief existence. Many reckon that Bowie inspired this movement, but my money is on ‘Captain Pugwash’, which in the eyes of the New Romantics would bizarrely bring a cardboard figure to the same iconic status as Bowie himself. Romantics usually lived in the more monied areas of the North East like Morpeth, Tynemouth, or Gosforth. But things even got out of hand on a number of occasions as the swashbuckling romantics of Cramlington Village clashed with the pistol whippin Bedlington highwaymen on board the X33 bus from Newcastle to Newbiggin! Sadly, the argument as to which was best, ‘Dr Snuggles’ or ‘Dangermouse’ was never decided.

Once they arrived at the bus terminal in The Haymarket, the shipmates usually headed into town and it was to the usual dive bars that their journey would end. Stripey t-shirts and Chinese pumps all round and a pint of orange juice please my good sir. Duran Duran on the decks and all were happy. Actually, much happier people all-round than their descendants the Goths. ‘Tunnel’ and ‘Herges’ were the place for the romantic to shop, or the Army and Navy Stores at the top of High Bridge for the more adventurous. ‘Flip’ also stocked an array of sad imported shirts, and mingling here with some ‘boyos’ buying parkas and Shott puffer jackets was the nearest the romantics actually got to a pair of Kickers without receiving a kicking.

Now many romantics would argue that ‘their scene’ was unique and that no one had tried their particular look before. However, this argument could be squashed by: Captain Kidd, Dick Turpin, Tom, Dick or Harry Dunsdon, Sitting Bull, Crazy horse, Captain Henry Morgan or Blackbeard. Although, I reckon most the aforementioned ship folk would prefer some good old sea shanties to the 12″ version of ‘Planet Earth’. DESPITE the fact that by the time most new romantics finished their time at sixth form, they were opting for back garb and moody stances, there will always be a smile from me for this band of under achieving over achievers.

Is your boyfriend/girlfriend a New Romantic?5 tell-tale signs.

1. Penchant for eyeliner. It seems everybody’s wearing eyeliner these days, but a New Romantic’s make-up is a smidgen more extreme: the skin is usually powder white or silver, and bright blue eyeliner is used on eyes, brows, lips and sometimes – to draw lightning bolts and pictures of Francis Bacon, probably – the skin. NB: New Romantics do not use bronzer, rouge, or St Tropez self-tan.

B. Gold Lamé Capes. Gold Lamé Capes have been fashionable this winter, but don’t let that confuse you. A New Romantic will think NOTHING of tossing on cape so long it grazes the floor just to pop to the offy for fags. Looks a little incongruous over a business suit mind.

iii. Went to Birmingham University. Strangely, Birmingham in the 80’s had a nigh-on magnetic attraction for New Romantics, and there were more specialist Bolero Jacket shops per capita in the city than anywhere else in Europe, Sheffield included.

Four. Constantly whistles The Associates/Duran Duran/Visage/Japan songs. This is why no New Romantic has ever had a successful career as a milkman.

#5. Many of your colleagues will spend the weekend at B&Q, drinking Lambrusco and playing five-a-side. Not New Romantics. They read preposterous romance novels, do a spot of ‘post-mod’ and anything “a bit flouncy”.


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