Clubbers And Youth Tribes in Post-Punk London : 1978-1986

Derek Ridgers takes us to a time of fun, exuberance, fashion and youth tribes

“As a photographer, I go as the casual observer and stand in the shadows. When I first went to those Tuesday nights at Billy’s [1978] it was like walking into a Hieronymous Bosch painting – furtive but lively, very decadent reflecting what they were into, and yet with a sense of oneness, a dedication that’s never been equalled since”

– Derek Ridgers on photographing London’s night life, The Face, 1982



Derek Ridgers captured London’s nightclub scene in late 1970s and 1980s. His book 78–87 London Youth shows us portraits of some of the faces of British youth as skins, punks, Goths, New Romantics, casuals, the people who first wore distressed denim that became ‘hard times chic’ and any other tribes that made the city buzz.

We see them on the street and in clubs – Sacrosanct, Camden Palace, Blitz, Wag, Le Beat Route, Heaven, Cafe de Paris. Look out for Boy George, Magenta Divine, Hamish Bowles and other faces from that time who went on to bigger things. The pictures are complimented by Anita Corbin’s photos of young women dressed in the garb of their favoured youth tribe.



You might see yourself in his pictures. Twinkle Bunty did, posting a response to the photo of her above (via Shapers of the 80s):

“Just trotted over to Foyles and bought Derek Ridgers’ fab new book. Thrilled to find this pic from 1985 of me and Billie Madley proving that the 80s were ALL about the eyebrows. Mine were jet black Rimmel and Billie’s were red BIRO.”

Laura Whitcomb: “When you shaved that eyebrow it was epic… That Westwood shirt and suit and of course those ear muffs your obsession – and the inimitable final touch of a Fosters with a baby blue straw.” Plastic bath cap: Billie’s own.


Leslie at Blitz, 1980

Gita, Kings Road, 1983

Joshua, Camden Place, 1982

“The Bowie fans morphed into the Punks, who once really bored by the second wave of Punk and Oi (Skinhead Pub Rock), morphed further into androgyny and the sheer perversity of what the media dubbed New Romantic, where the only common denominator was visual violence and stylistic terrorism,” says video artist John Maybury reflects in the book’s introduction. “Beautiful kids (youth is always beautiful) were doing everything in their power to disguise their good looks and to subvert the conventions of fashion and style, and even of beauty itself.”


Phillip at Le Beat Route, 1982

Boy George at Le Beat Route, 1981

“During the ’70s and ’80s, 90 percent of the crowd would say yes when I asked to photograph them, and the rest would ignore me or say no. … It’s not quite the same today. It’s probably 30 percent who say yes”

– Derek Ridgers


Leicester Square, 1982

Ladbroke Grove, 1981

Magenta at Fulham, 1981

Leicester Square, 1980

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