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Blitz Kids

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The former home of Blitz nightclub (1979), 4 Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2

The Blitz Kids were a group of people who frequented the Tuesday club-night at Blitz in Covent Garden, London in 1979–1980, and are credited with launching the New Romantic subcultural movement.[1]


Steve Strange and Rusty Egan co-hosted these exclusive nights without giving them a name, according to Strange's autobiography, and publicised them solely by word of mouth. An emphasis on style was ensured by enforcing a strict dress code at the door. Crucially, the Blitz lay between two art colleges (St Martin's School and Central School) and it became a testbed for student fashion designers during the 1980s.[2]

These included Stephen Jones, Robert Elms, David Holah, Stevie Stewart, Darla Jane Gilroy, Michele Clapton, Kim Bowen, Fiona Dealey, Stephen Linard, among others. The Blitz began making headlines thanks to its patrons' styles of clothes and make-up for both sexes,[3] subsequently documented by Gary Kemp in his 2009 first-person book, I Know This Much, and by Graham Smith and Chris Sullivan in their 2011 book We Can Be Heroes: London Clubland 1976-1984.

Other core attendees included Boy George, Marilyn, Alice Temple, Perri Lister, Princess Julia, Philip Sallon and Martin Degville (later to be the frontman of Tony James' Sigue Sigue Sputnik), Siobhan Fahey (later a member of Bananarama),[4] Biddie and Eve[5] (long-standing cabaret act at the Blitz as wine bar), Perry Haines (who became co-editor of the earliest issues of i-D magazine) and Chris Sullivan (who founded and ran the Wag club in Soho for 19 years).

The team of Strange as greeter and Egan as DJ came together at Billy's nightclub in Soho in autumn 1978, when the post-punk generation found themselves bored with the whole nihilist punk genre, as Smith and Sullivan record. Strange and Egan introduced regular Roxy Music and David Bowie nights at Billy's and, in an effort to find something new and colourful, the denizens took to wearing bizarre home-made costumes and clothing and emphatic make-up, presenting a highly androgynous appearance.[6]

After three months, disagreements with the owner prompted them to move on from Billy's – which had effectively formalised the once-a-week club-night. Helen Robinson, who ran the shop PX as the flagship for New Romantic ready-to-wear in Covent Garden, employed Strange as an assistant and it was she who encouraged him and Egan to transfer their energies in 1979 to the more elitist Blitz wine bar in Great Queen Street.[7][8] Over the next 20 months their fashion-led Tuesday club-night was gradually acknowledged in the media as home to the New Romantic movement and prompted the "Blitz Kids" epithet in mainstream newspapers, led by the Daily Mirror on 3 March 1980.[9]

In mid-1980, David Bowie visited the club and asked Strange and three other Blitz regulars to appear in the video for his single Ashes to Ashes, which helped to propel the New Romantic movement into the mainstream.[10]

Subcultural outcomes[edit]

The Blitz club provided roots for several new pop groups, notably Visage with Steve Strange on vocals and Blitz DJ Rusty Egan on drums, then Spandau Ballet who played live gigs there in 1979 and 1980.[11] Later, Blitz cloakroom attendant George O'Dowd became internationally famous in his own right as Boy George fronting Culture Club. Marilyn became a singer, but with limited chart success.

Boy George celebrated the Blitz Kids scene in his 2002 musical Taboo, in which he played the part of Leigh Bowery, who hosted the London weekly club-night called Taboo in 1985-87, long after the Blitz closed.

In January 2011, Steve Strange and Rusty Egan threw a one-off reunion party[12][13] on the site of the original Blitz Club, with performances from Roman Kemp's band Paradise Point and electro punk artist Quilla Constance, plus DJ sets from Egan himself. Egan simultaneously launched an official Blitz Club website[14] incorporating a record label, which published three remixes in as many years.

In 2017 The National Portrait Gallery acquired portraits of Blitz Kids Stephen Linard, David Holah, John Maybury and Cerith Wyn Evans by photographer David Gwinnutt, which were displayed in the exhibition Before We Were Men [15]

In March 2021, Bruce Ashley's documentary Blitzed: The 80's Blitz Kids' Story, was shown on Sky Arts.[16][17][18] Boy George, Rusty Egan and Marilyn all appeared in the film discussing their time at the club and about the early 1980s-era, whilst La Roux was interviewed about the cultural effects of the New Romantic movement on younger performers like herself.[19]

List of prominent Blitz Kids[edit]


  • Kemp, Gary (2009). I Know This Much: From Soho to Spandau. London: Fourth Estate. ISBN 978-0-00-732330-2.
  • Smith, Graham; Sullivan, Chris (2011). We Can Be Heroes: London Clubland 1976-1984. London: Unbound. ISBN 978-1-908717-04-7.
  • Strange, Steve (2002). Blitzed!. London: Orion Books. ISBN 0-75284-7201.


  1. ^ Johnson, David (4 October 2009). "Spandau Ballet, the Blitz kids and the birth of the New Romantics". The Observer.
  2. ^ "BLITZ KIDS". Shapersofthe80s.com. 20 September 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  3. ^ New York Magazine – Google Books. 26 July 1982. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Elan, Priya (15 November 2010). "It's Blitz: Birth of the New Romantics". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  5. ^ "The unknown Mr Big behind London's landmark nightspot". Shapersofthe80s. 16 January 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  6. ^ "Visage: out of the 80s frying pan into the 21st-century fire". Shapersofthe80s. 16 January 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  7. ^ Johnson, David (4 October 2009). "Spandau Ballet, the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics". The Observer.
  8. ^ "1980, Just don't call us New Romantics". Shapersofthe80s.com. 29 September 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  9. ^ "Blitz Kids let their hair up". Daily Mirror, republished at Shapersofthe80s, 3 March 1980.
  10. ^ "1980, Bowie recruits Blitz Kids for his Ashes video". Shapersofthe80s.com. 1 July 2020. Retrieved 27 January 2024.
  11. ^ Line, On_The (24 January 1980). "Strange Days, p23". Evening Standard.
  12. ^ Strange and Egan return to the Blitz, “Shapersofthe80s.com, 2006” accessed 30 May 2015
  13. ^ "Return To THE BLITZ CLUB 2011". The Electricity Club. 21 February 2011. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  14. ^ "theblitzclub.com:80/about". Internet Archive, Wayback Machine, retrieved 07-04-18.
  15. ^ Gwinnutt, David. "Before We Were Men". Nag.org.uk. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  16. ^ "Blitzed: The 80s Blitz Kids' Story". Radio Times. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  17. ^ "The Blitz Club Archives". Electricityclub.co.uk. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  18. ^ "Blitzed: The 80s Blitz Kids' Story". Sky.com. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  19. ^ Blitzed: The 80's Blitz Kids (directed by Bruce Ashley) on Sky Arts, 9pm 13 March 2021/11pm 19 March 2021
  20. ^ a b c d Elan, Priya (15 May 2010). "It's Blitz: Birth of the New Romantics". the Guardian. The Guardian, 15 May 2010. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  21. ^ a b c d Hawkins, Stan (2009). The British pop dandy : masculinity, popular music and culture. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-7546-5858-0.
  22. ^ Elms, Robert (10 November 2012). "The Blitz kids: How the New Romantics made London swing again". The Independent. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  23. ^ a b c d e f Elms, Robert (10 November 2012). "The Blitz kids: How the New Romantics made London swing again". The Independent. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  24. ^ Nikkhah, Roya (22 November 2008). "The Queen's Diamond Jubilee". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 23 July 2011.
  25. ^ "Gay socialite Philip Sallon attacked in central London". Pinknews.co.uk. 5 April 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  26. ^ "David Hudson's homepage". David-hudson.co.uk. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  27. ^ "Alice Temple". Theblitzkids.com. Archived from the original on 27 July 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2011.

External links[edit]