(SIGNED) Sheila Rock - New Romantics: from Billy's to the People's Palace

Format: BOOK
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Rare and previously unpublished photos of the London club scene in the late 70s and early 80s by Sheila Rock. A limited edition of 800 numbered copies.

New Romantics – From Billy’s to the People’s Palace’ – a unique insight into the culture of London nightclubs Billy’s, The Blitz and the one-off event at Finsbury Park’s Rainbow Theatre, People’s Palace between 1978 and 1981. To complete the cultural progression from these legendary nights into the new ‘glitterati’ scene of the early 80s, we have concluded with some of Sheila’s classic photos of Leigh Bowery, host of the extraordinary nightclub Taboo – a successor to the extravagance of Steve Strange’s nights.

This beautifully produced book of 176 pages contains 138 rare and previously unpublished photos. Each of the 800 copies is individually numbered – all books will include 2 folded posters.

Renowned journalist and author Dylan Jones has written the foreword and supplied commentary for this uniquely insightful visual documentary; currently editor-in-chief at the Evening Standard, Jones studied at St Martin’s School of Art before a career which included editorial roles at i-D, The Face, Arena, The Observer, The Sunday Times and GQ. The Blitz was the first nightclub he ever went to…..

Sheila Rock came to London from the US at the start of the 1970s and became one of the first photographers to document the emerging punk and New Romantic scenes in London. She was introduced to the music scene by David Bowie when she accompanied her then husband Mick Rock on David Bowie’s first Ziggy Stardust US tour in 1972. She went on the photograph some of the worlds’ most famous bands and performers.New Romantics features many previously unpublished photos taken at The Blitz, Billy’s and The People’s Palace – the London nightclubs which gave birth to the movement which influenced style and music for decades to come.“When I first came to Britain from America, London life was dreary and grey,” she says. “But then came glam rock and after that punk, which was dark yet flamboyant in a different way. By the early 1980s, there was still no money around but there was a feeling of can-do optimism and freedom. The people at the Blitz, the club in Covent Garden, were the movers and shakers of the New Romantic era and I was fascinated by them.”As Sheila says herself, at the time, street fashion was at its peak – the pavements and nightclubs were literally like catwalks – and it was the beginning of gender experimentation and a sexual revolution that’s still resonating today. “Inside the club, you had a cast of characters from Boy George to Steve Strange. Everyone was dressing up: you could be whatever you wanted. Once you discover glitter, it is hard to go back to bland. It was like a dream, a fantasy land.”

“The antecedents of the New Romantic movement gave the cult something of a pejorative pall. After all, if you had been originally inspired by the likes of Bryan Ferry and David Bowie, and if the pivots of your teenage expression were the Sex Pistols on one hand, and proto disco on the other, surely all you could ever aspire to was going to suffer by comparison. However, the movement itself was further complicated by the fact that in 1976 there were already people in Essex nightclubs who dressed exactly like Johnny Rotten. These complications ultimately underscored the importance of the gender-bending movement, while its obsession with self-expression as a platform for identity foreshadowed much of what passes for culture today.This period in London – which, for the benefit of future pop sociologists, broadly stretches from 1978 to 1985 – was the harbinger of one of the most creative, the most fertile times in British popular culture, a time when youth cults weren’t so much on the margins of the news, as the news itself.”

The Face Paint War Dance by Dylan Jones, London, June 2023

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