06 June 2016
Youth movements aren’t what they used to be. Can anyone remember what the last one was? A movement that shared a look, a sound and a vocab.
I’m calling it as emo. The big hair, the drainpipes, the black eyeliner and of course the music. Whatever your thoughts on it at least it had a look, a vibe, it wore its heart on its sleeve.
What’s happened? These days it’s identikit house-pop. ASOS t-shirts, Stüssy hoodies and HUF caps is the style whether in Pensance or Peckham. Disclosure and Aluna George blasting from Radio 1. Has the internet killed the subculture?
Back in the day youth movements could spring up and take time to evolve into a defining look and sound. Take Liverpool, home to its fair share of youth movements. Here are three that defined the city:
Mersey Beat: Late 50s
Liverpool has a proud musical heritage. Four Scouse likely-lads set the world on fire. But we’re taking the Beatles sound back to its source; Mersey Beat. Liverpool, being a port, is often a first point of entry for sounds, tastes and styles from across the Atlantic. Mersey Beat borrowed its sound heavily from the rock n rollers from across the Atlantic. Think guitars, vocal harmonies and catchy tunes.
There were at least 350 bands playing in the Mersey Beat style, selling out the ballrooms, concert halls and clubs. The centre of the Mersey Beat movement was the Cavern Club. Still open today, it was the city’s first dedicated live music venue. Its look was sharp suits and proto-mod haircuts.
Casuals: Early 80s
The English Disease, or hooliganism as it was more commonly known, was at its most rampant in the 80s.
The fans realised they were easily distinguishable for wearing the team colours and visits to Europe meant the fans were rubbing up against continental sports fans who would be sporting brands like Fila and Diadora. When wearing this style of clothing the hooligans could hide in plain site. And so the Casuals were born. The look spread across the UK.
Rave Culture: late 80s/early 90s
The Second Summer of Love began in 1988. It was the explosion of Acid House and rave culture. Again being a port city played into the hands of the city. James Barton was just a teenager when he started bringing house records back from his trips to New York. In 1992 he started the club night Cream. As a result of this Rolling Stone named him the most influential person in dance music.
Cream began to attract kids from all over the country. Coaches would drive to Liverpool from Cornwall and Aberdeen. They would pay up to £10 to dance all night in a dark warehouse. To get in, there were rules: no gold chains, no moustaches, no sequins.
The club gave birth to a community obsessed with dance music. There are still a generation of ravers with Cream tattoos. At the beginning, the nights were about the music and the music alone. DJs faced away from the crowd with their decks pushed against the wall. Soon however the club’s huge reputation attracted big names like Sasha and Paul Oakenfold. By the time Cream came to an end, it was filling a 3,000 capacity venue.
Today’s Creamfields festival is a direct descendent of that club night.
Want to discover the word on the Mersey today? Visit easyHotel Liverpool, opening later this year and plug your ears in.