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The new nostalgia – ’80s nightclub images unearthed after 40 years

21 Aug 2023 5 minute read
Clubber at the Funktion Suite DJ console requesting a track

As society labours under a cost of living crisis the desire for a simpler time when life seemed easier has created enthusiasm for all things 1980s and 1990s, according to the creator of BBC One comedy The Power of Parker.

The series set in a chain of electrical stores appears to be part of a trend for ’80s and ’90s shows, such as The Gold, also on BBC One; A Town Called Malice on Sky; The Curse on Channel 4 and forthcoming reboots of Gladiators and Wheel of Fortune.

Parker’s creator, Paul Coleman, who co-wrote Peter Kay’s Car Share, told The Guardian people tended to crave nostalgia during hard times. “Times are tough at the minute with the cost of living crisis. Most things you look back nostalgically at you do with rose-tinted spectacles … you remember the good times – there’s a bit of that going on,” he said.

He added the appeal for younger audiences was partly because “things seemed a bit simpler, because we had less noise. But also because they think, ‘I would’ve been able to pay rent, that would’ve been amazing’, because it’s really impacting that generation.

“I was living through Thatcher at that time and … thinking ‘this is dire’. “But you do look back and think after what we’ve gone through recently maybe it wasn’t as bad.”

With the nostalgia for everything yesteryear we’ve delved into the archives to pick out this hugely popular piece from 2021 that people loved.

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Have a look through the gallery of brilliant images of nightlife in the ’80s

Then we told you about how Martin McCabe had spent several months taking a walk down memory lane.

His design agency business was put on ice by the pandemic, so the Cardiff creative had spent much of his time working on a project that evoked many memories of his days as a DJ and photographer at the nightclub described as Cardiff’s answer to The Blitz.

Funktion Suite at Nero’s was the Saturday night favourite of the alternative crowd in the Welsh capital. The similarities between the hugely influential London club run by style trailblazer Steve Strange and Nero’s, housed on Greyfriars Road in Cardiff city centre, were obvious.

The early ‘80s saw a seismic shift in the nation’s cultural landscape; the flowering of British youth movements that would change the face of fashion and clubland – a coterie of young creatives – artists, designers, photographers, DJs and club promoters who were key components of a cultural uprising.

Clubbers on a night out at Nero’s

Nero’s was a haven for young tribes exploring their own individuality who wanted to dance the night away, Goths, new romantics, punks, psychobillies, and everything in between, it was an alternative crowd and artistic expression a world away from the mainstream.

For 57-year-old McCabe revisiting those heady days of yore had been like unearthing a treasure trove of memories, many which had lay buried until he decided to dust down his archive and scan those long lost slides and negatives.

Martin, who was also a regular fixture at gigs in the city taking photographs at early ‘80s shows by the likes of Ultravox, Simple Minds, Japan and The Cocteau Twins, believed the Nero’s images were taken between 1982-1984.

“It’s all a bit of a blur,” he laughed. “I’m not great at identifying exactly when they were. I took so many photographs at the time.

Fashions

“My day job was as a photographer, but I landed a gig DJ’ing at Nero’s when I met Anthony Feehan, who was the original DJ there. Anthony let me help out. He then left for London and then I took over.

“I wasn’t hugely into fashion, it was always the music for me,” he adds. “I would spend all my money on records at places like Spillers in Cardiff.

“I went through the punk stage with The Sex Pistols and The Clash and then moved into new romantic and alternative after that. I had quite a good collection of vinyl anyway. But of course, DJ’ing gave me the excuse to spend nearly all the money I made from the photography and DJ’ing to spend on records.

Friends enjoying a night out at Nero’s

As for recording the fantastical nightlife at Nero’s, he and a mate, reckoned it would be a lucrative earner.

“Well, that’s what we thought,” he laughed. “I worked in a photographic agency with a guy called Jonathan Moss-Vernon and we decided we would take photos of people at Nero’s on a Saturday night because of the way they looked and sell them the photos.

“I remember we didn’t actually sell many photos in the end, but we did end up with a fantastic record of images of the club, the people and the fashions at that time.

“Back then it was rare that people took cameras to clubs. Now, obviously, everybody has a camera on their phone and photograph everything.

“When I started to scan the Nero’s photographs, I put up a few of them on Facebook and I quickly realised that it was a thing that people loved. People love to reminisce and remember those days.”

Find out more about Nero’s HERE


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Jacqui T
Jacqui T
7 months ago

We had Thatcher! There was nothing else for young people but fashion and music to escape the awful political situation at the time.

Martin
Martin
7 months ago
Reply to  Jacqui T

Thank God we did haveThatcher after the nightmare of the previous Labour Gov, The UK was the sick man of Europe, rotten and decaying because of the Leftie Unions. Thats FACT btw.

Brookers
Brookers
7 months ago
Reply to  Martin

After 15 years of the conservatives again – we literally are the sick man of Europe because of Boris’s Brexit. So sick you’ll be left on an nhs waiting list to hopefully ‘to ‘fade to grey’…. At least labour saved the nhs from Thatchers campaign of willfully wrecking it! Looks like they will have to save it again from Sunack and all his rich private health care buddies all waiting in the wings to break it up and take what’s left.

LJM1958@hpeprint.com
7 months ago
Reply to  Martin

What a load of rubbish you talk…. UK is very sick now, because of the current Tory F**k ups….!!! And blatant lies….!!!

Rob
Rob
7 months ago

Deadly pandemic,
Right wing government,
Tensions with Russia,
Mullets back in fashion.
Synthpop in the charts

The ’20s might as well be the ’80s mark 2.

I preferred the ’90s, far more optimistic decade.

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