Resident king of vintage, writer Paul Culshaw, looks back at the Teds’ love for rock’n’roll and the ongoing revival of Neo-Edwardian style.

Initially, music wasn’t the main thing at all for the Neo-Edwardians, some liked Frank Sinatra or some other crooning star. They were not drawn or linked to any music but many liked the British dance bands of the time. The dance band of Ken Macintosh was popular, especially his song The Creep, to which the boys  shuffled and clumsily danced to.

Time passed and a violent and wild storm would hit the shores of Britain in 1955. This ferocious storm was born in America, and it was called Rock ‘n’ Roll. The first Rock ‘n’ Roll music to reach Britain was Bill Haley and his Comets with ‘Rock Around the Clock’. The flood gates opened when the recording was used in a movie about juvenile delinquents in school called Blackboard Jungle. When the movie was screened in cinemas across the world teenagers rioted – in Britain Teddy Boys tore up the seats in the picture houses. Another movie called Rock Around the Clock was released the following year and more hysteria followed, Teddy boys jived in the aisles chanting ‘Rock, Rock, Rock’! The Teds adopted Rock ‘n’ Roll as their music.

The supposed violent character of Teddy Boys terrified all normal, average people, and stories spread about these delinquent youths who carried razors and knives. The Teds had fascist tendencies too and in 1958 in Notting Hill some attacked West Indians who had emigrated to Britain.

Although some older Teds stuck to the basic Edwardian look, others moved on to wear pointed-toed winkle picker shoes or boots and an Italian style suit. A bum-freezer jacket, sharply tapered knife-edged trousers with a button-down collared shirt and a thin tie with a matching handkerchief in the jacket pocket. Even the greasy hair style went at times and the look started to lead into the Mod style.

As the Sixties progressed, the Teddy Boy largely faded away although a few Teds were left and even in the Seventies I remember old, original ex-Teds still sporting excellent quiffs.

Even by 1956 the first generation of Teds had been and gone in the form of Edwardian youth, and today this original sharp way is again worn by some Teddy Boys. No cartoony bright drapes but real Edwardian finery! I was at a Rock ‘n’ Roll weekender last year and two Teddy girls walked past me dressed in drapes and pencil skirts! The brilliance of revival…

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