A Timeline of Britain's Notorious Nightlife and Subcultures - Thrifty Towel

A Timeline of Britain's Notorious Nightlife and Subcultures

A Timeline of Britain's Notorious Nightlife and Subcultures

Whether for better or worse, British people are renowned for knowing how to party. Throughout the years, many subcultures have risen to legendary status in the history of Britains nightlife, all with their own distinct clothes, music and preference of drugs. These are some of the most notable groups that we like to take inspiration from, going from the 1970s to the 2000s.

70s Vivienne Westwood Punk

The 70s was the time of sartorial rebellion on the King’s Road. Number 430 housed the trend defining store in punk, Vivienne Westwood’s SEX. When the sun disappeared, people traveled over to Covent Garden’s famous club The Roxy. From protest bands like The Sex Pistols, The Clash and X-Ray Spex, the old warehouse had become a Mecca for fans of the provocative rock music.


80s Blitz Kids

After a decade dominated by punk, we arrive in the “cocaine 80s”. After the Roxy closed down in 1978, people found themselves dancing to Planet Earth by Duran Duran at Blitz, a new club run by Steve Strange, that was also based in Covent Garden. With being located between the two art universities in London, Central Saint Martins and Central School, the club was frequented by students, who customized their theatrical look week after week. It was the place where people such as John Galliano, Leigh Bowery and Scarlett Cannon gave birth to the New Romantics, a backlash to punk.

90s Raves and Acid House

After four DJs (Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling, Johnny Walker and Nicky Holloway) came back from a trip to Ibiza and hosted the event Shoom, in a fitness center at Southwark Street, London was introduced to a new period of club culture nicknamed the "second summer of love". After beautifying and customizing in the 80s, this new ecstasy raving youth culture expressed their liberation through dressing down, not up. It’s trademarks: Neon colours, bum bags, tie-dye and the now iconic yellow smiley face.

Discussing the 90s is impossible without talking about UKG, The UK Garage scene. The three most important words? Moschino, Iceberg and Versace. This group was probably the most dressed up youth subculture during the electronic days. Kids would shop at Morgan de Toi and sing along to tunes at club Bagley’s. Wearing Dior monogram tops, Moschino printed trousers and strappy dresses, girls stuck to their gender and showed off their feminine side. What is most intriguing is that the men were the real peacocks of this subgroup, walking around in their full double printed Versace two pieces.


With the birth of Computer software and the internet, everyone can be an artist as we enter the naughty noughties. This is represented in tons of different youth cultures that were born with this new century. There were the Spice Girls playing in girly teenage bedrooms, Paris Hilton minions walked around in mini glitter slip dresses and pink juicy couture tracksuits, those who stayed at home playing around with techno beats in their rooms. Arguably the most interesting development was the demise of garage giving way to other scenes including grime. Tracksuits, Air Max and Avirex jackets, which had crossed over from the Garage scene, became the new uniform for London’s new underground scene.