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SamLondonYouth“People do seem very nostalgic for that time,” mused photographer Derek Ridgers about the period between 1978-1987, documented in his book 78-87 London Youth. It’s easy to see why: the photographs, snapped in clubs, after-hours haunts, and on the streets of London, capture so many subcultures that still fascinate today, from punk to goth to New Romanticism to skinhead to Acid House. It’s baffling to think that so many movements could have co-existed in such a short period. Even so, subcultures were simpler back then, according to Ridgers.

“Nowadays, there’s nothing that's easy to rebel against.” Fashion was a huge part of that rebellion, according to Ridgers, whose subjects sport everything from mohawks resembling Grecian columns to bones-as-jewelry to Leigh Bowery-esque makeup. (Ridgers also photographed Bowery himself, in addition to Boy George, Michael Alig, John Galliano, Hamish Bowles, and some other names you might recognise.) Of course, one reason nostalgia might be mounting for the era could be that many of the original punks and blitz kids are now in their 50s, in prime time for life reflection. With Derek’s help, we tracked down five intriguing subjects captured in 78-87 London Youth, and asked them about their lives then and now.

How old were you in this picture? Where was it taken?

SAMANTHA BURCHER: I was just 16 years old in this photo (above, right). It was taken in 1980, in the famous Blitz Club in London. I had been a member of the club from the very first evening, and had already been “clubbing” in London for two years.

What were you doing in your life that year? What are you doing now?

SB: I was still at school, but had been seriously distracted by my alternative music and clubbing life. I always shared the stories of my nocturnal adventures with my school friends and fell asleep a lot during lessons. I was the most famous girl in the school. Now, I work as an environmental campaigner and also as a photojournalist. A recent assignment was covering a demonstration about the plight of honeybees, which was fronted by Vivienne Westwood and Katharine Hamnett and combined fashion designers and protest.

How do you think being part of that scene affected where you are today?

SB: It allowed me to see that anything is possible and that we can all create our own reality, and be and do anything we want to do.

Do you think youth and counterculture are in a better or worse place now than in the year your photo was taken?

SB: I think counterculture is still alive and kicking. I will never give up trying to challenge the status quo.

What are you wearing in this photo?

SB: I’m wearing a black and white shift dress, which I found in a charity shop in 1980 and cost about 20 pence. I was a model for Vidal Sassoon’s Bond Street shop,