Punks, rude girls, and mods in Glasgow from a feature on Glasgow and Edinburgh, Spare Rib, 93, April 1980.
All Girls Together
To anyone on the outside looking in, it would seem that the streets of Glasgow have a confusion of youth cultures, walking around in their tartan bondage strides, or Levi Sta-Prest. In fact there are two main divisions; punkettes or rude girls (who are all ex-punkettes anyway), and modettes.
Surviving punkettes are in the 15-19 age group, and if not still at school have a conventionally female job – office, factory, shop type of thing. There are punkettes and punkettes, and the posey types with their immaculate dyed blonde Siouxsieque hair, Miss Selfridge trousers and jackets, leather bags and monkey boots don’t think much of the hardcore types, in their Doc Marten’s baggy coats, PVCs, with metal adorned ears and Woolies’ spikes (a quiant local expression for an amateurish spikey hair cut). Both these types laugh openly at those who crawl out from the skirting board to go to concerts and can easily be recognised by their ripped shirts, chains of paper clips, safety pin earrings, dayglo footless tights and tea plate sized badges.
However this rare and exotic species, in true chameleon style, is on the whole putting aside its Sham 69 mirror badges and scrawled over gym shoes in favour of black and white panel dresses (MOD DRESSES – £12.99), white tights and sling back shoes (KITTEN HEELS TO CLEAR £1). These self styled modettes, hardly into their teens, think that slipping on a hairband, pinning a Madness badge or two onto their PVC mac and buying Two Tone singles is achieving something/making somepositivestatement/rebelling against society, when all they are doing is falling for a craze started by some nice looking boys who play hashed up Prince Buster and have been turned into a thriving industry. The Madness concert in Glasgow was the first I’d been to since Gorgeous Gary Numan where boys were in the minority, which I would have considered quite healthy if most of the girls hadn’t giggling, swooning, buying rip-off merchandise, eating Rolos, and dancing like Hopping Woodstocks. The whole thing is a bit oppressive.
Glasgow doesn’t have much to offer in the way of things to do. When there is a gig at the Apollo, it is usually very good, but the bouncers are very heavy handed (avergae weight about 16 stones, height 6′ 2″) and tickets cost upwards of £2. Most people still hang around the record shops on Saturday afternoons, tapping money and moaning about how lousy Glasgow is. The Countdown bar opens at 5.30 so it’s down there for pints of ridiculously overpriced beer, and bitchy conversation until 8 or 9, when it is cool to go up to the Tech. The Countdown (still nostalgically called the Mars Bar which was its name until Cadbury’s objected) used to solely used by punks, then just mods, and now it is frequented by anyone who hasn’t anywhere better to go. The Tech (Glasgow College of Technology to you) offers for £1, a reasonable bar, a good disco, and live music, some of which is good, a lot of which is indifferent. The only problem is finding a student to sign you in, but this is not insurmountable.
So that is the Glasgow scene – singularly unglamorous and very cliquey. You start off being a punkette, or a rude girl or (persih the thought) a modette to get out of the rut, fight apathy, and do something different. You end up apathetic, in another rut, doing the same thing every week, the only difference being you’ve got loads of other girls to do it with. That’s Glasgow all over.