Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Sixties: Land of a 1000 dances

Between the years 1960-63 Tin Pan Alley moguls kept cash registers filled by adhering to the tried and tested musical tastes of the previous decade. Fearing a resurgence of Rock'n'Roll, and in particular Race Music, the industry dumbed-down the teenage market and commercially stifled originality. The revolution came when the beat generation metamorphosed into the new Mersey Beat.

Women's hemlines became shorter matching the length of men's jackets. Tight fitting bolero suits (or bum freezers) for men and two piece outfits for women were accompanied with trendy pointed slip-ons. Better off kids wore loafers which were the fashion of the US Ivy Leaguers. Court style shoes took on in the sixties when Jacky Kennedy made them the shoe. She bought her shoes from Rene Mancini in Paris. Her monthly order was 12 pairs every three months although this dropped to 8 pairs after her marriage to Onasis.

During the early days of the Beatles shoes took on a boot style and incorporated Cuban heels for men. Needless to say the fashion became ubiquitous before the toes began to widen and the Chelsea boot or chisel toe became vogue. A point of interest the Beatle Boot was less macho than the Rodeo boot preferred by cowboys, and resembled the style of boot favoured by Victorian ladies. Whilst not effeminate it was distinctly a softer less aggressive style that brothel creepers and winkle pickers from the previous era. Beatle boots incorporated a French seam or central stitch running from ankle to toe on the upper. In the convention of symbols this referred to the vulva opposite to the phallus of the long toes or winklepicker shoes.

If the Beatles were the conventional side of pop, then the Rolling Stones were definitely their nemesis. Anarchy ruled, or at least so it was portrayed, and the scruffy lads expressed their individualism on stage by wearing clothes that suited their personality. Perhaps the only physical link that united the five piece band was the sneakers they wore.

When most male singers were being groomed for cabaret, girl groups came on with a vengeance. Tights and miniskirts meant legs became the focus of attention and the longer the better.

Although definitely not the first girl group the Shangri-las captured the sultry look by wearing slacks and high heeled ankle boots. Only solo female artists had the confidence to appear in miniskirts with long high heeled boots.

Jim Proby will probably be best remembered for his trouser splitting performances on the ill-fated, English tour (1965). P.J Proby wrote the hit 'Clown Shoes' for Johnny Burnette and was reputed to sing demos for the King (Elvis).

However, his sartorial style was more a reflection of Henry Fielding's 'Tom Jones'. The bawdy adventures of the eighteenth century Jack the Lad was captured on film and Proby was quick to cash in.

Soon young men were wearing high heeled buckle shoes similar to those worn by the Sun King (Louis IVX).

As the Twist became passé it was replaced by a bunch of other dances which required little else other than to stand in one position and move the head, elbows, knees and hands.

Bandstand and Ready Steady Go were always ready to show the latest dance crazes and the Shake, the Dog and the Funky Chicken all were danced to the hits of Motown, Memphis Soul and other hits of the day.

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