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Book: Dancehalls, Glitterballs and DJs

Chapter: Rock, Roll and 45s

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.44954


This chapter considers the emergence of new groups of young people, new technology and cultural and social developments in the period from the early 1950s to the early 1960s, a period that saw a shift from Establishment figures as fashion and cultural leaders to the rise of the young working class, who would become leaders in fashion and music once the discotheque arrived in Britain. In the period from the mid-1950s to the early-1960s it was social and cultural changes in particular that created the atmosphere for the emergence of nightclubs where people danced to recorded music rather than live groups.

Swing bands and live music still led the way at the beginning of the 1950s, but ‘Disc Jockey’ was one of the Words of the Year for 1951, ‘Teenagers’ was a word in common use by 1952, rationing ended in 1954 and at the same time Teddy Boys and Teddy Girls were combining a love of music and a love of Edwardian fashion to create one of Britain’s first recognisable youth sub-groups. As heavy, 10- or 12-inch shellac 78s gave way to light, easily transportable 7-inch vinyl discs the Dansette company started to produce a plastic-cased, easily transportable record player. Youth clubs and coffee bars gave youngsters places to meet and dance, often to music played on someone’s Dansette, or perhaps from a selection on a juke box.

Chapter Contributors

  • Bruce Lindsay ( - blindsay) 'Music Journalist and Social Historian'