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80s Life – The 80s were known for more than just music, film and TV. 80s Life was also quite unique, having a cultural heart like no other.
80s Life – Politics and Space Exploration
The 80s saw fundamental shifts in fashion, politics, space exploration as well as economic reform and unity around sporting events both domestically and internationally. Although this may be stereotyping more than anything, the 80s were also known for its foray into brightly coloured, baggy clothing as well as (seemingly) government-mandated mullets or shaved heads for men and puffed-up waves for women.
80s Life – Fashion and Hair
80s fashion may not be something that’s found its way into modern-day style, but it’s certainly unique to the era. David Bowie’s iconic 80s outfits are perhaps some of the best examples of the type of style that was prevalent at the time. Loose shirts, bright saturated colour and denim jeans are perhaps some of the greatest hallmarks of 80s life. Combining these distinctive styles with equally as distinctive haircuts was a recipe for the iconic 80s look. Male haircuts either emphasised an excess of voluminous locks, or the total absence of them with signature shaved sides. Permed hair was just as popular with men as it was with women and hip-hop stars at the time popularised the high-top fade. Women’s haircuts maximised volume whilst also including the odd scrunchie here or there. Ponytails and perms were in high demand, and artists such as Madonna popularised headbands and other accessories.
80s Life – The Berlin Wall
Alongside the new wave of fashion, the 80s also saw some of the most significant international and cultural events of the late 1900s. 1989 saw one of the most important events in European history: the fall of the Berlin wall. Dividing East and West Berlin, the Berlin wall symbolised the division between the communist Soviet Union and capitalist Europe and western democracies. The fall of the Berlin wall impacted 80s life around the world, mostly due to the fact that this wasn’t an event enacted by armies or governments, but by people who were sick and tired of being separated from one another despite living in the same city. The unification of Berlin marked the beginning of the end for the iron curtain and, under the pro-west Gorbachev, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the fall of European communism.
80s Life – A Digital and Space Age
Computers also had a hand in significantly altering 80s life. Before the 1980s, computers were large, unwieldy and expensive things largely confined to be used by scientists and governments. However, in 1983 one single invention would change the course of the entire world. This invention was, of course, the internet (Tim Berners-Lee Internet Inventor). It’s hard to imagine present-day life without the internet. We use it for everything from shopping to admin to advanced forms of entertainment. The internet was also the great connector of the human race, whose communicative innovation was rivalled only by the invention of the printing press back in 1440. The internet fundamentally changed 80s life, allowing for never before seen communication with other people around the globe.
80s life was also dominated by the idea of space exploration. This was seen in the rise of sci-fi in popular culture at the time as well as the numerous televised shuttle launches. The 80s also saw the continuation of the hotly contested space race between the USA and the Soviet Union. However, the extra-terrestrial fever also had some dire consequences in the form of the Challenger space shuttle that blew up on lift-off in the US in 1986.
80s Life – Sweet Treats
Growing up in the 80s also saw children introduced to sweets beyond their wildest dreams. Drumstick lollies, Wham! Bars and the importing of popping candy from the US opened up a whole new world of sugary flavour which not everyone (especially parents) was a fan of! The 80s also saw the invention of some of the UK’s most polarising sweets including the deeply aniseed Blackjacks, or even the more controversial and still widely loved Parma Violets. With their floral and gentle taste compared to other sweets at the time, Parma Violets were a hit with the older generation and still occupy a special place in the hearts of people across the UK.
Whether it was cultural phenomenons, fashion faux-pas or technological innovation, 80s life was certainly something to remember. Even beyond the stereotypes and voluminous hair, the 80s were a time of real societal shift whose events heavily influence UK life today.
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