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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Teddy Boy

The British Teddy Boy subculture is typified by young men wearing clothes inspired by the styles of the Edwardian period, which Savile Row tailors had tried to re-introduce after World War II. The group got its name after a 1953 newspaper headline shortened Edward to Teddy and coined the term Teddy Boy (also known as Ted). The subculture started in London in the 1950s and rapidly spread across the UK, soon becoming strongly associated with American rock and roll music of the period. Although there had been youth groups with their own dress codes called "Scuttlers" in 19th Century Manchester and Liverpool[1], Teddy Boys were the first youth group in England to differentiate themselves as teenagers, thus helping to create a youth market.

The US film Blackboard Jungle marked a watershed in the United Kingdom. When shown at a South London Cinema in Elephant and Castle in 1956 the teenage Teddy boy audience began to riot, tearing up seats and dancing in the aisles.[2] After that riots took place around the country wherever the film was shown.[3]

Some groups of Teds formed gangs and gained notoriety following violent clashes with rival gangs, which were often exaggerated by the popular press. The most notable was the Notting Hill riot of 1958, in which Teddy Boys were present in large numbers and were implicated in attacks on the West Indian community.[4]

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