Thursday, June 12, 2014

I'm a Rockabilly Rebel From Head to Toe

1996 - The Dog House Blues Bar at Broadbeach

I'm sitting on the top floor with my friend who has convinced me to come and watch Hatz Fitz play. I'm in my usual black clothing with massive Nicole Kidmanish hair.
As my eyes scan the crowd down below I see a group of guys walk in. They are all wearing jeans, leather jackets that have had pitures painted on the back, smoking cigarettes and all have hair like Elvis.
I can't take my eyes off them. Most people in the club smirk at them & laugh but I think they look amazing.  One of the lads looks up at me & smiles.

I turn to my friend and say "See that guy there. I'm going to marry him. I'm serious. He's The One".
Of course my friend thought I was off my chops pissed and told me that I was an idiot.

In the words of Spandau Ballet, to cut a long story short I did marry him & we were together for 10 years.

Michael introduced me to a new world. A subculture called "Rockabilly".

That night, like the floozy I was, I went back to his house and that, pretty much, was that.
His house was like stepping back in time. Every single thing was pre-1960. I thought it was the most fantastic thing I had ever seen.

Before that night I was into any music that was hard, fast & angry. A lot of punk, metal and rock.
My very first introduction to rockabilly music was Big Sandy. I remember listening to the CD and this incredible feeling coming over me. It's very strange but I was like a light being switched on.
I couldn't believe that this music wasn't being played everywhere! From then on I was like a sponge when it came to music.

Luckily for me Michael was a DJ & had a MASSIVE music collection. I started with UK psychobilly like Guana Batz & the Meteors and then went to classic rockabilly like Charlie Feathers and Gene Vincent.

I went to my first Wintersun in 1996 and in those days there were 2 groups. The Rockabillies and The Rock and Rollers.  The Rockabillies were all about wearing vintage, drinking, swearing, music, dancing and being loud.
The Rock n Rollers wore fluro poodle skirts and danced to 'not too fast or loud' music.

Back in those days we had no internet. *gasp* No digital cameras. No REPRO clothing. No Facebook.

We had to find old 1950s women's magazines at swap meets and garage sales and practice doing our hair to look like the gals in them.  It was exciting to find a fabulous vintage frock at the Toowoomba Swap meet for $20.
The more I discovered about this era the more I fell in love and discovered that this was who I was.
I was very lucky to have a few vintage style 'mentors' in Michael when it came to music, my neighbour Jacqui (aka Kitty Von Purr) and our house mate John who taught me everything I needed to know about wearing and buying vintage.

First and foremost this group of people who called themselves "Rockabillies" cared about the music NUMBER ONE.

Events were based around the music and dancing (and grog). 
Most of the guys wore jeans, leather jackets, creepers OR gab jackets & awesome rayon shirts.  Most of the girls wore vintage or sewed their own clothes.  But the 'scene' didn't revolve around the clothing.    This subculture was a group of people who LOVED rockabilly music but then also LOVED the whole DESIGN aspect of the era of the 1950s. The furniture, the cars, the clothing, the textures and fabrics and the colours. 

Sadly, I think that the "rockabilly" subculture has been somewhat lost in Australia.
For some of us, it has now been replaced with more of a "1950s vintage appreciation culture". 

With the advent of the fabulous internet I am still finding new & exciting aspects of this era that I feel a real connection with. I spend hours swooning over architectural designs, prom gowns and lamps.

In the last 20 years or so the whole 'scene' has changed dramatically. 
To me it is like a big crock-pot of cross culture.
It's like somebody has gotten a big pot and chucked a whole heap of everything in.
Punk, Pop, Vintage, Goth, Rock and Roll all mixed together.

I have NO problem with people dressing however the hell they want to dress. As long as a person isn't an arsehole I couldn't give a rats what you've got on.


I get really aggravated with the overuse of the word "rockabilly" used to describe fucking everything.
 I just do not fucking get it. 

A polka-dot tight skirt that comes to mid thigh is NOT a 'rockabilly' skirt! It is a skirt.

A bandana worn over your hair is NOT a "rockabilly" bandana. It is a bandana.

Your "Betty Bangs" are not rockabilly. It is a vintage inspired fringe.

Rockabilly meets Boho Chic high-waisted Cut-offs shorts

Lately the new revival thing seems to be all about everything PIN-UP.

Now before yawl get out your 'rockabilly' heels to stab me AGAIN I will say "good for you".

If putting on a nice florally or polka-dot frock and doing your hair in 'victory' rolls and having your pic taken makes you feel awesome then that is absolutely brilliant. 

What gets my goat is that with ALL of the immense internet I can't believe just how WRONG some people get it.

OK let me explain myself: If you call your pic a PIN-UP photo then what ever BUT if your shoot is a "Vintage" or "1950s" shoot then for the love of Betty Grable can you do some research.
Do your hair & makeup true to the era you are supposed to be representing. I guess I must be a grumpy old woman who is a stickler for accuracy. 


Some of you will be screaming "Hang on Mz Vicki you've done a PIN UP shoot". Yep I have.
I have nothing against Pin Up stuff at all.

I am definitely NO purist and definitely NOT an
expert on ANYTHING.
This is just my opinion.
Fake Cupcake Hot Pink Rockabilly String of Lights

I wouldn't buy a Buddah statue and put it in my front garden
and then proclaim to the world that I am a Buddist.


  1. Honey, I feel you. I'm not Rockabilly, personally. I like vintage fashion and some music that fits into the Rockabilly category, but in no way do I consider myself in that scene. I'm just me. Yet, it does piss me off to see the label just thrown onto anything. It's like watering down a subculture so that people primarily interested in getting a date can have a style for the weekend. You know? Perhaps I'm just rambling but I hate the cartoony interpretations of victory rolls instead of the classy and subtle way that they actually looked back then. I'm tired of seeing circle skirts, and polka dots, and the same shade of red lipstick repeatedly. Eventually the fad will die out, people will stop attaching "Rockabilly" to their Ebay listings, and only the true Rockabilly enthusiasts shall remain. I'm pretty sure it happens to every subculture.

    1. Thanks Ms Ladyfair. You're not rambling thank you so much for commenting.

  2. Love you Vicki Rockabilly, Pinup Martin. I agree with your writing it's the same here in NZ, we went to Cooly Rocks On for the first time after it being Wintersun, we went purely for the music and the location. It was a big melting pot of victory rolls, polka dots, hair flowers, leopard (which i love) and skulls. Each to their own I say and have fun. I found myself longing for some different stalls at the market, only 3 'vintage, collectable' stalls to be had, the same is happening in burlesque the market is sodden, saturated and about to be wrung out. For me it's the music and the beautiful look and feel of a good set and the swish of the nylons with a high waisted skirt, or good pair of Levi's with your cowboy boots. Love and Light everyone, Love n Light <3 x

    1. Goodness don't get me started on burlesque!
      I just wish people would find their own style and not be a sheep.
      Love n Light to you too m'love

  3. Oh what a can of worms this topic is. No matter when I try and talk about this with people you get accused of being elitist and well... up yourself. But I see the whole purpose of even having the conversation as educational, and here is where I play devil's advocate with myself.
    On one hand, being a "vintage enthusiast" from way back (circa 1984 is my first serious recollection), I do get a bit pissy when I see and hear terms being to badly misused. My hackles rise when I see the terms "vintage", "Pin up" and "rockabilly" being used as key words for nothing more than chasing the almighty dollar. And frankly, it's not just me that gets annoyed, but all those poor suckers who get conned into forking out $40 for a "Vintage" or "Rockabilly" Katies top someone picked up at the op shop and threw on eBay.
    So yes, sometimes I want to hold our subcultures close and stroke their hair, whispering "Don't worry, we all know that's not who you really are."

    On the other hand as someone who's various businesses come into contact with the average punter wanting to try out a new look that has it's roots in our subculture, I can see the benefit of having these types of key word descriptors to help them find their way. Like a glowing sign post on the road to Rockabilly redemption. Perhaps they don't know that just because it has polka dots, doesn't make it "Rockabilly", or that we are actually referring to a music style. But I opt see it like this; these crappy, ill termed items are often a gateway drug to the real thing. And if more people discover the life changing addiction that is our "Rockabilly" or "Vintage" world, then the more people there will be to support the bands that make the music we so love.

    Now every time I see one of these sad, badly tagged images, I try to think to myself; "For every 10 schisters out there, there will be one new fan. And for every fan, one new musician will find there wings." :) <3

    1. Bloody good points Mz SKM. I think for me I get a bit cranky because when people attach "rockabilly" or "vintage 1950s" onto something they are representing an era that I feel a deep personal connection to and if it is bastardised I think it is disrespectful.
      Oh I totally understand that everybody has to start somewhere... shit we all did. I can't understand why in this world of information people don't just watch an old movie or search for pics of Ava Gardner or Zsa Zsa Gabor!
      Not everybody is as passionate about the WHOLE era and they only want to get frocked up on weekends and I reckon that is awesome.
      If it makes you feel amazing then fantastic.
      Thank goodness there are blogs like yours that shine a light xoxoxoxoxo