I popped into Sainsburys on Saturday to pick up hair colour, having made a knee jerk decision that I needed to go blonder, and whilst there I noticed that lots of the October style mags were out = Marie Claire, In Style, Harper’s Bazaar etc. So, obviously I grabbed them and got into the long Saturday Lottery queue. And there, on the front of the local Express and Star was the emblazoned headline ‘JB’S IN ADMINISTRATION’. Legendary Dudley venue under threat of closure. I instantly felt sick. JB’S couldn’t possibly close, it’s an institution,where bands like the Wonderstuff, Neds Atomic Dustbin and Pop Will Eat itself had started out. The venue where I’d danced the night away with my best friend Dawn and snogged inappropriate men with long hair. The place of my teenage fashion memories.
The original JB’s was n King Street in Dudley, a tiny, grotty but cool venue tucked away from the main town. It was usually busy, as Dudley was very much a student town in those early 1990’s days. It was the days of Nirvana and Grunge, James and Sit Down and the Stourbridge sound of The Wonderstuff, who became so successful they even had a (sell out) number one with Vic Reeves.
I’d first discovered JB’S through a slightly older boyfriend, but it was once he was out the way that Dawn and I really discovered our fashion mojo. JB’S was dark in terms of fashion as well as lighting, full of Goth type girls in black swirly skirts and Sisters Of Mercy make up. Dawn and I were far more girly than that, going for a 1960’s/1970’s slant of glitter, a-line skirts and in Dawn’s case, a fabulous white leather Emma Peel style Avengers jacket. We went shopping in charity shops in the local area, and paid trips to the rag market in Birmingham in order to pick up cheaper Doc Marten’s in cherry red. These are now definitely back in vogue with Jessica Alba hardly out of hers.
A typical saturday night outfit would feature a pretty suede or leather vintage skirt, with a lurex or lacy top and opaque tights. Doc Martens on your feet and a tiny purse in your hand. Handbags were a no-no, where could you put them when you danced? Hair had to be glossy and long for swishing around as you danced (moshed!). Lots of 1960’s style black mascara would complete the look.
Another favourite outfit featured a fabulously frilled vintage blouse in the Adam Ant pirate style, worn with denim hot pants and opaques. A purple shearling long coat edge with white faux fur and a santa hood was great when the weather went cold, as the taxi rank was a long walk back into town.
Some of the style would work just as well now. Dawn had an amazing brown leather satchel bag she used to wear cross body, which would ‘ve been perfect for Spring/Summer 10, whilst my vintage cream button back blouse would’ve fitted into this season like a glove. The Doc Marten’s have never left fashion – Agyness Deyn, Alexa Chung and Jessica Alba all still wear the heavy, but comfortable boots.
When Sienna Miller first emerged as the Queen of Boho chic in the early millennium, I remember thinking, she’s stole our style! Shearling waistcoats, floppy hats, boho skirts, we’d worn them all, 10 years earlier, and with such teenage aplomb.
I remember my last visit to JB’S. It had moved to its current venue by then on Castle Hill, and it was larger, slightly cleaner, but nowhere near as charming as the original venue. We went to see a tribute band called Ocean Coloured Theme. They were alright, but I was now out-of-place, wearing a grey silk floral skirt, lace black top and…gasp…heels. I’d even got a handbag. Dawn still knew the trick, turning up in casual jeans and rugby top, but I no longer fitted in. I didn’t like the beer on the day floor that made it so slippy for my heels, no the darkness of the place.
Even so, I would still miss it if it did die, and joined The Birmingham Hummingbird and the Walsall 5th as a big nightclub in the sky. Indie kids need their venues and they shouldn’t be bright and clean!
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