I just saw "This is England", and I came to think of...

I remember when I was young there were different alignments so to speak, in a way that seems foreign today, defined mainly by the music you listened to, and/or the sub culture you identified with. There were rockers (hard rock rockers), teddy boys (rock’a’billy dudes), those (mainly middle class guys) who listened to synth, and skinhead with their ska or oi music, and punks. In my home town, a rather working class environment, skirmishes happened between these different groups, where dozens of teddy boys attacked dozens of hard rockers, and where these “synths” got a beating every now and again for being synth, and long haired Thin Lizzy fans could be sincerely violent – The Boys are Back in Time for real, etc.

The punk movement drifted into skin movement, which at the time were a working class movement from Britain, with their jeans and suspenders and doc martens boots, and that was all cool because punk music lost its appeal rather quickly, and the few “anarchists” remaining in the streets had a hard time and so forth.

Some of the punks and some of the teddys (rock’a’billy also lost its appeal after a few years) transformed into the ‘psycho billy’ movement. And those you didn’t want to mess with. I remember once, when there was a gang walking down the street and we were at a dark place and we thought we’d mess with those guys whoever they were, and shouted: “Siggy Saggy Siggy Saggy Heil Heil Heil!”

Why, you ask, if you’ve never been bored to death. Nonetheless, I know it is moronic. And the “Heil” thing I’ll get back to in a minute, because it is the core of this post.

Anyway, then one of our guys said: “Shit, those are psycho billys!” And then we ran off. While teddy boys were tough, psycho billys were taking the rock’a’billy shit to the extreme, these guys were insane (really, Sherlock, you should have figured, they’re called the psychos). So we realized our mistake provoking those guys an ran off.

So that’s that. Skins, punks, and other people beating each other up becuause of “sub culture” identification. No harm done so far.

But the thing is, the “heil heil heil”. This was about 1986 in Sweden, and nazism was a joke. Jimmy Page, Sid Vicious and others recently had used the swastika as a provocation, not as a political statement. I think Elvis Presley once dressed up as a nazi for the heck of it at a masquerade. At that time, nobody took the nazi shit serious; nazism being just too plain dumb.
So “heiling” was not a political thing, it was like extending your middle finger to society or to anybody who found it scary and aggressive.

Then, just months later, the skin movement was politicized, and the psycho billys too grew an unexpected hatred toward “communists” (people who read books, mainly). Several of my friends got a beating for being communists, by skinhead and psychobillys during about 1987. (At the time I did a little trip from my working class background to hanging with guys from a different background; in short, they were more interesting.) The transformation was literally taking place over just a few months. During that period there were even skins called “red skins”, that is, skins who were communists; and they stood up for that amongst the nazi skins, and they were tough enough to be respected for it too.

This transformation of politicizing was swift. It went from us shouting heil heil heil just for the heck of it, to nazism being a real thing, a threat, a reality, in just a few months; that fall it would never occur us to shout such a thing. And the violence between punks, skins, hard rockers, “synths”, transformed into violence between skins and psychobillys on the one hand, and “communists” and immigrants on the other in no time.

Then the skin and psycho movement died out in the late eighties, because they either grew tired on the violence and the drinking, it is tiring in the long run, or they went to jail. So, in the beginning of the nineties, all these conflicts died out. And today, it all seems so bizarre.

But somehow, in the eighties, as depicted in the picture, “they” managed to nazify these otherwise unpolitical sub cultures. On the one hand it is quite scary how easily it was done, but on the other, they didn’t succeed in whatever they were trying to do. So, Hail Hail Rock ‘n’ Roll?

I’m guessing things were different in Sweden, then.

Psychobillies were fans of exaggerated cartoon/horror movie rockabilly, basically the Cramps and the bands that copied them. Post-punk rockabilly. Nothing at all to do with them being dangerous - at worst their hairdos might poke you in the eye. Skinheads, particularly the neo-Nazi type, were dangerous. Psychobilles were about as dangerous as goths; not at all.