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Teenagers in Great Britain
After the war Britain's birth rate was the highest it had been since 1880. By 1959 there were over four million single persons between the ages of 13 to 25, because of this baby boom. Gradually these young people started to enjoy special status. The post-war economic recovery meant that people had more money to spend on luxuries and there were lots of jobs for young people. The young and single usually lived at home and could spend their wages on enjoyment. The working week was shorter than ever before, so there was more leisure time for all.
Young British teens in the 50s looked to America for taste in fashion, hairstyles and music. Record shops, coffee bars and melody bars appeared in towns. Dance halls full of young people in the latest American-style fashions provided exciting new places for the young to meet. These adolescents started to dress differently from their parents and even invented their own slang expressions to use amongst friends.
By the late 50s the fashion and music industries had responded to the new teenage demand for records, transistor radios, fashionable clothes, posters of their idols and magazines about young people. Teenagers were important consumers with money to spend. One of the London designers, Mary Quant, is famous for inventing the mini-skirt, which caused a scandal at the time.
In 1962 the record "Love Me Do" by an unknown group called "The Beatles" entered the American-dominated British record charts. It was the start of an important era for British music, and many groups followed the success of "The Beatles".
The new heroes of the teenagers in Britain in the 60s were often ordinary working-class youngsters who rose to fame as pop stars, fashion designers, photographers, writers or models. This phenomenon contributed to the confidence of British youth, and gradually teenagers began to develop their belief in the right to choose their own clothes, lifestyle and attitudes towards politics, religion and sex. In 1939 the concept of the teenager did not exist in Britain culture, but by 1959 teenagers had become an important part of the society. It comes as no surprise that the late 50s and the early 60s are remembered in Britain as important years for older generation, to look back on with nostalgia.
1. What happened in Britain after the war? 2. Where did young British teens look to for taste in fashion, hairstyles and music? 3. Why were teenagers important consumers in the late 1950s? 4. What group started an important era for British music? 5. What
do you know about "The Beatles"? 6. What other popular groups in Britain do you know? 7. What do you know about modem teens in Britain? 8. What countries do Russian teens look to for taste in fashion, hairstyle and music?