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What was life like in the 80s?

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Strangerthanadeadting Sat 06-Jul-19 22:44:25

As a recent fan of Stranger Things and having only been four years old at the end of the eighties, I'm fascinated to know what life was like for teens & adults back then.

It's depicted as being so much fun on TV. So colourful, the music is brilliant, the fashion so vivid. It was a time before the Internet, social media, plastic surgery, the Kardashians.

I'm fascinated. I'd love to hear what life was like. What people did for fun, what they ate, how different a working day was, if it really was as glamorous as it looks, if the hairstyles took forever, what people thought the future would be like? Was it a better life? A better time?

daffydowndilys Sat 06-Jul-19 22:51:34

It felt no different than it does now to me.

Auntpetunia2015 Sat 06-Jul-19 22:51:52

I was 12 in 1980 so spent my whole teens during the 80s. Music was fabulous. Makeup could be hideous electric blue eyeliner and and bright pink lipstick the norm. But times were hard 100s of thousands of people out of work. Lots of industries being closed down by Maggie Thatcher. I’m from Liverpool she did her best to kill our city. It was called “managed decline”. You left school with not much hope of getting a job. Inflation kept going up as did cost of living but wages didn’t.

Pubs opened at 11 closed at 3 and re-opened at 7 till 11. Night clubs shut at 2am all of them. Shops shut half day Wednesday and all day Sunday. Bus fare went from 2p to get to school 2 miles away to 20p by the time I left.

clary Sat 06-Jul-19 22:53:54

ok I'll go.

My hair was daft, a big bubbly perm. Quick to do tho.

For fun, we went to the pub, the cinema, the theatre, listened to music.

I was never glamorous so I'm the wrong person to answer that one.

We ate the same kind of food as I do now...I was a student for a good deal of the 80s so I ate a lot of lentils. My uni was fee-free tho and I even got a grant! No ready meals I guess but I cook now too so.

I worked on a newspaper so that was very different, typewriters, carbon paper, lots of staff, lots of rather laborious processes, lots of cuttings files and printing up of photos, no google to check things so we used dictionaries and the phone book a lot more. Also spent all day on the phone not the email, and made notes in shorthand. All that has utterly changed, but that's quite industry-specific.

A better time? Well, I was in my late teens/early 20s so yes, for sure! Who wouldn't want to be 22 again?

Soola Sat 06-Jul-19 22:57:54

Absolutely fabulous!

I lived, worked and socialised in London and every single day was wonderful!

Great time to be alive, the clothes, the hair, the make up, the music, great tv, the world was our oyster!

Probably around 50% of my time was spent dancing!

Which is sad as I hate dancing now!

BackforGood Sat 06-Jul-19 22:58:53

Not very glamorous if you lived in a mining town.
Watch Pride (was on TV last week) or Billy Elliott for small bits about the hardship, bitterness and anger around the miners strike.

We had high unemployment (listen to a bit of UB40), and YTS schemes.

We had permed hair, shoulder pads and REALLY big glasses. (not many people walked around looking like Duran Duran).

The music was fab though.

Kashali Sat 06-Jul-19 23:00:51

Bloody brilliant! Being a teen and young adult in the 80's was amazing.

Ohdearthefootball Sat 06-Jul-19 23:01:08

Music brilliant! I love dancing more now than I did then though. No comms at all, payphone on the street, one house phone, two if you were very posh. Bus was crap, no lifts here there n everywhere, you walked if you missed said crap bus.

mynameisMrG Sat 06-Jul-19 23:01:44

I was a child in the 80s but I remember there being stress over money. The word recession was thrown around a lot and my parents really struggled to sell their house when we had to relocate for my dads work. Sunday’s were very very boring. Tv was rubbish and everything was closed.

Aramox Sat 06-Jul-19 23:02:28

No hummus. No snacks or carrying drinks everywhere. Social events arranged firmly days ahead , because no mobiles - or sitting by the phone at home. Letters! Clothes lasted longer and cost more. We all read loads too because no phones and only live tv or vcrs. Sony walkman if you were very lucky!

Ted27 Sat 06-Jul-19 23:05:22

Depends whether or not you thought Thatcherism was a great idea. Another scouser here, it was a grim time for many people.

Yes the music was great, but every decade and every generation has their music.

The 1980s was for me the start of rampant consumerism. I'm not sure we are any better as a society for the expansion of 'choice'.

If you don't know the song check out the Specials Ghost Town

Craftycorvid Sat 06-Jul-19 23:05:35

I was in my teens/early 20s in the 80s. It was probably lovely if you had work and money. In an ex mining town in the arse end of nowhere, not so much! I too had a very dodgy (home) perm and problem shoulder pads; see, you’d be wearing a sweater with shoulder pads and then put on a coat or jacket....with shoulder pads, and look bloody ridiculous. Some of the fashions were genuinely great though. I still love wearing DMs, Oxford bags and mannish jackets. I don’t think some things go out of style (not the dodgy home perms though - they’re best consigned to history).

GreenTulips Sat 06-Jul-19 23:05:43

Mass unemployment half my friends lived in the dole, teens had little chance of jobs.

My wage saw me with £5 a week spending money once I’d paid keep and bus fare. Friends were on schemes earning £25 per week. Most jobs offered £1 per hour, my first job was £2 per hour! £80 a week.

We ate take out once a year at Christmas, had my first McD’s at 18.

Nightclubs were fun and offered discount or free student entry on Tuesday nights.

You needed to dress extremely smart, suits for boys and blouse and skirt or dress for the girls.

Markets were proper markets. Lots of goth clothing and makeup.

mynameisMrG Sat 06-Jul-19 23:05:47

Ooh yes clothes from the catalogue!

Kashali Sat 06-Jul-19 23:06:57

Yes to everything being vivid. lots of fluorescent cocktails even our cigs were cocktail coloured of a Friday night.
If you worked in a factory/ other min wage job you got paid in a pay packet on a Thursday.

The music was so varied throughout the decade (see TOTP2) grin

TheWoollybacksWife Sat 06-Jul-19 23:06:59

I'm the same age as @Auntpetunia2015 and also grew up in Liverpool. I remember people shaking collecting buckets for the miners in the local shopping centre.

I was 13 when the riots started. I was on a bus going home from the city centre and the bus driver shouted that he was going to put his foot down and drive though Toxteth without stopping. Tough luck if you wanted to get off.

The music was amazing - you could still see big names in relatively small venues. Live Aid was the first concert I was aware of at a huge stadium (I'm sure there were others but they didn't register)

I went to uni on a full grant and was able to sign on during the long summer holidays. Before I went to uni I worked in a social club and I remember the outrage from the clientele when lager went over the £1 a pint mark.

The TV finished at about 11pm and there were only 3 channels at the start of the decade.

If I needed to let my parents know I was staying late at school I had to get permission from the school office to use the pay phone.

MrsMiggins37 Sat 06-Jul-19 23:07:52

I was at school, I left in 1990.

Other than tech/social media I doubt it was that much different to being at school nowadays. My children’s school experience doesn’t seem earth shatteringly different to my own.

Kashali Sat 06-Jul-19 23:08:57

I recommend watching "Boys from the Blackstuff" "Educating Rita"

fussychica Sat 06-Jul-19 23:10:03

I was married on my second, third or fourth house depending on the year.
Had a perm, wore great clothes and women often wore Deirdre (Coronation Street) big glasses.
Went out a lot, cinema, drinking, and took as many holidays as possible.
Had to work hard against sex discrimination at work, was asked more than once by male managers when I was going to have a babyshock. Managed to get promoted despite them.
I liked 70s music better but I was a teen then and a bit of a hippysmile

Melkim40 Sat 06-Jul-19 23:13:35

The most important thing about the 80's for me was that shops were closed on Sundays. We spent time with family, there was always a huge Sunday roast cooked by my dad. Me and my sister cleaned out our rabbits. We played board games, watched films that we had recorded off the t.v. Played in our bedrooms. Sometimes grandparents joined us for dinner, that was always really exciting! We all mucked in clearing up from dinner, laughing and chatting. I often reminisce about Sundays back then. Very happy memories.

Kez200 Sat 06-Jul-19 23:14:56

Hard to get a job. Long dole queues. Unemployment stats awful. High inflation.

Otherwise 80s were great.

MrsMoastyToasty Sat 06-Jul-19 23:15:15

We watched bbc1 , BBC 2 and ITV. Channel 4 came along in the mid 80's.
Favourite programmes were
The Young Ones
Top of the Pops
Grange Hill

We wore
Pedal pushers
Ra-ra skirts
Boob tubes

Sun-in on our hair to lighten it
Lipcote over our lipstick
Anaïs Anaïs perfume

We or our boyfriends drove a MK 1 Fiesta, MK3 escort or a Golf GTI.

MrsMoastyToasty Sat 06-Jul-19 23:16:25

I was 16 in 1982. i plans to marry Simon Le Bon

ChopinIn10Minuets Sat 06-Jul-19 23:16:33

For anyone struggling with their sexuality the 80s were a really difficult time. It wasn't quite on the Alan Turing/Oscar Wilde level, it wasn't illegal to be gay, but it was acceptable to joke about gay people, Section 28 meant that schools wouldn't touch the issue, gay marriage only existed in the aforementioned jokes and there were rumours that the Lesbian and Gay Switchboard (a telephone support line for gay people) would recruit you to their 'cause' if you rang them. The emergence of HIV/AIDS didn't help.

The ironic thing is that much of the superb music that came out of the 80s was written and performed by gay people, both 'in the closet' and out. Boy George, George Michael, Freddie Mercury, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, the Pet Shop Boys...

ChicCroissant Sat 06-Jul-19 23:17:03

I'm also from Liverpool and was a 'one in ten' at a few points - unemployment/threat of redundancy was a much greater feature of everyday life than it is now. Yes to all the shops being closed on a Sunday and only four TV channels!

However I did love the music, the clothes and the general 'style over substance' ethic grin Happy days.

I got married in the late eighties so after spending the early part of the eighties unemployed and saving like mad through the middle (mortgage queues meant you had to show regular saving) we were houseowners at the time interest rates hit 15 per cent at the end of it!

It wasn't exactly loadsamoney for us and I am always surprised when posters on MN seem to think it was a golden time to buy property hmm

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