THE 90s LOOK – Looking Back On The Mid 90s (with the help of my school yearbook) (Part 2)

5 Mar

90s hair was cool. But in a really shit way. 1996-97 was the transition period from curtains hair and the bowl cut, or as we called it, ‘I’ll have the number one high step, please, Norm.’ Norm was the barber. Everyone called him Dodgy Norm, which eventually just got shortened to Dodge. This affectionate nickname alluded to the fact that if you went into his shop in the morning you got a fairly decent job done on your Barnet. However, if you happened to pop in in the afternoon, after he had enjoyed his liquid lunch in the pub across the road, you were met by a somewhat more dodgy Norm. And naturally as school kids the only opportunity we got to go in there was after school; in the afternoon. Ah, the Step. If you wanted the bowl cut to go in a straight line around your head you asked for the ‘high step.’ If you asked for just a step, the barber shaped it into a wedge at the back. It looked like a duck’s arse. You had to have the high step. And towards the end of Curtain Hair’s reign not even the number one high step was enough. No. For your hair to get any sort of respect during the final days of the Bowl Cut Empire you had to throw in an undercut. ‘A number one high step undercut, please, Dodgy Norm.’

Then at the back end of 96 the changing of the guard took place. The curtains were closed for the final time. ‘I’ll have a number one French crop, please, Dodgy Norm.’ And by 1998 it was no longer the number one French crop, it was the ‘Nought point five French crop, please, Dodge.’ The 0.5. Basically, bald. The guard off. Shaved down to the scalp round the back and sides and then blended in to what little bit of hair you have left on the top of your head after it’s been taken as short as scissors will allow. It’s essentially the Forrest Gump cut. And then the best part, plastering it down with a fistful of sticky Happy Shopper Wet Look gel. 59p a pot. Bright blue stuff. Or bright green. They were both the same product, just with different names. One was Wet Look. The other was Firm Hold. Both made your hair look wet. Both held it firm. Both made the top of your head feel like a barn floor. And both stung your eyes when it rained and it ran down your forehead and into them. But it was a price worth paying for the right look. You had to look hard as a kid at the end of the last millenium, and that meant looking smart. Short tidy hair, yes. Floppy curtains, no.

Dodgy Norm passed from cancer a few years ago. He is still talked about by everyone as a local legend. The bloke everyone knew, everyone talked to and everyone liked and respected. A great bloke.

Me in the summer of 96. I only agreed to pose for the photo cos I knew that some time about eighteen years later I'd be reminiscing about Curtains Hair on the world wide web, and I thought a snap would come in handy

Me in the summer of 96. I only agreed to pose for the photo cos I knew that some time about eighteen years later I’d be reminiscing about curtains hair on the world wide web, and I thought a snap would come in handy

To go with the smart hair at the back end of the 90s you have to have the smart clobber. Ben Shirman shirt, preferably in a luminous colour. Pinstriped trousers. You gotta have a pair of pinstripes. And on your feet a polished pair of black loafers. Must be a respectable name. Base, Ben Sherman, Kickers will do. Every pair has a shiny metal buckle across the top, usually with the brand slickly emblazoned on it. If it’s cold outside you wear a smart and expensive jumper over the top of your Ben Shirman. Paid for by saving up money earnt on your paper rounds. Must be designer. Ralf Lauren is popular, as are YSL and Tommy Hilfiger. And all us kids who think we know everything pronounce Ralf Lauren’s name wrong. It’s as though if his surname’s pronounced the same way as the girl’s name, then somehow it ain’t manly or cool. So we all stress the second sylable. Even though we all hear it regularly pronounced properly by Rachel on Friends, which in the 90s we all watch on Channel 4. And the boxer shorts. Calvin Klein. Gotta be. With the waistband showing. White. Bought on the cheap from TK Maxx. You’re almost ready to go. Just one thing missing. A gold hoop earring in your left ear.

Come 1998/99 a lot of us would progress to having both ears done. At my school though if you did have a hoop in each ear you left yourself open to the standard question ‘Poof or pirate?’ which could be asked you any time of day by any person. Including teachers.
‘Pirate! Obviously!’

Once you’re all dressed up in your gear you gotta go somewhere to show it off to the girls, in’t ya? The under 18’s club night in town, referred to by all as The Nappy Night. Once a month on a Sunday. From 7pm til 11pm. No alcohol served. Don’t matter, we’re teenagers, we’ll just get obliterated on Stella Artois and Archer’s Peach Schnapps before we arrive! Fuck you authority! And I’ll tell you what, we’ll also all stand in the long queue waiting to get in, drinking vodka and Cokes through straws from Burger King paper cups. Sticking one to The Man, yea! And then we’ll spend the night getting off with girls from other schools and fighting with boys from other schools. At the Nappy Night it doesn’t matter who is and who isn’t your mate in school, you are all united for one night. If one of you has trouble with a group from another school then you all have trouble with a group from another school. Even if you don’t particularly like the kid. It’s just how it is. Our school had the best spot of territory in the club, too. Over in the corner of the dance floor but behind the speakers so we could hear each other talking, and we had a raised bit of dancefloor there that we could use as a bench to sit along. Prime location. And we held it.

Haha! Poof or pirate? Not very PC that, is it? Life as a teenager was a funny time. At least that’s how I remember it.

To read part one of the yearbook memories, click here
nd Part Three


4 Responses to “THE 90s LOOK – Looking Back On The Mid 90s (with the help of my school yearbook) (Part 2)”

  1. AvidScribbler1 March 5, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

    Oh my is that really you rocking a 90s haircut!? Loving your recent posts on life in the 90s, makes me feel nostalgic! Nearly burst out laughing at your last one (not good as I’m interning at the moment in a serious business office).
    And I remember those gels – my dad was a stereotypical Indian and owned a newsagents – they used to permanently be out of stock. Good old 90s haha!

    • Kris Mole March 5, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

      Yep that’s really me! I thought I’d embarrass myself for the benefit of art by posting that picture. I felt the story needed it 🙂

      Glad you’re enjoying the little flashbacks, as long as someone’s not bored I’ll keep posting ’em. Thanks for the comment…

      And yes, good old 90s! haha I laugh just thinking about that era….

  2. KS Counselor April 1, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

    Too funny. I think we all had some form of the 90’s hair. I had the teased out, hair sprayed BIG HAIR with the bangs. Awesome!

    • Kris Mole April 2, 2014 at 9:59 am #

      Kind words, thanks! Yea the 90s were definitely a unique and interesting time! I do miss it though…..

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