This is the first book to tell the story of the bebop subculture in London’s Soho, a subculture that emerged in 1945 and reached its pinnacle in 1950. In an exploration via the intersections of race, class and gender, it shows how bebop identities were constructed and articulated. Combining a wide range of archival research and theory, the book evocatively demonstrates how the scene evolved in Soho’s clubs, the fashion that formed around the music, drug usage amongst a contingent of the group, and the moral panic which led to the police raids on the clubs between 1947 and 1950. Thereafter it maps the changes in popular culture in Soho during the 1950s, and argues that the bebop story is an important precedent to the institutional harassment of black-related spaces and culture that continued in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This book therefore rewrites the first chapter of the ‘classic’ subcultural canon, and resets the subcultural clock; requiring us to rethink the periodization and social make-up of British post-war youth subcultures.

Palgrave Macmillan, 2022. Purchase here.