We’re dipping into the Far Out vault to bring you a curious clip which sees Blondie’s Debbie Harry teach America how to pogo like a punk.
In 1978, the fuel which had ignited the youth of Britain known as ‘punk’ had begun to wane as quickly as it exploded on to the scene. The first firestarters of the movement had started to lose their power already. The Sex Pistols pulled the plug on their career before it ever really started and others like The Clash, The Jam and Buzzcocks found evolution from the scene’s three-chord manual.
The almost tribal dance in the early days of punk, the dance that had littered those grimy venues was almost always ‘pogoing’. The act, as Debbie Harry will go on to explain in far more eloquent detail below, is all about grappling with a certain friend of yours and jumping up and down… as if on a pogo. Crowds would bounce. They would bounce continuously.
In 1978, Debbie Harry is notably informing the American public through this wonderfully retro TV appearance, is that ‘punk’ as we know it, is officially over. “Pogo is actually a historical dance. and uh I just heard from my friend Allan who just came over on the boat and he says it’s out, it’s over. So just for historical reference, the Pogo was done like this.”
The performance from Debbie Harry on Glen O’Brien’s infamous underground cable access show, TV Party, is a reminder of why punk was on the way out. It confirmed it’s many tropes as fads and that the true ethos of punk was a spirit of creative compulsion and evolution.
Harry’s courageous but comfortable personality also spoke of the new wave of punk artists. These artists were not the fashionista elite from West London or the ‘Bromley contingent’ trying to keep punk ‘pure’, but rather the everyday Joe’s of Britain and The States who were spellbound by its message and keen to add their own flourish. This was the beginning of the new wave.
With Blondie and Debbie Harry as key to the New York punk scene as anyone at the time, it wouldn’t be fair to say the band would be keen to see the back of the scene. However, Harry does have a smirk on her face when describing the dance and the sardonic tone of her voice lets you know maybe Harry had one eye on the future.
Watch Debbie Harry teaching American how to pogo in a 1978 appearance on TV Party.