Saturday Night Nostalgia: The big bodgie and widgie craze of the '50s

While America had their beatniks and greasers, Australia had its own unique teenage subculture that anyone living in the 1950s will remember. Source: Youtube.com/Gezza1967

While America had their beatniks and greasers, Australia had its own unique teenage subculture that anyone living in the 1950s will remember.

Everyone could spot the bodgies and widgies with their outlandish fashion choices and their fascination with the American rock’n’roll culture.

The men (bodgies) rode motorbikes or hotted-up cars, wore leather jackets, satin shirts, zoot suits and greased hair, while the women (widgies) cut their hair short, wore pants, knee-high skirts, pointy bras and rope petticoats. Many a mother would be given the task of ironing out petticoats with raw starch so their daughter could wear flouncy skirts out dancing!

Back then, the media – as well as quite a few parents-  believed that bodgies and widgies were going to ruin society, because of their habit of staying out late to listen to music, hanging out in milk bars and flocking to car rallies. It all seems pretty tame now, though!

Bill Hailey and the Comets, Little Richard and Johnny O’Keefe were all bodgie-and-widgie favourites.

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The bodgie and widgie culture eventually fizzled out as new subcultures took its place, and the bodgies and widgies settled down, going to university or getting jobs in companies fighting to get back to something like their pre-war efficiency, getting married and having children.

The youth of Australia will always have its unique cultures but will never have something so particularly Australian as the bodgies and widgies. 

What do you remember of the bodgies and widgies? Were they ever as bad as parents feared?