Directed by Kevin Hegge, the new documentary Tramps! focuses on the rise of flamboyant fashionistas during the late 1970s. With a nihilistic edge, this generation of icons in East London became known as the New Romantics. With fresh ideas and a desire for free expression, these young bloods would spark with an energy that would influence the fashion world?and the LGBTQ community?for years to come.
With enthusiasm and energy, Tramps! is a visceral experience that highlights the desire for community during a time of social revolution. Opening during the punk era of 1970s Britain, Tramps! portrays the era as one of creativity and courage. There was a vibrancy in this place and time that connected deeply with the heart of the LGBTQ+ community. Through his use of brightly coloured footage and visuals, Hegge taps into this liveliness to fuel his storytelling and it works well.
With an openness and acceptance of all voices, this moment in time helped foster a new era of fashion and self-expression. Fueled by passion and fury, it became a petri dish of experimentation that invigorated the culture and gave a voice to those who felt they had none.
However, this vitality was inspired by a feeling of safe community.
In every instance, Tramps! points to the fact that the members of the LGBTQ+ community were looking for an opportunity to feel like they have a home. At a time when transience was commonplace, the gay community was able to thrive as they banded together. For instance, Hegge highlights the power of the club scene and the opportunities for freedom that they created. By examining gathering places such as Taboo to Blitz, Tramps! focuses its lens on the places that created spaces for the wild expression of these New Romantics.
Although the dominant culture was generally one of judgment, the underground brought freedom and life. In fact, it’s also worth noting the crossover that these locations would create as well. As the punk community mixed with the LGBTQ community, the club scene became a place where everyone could be united in the power of music. (Who knew that the Sex Pistols could be such a bridge between worlds?) As such, Tramps! points out that these rambunctious arenas of equality provided the chance to be themselves while finding sanctuary and acceptance.
Tramps! is now playing in theatres in Toronto, with screenings in Halifax and Winnipeg.