I was talking to my Mother and she began to tell me about the Bodgies and Widgies youth culture from the 1950s. My dad was a Bodgie and she was a Widgie. It sounded really interesting so I had to investigate it further.
Bodgies and Widgies were a youth subculture that existed in Australia 🇦🇺 and New Zealand🇳🇿 in the 1950s. The culture was similar to the Rocker culture in the UK 🇬🇧 or the Greaser culture in the USA 🇺🇸
The males were known as Bodgies. They grew their hair long and wore satin shirts. Pink was commonly worn by Bodgies, despite still being seen as feminine. Often their attire included very long keychains and later, included moccasins and American drape suits with pegged pants. James Dean was a major style influence who inspired the Bodgie fashion. Typically working class, their interests included alcohol, girls, music and cars.
The females were known as Widgies. They cut their hair short and wore jeans, tight slacks, 3/4 length pants or dresses and bobby socks if they went out, like to a dance.
The confusion was arising between the sexes of the Australian youth. They would regularly frequent Kings Cross and Paddington Milk Bars and were associated with the inner city suburbs. Both my parents grew up in the inner city suburb of Paddington.
Outfits of Bodgies and Widgies
Many in society resisted the Bodgies and Widgies and this created tensions through the generations. The older generations felt the young dressed in strange new clothes and jive-danced to loud music, rejecting the values of their parents generation. This triggered moral panic in Australian society. Police seemed to crackdown on these youths and it sparked numerous exaggerated headlines.
Sydney Newspaper article on Bodgies and Widgies
There were different names for the Aussie Bodgies, some called them Teddy Boys, Rockers, Cafe Racers, Greasers or bikies.
They listened to music like Australian artists Johnny O’ Keefe, Digger Revell, American 50s and jazz music.
There was often rivalries between the Bodgies and other subcultures like mods, surfies and skin heads.
Many grew out of it, but some didn’t.
How interesting would it be to step back in time and witness this generation!
2 thoughts on “Bodgies and Widgies”
Hi Bodgies and Widgies , Started before the 50’s they started in the late 40’s at the time when the Idol singer was Johny Rae and men started wearing casual shoes and had their hair cut square across the back , by the time Bill Hayley came on the scene the Bodgy craze was over it was then the Rockers and such.
Thanks for the update Noel. Great to get input to improve our knowledge on the street scene. I was concentrating within Australia and this was the earliest that I could find evidence of their existence. Much appreciated!!