Celebrating the spirit of British youth culture

As non-profit group Youth Club prepares to launch an online museum dedicated to youth culture, we talk to founder Jon Swinstead about the power and importance of images that capture the excitement of growing up

With over 100,000 images spanning the past 100 years, Youth Club’s archive is a fascinating record of the changing face of British youth culture. With photographs of mods, rockers, ravers and goths (image shown top by Molly Macindoe), it reflects a diverse range of experiences and cultural movements – but at its heart, it’s a celebration of teenage life and all the excitement and freedom that brings.

“When you say ‘youth culture’, a lot of people see it in different ways – some people think it’s about being cool, but to me it’s just what it was like being young and the things you did,” Youth Club founder Jon Swinstead tells CR. “It’s about the way people express themselves – how they choose to do that and who they choose to do it with.”

Swinstead has long been fascinated with British youth culture. In 1997, he co-founded Sleazenation – an influential magazine known for its irreverent take on the subject. “Working at Sleazenation, we were publishing photos of youth culture all the time and an idea was formed to start collecting it all because we really couldn’t find the kind of work we wanted out there,” Swinstead explains.