Three Things that Would Surprise You if You Were to Go Back in Time to the 80s and 90s – Idol Support, Merchandising, and SNS

Three Things that Would Surprise You if You Were to Go Back in Time to the 80s and 90s – Idol Support, Merchandising, and SNS

Photo by Mime Soga

Sponsored Links

Last time I began by talking about “if idol fan during the 80s and 90s were to time travel to the present”, and once again, I’d like to talk about things that older idol fans would find surprising. Even in my wildest dreams, I wouldn’t have been able to imagine the current idol scene, and how much has changed.

To begin with, I bet other older fans would be surprised at the lack of people with cameras as idol events now. Back in the day, taking photographs was generally allowed, and many magazines would publish photos of the event taken by amateur photographers. Most these guys would be armed with a super telephoto lens like a bazooka, mounted to their single-reflex cameras. You would think these guys would be the ones sitting at the very back, but usually they took up the front rows. Some might argue that this would have been highly unnecessary, but back then that was considered normal.


During the 80s and 90s, there were magazines featuring a collection of idol photographs taken by amateur photographers, like Idol Toko Nama Shashin (Raw Idol Photo Submissions) from Sun Shuppan and “Toko Shashin” from Koyusha Shuppan. Because “no photography allowed” events and disputes over photo rights increased, these magazines disappeared by the end of the 90s. 80、90年代は、考友社出版の『投稿写真』やサン出版の『アイドル投稿生写真』など、素人が撮影したアイドルの写真を掲載した雑誌が数多くあった。撮影禁止のイベントが増えたり、権利の問題などもあったりで、90年代にはなくなってしまった

Now it’s common for big idol fans that shout, get the most excited, and are there at almost every event to stand at the front of the stage. However, during the 80s and 90s, it was normal for these big fans, or “groupies”, to show their support from the very back of the venue. People cheering from the back wasn’t just a thing at idol events, but at concerts, too, and so idol fans believed that shouting and showing your support from the area behind was normal.

Therefore, most of the venue make-up consisted of those with cameras at the front, major fans at the back, and regular fans sandwiched between the two. Things like mixes and lifts weren’t common knowledge at the time, so even when it comes to the way fans cheer on idol fans now, it would probably come as quite a shock to idol fans in the past. They would especially be a little envious of the glow sticks or light-up wands that fans use today.


At idol concerts now, glow sticks and wands are a must-have item. There are even ones now that change colors. It’s common to waver the color of your favorite member, but during special events like birthdays, the event space might be bathed in a single member’s color. Photo/Mime Soga 現在のアイドルライブでは欠かせないサイリウム。今は色を切り替えて楽しめるものが普及している。推しメンの担当カラーにして振るのが一般的だが、生誕祭など特別な場合は会場中が一色に染まることもある 写真/曽我美芽

…Let's travel back 30 years in the past and see how it was like cheering idols. Some are really unbelievable, indeed!
…30年前、実際に起こっていたこととは? なかなか語れることのない当時のアイドルオタク文化を、レアな写真と共にお楽しみ下さい。

Read the author’s other articles “Idol cultures’ New and Old” series :

Translated by Jamie Koide

Sponsored Links

Toshiro Arai
Toshiro Arai

A producer of website "TOKYO IDOL NET", which "photography" and "idol" is its concept. He also writes for Tokyo Idol Project, and so on.

comments powered by Disqus