The 80's: Birth, School, Work, Death
by Michele Christopher
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....
That pretty much sums up the 80's for me. When the decade started I was 17 and getting ready to graduate high school. By the time the 80's were over I was married and eight months pregnant. The years in between those were some of the best of my life. Years filled with slacking, partying, clubbing, smoking, drinking, video game playing, road tripping, partying, slacking, drinking, slacking....you get the picture. It was the early part of the decade - say from high school graduation until I was about 24 - that formed the bulk of what we will refer to as Those Years. You can pack a lot of baggage into those words. Those Years.
I went through phases, musically. Angry and depressed (Black Flag's Damaged), just depressed (anything by Joy Division) just angry (Husker Du, New Day Rising), apathetic (REM, Reckoning), drunk (Judas Priest, Maiden, Dio), stoned (this is where the old Pink Floyd came out) and.......happy. Happy music meant new wave music.
No matter what went on in the 80's, no matter how much I remember or how much I want to forget or what people insist of reminding me of, the one thing that will flash in my head every time someone says "1980's" will be new wave music. The soundtrack to a very misspent youth, listened to on WLIR FM.
We hung out a club called Spit. Danced the night away, fueled by alcohol and synthesizer beats. I can tell you, from memory, that when at Spit! I was mostly likely wearing a black/cobalt blue miniskirt with some kind of shiny, pleather belt, torn, black stockings, a punk rock band t-shirt, nearly ripped to shreds and spiked up hair and some kind of stomping boots. I didn't know whether I wanted to be punk or new wave. I just knew that there was something about this music that grabbed me by the balls (you know what I mean) and made me move. It wasn't all happy music; a lot of it was pretty dark and disturbing. But the general feel of the music, the synthesized melodies, the way it made you bounce your head and your feet....it made me feel good to be alive. Standing in the middle of the club, the ground shaking, the beats pounding, the shots of 151 rum making their way through my system, everyone waving their hands in the air like they just didn't care - it was a place I wanted to stay for as long as possible. We closed that club down every night it was open. First to come, last to leave. Hundreds of people swarming in and out the whole night (there was usually a long wait to get in), and we never left the floor except to pee and get drinks and maybe harass the DJ into playing that Plastic Betrand song again.
At the time I was frequenting Spit, I was dating an obsessive, jealous, controlling, manipulative....hmm...what's the word I'm looking for? Oh yea....asshole. He was fuel for my self-loathing fire. The nights I got away from him and made it through the doors of Spit were the nights I came alive. It was a place where I felt at home, felt at ease and felt like I belonged and no one would care what I wore or what I said or how I danced or who I talked to. It was home. I still embrace the old new wave music like an old friend. Every once in a while when I get in a mood, I put on some of those tunes to get me going again.
New wave eventually turned into something else or maybe it just lost its charm. Spit!closed down. I dumped the asshole. Worked at a really cool record store for a few years, went back to school, got married, got pregnant and ended the 80's on a real down note.
Like I said, best of times worst of times. I think I'll just sit here and remember the best for a while.
Some of my favorite new wave songs:
Jam - Start!
I'm going to stop before this list gets too long and before Turtle comes home and finds me wearing torn stockings and combat boots and dancing on the kitchen table to the Specials.
But please feel free to keep the list going with your own.
Michele is about to go into the garage to look for her 12" dance remix of Tin Tin's Kiss Me.