As I was battling the wind (and invariably losing) on the way to Commons, I caught a glimpse of brightly colored posters for the Safety Dance.
Last year, as an overenthusiastic freshman, I indiscriminately went to every school-sponsored social event, including the Safety Dance. Unfortunately, I had left all my ’80s clothes back in — well, back in the ’80s.
The Freshman Handbook, which I’m sure every freshman has studied as thoroughly as I did, should include a section on the archaic clothes to bring from home for the many themed events, such as your leather thong and whip for Exotic Erotic, your tee-tie and hyper-colored T-shirt dress for the Safety Dance, and all prom attire from sophomore year for any of the countless screws and formals. Unprepared last year, I threw on a long T-shirt, tied it on the side, and put my hair up high on one side in chic ’80s fashion.
I prepared earlier for this year’s dance, conducting the proper research after I realized that I didn’t know the history and significance of the “Safety Dance.” For what it’s worth, “Safety Dance” was a song by the widely popular Men Without Hats, who like most of their contemporaries, have been lost in one-hit oblivion. Bananarama? A-ha? Soft Cell?
All these very talented groups forgotten from the decade when MTV and VH1 actually played music videos, Jon Bon Jovi had his long, flowing mane, and Michael Jackson was still kind of black.
Indeed, the ’80s could be considered the Disposable Decade, not just in regards to kitschy music groups. Fashion seemed to consist primarily of plastic: headbands, hair clips and necklaces.
The prize exchange of the local Chuck E. Cheese was the hotbed of trendy accessories. And the brighter the better, just like neon leg warmers and Cyndi Lauper.
The ’80s elicits such nostalgia in me, although technically I was only 8 by the end of the decade. But still, reminiscing is great when it means listening to the “Wedding Singer” soundtrack and scrunching my socks. (As you can probably tell, I don’t have much work this week. For this sacrilegious statement, I know the powers-that-be will smite me with many papers.) Ah yes, the ’80s — 1982 was a good year — disco was definitively dead, Reagan was president, and I was born. Those first few months were rough but promising. Yale was just an 18-year plan in my parents’ eyes after I became a child prodigy in piano and ballet.
The time between the forced music lessons and soccer practices was spent parked in front of the barely color television with big rabbit antennas. Considering we didn’t have cable and only three of the five available channels worked (when no one in the house was drying his hair or airplanes weren’t flying overhead), it’s amazing how I would wake up at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m. to watch Saturday morning cartoons.
We didn’t have this — how do you say? –“Internet” when we were young. We played with our technologically advanced Atari, Nintendo (the original) and laser tag (good only within a range of 5 feet).
We watched good, ol’ fashioned cartoons: “My Little Pony,” “Care Bears,” “ThunderCats,” “He-Man,” “She-Ra,” “Rainbow Brite,” “G.I. Joe,” “Transformers” and “Jem.” And who can forget those enjoyable “You Have the Right to Say No” and “Any Questions?” public service announcements that aired at the same time celebrities like the Brat Pack were admitting drug addictions left and right?
Now a mature adult, I have to admit that the source of most of my morals and beliefs was television. “Facts of Life,” “ALF,” “The Golden Girls,” “Family Ties,” “Who’s the Boss?,” “WWF Superstars of Wrestling,” and reruns of “The Brady Bunch” provided me with a comprehensive library of solutions for all of life’s problems. And I learned compassion for others by caring for Myron, my Cabbage Patch Kid, whom I loved more than my older brother, who had no qualms about punching his younger sister in the arm and giving her charley horses.
As we get older, it’s harder to distinguish between those long past blissful decades. The distinction between the ’80s and ’90s blurs, fusing to become “back in the day” and “old school.” Although it will be a sad day when Dave Matthews becomes “classic rock,” it won’t be too soon before Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera fade into the ranks of Tiffany and Debbie Gibson.
I will one day talk about my childhood with distorted memories and elaborate exaggerations, but this Friday in Commons, I relive it. (By the way, you can get a gnarly slap bracelet if you buy your ticket early.)
We all should follow the wise words of the Men Without Hats: “We can dance if we want to/ We’ve got all your life and mine/ As long as we abuse it, never going to lose it/ Everything will work out right.”
Nicole Lim is a sophomore in Berkeley College. Her columns appear on alternate Fridays.