Sound of the Crowd

10 Jun

If, in 1981, I were 19 and not 6, NewRo/Blitz Kids so would’ve been my bag. God knows I would’ve been more than eager to pair the silver-blue eyeshadow with deep mauve blush and glossy red lips. Why, I was partial to that in the mid-nineties, save for the cheek stripes. And I’ve always managed to get a bit of fringe in my eyes—and I love frilly black numbers. And it was Nick Rhodes’ photo I hung up in my room at about age 8. “He’s wearing makeup!” my mom said, mouth agape. “I think it’s pretty!” retorted the little girl with the shiny teddy bear on her sweatshirt.

My husband, who actually lived through the movement as a teen, although he was a Mod, asked me last night when I was making him listen to Dare! in what way the music moved me. Born and bred on guitar-driven music, he has difficulty understanding how anything involving a synthesizer could possibly work its way into one’s soul. And I suppose I can see his point. I responded by saying that perhaps Human League, specifically, doesn’t move me emotionally in the way that other synth-based bands—say Depeche Mode—did when I was younger. I mean “Little 15”? C’mon! Tears!

Human League (as well as various other bands of the genre) does send me a bit into fantasist mode. I imagine myself all painted to perfection, wearing a little pillbox hat with a tiny veil, some sort of corset dress and fishnets—and dancing in front of a slip of a young man with asymmetrical hair wearing a pirate shirt and some impossibly narrow trousers tucked into high boots. And I’d twirl the night away, stopping only to wing my eyeliner just a bit more or re-line my pout. It’s all very superficial, I know; but that was the scene, wasn’t it? The last gasp for real glam after punk had made its way into the world.

I recently bothered to read the captions in the great pictorial *Duran Duran Unseen, and I grew more convinced that I would’ve had tons of fun and fit right in with that heavily eyelined set. I wasn’t as drawn to, nor was I willing to immerse myself in similar scenes that were still hanging on throughout the nineties. Goth would’ve been the closest, but they weren’t visually appealing enough. Although I liked some goth music and definitely had my share of goth friends, it always bothered me that it was nearly impossible to find the actual person hidden beneath all that garb and swirly black makeup. With the NewRo thing, you could go way out (Boy George), or, as a girl, especially, you could actually look pretty, but in a Nagel painting kind of way. Unfortunately for me, the most extreme look I embraced in the nineties was grunge: some thermal leggings under my holey jean shorts with my boyfriend’s flannel over a t-shirt. Oh, and some Docs, of course. Just lovely.

Back to explaining why the synth music of that period moves me. I liken it to music for a dark party, so to speak. It’s punk meets disco, and it’s ridiculously fun to dance to without being the stuff of frat parties (although I seem to recall hearing “Don’t You Want Me” following Dave Matthews Band at more than one frat party in college). And who doesn’t like a dark party where everyone’s dressed up and made up to the nines?

For more Blitz Kids/’80s fare, this is the place you really want to go.

*Seriously the best Duran photos I’ve ever seen.

(I have to confess that this entry is lifted from of one of my other blogs. So if you happened to have caught that one [doubt it!], don’t worry—I’m plagiarizing myself.)

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