Back to the future again

New York Diary

"AT THE real Eighties clubs, there were real stars rather than these fake ones," says Colette, who introduces herself as "a multimedia artist and trend-setter" and as the co-founder of a real Eighties club, Danceteria. She's standing next to Madonna and Michael Jackson imitators, the stars' 1984 versions, as they mug for a digital camera. It's opening night of the 10,000-ft Eighties SoHo theme club Culture Club.

"At Danceteria, normal people tried to look like stars, not like nothings," Colette sniffs, casting her kohl-lined eyes on the petite, black-clad youngsters tapping their feet to Frankie Goes to Hollywood. A brief survey indicated that most are journalists. "This club is like kids wearing Mommy's dress-up," she says. She's wearing a self-made French accent and two young blond men.

At Culture Club, Michael Jackson isn't the only one wanting to be starting something. The whole place is revving up for the final stage of Eighties revivalism; Eighties retro is already moondancing to its demise, and Nineties retro is a wink away.

According to the club's logic, they expect a wide swathe of New York who want to dance beneath oversized Rubik's cubes, lines of pink neon, glow-in-the-dark MTV logos, Pac Man insignia and a Back To the Future sign.

While there are plenty of Eighties retro nights at other New York boites, the scale of this club makes it far more stupefying. Its owners already deprecated the Sixties at their chain of happy-face-ridden, bead-curtained restaurants, Polly Ester's. Now, they are niche-marketing an era that they claim they really did live through, replete with guest-listed young men in suits, high on the stock market, reminiscing about arcade games in loud voices.

That's not to say that visiting Culture Club is a depthless experience, Sheila E withstanding. The silk-screened, wholesome portraits of period stars, among them Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy and Madonna, seem almost profound in their cheery falsity. It's tempting to read Sheedy's chirrupy Breakfast Club portrait for its suffering underside - the actress has since declared her similarity to her role as a scarred junkie and Eighties survivor in the 1998 film High Art. Ringwald, once sex fantasy material for Young Republicans, has since Francophiled herself, and now embodies abused heroines in feminist plays. You can catch her wandering around the West Village, a regular flaneuse. We all know what happened to Madonna. Now, stripped of the Material Girl lingerie of internalised sexism, she's seen at yoga classes, standing on a head full of ambient music and prana.

Despite myself, Culture Club acts upon me. Egged on by the ceaseless wail of bygone divas, I remember when these songs seemed to contain the secrets of adulthood. What if this club could simply become a club that had Eighties nightclubs as its theme, a three-floor take-off on clubs such as Xenon, MK, Area and the Mudd Club? A revival club with special floors for self-creation and self-destruction, where, as Colette says, normal people might dress as stars and you could call yourself a night- club multimedia artist without embarrassment?

I leave the night's dark theme park, just as another Jellybean Benitez mix hits the speakers, and stagger into a hailstorm for a cab. Back to the future, indeed.

Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

    Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

    After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
    The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
    10 best sun creams for kids

    10 best sun creams for kids

    Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
    Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

    Tate Sensorium

    New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
    Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
    Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

    Remember Ashton Agar?

    The No 11 that nearly toppled England
    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks