Back to the future again
New York Diary
Saturday 16 January 1999
"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.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 10 ways we damage our teeth – without realising
- 2 Fifa corruption arrests: Nike reported to be 'multinational sportswear company' at centre of bribery claims over Brazil shirt deal
- 3 Facebook Messenger sends 'creepily' precise location data, as revealed by Marauders Map Chrome extension
- 4 Bahar Mustafa: Goldsmiths Students' Union diversity officer to keep her job after vote of no confidence petition fails
- 5 Photo of wedding guest proposing to girlfriend in front of bride and groom goes viral
Grace of Monaco film panned: Screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman as movie gets US debut
Big Brother contestant Aaron Frew removed from house for 'inappropriate behaviour' after flashing fellow contestants
Britain's Got Talent 2015: Jamie Raven divides Twitter as fans expose mind-boggling magic trick
ASAP Rocky gives nauseating response to explicit Rita Ora rap: 'I'm not saying she's a terrible person'
San Andreas 3D, film review: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson's disaster movie has clear fault lines
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote