hits and glitz and the whole glam thing

4 'We've given clubbing back to people who like to dress up' 4
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The Independent Culture
MARTIN FRY, Malcom McLaren and Ultravox - the line up could be Top of the Pops circa 1985. Instead, it's 10 years later at Le Palais, Hammersmith. The Dream Ball will be a chance for ex-New Romantics, Bodymap and Haircut 100 fans shamelessly to relive a much maligned decade for one night.

"The Eighties were about elegant dressing and theatrical glamour," says the evening's organiser Dennis Da Silva. "And the night will be a salute to all that." Da Silva, an ex-video producer and stylist, is a true Eighties aficionado and says that while the decade may have given us shoulder pads and Vodaphones, the crass and unhip totems of a selfish, me-obsessed generation, it was also the decade that gave us back the concept of style.

It was a decade that allowed The Face to flourish; a decade when mavericks such as Boy George, Michael Clarke and Leigh Bowery reigned, and a decade that uncovered new British designers such as Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano and Bodymap. "The Eighties were a very important turning point for fashion," says Da Silva. "There was a huge amount of energy then, which has now come full circle. Look at Gaultier's recent collection, his full skirts are the same as they were in the Eighties."

And it's not just the influence of Eighties fashion that is still around, but also that of the music. "Plenty of bands that are huge today are extremely Eighties," says Da Silva. "Take That, The Pet Shop Boys, Madonna, Menswear, even Blur and Oasis. "Boys and Girls'' by Blur is a very Eighties sound."

But arranging music for the night wasn't an easy task. Many of Da Silva's initial hit-list were either on tour, unaffordable or have disbanded - namely Boy George (who has donated a frock for auction), the B52s, the Human League, Grace Jones, Spandau Ballet, Heaven 17 and Kraftwork. Madonna politely refused an invitation (too busy playing Evita in Alan Parker's new film) and Joan Collins was scrapped from the VIP list after asking for a new dress for the night (tailor's bill courtesy of the organisers).

But Da Silva is working on his "surprise guests" who so far include the extraordinary Billy McKenzie from the Associates who will sing a cover of Blondie's "Heart of Glass'', a transvestite band called TVOD which did the original version of Grace Jones's "Warm Leatherette'', Kylie and Nick Cave singing a duet, and maybe even Shirley Bassey.

But reviving the Eighties is not purely about unbridled nostalgia, Da Silva says. "These people are great performers and some of the great voices of the Eighties. We wanted them to try something progressive and different, and they were happy to." The acts will all be performing "new arrangements" of Eighties material. Ultravox without Midge Ure, Da Silva emphasises, still sounds very Ultravoxish, despite the fact that it has ditched the computers. Martin Fry has reworked "Poison Arrow'' and will also be singing a cover version of "Like A Virgin'', and Malcom McLaren will be doing a remixed version of "Buffalo Girls'' as well as "Madame Butterfly''.

It is pure nostalgia, though, that drives others in the Eighties revival movement. "Joy Division, Soft Cell, New Order - we play everything from the obscure to the absolutely crap," boasts David, who co-runs a club called Planet Earth, which has been dishing out Eighties sounds for over a year now. "We've given clubbing back to people who like to dress up."

He and his friends started the club because the Eighties really meant something to them. "We were all there in the Eighties," he says. "In the lateSeventies we were punks and then when that died we followed Bauhaus and Joy Division about and then became New Romantics. We hated the grunge thing," he snorts. "Where's the glamour in it"

"Our Eighties nights are a drug free club culture," says David. "It's not about rave music or Jungle with lots of people taking Es and there being ten thousand beats per minute in the music. Our night is about dressing up and partying. It's back and it's back in a big way."

8 The Dream Ball is on 18 September at the Le Palais, Hammersmith, (0181 748 2812). Tickets pounds 18 and pounds 50 for VIP tickets. Proceeds go to the National Aids Trust. Planet Earth is at the Limelight on Wednesdays and The Wag on Fridays

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