Postcard from a twentysomething

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
Some people would call it Hell: its promoters call it Planet Earth. It is the Limelight Club's weekly "celebration of the Eighties" and a friend has dragged me along, absolutely, utterly against my will - and not, as she may claim, the other way round.

Everywhere I look, my contemporaries are loosening their ties and dancing to the Human League and Culture Club. And yet, despite this, not only do I defeat the urge to punch somebody, I don't even grab anyone by the lapels and yell: "You're young! You shouldn't be muttering that today's pop doesn't have proper tunes and you can't hear the words and they don't play their instruments, not like in my day!" But it's a struggle. Can't we at least get past the Nineties before we start listening to Eighties music through the proverbial rose-tinted earphones?

Admittedly, Nineties culture hasn't progressed very far beyond nicking its favourite bits from the past, but tonight's revivalism is a whole separate phenomenon. The important point to remember is that Blur and Oasis and the other bands who Xerox the Sixties and Seventies aren't being nostalgic. How could they be, when they grew up in the Eighties, long after the music they copy had stopped being made? The Beatles were a radical alternative that Noel and Damon had to discover for themselves - a radical alternative to the bleeping synthesisers and fiendishly grim singing which are Planet Earth's stock-in-trade. No, for a twentysomething, an Eighties Night is the only true nostalgia night, even if nobody has gone the whole hog and dug out the peroxide, the eyeliner and the tartan trousers.

Nobody, that is, except for the man in charge. His name, coincidentally, is David Planet Earth, and we meet him in a private bar upstairs. "Sweet dreams are made of this," intones Annie Lennox. David gestures a cigarette at the wall-mounted speaker. "In 14 years, will "Wannabe" be remembered as fondly?" he sighs. It makes you think.

David is quick to establish that he doesn't want to bring back Thatcher, and he doesn't want today's bands to imitate Ultravox. He just wants to build a refuge for disenfranchised clubbers who "stayed at home for four or five years" until the hallowed sound of Bananarama once again reared its backcombed head. "On New Year's Eve, 1999," David adds, "we may do a Nineties revival night."

My friend puts her finger on it, which is a bit annoying because I'm supposed to be the journalist. "What's the difference," she asks, "between you playing Eighties stuff at Planet Earth and a DJ playing Eighties stuff in a village hall because those are the only records he's got?" David finishes his Hooch. "I'm off to the toilet. That'll give me time to think of an answer."

Two choruses of "Don't You (Forget About Me)" later, he returns. "I've got it," he says. "There's no difference whatsoever."

"If I could turn back time," hypothesises Cher. I am downstairs again and, do you know, some of these tracks aren't really so bad. I was probably more uptight and snobbish about music when I was a teenager, and tonight's tunes are, after all, the most enduring ones of the decade. So, there's no reason why I shouldn't enjoy...

No! Stop it! These fools aren't dancing because they appreciate classic songs. They're dancing because they have a severe case of Back To The School Disco syndrome. They are trying to relive their youth prematurely, and they don't know how old they're making themselves seem in the process.

"Sometimes I feel I've got to run away, I've got to get away," chants Marc Almond. Marc, mate, I know just how you feel.

Comments