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Hippies Stole My Evening

It's half past eleven on a Wednesday night and I haven't done anything all evening. Sure, there was an org meeting, but beyond the new route there wasn't really anything that I haven't heard at innumerable org meetings previous. By the time I got back it was too late to start writing if I wanted to sleep at a sensible time, so my brain's not had any exercise all day. Bastards.

Hence, I might as well describe last Friday night. Last Friday was the night when, against much protestation, I was dragged to Citrus.

Citrus is an "80's" club. I know that some surveys have indicated that the population of my country thinks that the 1980s were a wonbderful time to live, what with the rampant unemployment, privatisation, and a psychotic in Number 10... Err... But they think things were better then. Perhaps this is what's behind the rise of such clubs. It hbas to be the same sort of effect, rose-tinted hindsight. Because let me tell you, I grew up singing along to Erasure and the Human League and you had better believe me that at any other point in history my four-year-old self would have been well within its rights to divorce my parents and have them shot into a handy star (Alpha Centauri, the Sun's too close).

When my first songs at bath time were "Karma Chameleon" and "Jitterbug", you will, I hope, understand that I have no desire at all to hear such music again. Once was quite enough.

Upon entering the club, I was not amused. The bar provided a choice between horse piss and frozen horse piss on tap, and a host of bottled urine fresh out of America. I drank water, because a bar that doesn't stock Newcastle Brown as a standby for emergencies does not deserve my currency.The khazis were worse. While not as bad as those at Studio 24, they still had an ambiance that said "We were trashed last night, and only black duct tape stops the door falling off." It was an expressive ambience.

For the fgirst half an hour, the music was dreadful. The DJ seemed to delight in playing all the extended versions of his favourite tracks without any care for when they would end. Once his self-indulgent little audio wankfest stopped, he noticed his audience. Given that our part made up the majority, we saw some decent trad goth (with token Bauhaus and Sisters tracks).

Once that half hour was over, I got a chance to look around. The majority of people there were young — certainly younger than I am. The general outfit involved some form of tight T-shirt and carefully bought-to-look-worn jeans for the men, hshowing off the stupidly short hair that I can only assume "fashion" demands of them. The women wore such garb as I only normally see in the window of H&M or Gap, along with the ludicrous form of shoe that costs five billion pounds but consists of three carbon nanotubes and a cheap sole with a ten-inch heel.

These are the average people. The workaday. Those who hold junior office jobs and frequent bars that put football before beer and price before ambiance. These children of the baby boomers are my generation, my brother's generation. They apparently enjoy getting wrecked on cheap chemical piss that calls itself "beer", music that was created before they were born, and clothes with no elegance or style. These are the people who watch Big Brother and vote on those terrible fame-contest television programs. They are the embodiment of conformity, any one of them an Everyman.

And here I was in a dingy nightclub full of the motherfuckers. All I could do was try to blend in, hope that they didn't smell their mortal enemy in their midst.

To this end, I found myself dancing a lot. Don't ask why or how, I just did. When the chance came, I leapt at it. Stay up, stay moving. Just as long as the music doesn't suck I could be another face in the crowd. But then, the unthinkable happened.

The bastard played both "Karma Chameleon" and "Jitterbug".

What kind of rat-bastard psychotic would do that to a room full of people? Unless he, like me, figured that they were actually Pod People, awaiting the day when they would control the World Builders and everyone would have their invading vision — but unlike me, he didn't realise that he was feeding them.

The majority of people dancing were younger than me. If they claim to remember these records from the first time around, they're lying. They actually like this regurgitated pap, this drooling nonsense that doesn't deserve the title of "music". They go beyond merely enmjoying it, it is their zenith. Without those two tracks, s night is not complete. With them, they can look back safe in the knowledge that it didn't suck. I fail to understand how anyone like them can exist. THey have to have found out about these records somehow, discovered that they liked music that came out just before they were born — a point in time when the British record industry appeared to have dosed up on an ecstacy/LSD cocktail and let rip with electronica and Wham. They had to find the music, discover that the liked it, and then become enough of a force in the world that there are nightclubs catering to just that taste.

As far as I can tell in Edinburgh, there's no Friday or Saturday that'll spin a mix of rock and metal and some semi-Goth and "nu-metal" — Guns'n'Roses to Bon Jovi, AC/DC to Aerosmith, Iron Maiden to Linkin Park, Judas Priest to Rammstein. Perhaps there is such a club, but I do not know of it. It certainly isn't as common a phenomenon over the country as the "80's club", and dedicated venues are few and far between. It's a freak of culture, something about the mass-market being easy to appease (and the obvious parallels between 2006 and 1986). It's also depressing, in a way.

In the actual 1980s, the club currently housing Citrus would have been a smash hit, likely playing the fake imports before they hit Radio 1, and new (for the time) American dance music. It'll have been cutting edge, in its day.

Not any more. Now, the only use we have for the club is to peddle worn old shit to the children of today, brainwashing them with the music of yesterday. 80s clubs are evil, not just for the music, but for what they represent; a regression in our musical culture rather than supporting where it's going now.

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( 15 informants — We want information! )
(Deleted comment)
mythdude
Sep. 21st, 2006 01:47 am (UTC)
Across Lj land, I find us agreeing more and more with tastes.

Although I see you brought up Chess again. *tells the ladies on you*
digitalraven
Sep. 21st, 2006 12:30 pm (UTC)
You're talking shite[0].

The club was mostly playing (and people were mostly enjoying) the 80s equivalents of the RIAA-approved crap. The new stuff sounds different to the old because it's moved with the zeitgeist, that doesn't make it better. Sure, Joy Division and the Sisters got into the charts in the 80s. Franz Ferdinand and The Killers have in this decade.

I was lamenting the Death of Pop. Back in the 80s and 90s, the Radio 1 top 40 was The Measure of what the nation was listening to. It spawned the craze for acid-house (Ebeneezer Goode did that by itself) and then the Mod Revival years of "Britpop" — bands who played their own instruments! Shock!

There was soulless shite in the 80s, and lots of it. George Michael, Jason Donovan, any of the dross produced by Stock, Aitken, and Waterman. But unlike now, the soulless shite and the good stuff was all mixed up in that holy goal of getting to Number 1. Remember: Back in the late 70s, pop music included the Sex Pistols "God Save the Queen". Doesn't matter what genre it was, it was *in the charts*. Despite the posturing, that was *the goal*.

Hence why the cutting edge underground clubs mattered — that was where the future top records were played and their dance-floor response measured before anyone could buy them.

There's a disjunct now. "Pop" music, as measured by the Radio 1 charts, is a genre all of its own, catering solely to the soulless drivel. It's not a mash-up of everything, it's the bottom-line of music made to cater to the sub-human scum. Rock and metal and britpop and goth and dance and garage and shed music... all these are no longer a part of pop like they used to be.

This is why even the people that nu-Pop targets show up at 80s clubs. They remember a time when pop was more than a sub-genre made up when you take all the genres out. Maybe they don't remember much of it — even if the youngest person there was legal to drink, she would have been born in the latter half of 1988 and not noticed pop music on the radio until at least 1991.

They remember that time and have to go back to the fucking 1980s, a time that frankly anyone with five brain cells wants to get away from, in order to remember what popular music used to be like. People have to go back to musical hell to remember what they're missing — though they don't even realise they're missing it.

Watch out music journalism, I think I have an article I can sell...

[0]: Something we need to do in person with whisky soon.
(Deleted comment)
nickys
Sep. 21st, 2006 04:09 pm (UTC)
> I draw the line at Karma Fucking Chameleon

I rather like it. Back then there wasn't so much gender-ambiguity in mainstream music culture, so it was pretty outrageous for the time.

... mind you, I have also danced to The Final Countdown... which probably exempts me from being allowed to offer any opinions on musical merit for anything ever... :-)
(Deleted comment)
mythdude
Sep. 21st, 2006 01:49 am (UTC)
Hey Stew, next time you're on AIM send me a message. I'm thinking of something and i'd like your imput on it.

Also, the only cheesy 80's song that I absolutely love has to be Men Without Hats - Safety Dance. Not really relevant to this conversation, but I have spoken anyways. :P
digitalraven
Sep. 21st, 2006 12:31 pm (UTC)
Send me e-mail. I hardly use IM software any more; when I do either nobody else is around or I'm working and someone wants to break my concentration.
coaldustcanary
Sep. 21st, 2006 03:29 am (UTC)
It's amazing amusing how much you can sound like a crotchety old man whining about "kids these days".
joexnz
Sep. 21st, 2006 07:19 am (UTC)
no, no it really isn't
He's been practicing, lots, for, oh most of the time i've known him at any rate.
digitalraven
Sep. 21st, 2006 12:32 pm (UTC)
My age measured in cynicism requires scientific notation.
digitalraven
Sep. 21st, 2006 12:36 pm (UTC)
Besides, "kids these days" aren't the problem. That presumes that the market has evolved to suit their needs perfectly, something that obviously hasn't happened. The market's solution to fulfilling what people want &madsh; balkanising pop and isolating other genres — is obviously lacking. The only problem is, it's making the RIAA money, so the market has no reason to optimise.
nickys
Sep. 21st, 2006 04:16 pm (UTC)
I have a general impression that 80s stuff that made it to the mainstream was more musically competant than a lot of today's pop - in that the singers could actually sing real notes without digital assistance and the guitarists could usually manage at least three chords.

Having said which, the general standard in the 60s when I grew up was considerably higher again. Many rock guitarists back then had started out learning classical guitar first, so they were seriously talented.


Looking on the bright side - Green Day and Kaiser Chiefs have hit the mainstream now in spite of having both musical talent and also something to say (things which record companies dont' tend to like much...)
original_aj
Sep. 21st, 2006 06:18 pm (UTC)
Word. Wish I could say it that eloquently.
dgg
Sep. 21st, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC)
>80s clubs are evil, not just for the music, but for what they represent; a regression in our musical culture rather than supporting where it's going now.<

‘Tis somewhat true. MTV made its grand debu, mass marketting synthesized cheese to teens everywhere. As a consequence, I grew listening to Wham, Duran Duran, Madonna, etc. On the dance floor we climbed the speakers and took death defying leaps to Van Hallen’s “Jump” and did the zombie dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” (good thing too, because me doing the moonwalk was like a truck backing up into the ditch).

The thing with the 80’s is that there is both good and bad. Karma Kameleon and Jitterbug? Ha! That’s nothing! What about Bobby Mcferin’s “Don’t worry, be happy?” How many people went postal because of that song? (not including the singer). I remember the 80’s with both fondness and dread. I still listen to the Police and shudder at the thought that I dated a girl who proudly wore the T-shirt labelled “Drug Free Body”. Anyone who thinks 80s were cool should take a look at the “Breakfast Club”. We had the same problems as teens do now….just with teazed hair.
( 15 informants — We want information! )

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