14 September 2007

There is nothing new under the sun.

It seems everywhere you look the 1980's are coming back with a vengeance. This phenomenon is not new. Back in the late 1990's, you could go to an "Eighties Dance Party" most nights in either Adams Morgan or downtown at some joint called Polly Esther's (or so I read in the City Paper). That initial bounce was generated by newly-minted drinking age patrons who were too young the first time around to remember how shitty most of that dreck was, so it was mainly a playlist dragged off the pop stations of the 1980's (at least in Adams Morgan, where I could hear "99 Red Ballons" from Heaven and Hell bouncing off the buildings and into our house every Thursday night; yeah, not even the German version, "Neunundneunzig Luftballoons").

This latest return is a bit different and manifests itself not so much in the music at crappy dance clubs, but in the throwback t-shirts of The Smiths and Siouxsie and the Banshees etc. visible on the now up and coming generation of (non-kickball playing) club-goers. Such bands were once a staple of 99.1 HFS, back when it was locally owned in the 1980's and early 1990's and long before it became a Spanish language station.

Which brings me rambling to another point: DC has no underground or offbeat radio station. Prior to the advent of the bastard genre called "alternative," which essentially became meaningless once it was formalized and formula-ized, HFS performed that crucial role in a city with many colleges but no college radio stations actually run by college students playing whatever the hell music said college students felt like playing. WHUR, WAMU, and WGBT are long gone (though they live on in other vestiges: WHUR and WAMU you probably recognize, and Georgetown donated its frequency, 90.1, to the newly formed UDC, which then sold it [!] to C-Span...).

I suppose you could argue that teh internets have brought back the idea of local programming (WGBT for instance has come back as an internet-only station), but until I can pick up webradio on my portable boom-box or my car radio (minus special satellite radio equipment), it isn't the same.

So if you've read this far, I'll let you in on a little slice of the 1980's that you'll not find on the dance floors but you can find at the Birchmere on October 22: Billy Bragg.


Momentary Academic said...

I've given up on the radio. Is that wrong?

cuff said...

It's the only logical decision available at this time.

Grad School Reject said...

I highly recommend E-music's website. 10 bucks gets you 30 downloads. They only offer tracks/artists from Independent Labels, and this tranlates into some interesting new music and some fantastic old music (think Blues, Jazz, and other genres that don't often make their way to mainstream labels).