I’m not surprised that nostalgia continues to dominate cultural conversation. After all, who’d want to live in the now?
Putin’s gone medieval. Everyone’s favourite convicted sexual predator Donald Trump, appears to get more acolytes with every indictment filed. While at home (to the astonishment of anyone with a mind) half the country still can’t admit Brexit was lunacy, even in the face of crippling interest rates and a GDP sinking like a small boat in unfriendly waters.
Common sense appears to be on sabbatical. I expect young families are overjoyed to hear that Sunak’s waived through a hundred new oil and sea gas drilling licences — I guess we’ll just leave it to Gen Alpha to figure out how to go outdoors without bursting into flames.
And what about global capitalism x AI development? Apparently, there’s no downside to building general intelligence machines that we’re too dumb to control. Just think of the diversification opportunities: ‘Deliveroo: your rider’s nearby with your genetically engineered bioweapon’.
Yep, now is shit. And then, (whenever your then was) was better. Maybe your nostalgic dream is of Big Willie’s Willennium, messenger bags, Von Dutch caps and sticking it to ‘the man’ with your dial-up Napster account. Or perhaps a 90’s of Timberlands, cargo pants and that episode of Saved by the Bell where Jessie gets hooked on caffeine pills?
Typically, I’m more excited by the potential of the future — ‘nonstalgic’ you might say. But lately, while mulling the inconvenience of being drowned by a liquidised Antarctic glacier, I’ve been taking solace in the past.
80s record label Street Sounds is now my safe space. I’m working my way through all 22 of their core compilations, plus every one of the spin-offs (Crucial Electro 1-3 anyone?) I am hiding from the world within a soundscape of clattering Roland TR-808s and naive nursery rhyme rapping — and I love it.
It transports me to a time when my ‘crew’ and I would wander our small Midlands village, looking for other Nike cagoules to ‘challenge’. We would scrawl our tags on council buildings in chalk (spray paint was too much like vandalism) and if any other kids walked by, we’d try to provoke a dance off by undulating and pointing and running up and down on the spot. I don’t recall an occasion when this tactic actually worked.
Nevertheless, early electro, that steppingstone between 70s German electronica and nascent house/hip-hop, is doing me a lot of good now. I’ve been following some ‘How to Whack’ tutorials (that weird arm-wavy stuff Ozone does in Breakdance: The Movie), I dug out my old copy of Break Dancing: Let Colin & Venol Show You How and forced my girl to watch the legendary challenge scene from Beat Street, twice. I also decided to take my revived passion to the streets.
I headed for St James Park (that notorious crucible of all things dope) to look for some b-boys to battle. With no Nike cagoule at my disposal, I decided that my newly sale-swagged Needles Sportswear jacket would stand-in and wouldn’t show the dirt if the action got serious and I had to pull a windmill. I also rocked my Suicoke PEPPER-evabs for grip and a new Goldwin bucket hat to, you know, max-out that electric boogaloo vibe.
Turns out there aren’t any b-boys in St James Park. And even playing Egypt Egypt by The Egyptian Lover on your phone at top volume doesn’t attract them.
My girl made me do a bit of body popping, but if I’m honest my heart wasn’t really in it.
That’s the problem with nostalgia, it tends to evaporate in contact with the real world.
So, like the kid I wish I still was, I stood on a tree stump for a bit, then went home.