Nineteen eighties, New York

That part of me that still feels stuck in the 1980s? Yeh, that

The track is from that great 80s movie, Crocodile Dundee, during a party scene in New York. The song is ‘Live it up’ by Australian band Mental As Anything.

crocodile dundee poster

For me this track captures the Zeitgeist of 1980s (and early/mid 90s) New York. I first went to NYC in 1995, for Thanksgiving, staying at distant (but old, close) friends of my relatives in Australia. I was a student in Massachussetts at the time and I arrived in the city by bus for 5-6 days. I remember being very daunted getting on the subway on my own and having to make my way up from Penn Station to Amsterdam Avenue and 104th street (not far from Harlem) where I was staying. Having seen lots of films growing up in the 1980s, I had strong preconceptions of what New York would be like.

By the mid 1990s I guess NYC was being turned around from the super high crime rates it had in the late 1980s, but it was still very ‘gritty’ even at that time from what I recollect. I remember a night club we went to (I’m fairly sure it was the Tunnel) which felt very ‘edgy’ and had a very ‘mixed’ clientèle (the 6-7ft drag queens being what I remember most). I remember walking back in the early hours of the morning with the uni friends I was with who were also visiting the city at that time. We found ourselves in a really seedy district with car alarms going off and what looked to be hookers and drug dealers all over the place; it certainly felt very reckless being out at that time and in those neighbourhoods. This was autumn 1995 but listening to this song instantly transports me back 18 years. Funny how music can do that.

3 thoughts on “Nineteen eighties, New York

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  1. Oh yes… strangely enough music from the 1980s transports me back there far more than the music of any other decade. But then the 80s were so unique I think.
    I didn’t make it to New York until 1994 for the first time and should really go and learn my way around a lot more seeing as I live here but whenever I can get ‘a spare minute’ it is London drawing me nowadays…. (such an Ex-Pat confession!!).

  2. Memories of my club filled, wild, reckless days in the mid – late 90’s NYC give me severe nostalgia. You’re certainly dead on with the “gritty” energy NYC possessed in the 80’s and 90’s. Crack/cocaine, 42nd street peep shows, an abundance of prostitution and crime aren’t desirable components anywhere. BUT, there was a much more authentic and “raw” undertone to my city during this time. It was much less divisive than it is today. The Tunnel would have drag queens and fabulous gay boys dancing into an oblivion one night and then transform to a hardcore plethora of hip hip heads the next! Tunnel, Limelight (which is now a small shopping boutique center?!), Webster Hall, Latin Quarter.. I frequented them all. I too experience this sort of bittersweet, stifling nostalgia when listening to 80’s music. It’s by far (so far) the era that brings back the fondest memories and earnest emotions. Thank you for this post! 🙂

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