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dirty dancing with the telly: growing up in the 80s

>> Thursday, August 25, 2011




I've had the time of my life in the 80s. If Baby, in "Dirty Dancing", wholly had hers in the summer of 1963 in a resort/camp somewhere in the Catskills, I can say, in retrospect, that I experienced mine in bits and pieces, here and there, spread over half a decade (the latter half) where every year was a coming-of-age moment. I was in my teens, pimply, awkward and was always waking up to each day on the verge of rebellion if not just unknowingly feeling a little more curious than the day before. My adventures then were defined by my guts to actually satisfy my thirst for new things. New things like conquering butterflies fluttering in my stomach when I'm about to cut class to go and see an R-rated movie, or ignoring the voice of reason I kept hearing (they sounded like my parents') when it's my turn to puff (it eventually took me a short time to drag with A-ttitude) a stick of Marlboro that a classmate snuck out of his father's pack before going to school. Ah, the thrill and the shock of the new when you're young! But to sum up my teenage life as full of drama like any wannabe juvenile delinquent's is incomplete.  Dramatic (very Catcher in the Rye-ish) yes, but incomplete. For there were long, stoic, non-tear-inducing hours spent watching TV. 


I remember being enraptured by music set to motion, it was called music video. And in MTV kingdom Madonna was the queen, Duran Duran were the kings and Michael Jackson was both. Rick Astley introduced me to the wonders of hairspray and made me realize that you can make people dance with the kind of voice that you have when you wake up in the morning, may you be male or female. And speaking of dance music, there were generally two types. First is the dance music that local record companies' resident dancers promoted on TV. If a song clicked, they'd come up with a dance contest in "Eat Bulaga" or "Student Canteen" or "LunchDate." If that song became big, you'd see actors dancing to them to promote their movies. If it got even bigger, you'd see the works in dream sequences in movies starring the Regal babies. Then there was what they called New Wave.   New Wave music may not be as popular as its choreography-heavy counterpart as it only called for upward or downward flailing of the arms, but it's big in prom nights, school programs and with my gang-loving punk-y friends whose motto in life was "the future looks bright, I gotta wear shades (and lots of hairgel)"! But if one was not so into dance music, there were options. He/she may try singing along Whitney Houston's "All at Once" down to that last lung-busting note or form a trio with Pops and Martin during "Penthouse Live" nights (usually after Dona Buding's segment and before The Tigers' number). Or if he/she could afford it, a Minus-One would salve that itch to perform - turn on that "component", place the "cassette tape" and presto! But if you're the the nonperforming type, you can kill time deciding who between Debbie Gibson and Tiffany floats your boat more - do you go for bangs, or you want dem hair big? Do you take to pitch-clean, squeaky pipes or you much prefer the husky, I'm-the-new-Bonnie-Tyler sound? A very passive mental activity indeed but potentially hazardous to friendships when the decision is made known. I mean, ties that bound Aquanet-happy cliques are known to have been severed by a member's overt partiality to either New Kids on the Block or the New Edition. But TV offered me more than music that made me move and the opportunity to hone my juvenile decision-making skills. It offered me laughter and tons of it! Who can forget "Three's Company," "The Cosby Show," "Punky Brewster," "The Golden Girls," "Family Ties," "The Benny Hill Show" and the local gag shows "Champoy," "Todas" and "Going Bananas"? And I first met Bart Simpson in '88! I might have not grown much, but the runt hasn't aged at all! If laughter is the best medicine, then nobody must have gotten sick during the 80s because sitcoms and gag shows far outnumbered the dramatic TV fares. Well at least in our household! But that's not to say that the dramas unfolding on TV were less dynamic. In fact, the imported drama programs showcased bitches bitching around and more bitches bitching around - "Falcon Crest" "Knott's Landing" "Dynasty" and "Cagney & Lacey" (they were bitches, weren't they?) to name a few. And of course, there were TV programs too that starkly played out the joys and pains of being an unadult - I learned that intelligence should be directly proportional to bodysize in "Doogie Howser, M.D." (had his body been beefier, he could've handled teenage life as a genius angst-free), there was Fred Savage essaying what might have been every Juan s childhood in the "The Wonder Years," and of course, the triumphs and the production numbers of the multitude of hormonally-charged teenagers in "That's Entertainment"


I could go on and on waxing nostalgic about the many delights that TV accorded me during the 80s but I think I've said enough. Besides, it's a long way back! But this had to be said again, I really had the time of my life in the 80s...as a teenage couch potato!




(press pause the mixpod player below to watch this video)




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