Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cool Places Tonight


The Young Adult novel I am working on, titled Scooter Boy, is based upon much of my own adolescence. Mining my past for chapters and scenes has me remembering many details of specific locations, including Grand Central Station, an underage dance club that catered to the "21 and under" crowd in the early 80's.

The club was located in Pomona right off of the 10 freeway, near where the L.A. County Fair is held. One of the drama kids at Norco High first told me about Grand Central Station and drove me there. We took Archibald Road all the way from Corona to the 10 freeway.

I forget what the cover charge was back then, but they didn't check I.D. at the door. The bar inside sold only soft drinks, no alcohol. There was an outdoor patio where underage patrons were allowed to smoke. But people did not come to Grand Central Station to get high or drunk (as far as I knew). They came to dance, and that was the perfect club for me.

There were two rooms for dancing. We never stayed in the first one because they played all break dancing music in there. It was a room full of quite a few black kids, popping and locking in crazy, impossible, coordinated moves. The dancers in the first room weren't all black, but there were always more African American teens than we were used to seeing at Norco High.

The music that was played in the second room was one of the reasons I kept going back to Grand Central Station: "Keep Feeling Fascination" (Human League), "Cool Places" (Sparks and Jane Wiedlin), "Young Guns Go For It" (Wham), "Situation" (Yaz), "Shy Boy" (Bananarama), "Our House" (Madness), "I Want Candy" (Bow Wow Wow) etc. etc.

The other reason I kept returning to the club was because of the young patrons and the way they dressed. They were different and creative and utterly original in what they wore, many of them wearing elaborate jewelry and black eyeliner, both boys and girls. And they were confident in their dancing too, wearing independent attitudes as complimentary accessories to their various outfits.

The bravest and most confident dancers would go up on the stage at the front of the club, either dancing alone or with anyone around them. One of my favorites on stage was a dark-haired girl dancing in front by herself. I remember her hair was ratted in the Madonna wannabe do, wrapped in a floppy white lace bow which matched her long white lace skirt. She had topped off her skirt with a plaid flannel shirt, knotted in the front and with the sleeves rolled up. Of course, she had the two dozen or so black rubber bangles and bracelets on one arm. The one detail that makes her so memorable to me was the red plastic swizzle stick she kept shifting in her mouth. It only reinforced how aloof she was, how lost she was in her own world of the music and her dancing, and how she didn't care what anyone else thought about her.

At seventeen, I admired her confidence and independence. I wanted to be like her.

I had a rather innocent and uneventful adolescence, but I have several good memories. I feel lucky that my memory's inventory includes such great scenes as Grand Central Station that I can use for my own writing.

11 comments:

the Constantly Dramatic One said...

Wow...you're working on a book? WOW!! Hows that going?

I never been to an under 21s club before...but mainly because I'm not really the clubbing type. Shocking I know, I come across as someone who would club every other weekend but truth is I prefer sitting at coffee houses with friends than going out to clubs.

Loud music gives me a headache.

(Upon rereading that...I just realise how uncool I really am...meh

Peter Varvel said...

TCDO, you're still cool, uber-cool, in fact, too cool for the masses and us peasants!
(the writing is slow but progressing . . . )

Prince Gomolvilas said...

I hope you remember those times you played doctor with the neighbor boy. Put that in the book.

Peter Varvel said...

PG, you were always such a reluctant squirmy patient when it was my turn to cure you. Now, hold still so I can insert the thermometer!

Quin Browne said...

do i get to read this when i'm there???


please?

Peter Varvel said...

Q, definitely! (although it ain't much, yet)

Cheryl said...

You could probably write a whole book set at the club. Capturing the magic and agony of adolescence is what YA books (and lots of adult books) are all about, so if you can do it, you've got a career for yourself. Seems like you're well on your way!

Peter Varvel said...

C, I actually have a whole bookset in mind for the protagonist (TONS to write about from the gay bars I went to in the 80's), but first I need get my lazy ass to finish a rough draft of the first one.

pinoc said...

Remember going dancing after Dland at Florence Gardens? And the one time I went mod and wore that black wig? Oh yes, and you corrupting me by bringing me to that "adult store" and I saw my first ever man-on-man video involving a guy on a weight bench and the other guy "spotting" him...and then the manager kicked us out. Talk about innocence lost...and it STILL took me about 3 more years to realize that you were gay. Sweet, innocent, naive, Shelly.

Peter Varvel said...

S.V.F. is that YOU?
I had forgotten about that actually, until now.
Thanks for the reminder, LOL! Maybe I'll be able to write a chapter based on that night, in another book some day.
And I think we can blame Mr. Ken O. for that night, the bookstore, porn, and everything, ha ha!

Louise Larsen said...

Wow -- this sounds really interesting. I want to hear more about Scooter Boy.

Maybe you could write a serial novel?

Like Thomas Hardy did. Or was that Dickens? Shit. I only took American Lit classes, my Dad put me right off English lit.

But, I'm pretty sure I recall that these writers were paid by chapter installment printed in british newspapers...So the authors had to make each chapters interesting enough that the newspapers would pay to have the next one printed.

I'm too fucking tired right now to Wikipedia the facts on this, but I'm pretty sure that's the story.

So, why not write your story this way? by installments?

I personally can't pay you shit, but write it that way anyhow, just so you write it.

--- One of your many new fans,

Louise