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.