Speaking of high school dances, these were probably my one true link to my fellow classmates outside of my neighborhood and outside of school hours. I looked forward to hanging out with my buddies, listening to tunes, and maybe even getting in a dance or two.
I wasn’t exactly a wallflower. I just didn’t have a girlfriend for most of the high school years, for varying reasons. I had a few female friends and a few who were willing to slow dance at these shindigs, but as far as a love life was concerned, I was on my own. I had a few short flings in junior high, none lasting more than a few months. I didn’t know what these relationships meant then, just that I didn’t have one and was, to be truthful, a bit lonely.
The school dances may have fostered a few ‘maybe’ relationships — including a kind of brief one with a girl I actually had a crush on in fourth grade — but nothing permanent. More often than not I’d be hanging with my guy friends on the bleachers, chatting and listening to tunes.
Yeah, that was me. I actually went to these things because of the music. I went to those things all the way up until my senior year, because why the hell not? A fun scene, good times, and I got to see friends outside of the school day.
I mention this because I was not the most outward person outside of school. I rarely went out with friends for the first couple of years of high school, for whatever reasons I’m still not exactly sure of. Maybe it was laziness — I couldn’t be bothered to hang out at someone else’s house when it was a good couple of miles away. Maybe it was my level of connection — I was an acquaintance of many, but not really a close friend. maybe it was that my circle of friends up until 1985 or so remained the few people I knew in my neighborhood
And I knew I was moving away from them by that time. There were three of us at one point, partners in crime, but as I got older I realized it was more of a single-kid-in-crime with the two of us following along out of boredom. After a few close calls of dumbassery, I realized enough was enough and cut the connection cold by the end of summer 1986. I’d grown out of my safe neighborhood. I needed to expand my universe pretty damn quick.
And that I did.
1986 was an excellent year for quirky pop music, both American and British. On the week I discovered college radio, the American Top 40 featured the following:
- Prince & the Revolution, “Kiss”
- Robert Palmer, “Addicted to Love”
- Pet Shop Boys, “West End Girls”
- The Bangles, “Manic Monday”
- Van Halen, “Why Can’t This Be Love”
- Falco, “Rock Me Amadeus”
- Whitney Houston, “The Greatest Love of All”
- Level 42, “Something About You”
- Janet Jackson, “What Have You Done for Me Lately”
- Force MD’s, “Tender Love”
- Sade, “Never As Good As the First Time”
- Dire Straits, “So Far Away”
- Madonna, “Live to Tell”
That’s quite a cross-section of popular music there. Multiple genres, multiple generations, multiple countries! It was a fine time to branch out.
And Star Hits was the magazine I gravitated towards for this sort of thing. Hip enough to talk about all the music I liked, simple enough for my fifteen-year-old sensibilities (I really had no interest in professional music magazines at the time). And this is where I started to realize, where it really became clear, that my interests in music were close to the level of my friends’. That is, I was already completely and hopelessly obsessed with music at that point. I was leaving everyone else in the dust.
So. There I was, stuck in the middle. Moving on from the crowd I used to frequent just a few years previous, and moving towards parts unknown. Obviously I didn’t fit in with the jocks. I don’t know if it was that I really disliked the dudebro attitudes of the time, or that I seemed to get along with the girls a little to well, or that I was just stick of trying to be someone I wasn’t, or no longer was.
Time to take the next step.