Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"We were cool on craze…” The night we “Wang Chunged” -May 1984

Anytime I get together with my old friend "Whitey", we tend talk about old times and have some laughs. It’s only natural. Dave (his first name) and I had been out of touch for 9 years before we reconnected just over a year ago. It happens..A lot has changed for him . He’s a husband, a Dad and a business owner. So we don't have as much in common anymore, but I’m really glad for the way things have turned out for him.

We recently went to the Van Halen concert together so it’s natural that we would reflect on other shows we went to together. 

The one we talked about this past week was the time we drove to DC to see Wang Chung at a nightclub called the Wax Museum.

They were doing a club tour in the spring of 1984. 

Now before you get to judgmental and say ‘what? they sucked!”. You gotta remember this was before they sold out with the whole “everybody Wang Chung Tonight” thing. 
Plus "New wave" music was considered kind of cool and edgy.
Their single at the time was “Dance Hall days”. They had started a few years earlier as “Huang Chung’ and were signed to Clive Davis’ Arista Label. After making no progress in the States, they changed their name to “Wang Chung” and signed to the prestigious Geffen label.

Geffen definitely promoted them. 
Their videos were starting to be shown on Mtv. 
I remember I “rented” their album and taped on a blank cassette. (there was actually a store in town where you could lay down an $8 deposit and take home an album, if you brought it back the next day, they would give you $7 back. This was a great way to build up a music collection when you had little or no money!)

Points on the Curve” was produced by Chris Hughes who had worked with Adam And the Ants as well as Tears For Fears , so his pedigree was pretty good for 80’s new wave, which is what I considered Wang Chung at the time.He also went on to work with Ric Ocasek, Howard Jones, and Paul McCartney.
He also later did the mix for" Let My Love Open The Door" (E. Cola Mix) That everyone loves.
So anyways...I talked Whitey and our buddy Charles into going down to the show. The drinking age in DC was only 18. Charles and Whitey were already 18 as they were born in 1965, I was still only 17.

Back then we were trying all kinds of tricks to “alter” our ID’s. This was in the days before there were any “watermarks” on licenses, etc. 
The latest craze was to take clear scotch tape and put it over the birth date and then use a No. 2 pencil to delicately alter the last digit of the year. I must have changed my “6” to “5” to put me at "18" for the night. I then had to hope the guy at the door didn’t ask me to take my license out of my wallet…

So we set out to DC in my beat up '76 Audi with the broken sunroof and ripped up seats, pounding some beers and eating pretzels on the way.

We got to the club and went in. I remember it was dark and felt kinda mysterious. I don’t think I had ever been in a night club before, at least not one of this size. 
I can’t remember if the other guys showed their ID’s first or not ,but the guy looked at mine and waved me forward! We were in . 
What a relief! I have no idea what our back-up plan was if I couldn’t get in...

I’m sure we went to the bar and grabbed some drinks and then staked out a place close to the stage. One of the things that really enhanced my memory of the show was finding these videos on YouTube. 

The stage setup was exactly like this and the room seemed about this size. 
I sent them to Whitey and he said the same exact thing. 

I felt like I was branching out. This wasn’t a hard rock concert at the closest enormodome (ie: Cap Centre). I had been to DC to see a show at Constitution Hall but this was a club show . I felt slightly hipper that night…

Also to give you an idea of our state of mind we were just weeks away from graduating High School so we were already on an adrenaline high from the anticipation of that event and the 2 weeks at the Ocean that would follow…

The band came on and we were having a good time. 
 Now all of our concert experiences had been in large arenas at that point in our lives. At those shows it was anything goes as far as drink and drugs. This was a club, I think you were supposed to just buy drinks from the bar and enjoy yourself, and you were probably still aloud to smoke cigarettes in those days as well.
Well, in Whitey’s mind this was a “concert” and people get stoned at concerts, so he whipped out a joint and fired it up as if he was seeing Judas Priest and the Capital Centre! Charles and I laughed ,incredulous that he would do this. Amazingly, no one from the club staff came over and said anything. We figured we were going to be kicked out at any minute. 

In between songs when it was quiet, Whitey even raised the joint in his hand and yelled out “dedication for Whitey!!!” Charles and I laughed and because we were so close, Jack Hues, the lead singer, said  with a puzzled look “dedication for who?”. 
Whitey!”,Dave repeated.
Ok, this is dedicated to Whitey” Hues shrugged, slightly bemused. We laughed hysterically and were thrilled by the ridiculousness of it all.

I would think the band closed with “Dance Hall Days’ and then we were off into the night for the long drive home. (It always seemed like a really long drive from DC back to Baltimore County..) I was driving so I’d didn’t indulge as much as the other guys that night. 

Now on these long drives I would find that everyone would fall asleep or pass out and I was left to drive the distance with only myself and the radio to keep me awake! So I would turn up the radio really loud and roll down my window so that air would come blasting in the cabin of the vehicle. Anything to make these assholes suffer with me. .haha.

Well ,Whitey passed out and slept the whole way back. He “came to” when we pulled up to his house. He mumbled a goodbye and stumbled up his walkway to his door….

I woke the next day, a little groggy as per usual on weekends, and went out to my used and  abused car. I guess I was giving it a “once over”, to at least clean up any empty beer cans, when to my shock , I saw what looked like a pile of dog shit on the floor of the back seat! 

My mind raced.wait, we did have a dog...no...
 I had to think for a second…wait
said my inner voice in disgust. 
(imagine how Seinfeld says “Newman”...)
All of those pretzels that Dave had eaten on the way down had come up on the way home and formed a pile of doughy delight. Imagine my disgust as I had to go get paper towels  and clean up this mess he left. 

You figure the guy might have said when we dropped him
off “oh hey man, sorry, I puked in your car”. (He had already thrown up in the front seat floor the year before) I think that car saw more body fluids than a medical lab....

I called him later to yell at him and tried not to laugh at how ridiculous it all was. I’m sure he gave me a “sorry man, I didn’t know. I was out of it…”.
 I easily forgave him knowing we had created a great memory for ourselves.

 Life would get more complicated after graduation and we all would have our up and downs....

….I’m happy to say we survived and just last week attended the Van Halen .
 my how times have changed …

We both had to get up early the next day and we’ve both calmed down quite a bit since the old days, so our numbers we quite different that night 28 years ago...
Total beers drank=  zero
total drugs consumed = zero
Pepsi’s drank=   two
years of friendship= Thirty

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