What is it about the the 1980s?
Not too many clubs are throwing '50s sock hops. Sixties nights came and went with the cancellation of Mad Men, and the '70s are deader than disco. But the '80s have continued to be a focus for nightspots and the fun-loving people who frequent them.
Tonight, Churchill's will host just such an event: '80s Flashback Fest. It will have three stages with DJs playing all the Michael Jackson and Wham! hits you can stand, while live local bands such as Hometown Losers and PandaRama will play '80s covers and original songs throughout the night. At 2 a.m., there'll even be an '80s costume contest where the winner will take home $100.
But this is not the only recent event in South Florida honoring the '80s. On New Year's Eve, Fort Lauderdale beer garden Rhythm & Vine will throw a '80s party, and over the Thanksgiving weekend, Gramps hosted the 14th-annual '80s Prom. If you Google-search "'80s night," you'll get more than 25 million hits. Odds are as you read this, someone, somewhere is plotting an '80s party at this moment.
Part of the appeal is no doubt generational. Kids of the '80s have grown up and have a little disposable income. Enough time has passed since the '90s began that with the right pair of beer goggles, you can look back and think of the '80s as a simpler time with better music and crazier fashion. It now seems like a distant era, even more so because so many of the major figures of the time have left us. Ronald Reagan and Michael Jackson are long gone, but 2016 was particularly cruel. This past year we were robbed of '80s icons Prince, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, Alan Thicke, and David Bowie (if your introduction to the Thin White Duke was not through Ziggy Stardust but rather the movie Labyrinth).
Still, there was something distinct about the '80s that future decades will find tough to match. There was no World Wide Web, only a limited number of TV and radio stations. Pop culture was universal, where you could not escape a hit song, movie, or TV catch phrase. Everyone knew Madonna, E.T., and the commercial that asked "Where's the beef?" — as opposed to today, when everyone has their own niche culture. So maybe the question isn't why are there so many '80s nights, but what the hell could you possibly wear in 30 years to a '10s night?
'80s Flashback Fest
9 p.m. Friday, December 30, at Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-1807; churchillspub.com. Admission costs $10.