Spotlight: The Awesome 80s Prom

Get out of my dreams, get into my interactive show about Reagan-era high school dances

Courtesy of the Awesome 80s Prom

Endless airings of VHI's I Love the '80s have turned the Reagan era and all its nostalgia-inducing tchotchkes into one giant, prepackaged brand. It's hard to imagine the me-first decade without thinking of Michael Ian Black, or worse, Hal Sparks, as its spokesperson. The past's ubiquitous modern-day presence is why the decade droppings (hey, remember Spuds McKenzie?) by the Mr. Mister-looking prom MC in this interactive flashback performance don't offer nearly as many communal nostalgia trips as the characters themselves. The hilarious and spot-on cast of Breakfast Club members (the nerd, the spaz, the flamboyant new romantic, the badass, the slutty popular girl, etc.) have somehow entered into the phantom vortex of timelessness and returned as amalgamations of every generation's high school stereotypes. Along the way, they've picked up the subtle gestures and symbols of the '80s that, unlike the garish getups, never were permanently etched into our collective consciousness. The Asian foreign-exchange student, Feng Schwey (Eric "Pogi" Sumangil), dancing with an audience member to REO's "Can't Fight This Feeling" recaptured so many cringe-inducing moments of high school that I couldn't help but feel oddly attracted to the wholly unchangeable bad boy, "Fender." (High school was a really "unhealthy" time.) With his arms as straight and stiff as an Atari joystick, Feng placed his hands on the woman's waist and awkwardly rocked side to side like a wind-up robot about to run out of juice. But if you're without a dance partner to keep at the requisite arm's length, it's perfectly acceptable to be a dateless wallflower at this prom. In fact, this dance is for the lonely class of interlopers who are smart enough to sit back and watch the discreet moments they were too self-absorbed to catch the first time around: the awkward school photographer stealing a whiff of the music teacher's hair, the fight between the jock and his girlfriend, the cheerleader in a knee brace who later adds a sling to her cheering-impairing regalia. And unlike that horrible first prom, this time the cool kids could invite you to join their dance circle, where you might try out your rusty "Molly Ringwald" and pop 'n' lock.

 
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