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Club Scene

I've been listening to a lot of 1st Wave satellite radio lately and it keeps reminding me of two specific club memories of my youth.

The first one took place at the Shy-Anne Social Club, located right on the beach in Gulfport from 1979 to 1988. The Shy-Anne was a brick, two-story, rectangular building. The first floor had a DJ and the second had live music. In the fall of 1985, we went there often to see our favorite band, Change to Eden.

They were the hottest, coolest, platinum-haired band on the coast in the 80s. Little pre-Joshua Tree U2; a lot The Police. This was before rednecks appropriated the mullet.

One weekend at the Shy-Anne, when CTE was on a break, the DJ played Simple Mind's Alive and Kicking. It really is one of the best 80s songs. A few people were dancing on the floor in front of the band's stage. Then Kevin Anderson got up.

Kevin graduated a year ahead of me. He was short, with big dark, curly hair, cut short on the sides, in the 80s style. He was wearing tailored black pleated pants and some kind of soft, black shoes that reminded me of jazz shoes, and an oversized silky button-down shirt. Gold with a black print. And he started dancing by himself. Bent at the knee, arms outstretched like a kid imitating an airplane. He was feeling himself and feeling the music. I picture it every time I hear the song.

Kevin ended up opening a salon and became an icon in his profession. For years he was the most sought-after hair stylist on the coast. He drowned at the age of 51 after falling off his fishing boat in the Gulf.

Okay that memory might not have been very exciting for you, but hold on for this one.

This one also takes place in the fall of 1984. I had graduated high school but my best friend had not. I was still living at home, working, saving for college, hanging with my friends who were seniors.

LBHS had a foreign exchange student called Hans* from a hip European country. He was really cute, with spiky blonde hair. Hans was madly in love with our friend Kate.

Kate was not traditionally pretty in the 80s sense - she was classically beautiful in the European model sense. (Think Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy.) So it's no surprise Hans fell hard for her. Tall and thin, Kate had a signature chic bob when we all had big curly hair. She pulled out her eyelashes and wore winged eyeliner because she liked the look. She wore skinny jeans and heels and oversized, off-the-shoulder shirts.

Kate dated Will through most of high school. She was devoted only to him. And he was gay. We all knew it. She had to have known it. But she shut down any conversation about it. Even with her best friends.

One weekend, when we all had plans to attend Fiesta at the Fiesta, Hans (17) showed up with his older brother (19), who'd come from Europe to spend a week. The brother was slightly taller, with darker spiky hair. We were all "Whoa! Hot European dude is here!!"

The Fiesta was a cheesy club on the beach in Biloxi. One night a week (Mondays? Maybe Tuesdays?) they had Fiesta at the Fiesta! For a $5 cover charge, you got free draft beer all night. Looking back, it seems both gross and an inherently bad idea. But at 18 (back when the drinking age for beer was 18 in Mississippi), it was awesome.

I wore a strapless black, full-skirted Audrey Hepburn dress. But I wore it over a black-checked button-up blouse. was the 80s. Try not to judge our fashion choices. Six of us headed out together: Me, my best friend Shelley, Kate, her best friend Michelle, Hans and his brother.

The Fiesta's dance floor was in the center of the large room, and a mezzanine overlooked it. We drank cheap beer at a table on the mezzanine for a while. We danced. I danced with Hans to Rock Me, Amadeus.

At some point, back at our table, Kate told me I should have worn the strapless dress without the blouse layered underneath. Ao drunk me pulled off the blouse and put it in my handbag. Which meant I also had to remove my bra, since it wasn't strapless. Not sure why I didn't put that in my purse too. Later, on the dance floor, I saw my bra being kicked around by dancers. We laughed. I didn't own up to it being mine.

Later that night I hooked up with Hans's older, darker, European brother.

* Some of the names have been changed to protect the living.


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