1984, Blue Mountains, NSW: Grade 5, Strawberry Shortcake, scratch and sniff stickers, friendship bracelets in Mrs Curran’s macramé class, visiting the newsagency every week for the latest Girl magazine, TV Week posters, rubber collecting, playing netball, swimming with friends at the Glenbrook pool, roller-skating on the driveway with Xanadu playing. It’s good to be 10. I’m beginning to discover pop music beyond Olivia Newton John and ‘1981 in the Bag’. Sunday is the BEST day of the week. Countdown AND Take 40 Australia. I sit there *pause*record*pause*record* on my mono cassette player hoping there’s enough room on the tape to squeeze one more song on before flipping to the B side. Culture Club quickly capture my 10 year old heart. I am completely sold. Fascinated. Boy George fast becomes the man of my dreams!
July 1984: Culture Club are coming to Australia! My dreams are coming true! Can it be true? I have to be there! A beacon of hope when my friend Rachel’s mum generously offers me a spare ticket to the Sydney show. SO EXCITING! But the hope and excitement are quickly dashed. My Mum and Dad think I am too little. They are more ‘folk club’ than ‘entertainment centre’ and I am their first born. Such a big concert makes them uncomfortable. I am crushed. Flat. There are tears. Lots of tears! Why me? Life is not fair. They console me with a trip to the record store on the highway in Blaxland. Colour By Numbers on vinyl comes home with me. I shut my bedroom door and pour over the lyrics and liner notes.
By some stroke of luck, the Culture Club tour of Australia is such a massive deal that they announce that the Sydney show is being televised in full and simulcast on the radio! I am still devastated not to be seeing my idols in person, but this is pretty excellent news. I get Dad to reserve a new video tape especially for the occasion. I wait breathlessly by the TV waiting for it to start. Dad waits in the other room ready to tape the simulcast. It’s magic!
The next day Rachel gives me an ace badge from the show to add to my collection, and her mum gives me her ticket stub as a souvenir (The ticket was $19.90!). I ask her over and over what it was like. I wear out that Betamax tape watching the concert again and again. The vision of the moment Boy George descends on that glittering moon, the familiar sounds of Take Control ramping up in the background. Goosebumps. Always. “No defeat. Your dance is sweet, Cause you ripped it from my soul…” I imagine being on the dancefloor,
Summer 1984: I use my pocket money to buy a Boy George velcro wallet at the Penrith Markets and I pick out a picture to have heat pressed onto a T-shirt. At school my Fifth Grade teacher Mrs Parnell has a new art project for our class to take on. We’re using our skills with glue and newspaper to to make a puppet head by applying paper mache over a light bulb! (yes over a light bulb!) There is no question in my mind. And so my Boy George doll is born. Mum and I rummage through the local remnants shop to secure just the right material for his costume and I painstakingly paint his face. My 10 year old classmates are most impressed. It’s complete. My 1984 homage to Boy George, my first true musical love.
June 2016, Melbourne: On Friday night I am seeing Culture Club in Melbourne! THIS FRIDAY NIGHT PEOPLE! My Mum no longer lives with the guilt of saying ‘no’ all those years ago….so much so it’s become a 30 year running joke (I love you Mum and Dad, even though you said no!!).
I have butterflies of excitement, I am 10 again!
Thank you Boy George and Culture Club for giving me over 30 years of musical joy.
Bring on Friday!