The Night of the Living 80s

A decade of dubious music gets resurrected at Lucerna Music Bar, where our correspondent discovers the frenzied joy of dancing like a fool

Do Praguers have a suspicious affection for the music of the 80s?

Yes, they do.

Friday was 80s night at Lucerna, a theatre, pub, disco, and restaurant all rolled into one very large complex, built "not recently". Following my usual grimace when told that the night's plans included any form of uncoordinated movement, I went along with a group of six new acquaintances and two friends. Let me tell you something: 80s night in Tucson, Arizona never looked like this.

First, the crowd was young, incredibly hot, and fashionable. Second, everyone was dancing; terribly of course, with the exception of those few people at clubs who actually go there to dance. (These people always appear as though they were magically teleported from some otherworldly, really stylish club. But no bother.) Third, they were playing the music videos of all the songs on a large projector right behind the stage. Huge speakers rocked the tables and floor. With five different bars placed in a dyslexic horseshoe shape adjacent to all the debauchery, drinks were easily procured, and often provided by good-looking dreadlocked bartenders. It was as 80s as I could expect in 2006.

One element of the evening that surprised me was this: it was obvious that these clubgoers had memorized a lot of these songs. Screaming unintelligible lyrics from INXS videos, the crowd surged with 80s cheer. This decade of Western music, bad hairdos and eye-watering fluorescents hit the jackpot in Prague, probably along with many other places in Europe.

However, the most surprising part was that not only did I have fun, but I could even be glimpsed dancing, often with gorgeous and disinterested girls. The dancing was in terrible form; awkward at best, I was powerless over my strange gyrations and flailing arms. I have never felt comfortable dancing. I'm not really concerned what others think, because rarely do they dance much better. (I'm content just watching the really good dancers.) No, my bad dancing stems from several factors, none of which are intended to offend or segregate:

a) I am a man. Men do not move their hips at all when they dance, and when they do, it's more like a small rodent has managed to find a way into their codpiece.

b) I am a Jew. Complex, modern, and progressive dance doesn't really enter into our traditional strengths; for example, debating. But one doesn't usually see many good-looking people at debates. Being white also may have something to do with this. Basically, I can't delineate any ancestry from which I could draw any dance moves.

c) I am conscious that I am a bad dancer. This is the big one. Picturing oneself dancing is bad enough. My mind jumps to the episode of Seinfeld where you see Elaine dancing. You know the one.

The main point behind dancing is that you shouldn't care about the unnatural appearance of your body in motion. It's about the heedless movement. Most of us spend much of our day either not moving at all, sitting in front of a desk, or moving in very boring and ordinary ways, like walking, shuffling, sulking, or crouching. (Well, this last one isn't really movement until you fall over, I guess.) We should let our bodies have fun once in a while! It's not fair to let our minds ruin the frenzied joy of dancing like a fool. Many people accomplish this with alcohol, to subdue the brain and its lightning-fast functionality. Hey, if it works…

The question posed earlier was: Do Czech people like the 80s? I would modify the original answer to say: definitely, with all the strength in their limbs and all the mind-power to ignore it.

• A version of this article originally appeared on The Scholarly Press

Lucerna Music Bar


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