Nigel Downer is a Toronto Mainstage alum and director of The Bob Curry Fellowship Showcase.
The year: 1986. Ronald Reagan is president. Haley’s Comet pays our solar system a visit. Pope John Paul II pisses off Catholics everywhere by saying that Judaism is a-okay. And an epic force makes its way onto the music scene.
2013 marks the return of that epic force; a force so great it has the power to remove wedding rings and reverse decades of menstruation: New Kids on the Block, the iconic 80s/90s band that has turned all of my 30-something female friends into yapping, arm-waving, pre-teen shells of the adult women they once were.
In case you grew up locked in your room listening to a looped tape of “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want”*, The New Kids (aka NKOTB) were among the first of the manufactured boy bands who reached their pinnacle of fame with the immortal Hangin’ Tough album in 1989.
Wherever you fall on the punk to pop spectrum, no one is immune to the kitschy draw of childhood nostalgia. So hang tough, and follow this step-by-step guide to having the right stuff when it comes to living your pre-teen fantasy.
Don age-appropriate gear.
An understated slap-bracelet is totally tubular. A surprisingly functional Hypercolor shirt worn while waiting for the arena doors to open in the late summer heat will guarantee that more than just the opening band will be “98 Degrees.”
Reframe your adolescent perception of “hot.”
Appreciating that Joey McIntyre has matured nicely while maintaining an appropriate level of boyish charm is way bitchin’. Secretly taping a picture of both 1989 and 2013 shirtless Donny Whalberg behind the headboard where your husband can’t see it…grody.
When dancing, stick to what you know.
Doing the white-girl shuffle (shifting weight from one foot to the other while softly clapping) is radical. Trying to follow the choreography to “Ice, Ice Baby” like you did in your bedroom as a child – unless you had a stint as a Fly Girl – is gnarly.
Sing along if you know the words.
At a concert, the performers thrive on the fact that you memorized their 25-year-old song written by a 45-year-old record exec. Like, for sure. If you are at your desk, however, and your cube walls are so thin your thumbtacks peek out on your neighbor’s side, oh-oh-oh-oh-NO.
Remember that you are still an executive/professional/mom/wife/all-around grown-up.
Have fun, Gen-X/Gen-Y hybrid! You deserve a night out to put your XL t-shirt in a midriff knot and down a couple of Zimas. But you owe it to your loved ones to get home safe, sound and free of Wahlberg hickeys. Gag me with a spoon.
*If you don’t recognize this to be a song by The Smiths, congratulations! You are either too young or too happy.
Natalie Shipman is an alum of The Second City Touring Company and ComedySportz Chicago. She currently writes, acts, teaches improv and performs stand-up around the city. Follow her on Twitter:@natalinasp