Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Music Challenge

I've been issued a challenge by Dj Kirkby over at her blog-- Exquisite Dreams. She writes a lovely blog and also has a second blog for her stories, Adventures of a Hippie Child. Her challenge is a music one. Go to and pick out music from the year you turned 18. Get all nostalgic and then write a post about how this music affected you. Most people probably wouldn't bother issuing a music challenge to a Deaf woman, but I am glad she did, because she remembered that I do like music. Once upon a time, I couldn't live without music, fell asleep to music and woke up to music. Here's my answer to the challenge...

I turned 18 Fall of 1991. I had just graduated in June and spent most of the summer performing with my High School Road Show. We danced, signed songs and performed skits to a wide range of audiences, and also gave drama-related sign language work-shops. At the end of the summer, late August, we went to Argentina, South America. We were there for a week and performed in a well-known theater and toured the country. One of the songs we did that was on the top charts at the time was Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) by C&C Music Factory. I loved that song! We had a choreographer come in and teach us a dance and taught us the words and we'd practice for HOURS.

How do Deaf people learn words and dance to music? By cranking up the bass! We would dance on wood floors that were hollow and they carried the vibrations well, so we could feel the beat. Then we'd memorize the words and count beats between pauses in the lyrics. I could hear so I didn't have to count beats, but I memorized the words like everyone else. That was such a fun song to learn and I still remember most of the words and some of the dance moves.

That Fall, I didn't know what to do with myself... Go to College? What field of work did I want to do? I was completely lost. I spent a lot of time at home watching MTV and reading books. I was fortunate to have a Mom that wasn't nagging and encouraging me to find myself and figure out what I wanted to do. On weekends, I went to a dance club/bar in DC and I never had to show my ID. The bouncers assumed I was over 21 and slapped a wristband on me so I was able to score drinks. The bar was in a rough area of DC and when you got there, the parking, what little there was, was already packed and you had to park on the street. There would be plenty of rough looking black dudes saying they'd watch your car for 5 bucks. They weren't valets but you paid 'em, because if you didn't, your car ended up getting keyed, trashed or worse.

Once inside, there were 3 main areas-- on your left was a punk music area and everyone there was banging their heads to the music and pretty much slamming around. I didn't like going into that area. On the right, down a dark hall, with neon painted pictures that glowed under black-light, pass the bathrooms where no one cared if you were a male in the girl's bathroom or a female in the boy's bathroom, as long as you could get in to pee, was a huge dance room that played top hits, mixed songs and electronica music. This was where I hung out! There was a long bar on the left side of the room, an upper balcony that over looked the dance floor and on the right was an upstairs bar with tables for people that wanted to sit and drink. The third main area was outside and music was piped out from inside and there was a squared off sandbox for playing volleyball and sort of had a tiki bar feel to it. I would go out there if it got too hot inside.

We would drink and dance all night, all types of people sharing the dance floor. Fights would break out regularly, maybe a guy ogling another guy's girl, or gang rivalry... whatever the reason, big beefy bouncers were there with lightening speed to break up the fight and toss 'em out! I never felt like I shouldn't be there, I never felt in danger, but looking back, if Mom knew I was there, she would have freaked! One of the songs that always filled the up dance floor was Set Adrift On Memory Bliss by P.M. Dawn. The DJ mixed it up and made it last longer and it was a crowd pleaser. I could see people mouthing the words and arms waving in the air to the beat. Dancing was always fun for me, until there was an over-eager guy that wanted to get too close or he had more than two hands and it was difficult to keep him away from you. I remember once, there was a dude that I was dancing with and he pulled up my shirt and had it over my head so fast, I couldn't react quick enough. I pushed him away and moved closer to the friends I came with and kept my eye out for him.

The place is gone now. Too many complaints of fights and police being called over, too many underage kids getting drinks. The whole place went seedy and they finally closed it and bulldozed it down.

There was a vintage car show at the DC convention center and a car buff I knew wanted to go and asked me to come along. We took the subway and the closest stop was a couple blocks away. Since there was a big event going on, all kinds of vendors set up along the sidewalk and one of them was selling bootleg copies of music tapes. I had to stop and take a look. The one I bought was Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch with that song that always gets stuck in your head long after you hear it-- Good Vibrations. I wore that tape out! I had posters of Marky Mark in his Calvins on my bedroom wall and I loved that bad boy sneer he had in those pictures. I kept a diary and I even taped a ripped out magazine ad of Marky in there!

Everything I Do (I Do It For You) by Bryan Adams. Do I need to say more? When Robin Hood came out, I waited for the video (Movie theaters didn't have captions back then so most Deaf people waited for the video) and fell in love with both the movie and the song. One of the first CDs I bought was that album and on the back in the liner notes, there was a bit where if you sent in a request, they'd send you a lyric book. I sent for it and sure enough, I got it! I memorized just about every song on that album! I always liked it when albums would include the lyrics so Deaf people like me could know what I was listening to.

There was one group that I liked and all my friends thought I was so corny. But I bought the album and listened to it and fell in love with all the other stuff on it, too. I'm Too Sexy by Right Said Fred. I still listen to it and I still love it as much as I did then. It's just a fun album to listen to and every time I hear it, I can't help but smile and I start dancing. My girls look at me like I have a screw loose, but I don't care, I'm dancing anyway! They join me sooner or later and we all have a ball!

All these songs were top hits in 1991 and I loved them all, but the ones above are the ones I have personal memories attached to and whenever I hear them, on the radio, on TV or when I pop in the CD, it takes me back!

Justify My Love -Madonna

Love Will Never Do-- Janet Jackson (remember the video??)

I've Been Thinking About You-- Londonbeat

You're In Love -- Wilson Phillips

Baby Baby -- Amy Grant (I loved loved loved this one!)

More Than Words -- Extreme

Rush Rush -- Paula Abdul

Unbelieveable -- EMF

The Promise of a New Day -- Paula Abdul

I Adore Mi Amour -- Color Me Badd

Cream -- Prince (Before he was Formerly Known as Prince)

Black Or White -- Micheal Jackson

To Be With You-- Mr. Big

Save The Best For Last -- Vanessa Williams (this one gets stuck in my head sometimes)


DJ Kirkby said...

Hi! I loved 'I'm too sexy'! London beat were great too! I got fed up with Bryan Adams as he grew up on the mainland fromw here I did, I was on Vancouver Island (Lotous land my dad calls it), so heard plenty of Bryan as he became famous, what with him being a 'local boy' and all that... I just adore that rainbow dahlia painted by oldest,I know I said it before but I needed to say it again. How do you get those drawings up on your blog? You doing clour scans of them?

The Good Woman said...

We were eighteen in the same year. But music always took about an extra year to make it into the South African charts so moct of these songs remind me of the time I spent in Germany in 1992. Great selection.

Karen said...

Ah, I was 18 back in 1983 so my songs were quite different. I'm going to explore some of those songs you listed!

jenny said...

Dj-- I must admit, I still love Bryan Adams but I can only take so much of that gravely voice. I had a CD in the car and I'd play it everytime I went out until one day, Oldest piped up from the backseat, "Mom, can you play something else? I'm tired of this one."

That picture Oldest painted is one of my favorites. I intend on framing it and hanging it. I'm sure she will be pleased that someone else likes it to! I used my scanner to copy it into my computer and then posted it here.

GW-- You grew up in Cape Town, right? Did you know a Deaf family with the last name Simmons? I was close friend with a girl from there. They moved to the states when she was 15 or so. So we are the same age!!

Lindystar said...

A friend of mine (that's deaf) is totally in love with V. Williams. He used to play his tape for me cuz he said there was something about it that he could pick up on his hearing aids more than other music. I have no idea but I thought it was cool.

I loved this post, especialy about you in highschool. Good writing and remembering stuff. :)

lady macleod said...

You are quite the bee bop babe! What an interesting read. I love the emotion of music.

Oldest is turning into quite the artist!

jenny said...

Karen-- I like the songs from 1983, too! Hubby has a bunch of music from that period, since he is 10 years older than me. Thanks for coming back!

Lindy-- Vanessa has a lower pitched voice (in my opinion) than most female singers so it is easier to hear her voice coming through with the music. Many deaf people cannot hear high pitches (I'm one of them) and depend on low sounds, which explains why a lot of Deaf people like those bass-thumping songs. Glad you liked my post and thanks for coming back!

Lady M-- You can thank Hubby for Oldest liking to draw. Hubby is quite the doodler and is always encouraging Oldest to look at things and try to copy. She made a little book out of construction paper and she draws in it every day.

Thanks for coming back!

Mr Farty said...

Interesting post, it never occurred to me until now that Deaf people might enjoy music. You have opened my eyes and ears.

The Marky Mark song didn't register, so I played it on Youtube - and hated it so much I had to play the Beach Boys to get it out of my head!

With you on Fred, Madonna, Bryan, Paula and Vanessa...all the rest, in fact!

Off to compile my own list & background notes. Thanks for visiting.

jenny said...

Mr. Farty-- Welcome!! I apologize if the Marky Mark song burned your ears.. It's been a while since I have listened to it and I dont hear it on the radio anymore.

Beach Boys are good!! I suppose you played their version of Good Vibrations to rid of Marky's bad vibrations?? :o) Thanks for coming by!

Mr Farty said...

You're welcome. I've just finished mine.

BOSSY said...

Bossy is old enough to have given birth to your songs. Right, that makes sense...

the mad momma said...

got here via DJ Kirby and loved what i read.. and hey. .i was not 18..but i loved every single song you've listed!!