I went to my first ‘alterative’ club in early 1988 on my 17th birthday, and it was called One Step Beyond in Santa Clara California. For whatever reason their age limit was 17 and up instead of 18, and I had a friend that had a car so I know I was very lucky to get to experience this. My friend had graduated in 87 so I was the only teen from my high school that went. My mom was/is cool and never gave me a curfew and let me go.
What did I experience exactly? It was the tail end of new wave, so the older songs were still played regularly. Radio stations refused to play rap songs by certain artists like 2 Live Crew or NWA and alternative clubs such as One Step Beyond were among the only places that you could hear those bands being played. The American government was trying to get such bands banned for offensive lyrics so playing such music in a club setting was actually pretty forward thinking for the time.
Rather than me droning on and on I am going to be posting some songs that I vividly remember being played during that time at One Step Beyond, The Twilight Zone and The Edge. Each place had it’s own unique vibe. The Edge was close to Stanford University so it was where the wealthy students would go if they wanted to go slumming, but there was definitely a gaggle of weirdos that also went there. The Twilight Zone was in an old movie theatre lobby and had the best venue I have ever been to. It has sweeping staircases to a second level where you could look down on the dance-floor and it was all ages. Finally, One Step Beyond. It had the most diverse crowd out of the three. There were punkers, mods, skins, etc… and everybody pretty much got along.
These are in no sort of order and are songs that I heard during that time in the clubs. Notice how eclectic this list is? It’s why I loved these clubs. I think something was definitely lost when the goth nights started to pop up in the early 90’s and left a lot of this music behind.
Desireless – Voyage Voyage (1986)
Red Flag – If I Ever (1989)
Digital Underground – Doowutchyalike (1990)
A Flock Of Seagulls – Wishing (If I Had A Photograph) (1983)
Virgin Prunes – Pagan Love Song (1982)
2 Live Crew – Get It Girl (1987)
My Life With The Thrill Kill Cult- The Days Of Swine And Roses (1990)
Christian Death – Church Of No Return (1989)
Ofra Haza – Im Nin’Alu (1988)
Technotronic – Pump Up The Jam (1990)
Billy Idol – Dancing With Myself (1981)
Specimen – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (1983)
Fake – Another Brick (1985)
Laid Back – White Horse (1983)
Blancmange – Living On The Ceiling (1982)
Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel – White Lines (Don’t Do It) (1983)
Deee-Lite – Groove Is In The Heart (1990)
Soft Cell – Sex Dwarf (1981)
Front 242 – Don’t Crash (1985)
Eric B. & Rakim – Paid In Full (1987)