Lights, camera, action. Words you would never hear in any club but Club MTV. Aired from August 31, 1987 to June 26, 1992, the show brought a slice of house, hip-hop and dance culture to viewers at home. Presented by Brummy’s own ‘Downtown' Julie Brown, at the Palladium club in New York, the camera would cut between a wannabe model getting low to Crystal Waters' ‘Gypsy Woman’ to the original music video. The show’s concept was to create a clubber's fantasy, and to help create the fantasy, producers turned to the formulae that beauty and glamour attract more viewers.
Was the show a genuine representation of club culture? Probably not. The torsos were a little too orange, the skirts a little shorter, the dancing a little more ‘professional’. Meanwhile, 3,500 miles away, the British youth culture adopted the same music but transformed it into an underground movement; a warts and all attitude that appreciated the music in its stripped-back, most authentic form, where bucket hats and baggy trousers were not just found in Sean Ryder’s wardrobe but became a uniform for the proud rave generation.
For those watching from home across the U.S., the show was groundbreaking in that it showed a change in nightlife to older generations, facilitated a space for the mainstream to create their own version of a previously underground music genre, and, most importantly, simply entertained viewers.
Whether it was a genuine representation of late 80s - early 90s dance culture or not, the show was fun, if not a little cringeworthy, and for today’s viewers, provides a nostalgic trip of club culture and some serious old-skool floor fillers.
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