’80s Shoulder-Pad Dance Party!

edited by ANDREW HICKS

Are your shoulder pads a Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte or Miranda?

Laughing at yourself is fun. Laughing at others is even better.

Now, before you skewer me and throw me over an open flame, let me explain. I am not talking about the kind of laughter that comes from watching another suffer at the hands of cruelty or mean-spiritedness. I am talking about watching your dearest friend, clearly over-served by the bartender, bump and grind on the dance floor with an equally over-served stranger. Or watching someone you adore emerge from the ladies’ room with her skirt tucked neatly in the back of her tights.

I had one such embarrassing incident back in 1988 or so. I was about 24 years old, living in downtown D.C. and running around with the world in my back pocket. My best friends and I spent many a night hitting the club scene, drinking cheap champagne for hours before pouring ourselves into a cab to head home.

Our favorite hangout was an upscale spot along the Georgetown waterfront called the River Club. We owned that joint. We were dressed to impress.

Now, I know not all of you will remember the miracle of shoulder pads and remember them with quite the fondness that I do, but believe me, I thought they were THE BOMB. No fashion ensemble of mine was ever complete without big hair, a short skirt and the biggest shoulder pads I could find.

That evening, I chose a micro-mini skirt, a silk camisole, a pair of stilt heels and an oversized blazer. My hair was fresh with a spiral perm the size of the Washington Monument. Oh, I was going to be the envy of every woman and the object of every man’s desires. As I put on the blazer, I realized that the shoulder pads included inside said blazer were nowhere NEAR as big as was required.

I pulled out my bag (yes, an entire separate bag) of extra shoulder pads, and found a pair of squared-off babies at least two inches thick, complete with Velcro straps to secure them. I fastened over my bra and camisole straps, and put on the blazer. Another fluff of the hair, followed by a shellacing of Aquanet, and I was good to go.

I hailed a cab to my friend Nancy’s apartment, where we met our other two friends. The “Sex and the City” girls had nothing on the four of us, let me tell you. We gave ourselves a standing ovation for our stunning appearance and shared a cab to the River Club, where we simply walked to the front of the line and went in. I always loved those contemptuous looks from the other women forced to stand in line. Full of myself back then? You betcha. I knew everyone. Where’s the champagne? We need a few shots…

As the evening progressed, and the bottles of less-than-vintage champagne were downed, we hit the dance floor. By this point, I was in my element and living the dream. I remember it was warm. Really, really warm. I took off my blazer and hung it over a railing. I kept dancing. God, this is a great song! Dancing, dancing… What the hell, no one else is dancing now. The music is still playing. Why is Nancy laughing? Wait, people are staring… at me. Wow, I must really be shaking my moneymaker because they look like they may start applauding. Oh, if they only had a pole…

Deney "Finger Penis" Terrio

Then it hit me: THE DAMN SHOULDER PADS!!!!! I’m out there like Denny Terrio on “Dance Fever,” minus the blazer, and the shoulder pads are bouncing around like freaking water-wings for the entire room to see.

All three friends and several strangers at the bar are now doubled over laughing so hard I’m pretty sure a couple of them peed just a little. I’m flushed with embarrassment. I consider just leaving. Damn my friends for letting me go on like that. I’m mortified, completely humiliated, and then I realize, I would have done exactly the same thing to them. So I grab my blazer, take a bow and head back to the bar. For a full bottle of champagne. For myself.

Since then I’ve had my share of finger-pointing moments at the expense of friends who were forced to suffer as I did. All in good fun. No one was hurt, no one had to go into therapy, and no one committed a felony as revenge. Life should be full of laughter and memorable times. In the end, those are the moments we will remember with great fondness, and chances are we will wonder why didn’t put ourselves out there more so we could laugh even louder.

Because the fact is, if you can’t laugh at yourself, then how can you laugh at others with any honesty or conviction?

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