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Party like it’s 1989

HFS and Erasure return, signaling another welcome ‘80s resurgence



Erasure in their '80s heyday. (Photo courtesy of Warner Music Group)

With the return of legendary alt-rock radio station HFS, now broadcasting on 97.5 FM, and an array of ’80s acts going on tour this fall, the decade that brought us MTV is back on everyone’s radar.

“The ’80s cannot be compared to any other decade,” says Trent Vanegas, the gay blogger at “It is special in that not only was it beloved in its own time, but it has remained consistently cool to be loved by young and old.”

Kevin Phinney, the gay author of “Souled American: How Black Music Transformed White Culture,” agrees, adding that in “an era of past eras” there hasn’t been anything new since the ’80s.

Pat Benatar, who first hit the scene in 1979, recently started a tour with a stop in D.C. and she’s not the only one. More acts that originated in the ’80s are heading out once again and playing multiple venues in the area.

Erasure, with gay singer Andy Bell, will be performing at 9:30 club (815 V St., N.W.) on Sept. 6-7. This is the group’s first U.S. tour in more than five years and comes after the announcement of their first new album in four years, “Tomorrow’s World” to be released Oct. 4.

Another group hitting the road soon is OMD. Following a highly praised run earlier this year, they’ll be making 21 stops, including Rams Head Live (20 Market Place) in Baltimore on Sept. 19.

OMD’s newest album, “History of Modern,” was released last fall and has sold about 100,000 copies worldwide.

Also coming to town are Journey, Foreigner and Night Ranger on Aug. 28 and Stevie Nicks on Sept. 3. Both concerts will be at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow.

Artists from the ‘80s are also revived with the help of younger artists through covers and track sampling.

“A lot of these acts are associated with very good and warm early memories for people,” Phinney says.

According to Vanegas, one of the most popular rooms on the new music social media site is the “I ♥ The ’80s” room and young pop star Selena Gomez (born in 1992) celebrates all things ’80s in her music video for “Love You Like a Love Song,” including big hair, ’80s graphics, a light saber and more.

“I think everything, musically, started in the ’80s,” says local DJ Jason Royce. “The ’70s was cool and disco was what it was and the ’90s were all over the place … but … all the cool trends … started in the ’80s.”

Royce started spinning retro hits at Cobalt and now does a weekly retro night at Secrets, playing everything from late ’70s to early ’90s (the only way he can slide “Vogue” into his playlist).

“I think that’s why a lot of current artists sample and cover ’80s music,” Royce says.

Rihanna’s single, “SOS” sampled the key section, bass line and drum beat from Soft Cell’s 1981 hit “Tainted Love.” Girl Talk, which specializes in mashups and digital sampling, has released five records with tracks that sample from every decade including many from the ’80s, stringing retro hits together with new songs. And No Doubt covered Talk Talk’s “It’s My Life” as an additional track to their greatest hits album.

Stevie Nicks during her 'Bella Donna'-era '80s smash run. Nicks plays Nissan on Sept. 3. (Photo courtesy of Warner Music Group)

Another big source of ’80s covers is the hit series, “Glee,” which has brought many songs back to the forefront like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” classic Madonna songs such as “Like a Virgin” and a few Michael Jackson songs including “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing).”

“Artists like Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna — who I call the Holy Trinity of the ’80s — are looked to as … musical deities,” Vanegas says. “There is an inherent nostalgic love that comes with those decades in particular but ’80s music has become a staple … in commercials, in movies, at house parties DJed by the most in the know kids.”

These are some of the same artists Royce says are the obvious must plays for DJs, the “key divas,” but that other ’80s artists shouldn’t be ignored, like Rick Astley, Shelia E and Tiffany, not to mention specific songs that must be played.

“There are things that people love and they kind of like to hear, like ‘Mickey’ and ‘Love Shack.’ Those are kind of staples,” says Royce. “Everyone knows the words.”

Pop culture lovers say there’s just something about the ’80s that transcends time and age. The music and lyrics seem to be forever relevant.

“What I find more interesting is that I don’t recall a time when it wasn’t cool to love the music of the ’80s,” Vanegas says. “[I]t’s been my experience that the overall consensus is love for the ’80s … a consensus that I hope will live forever.”


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Bars & Parties

Beyonce vs. Rihanna dance party

Music provided by DJ Just Different at Union Stage



R² Productions LLC and Union Stage are teaming up to host  R² Productions’ inaugural “MEGA Dance Party” on Thursday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. at Union Stage at The Wharf.

The event will be a night full of dancing to music by pop stars Beyonce and Rihanna. DJ Just Different will be performing at the event. 

General Admission tickets cost $25 and Premier Plus tickets cost $35. For more information about ticket purchases, visit Union Stage’s website.

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The evolution of the open house

The more sophisticated the advertising, the more the events flourished



From car giveaways in the 1950s to today’s QR codes and virtual events, agents have used diverse strategies to draw buyers to open houses.

In the early 20th century, there were no exclusive agreements between a seller and a real estate agent. Any broker who knew of someone wanting to sell could participate in an “open listing” by planting his sign in the yard of that person and competing with agents from other brokerages who did the same. To the victor who obtained a buyer went the spoils of commission.

The rules began to change in 1919, when being a real estate broker now required a license. An agent might handle only one property at a time exclusively, but an “open for inspection” period could be used to introduce a model home or new community to the buying population. 

According to the National Association of Realtors, Dallas homebuilder, Howdy Howard, hosted one of the most successful open houses of all time in the 1950s. During the first 12 days of the event, an estimated 100,000 people attended, drawn by free sodas and the ultimate prize for the buyer – a new Cadillac.

Soon, brokers began hiring additional agents who could handle multiple properties. Unlike Howard’s marathon open house, agents would now host them for a few hours at a time, usually on a Sunday, to whet the appetite of the buyer pool. 

Classified advertisements with a description of a property would be placed in a local newspaper and potential buyers would review them with their morning coffee to decide which houses to visit later in the day. 

Marketing in newspapers went from a few lines of black and white text to a photo of a home’s exterior, to a multi-page spread that included both photos of houses and the agents who represented them.

The more sophisticated the advertising became, the more the open house flourished as a marketing tool, not only for the home itself, but also for the agent and the brokerage. It allowed agents to prospect for buyers for that home and others, and converse with neighbors who might want to sell their homes as well. 

Soon, the sign-in sheet was born, used by the agent to capture the contact information of a potential client or customer and to let the seller know who had visited his home. While sign-in sheets or cards are still used, some agents have gravitated to electronic applications, using a tablet computer instead of paper for the same purpose.

Fast forward to the early 2000s in D.C., when open houses became the primary source of showing property. An agent would enter a property into the multiple listing service (MLS) on a Thursday, entertain no showings until Saturday, host an open house on Sunday afternoon, and call for offers either Sunday night or Monday. The open house allowed agents to send their buyers rather than accompany them and serve multiple clients at once.  

The delayed showing day strategy referenced above has since been supplanted by the MLS’s Coming Soon status. Agents can now email or text links to upcoming properties to their clients in advance of showing availability and the clients can view photos, read property descriptions and disclosures, and schedule future visits accordingly.

Enter COVID-19. Due to the proliferation of the virus and the subsequent lockdown, the real estate world had to accommodate new public health requirements. 

One of the first things to go was the open house. Even agent showings were constrained, with visitors limited to an agent plus two people and additional requirements for wearing masks and disposable shoe covers and gloves. 

Overlapping appointments were not allowed, showings were limited to 15 to 30 minutes, and bottles of hand sanitizer sprung up on kitchen counters everywhere.

Ultimately, technology and ingenuity provided new marketing avenues for agents that included 3-D virtual open houses, Facetime and Duo viewings, videos, property websites and QR codes. Many of these marketing techniques remain, even though traditional open houses are coming back post-lockdown.

But are they really necessary? Certainly not for all types of properties. 

I believe the days of using a public open house to procure a buyer are limited. Agent security has become a concern and the desire for in-person viewings during a specific day or time has waned. 

On the other hand, Internet marketing and social media have a much wider reach, so much so that some people now feel comfortable buying a home – probably the most expensive item they will ever purchase – without even stepping into it until after closing.

After all, if we can work in sweatpants or pajamas while Zooming corporate meetings, how can naked virtual reality house hunting be far behind?

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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