Vintage Phoenix Memory: Dance Hall Days

It was 1981. We were young, and there was nothing better to do.

And so my girl friends and I -- a bony chick we called Uncle who rarely spoke and her best friend, Laytchie McJeep, a corpulent girl who never stopped talking -- got dressed up in funny clothes and went to discos.

Being fashionable required an entire weekend. On Saturday mornings we'd drive downtown -- a daring thing for kids from the suburbs to do -- because that's where the good junk stores were. We'd forage at Goodwill and Salvation Army for old military uniforms and '50s housedresses and old dinner jackets and paste brooches. Then we'd take everything back to my apartment and make it "better."

Uncle liked to belt things and wear them as dresses. She'd put on a giant men's shirt or a huge, ratty old sweater that barely covered her ass and wrap a length of chain from the hardware store around her middle, and that was her outfit. I'd cut up a pair of Boy Scout trousers with pinking shears, then safety-pin them back together. Lapel pins with punk rock sayings were my favorite accessory; I wore my "Fuck art, let's dance!" button for an entire summer.

Laytchie favored sleeveless polyester shifts in patterns so ugly, they hurt your eyes. She was proud that one of her outfits -- a complicated black-and-white-checked number that Unc called The Twilight Zone Dress -- made a girl vomit, right on the dance floor at Discovery one warm Saturday night.

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