New Wave Prom 2015

February 14—Chico Women’s Club

Three days after New Wave Prom I woke up to manageably smaller raccoon eyes, knowing—hoping—that the last traces of makeup could finally be washed down the drain with this, my hundredth scrubbing. That’s what I get for using expensive longwear cosmetics to paint my face like a postmodern evil geisha.

As many of you already know, New Wave Prom was fantastic this year. The turnout was awesome, fashions ranged from bitchin’ to radical, and the music was totally choice. Additionally, there was a bar hosted by Duffy’s Tavern, my good friend (and Prom King) Tom Martin’s Delorean was opened up on the back patio for everyone’s drunken-selfie enjoyment, and there was a traditional prom photo setup courtesy of the lovely and talented Melanie McTavish. (I anticipate many awkward pictures featuring me not knowing what to do with my hands or face.) All hail Molly Roberts for pulling it together so well.

We arrived almost on time that night, maybe 10 minutes past 8:00, and the place was filling up quickly (presale tickets sold out days in advance). One nice thing about shows at the Women’s Club: schedules have to be kept tight. By 8:30 Her Tragic Mistake was hitting the stage. The addition of live music was new this year, and it was perfect. Her Tragic Mistake debuted their ‘80s Goth and New Wave tribute at the annual Duffy’s Halloween show with Pinhead back in October, following the great Chico tradition of Sometimes Bands: bands who are so good they only need to play once or twice a year to penetrate our psyche. Everything about them is gloomy and wonderful.

Claudette de Versailles, Chico’s original Empress of the Imperial Sovereign Court Of The Czaristic Dynasty, performed next. I’ve never seen her look more fabulous, in a breathtaking black and white striped fishtail gown that perfectly tied the futuristic androgyny and drama of the New Romantic scene with the orientalism of the Art Deco era. Pure glamour.

DJ Mike Flanagan (veteran of the Northern California New Wave Prom tradition) took over the music for the next hour or so, followed by DJ J-ho (perhaps better known as DJ Jeff Howse of Duffy’s Dance Night), who finished out the night with a sampling of his extensive record collection—plus a pretty sweet light show.

One of the most important things to note about this whole event is that there’s a big difference between ‘80s Prom and New Wave Prom, and the clearest line is drawn through the music. As it should be, there were no pop hits from Michael Jackson; no “Bust a Move” or “Get Down on It.” New Wave is Joy Division, The Cure, Culture Club, The Style Council… New Wave is tragically cool, androgynous, rebellious; it’s hard lines and synth and twitchy weirdos who only fit in with each other. The music was sometimes popular, and sometimes obscure, but always it was this distinct sound that the DJs offered like a sacrament to the bizarrely dressed cult dancing in a sea of black and neon. A great night. Next year, get your tickets early.

Managing Editor for Synthesis Weekly. Amy likes to make clothes, plant flowers, and chase butterflies.