A crowd of coeds decked out in gold lame leggings, electrically colored plastic bangles, and an assortment of artfully ripped tops tremble to a synthesized beat. Argyle outfitted nerds rules the airwaves from their perch on the stage while robots reign supreme on the makeshift dance floor.
Over the hubbub of the crowd, the MC shouts the magic words: ‘No matter what you do tonight, everything is free!’
The gaudy fashion statements and ‘Flashdance’ throwbacks that reign at this party are synonymous with the decade where scrunches were the epitome of chic.
This is the ’80s, or more precisely, Matador Nights: The ’80s, an event where the the University Student Union is overtaken by thousands of students decked out in 80’s regalia and ready to bust a move ‘Pretty in Pink’ style.
Though many of the participants were barely born in the decade where both Jon Bon Jovi and Ronald Reagan were symbols of national pride and are young enough that Molly Ringwald could most certainly be their mother a la ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager’ that doesn’t keep them from rocking their leg warmers.
Just how many revelers is the omnipresent staff planning on entertaining tonight? ‘3,000,’ said Cecila Ortiz, one of many to stand sentry at the entertainers entrance lest sneaky students try to bypass the regular line, a queue that stretched six wide straight to Zelzah Avenue.
‘There’s been huge word of mouth,’ Ortiz offers as way of explanation for line, still mile-long at midnight.
But the neon colors and plethora of free corndogs did not appease all partygoers. The line-lagged masses were frustrated by the general chaos of the event and anxious over others actions. The sheer number of people ensured that tensions were high when a brush against someone while trying to get through the crowd could be misconstrued.
‘So many people were breaking into fights,’ said one attendee who wished to remain anonymous. ‘The staff couldn’t control the crowds. I thought it was going to be fun, but it was chaotic and scary.’
For those lucky enough to get in before the party ends at 1:30 a.m., the Spazmatics, an ’80s cover band serves as the soundtrack to their fun.
The chorus of ‘Whip It’ floats through the air as CSUN students and their ’80s fabulous friends take advantage of the plethora of activities designed to transport them to a heaven of highlighter colors.
Wannabe rock gods, minus horribly over-sprayed hair, belt out tunes in the pub courtesy of big screened versions of ‘Rock Band,’ complete with an audience made up of those too scared to tackle the drums on their own.
Next door in the Grand Salon an arcade of ’80s era favorites amuses the neon clad masses. Ms. Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Asteroids and Tetris are all here in what might possibly be a nerd’s dream world straight out of ‘Terminator 2.’
It’s not all fun and games in this haven of foose ball and air hockey. The ladies of Alpha Pi Sigma, for one, mean business.
‘Are you registered to vote?’ the turquoise-clad students ask everyone who enters the arcade of ’80s delights.
The sorority aims to register students in the first of many efforts they have planned to be election-savvy in the upcoming months, explains Laura Martinez, the group’s public relations officer.
Across the way, another sorority offers perhaps less serious, but definitely more style-conscious fare. Tables stand stood ready and waiting with decorations galore to personalize neon visors and what was possibly the most sought after item of the night: Slap bracelets.
Outside, more lines overtake the landscape as students wait for what could be the Holy Grail to hungry college students: Free food. And not just any free food, Hot Dog on a Stick: Deep fried yummyness to be washed down by a syrup-heavy snow cone.
After the fried feast, students could test their staminas on a bounce house obstacle course. On second thought, perhaps it’s better to bounce prior to gorging on corn dogs and lemonade, or at least take a break in between eating and bouncing to partake in a kiddie-carnival favorite, face painting.
Brightly-colored masterpieces adorn the faces of those who braved the long line to the booth. Hot pink flames, neon green polka dots and vivid blue stars enhance the already electric outfits of partygoers, but at least one girl hopes to forgo the norm.
‘I want a moustache,’ said Lauren Smith while waiting in line at the booth. She gets a hyper-colored bubbly design; apparently the airbrush stencils didn’t include facial hair. Before the crowd erupts in an effusion of robots and moon walks, decidedly more skilled rival dance groups take the stage to demonstrate their theatrics in a competition worthy of MTV’s ‘America’s Best Dance Crew.’
As the legging bedecked students saunter out the way they came, exchanging goodbyes, just like something out of ‘The Breakfast Club,’ one can only hope that their disappearance will lessen the strain on the crowd, the length of the lines, and the burden of the staff to at least try to maintain some semblance of order.
The whole night was a John Hughes film come to life combined with a splash of ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air.’ A touch of ‘Sixteen Candles,’ a dash of ‘Weird Science,’ and the style of a pre-action hero Will Smith combine to make a night of’ (free!) epic amusement. If you can handle the lines, of course.