80s Dancewear Was An Absolute Delight
And I miss it desperately
Instead of embracing the sterilized, sweat-free version of dance portrayed in musicals from eras past, the 80s flew whole-heartedly into a world where dancers sweated, groaned, let their hair fly around, had big dreams, and even bigger breakdowns. The effort involved in dancing was evident in a way it hadn’t been before and this gave the dancewear an edge that was simultaneously real, ridiculous and romantic.
Staying Alive (1983)
Once there was a movie called Staying Alive. A sequel to Saturday Night Fever, it received 0% on the Tomatometer, but 100% in my heart. The emotional depths of the original were replaced by barrels of sweat and dancewear achieving unsurpassed levels of epicness.
Why doesn’t anyone dance in headbands anymore? So practical! So stylish! Soooooo 80s. You go, girl in pink with enormous bangs. You’re standing behind the star, but I see you.
Chick is wearing trunks over a unitard. Why? Dude on the right is wearing a killer combo of leg warmers, wrap sweater AND headband. That should automatically make him the leader. Dude on the left looks like he got lost on the way to a meeting with his lawyer where they talk on enormous phones and scheme about ways to close the theater down.
The cutouts on these costumes are AMAZEBALLS. They should be in a museum somewhere.
Fame takes place in the sort of high school I wanted to go to. Who doesn’t want Debbie Allen yelling at them about the price of stardom? No one, that’s who!
Did you get kicked out of class if you forgot to bring your leg warmers?
Shorts on top of sweatpants. Bold.
Even though Fame did it first, Flashdance is the movie that inspired a million women across the nation to take scissors to their wardrobes.
Oh honey. You don’t have much money and you’re going to have to buy all new clothes when this trend passes. Though, you probably have another 9 years before that happens.
This is the restrained version of 80s dancewear. Still involves full hair, high-cut trunks and leg warmers past the knees.
A Chorus Line (1985)
Hardcore theater junkies are going to complain that the movie version of A Chorus Line doesn’t even come close to the brilliance of the stage version, but that should not prevent you from enjoying the brilliance of the costuming.
We’ve got aerobics 80s. We’ve got loungy 80s. We’ve got serious dancer 80s. And we’ve got whatever the heck is going on with that triangle shirt.
All those other dancers are worried, because they didn’t wear their matching turquoise, cut-up-to-there trunks and long-sleeved crop tops. You’re going to need to up your game at this audition, folks.
It’s time to consider what we might be missing. Open the drawers we closed ages ago and pull out our headbands and trunks. Even when we made fun of them, pretended we were too stylish, they waited in the darkness. They knew one day we’d return.
Thanks for reading! I’m a freelance writer, designer and dancer. You can follow me on twitter for more goofballery.