This weekend, I went to a bar for the first time with my parents. It was the bar where they met: locking eyes across the dance floor, drawn to each other with all the neon pomp of a classic eighties movie. When they invited me to join them, I was reluctant—why drag their firstborn along as they reminisce the excitement of that serendipitous night? But eventually my resistance gave way to curiosity, and that's how I ended up tagging along with my parents to bar I'd never been to for Eighties Night. They had fun reliving the glory days—and, I had a blast at a new bar, and so can you.
Step 1: Find yourself some vintage clothing. Since my parents met in the eighties, my mom dusted off a polyester jumpsuit from high school and let me borrow it. She chose a pastel pink palette—à la Molly Ringwald—and my dad wore an old surf brand that went out of business years ago. Donning garb from the decade played into our roles, earning us a third place win in a costume contest and a $10 Trader Joe's gift card. So even if you're not interested in reliving the glory days, dressing up in vintage wear could pay off in free groceries.
Step 2: Request Billy Idol. Of course, you can fill in any artist based on the era you're trying to emulate. Our go-to request was "Rebel Yell," the first song my parents danced to all those years ago. The eighties-spinning DJ was more than happy to oblige. Music is one of the most essential parts of a good experience at a bar, and this was no exception.
Step 3: Ask the bartender for a drink suggestion. When I did this she laughed and whipped up a Blue Lagoon in no time. She said it matched my blue, eighties-inspired eyeshadow, and she wasn't wrong.
Step 4: Be ready to tell a nostalgic story. And be ready to tell it again. And again. Our night wouldn't have been the same without my parents' willingness to tell anyone and everyone the story of how they met, and I was happy to be along for the ride.
If you're interested in reliving the glory days at a bar or visiting bars in general, check out The Field Guide to Drinking in America for the ins-and-outs of bar-going across the country. The book can be found here.