The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 12, 1984 · Page 449
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 449

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 12, 1984
Page 449
Start Free Trial

r l) UvJ LiA Its fragments can be found in a variety of difficult-to-define forms THE B-52s' oldie, "Dance This Mess Around," is bouncing loud out of the speakers and across the dance floor where red ankle boots and black leather minis are twitching. It is Monday night on Bouquet Street in Oakland and the Sanctuary is jumpin'. Draft beer is 25 cents, the dance floor is throbbing with light and sound, and the "dress ups" are out. Studded black leather competes with polyester. Ripped sweatshirts ripple everywhere. Many of the outfits come in colors . normally not found in nature. Polka dots, leopard spots and tiger stripes abound as well. Featured heads in the crowd include a bleached blond crewcut, a mohawk, slicked-up Dippity-Do prongs and ragged short cuts in rainbow hues. In his catbird perch above the dance floor, disc jockey Harry Wagner, also known as "Harry the Wire," cues up the Violent Femmes on another turntable, switches on a stuttering strobe and assesses the scene. "People come here to dance," Wagner says, barely audible above the dissonant musical din. "This was the first club to do records. I started in August 1982. This is the No. 1 place now for it." It was labeled "punk" when it came from England eight years ago. That, in turn, begot "new wave," which eventually became "new music" and "modern music." "I'm playing modern dance music, anything from hardcore punk to electronic new wave," Wagner says. "In England now, DJs Article by Don Hopey Though the beat is new and the lyrics still shocking to many, the punk scene, in Pittsburgh and elsewhere, has evolved from the rebellious, working class anger that spawned it in England . . . The look may be outrageous to conventionally dressed Pitts-burghers, but trendy and designer priced. are the big thing, and here, well, this is about it. "Here it takes a long time to get them to accept new things," he says, waving an arm in the direction of the crowd. "They want to party to the older stuff. That's what gets the people up. New music is rock with a beat." The punks started turning more traditionally coifed heads in England as early as 1976. Devotees in multihued, radically cut hair and thrift shop fashions hung out their wilds in the street, and bands like the Sex Pistols rocked the basement clubs from London to Liverpool. It took time for that new sartorial and musical genre to cross the ocean and make its funky, slam-dancing way to Pittsburgh. By 1979 it had arrived here in all its outrageous sound and mock fury. That first generation of local punk bands - The Pukes, The Shut-Ins, The Compulsions, Targets (which later became the locally famous Carsickness), the popular Cardboards and the all-female Hans Brinker and the Dykes reads like a laundry list of psychoses and bad dreams. They played at Phase III and Fat City in Swissvale, the Lion Walk and the Electric Banana in Oakland. "The Banana, since 1979-80 has been the place where all the bands have played," Wagner says. "But it was a different scene, a hard-core scene then. "Fast. Shocking. Raunchy." By 1981, a second generation of punk bands had formed. The Rumhounds, Modern Anxiety, Whereabouts, The Jetsons, the all-female Dress Up As Natives and The Swarm played to an expanding audience, one with slightly more commercial tastes. One of the city's most popular punk bands of all time, The Five, had its genesis during this period as The Compulsives. Two other Pittsburgh bands, Combotactics and the Rave Ups, formed here then, and are still playing in San Francisco. "In 1979 and 1980, there were a lot more

What members have found on this page

Get access to

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 20,900+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the The Pittsburgh Press
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

Try it free