Back to the 90s

Photos by Andre Gagne

You didn’t need the brains of Bill Nye, Beakman or Doogie to solve last nights equation. The answer was as clear as Crystal Pepsi. C + C x TLC + TD = 90s nostalgia overload. #wordtoyomutha! Put away your DeLorean, phone booth and hot tub. Your WABAC to wayyyyy back would simply be a ticket. Yeah, that’s pretty radical.

Ahh, the 90s pre-Teen Spirit! It was a time when Kelly Kapowski and Jonathan Taylor Thomas were your dream dates, tips were frosted, your wardrobe looked like a packet of Skittles that had been left out in the sun and Donald Trump was just a megalomaniac on a hunt for power and money. Ok, some things never change.  

Those of you who remember, take your first MuchMusic Video Dance party, amp it up to 11 and you’ll get a feel for the bombastic rush of  what it was like when the I Love the 90s Tour rolled back into TD Place. Despite the ultimate Throwback Thursday having made fans “Push It” and “Bust A Move” less than a year ago, round 2 showed that the party, like the decade, wasn’t ready to fade away.

Looking around the arena as the seats filled with party people in sideways ball caps, florescent Tees and acid-wash jeans you got the sense that you were attending the biggest high school reunion in town. Sure, you didn’t know nearly all of these people but everybody was ready to MMMBop to the same beat. This night would be as much about reminiscing as it would be about fun.

“Let’s open up this dance floor! Those seats are going to malfunction in about two minutes so you better get up and party 90s style,”  shouted DJ Dwizz who oiled the crowd up by spinning all the one-hit wonders of our youth. The crowd still remembered every word and up they rose as the place broke out moves certain to impress any high school gym dance circle circa 1992.

Speaking, of oiled, after Penny Ford from Eurodance group Snap! proved that she still had “The Power”, Freedom Williams of C+C Music Factory kept things moving with super smash hits “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” and “Things That Make You Go Hmmm…”. Sure, he wasn’t quite as glistening as many remembered from the old videos but the Brooklyn rapper still carried a lot of energy even once pulling off a cartwheel that may have thrown out the backs of most in attendance.

“I was born in 1966. I am 51 years old and I will rock you,” proclaimed Williams. After lamenting about the Canadian Capital chill outside, he decided he’d turn up the heat. Off came the puffy red jacket, down went the shades and, though no longer accompanied by a bevy of dancing beauties, Williams showed he could still fire up a crowd with his rhymes and a few well placed gyrations.  

Like any good dance you need a couple of slow ones and Pop/R&B quartet All-4-One brought the smooth sounds that made nervous young lovers edge closer on Prom Night dance floors. Showing some choreography gleaned from The Temptations, the foursome still had the chops to belt out hits like “I Can Love You Like That” and “I Swear”.

Julie Hammond, dressed like Madonna, was one of the many enjoying the look back. For her, it was made even better because she was grooving with her 90s BFF. The decade holds many fond memories for both of them.

“I think of all the colour, the exciting music and going to clubs with this girl,” Hammond said, pointing to her long-time friend. Close to them another fan of the decade spoke of trends that were now coming back. She rejoiced in the fact that things that were sitting in the back of her closet for years were now once again fashionable.

Meanwhile, back on stage, Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGarth was showing how he could poke a little bit of fun at his former 90s stardom going so far to say he still doesn’t know what one of his most popular lyrics means. Yeah, what IS up with that halo hanging on the corner of his girlfriend’s four post bed, anyway?

The show closed out with two members of the biggest-selling American girl group of all time, TLC. While the absence of the charismatic Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was felt (the musician was tragically killed in a car crash in 2002), “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas were not about to be lost to the dials of retro radio. The duo, Thomas in particular, haven’t missed a step with Chilli keeping pace with the fast paced choreography of the band’s dancers.

65 million records, number 12 on VH1s 100 Greatest Women in Music, four Grammys and five VMAs aside, the trio’s music defined the time for many. We danced to it. We made out to it. We cruised around in our first car to it. Last night, TLC’s hour-long set put the exclamation point on what our 90’s lovin’ hearts still know: TLC will always be CrazySexyCool.

Never slowing, the two dipped into their Platinum debut Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip with 1992 hits “Baby-Baby-Baby” and “What About Your Friends” mixing in some newer cuts that merged their early sound with current-day vibes.

“We want to say something. We want to thank you to all of you. We see some young ones in the crowd but some of ya’ll have been here since day one. 25 years!” said Watkins.

New song “Joy Ride” was a tribute to all the fans that have stuck with them through the years. One of the lucky males near the front of the audience was treated to a different kind of thanks in the form of a lap dance from “Chilli” during one of the group’s sexier cuts, “Red Light Special”. Hits “Creep” and “No Scrubs” of course also made the set with the party finally grinding down with “Waterfalls”.

Before telling us to stick to the rivers and lakes we were used to, the remaining members of TLC showed a montage of images from the start of their career. The suspenders. The parachute pants. The florescent scrunchies and, yes, the condom covered specs. What stuck out most, though, was not the fashion but the youthful exuberance there in those still frames reminding us all about another time in our lives. That place where we are always young.

"Dreams are hopeless aspirations, in hopes of coming true, believe in yourself, the rest is up to me and you."