: Slang words from the ‘80s (what’s your damage, wastoid, rad, totally tubular, mega, bodacious, gnarly, grody) against a black background. Some words are in a glowing purple or aqua font and others are in aqua, pink, and white 3D/holographic font. The words are surrounded by ‘80s style pink, purple, aqua, and white geometric patterns.

Have Yourself an ‘80s Summer

By Brittany Anderson
Assistant Web Content Manager

I finally got around to finishing season three of Stranger Things last month— I know, I’m incredibly late on that one. It’s shows like this that make me realize how nostalgic I am for a period I have never and will never experience.

As someone who grew up surrounded by bits and pieces of ‘80s pop culture, I never really appreciated what it all meant until now as I’m in my early twenties.

Having been born in 1998, I’m stuck between not being able to call myself a ‘90s kid, yet hate the idea of being lumped into Gen Z. AKA: I’m by no means an expert on what an actual “‘80s summer” was like, but that doesn’t make my yearning for experiencing it any less.

If you’re like me and crave the simplicity of this time, (mostly thanks to all the amazing films, TV shows, video games and music that came out of this era), here’s some inspiration on how you can (kind of) live like it’s the ‘80s this summer, some 40 years later.

Indulge in pop culture’s greatest.

When it comes to entertainment, I don’t think any decade has the ‘80s beat. From questionable animation to cliché plots and characters, there’s nothing quite like the experience of watching an ‘80s film.

The list of must-sees is way too long, but here are some of my favorites that might give you some inspiration. Several of these truly are like rites of passage, so get to watching if you haven’t already.

  • Airplane! (1980)
  • E.T. (1982)
  • Ghostbusters (1984)
  • The NeverEnding Story (1984)
  • The Goonies (1985)
  • Back to the Future (1985)
  • Weird Science (1985)
  • The Breakfast Club (1985)
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
  • Labyrinth (1986)
  • The Princess Bride (1987)
  • Beetlejuice (1988)
  • Heathers (1989)
  • Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)

Create physical memories.

My parents make fun of me for having a Polaroid, but it’s hard to explain to someone who didn’t grow up in the 2000s that, A) although the quality isn’t fantastic, having a physical photo instantaneously is pretty cool and B) having the ability to take a thousand pictures in an instant and delete the ones you don’t like can be overstimulating— Polaroid’s are a great way to combat that.

Five Polaroid photos of various people
My Polaroid captured these moments of my friends and me at a New Year’s party in 2019. Image by Brittany Anderson.

I feel like Polaroid’s are totally overrated yet still somehow criminally underrated. Either way, I promise that using one won’t make you look like a wannabe. One day, years from now, you’ll be glad you had actual photos to put in a photo album so you can show your kids how cool you once were.

If you don’t have a Polaroid, a Kodak or a Fujifilm, disposable will work just fine. Don’t forget to go get your film developed!

Get off your phone and do literally anything else.

I know it sounds worn out, but honestly, put your phone down and soak everything in. Have fun for a few hours without being wrapped up with what’s going on online.

There are tons of bike riding trails in San Marcos, or neighborhoods where you can live out your Stranger Things/The Goonies fantasy. Break out the board games. Who needs the beach or pool when you have a garden hose and sprinkler? Strange things might be afoot at the Circle K…

Take a trip to a drive-in theater (a great COVID-friendly outing). Most drive-ins harp on the nostalgia factor and play tons of old school movies. There’s Stars & Stripes Drive-In in New Braunfels and Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In in Austin.

When out doing anything, remember to socially distance yourself from others, wear a mask when near them and wash your hands as frequently as possible. Just because they didn’t have a respiratory pandemic in the ‘80s doesn’t mean you can pretend like we don’t now.

Go for a drive and blast the best.

Ok, so you probably don’t have a wood-paneled station wagon or a DeLorean, but still: there’s nothing better than listening to some of the best music that has ever been made while you drive down the highway.

A slight exaggeration? Nah. Listen for yourself:

If you don’t have a specific destination in mind, mix in a bit of 21st-century fun with Randonauting to truly help embody the warmth and freedom of this ‘80s playlist. Remember though, this is 2020, and going places alone or at night isn’t quite the norm anymore, so plan accordingly.

We may never be able to go back and truly live as the world once was, but there’s something oddly comforting about being able to live in a nostalgic state of mind.

While it’s important to appreciate and not lose sight of what we have now, it’s nice to escape for a while. Spend these next few weeks letting go, not taking yourself as seriously, and creating your dreamy ‘80s inspired summer.

Featured image by Brittany Anderson.

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