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Mixtape memory lane

The other day I found an old mixtape I’d made sometime last century. It was like discovering an artefact in a dig. A rectangular, plastic blast from the past. Fond memories sprung to my mind of recording off the radio during Simon Bates’ top 40 and copying albums.

A warm, fuzzy feeling washed over me.

I turned it over in my hands like a precious stone, and stared at it in wonder, remembering the excitement with which I used to compile these bulky tapes. I recalled the joy of swapping mixtapes with friends and listening to them on my Walkman, always carrying a pencil around to help me rewind.

“What’s THAT?” Son2’s voice snapped me back to the present. He looked baffled. “Is it a phone?”

Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 13.50.36I laughed. “No, it’s a cassette tape. It plays music.”

He quickly lost interest, but then Son1’s curiosity was piqued. He picked up the rattly old tape, as confounded by it as his brother and equally oblivious to the joys of a new blank cassette waiting to be recorded onto. “What is it?”

“A music tape … I used to listen to these when I was a kid.”

“Really? How?” He looked for an on button, before holding it to his ear. “I can’t hear anything. Where do you plug the headphones in?”

“You don’t–”

“I know, you play it through the TV,” Son2 interrupted.

“No,” Son1 corrected. “They didn’t have TVs back then.”

Oh good Lord. It wasn’t that loooong ago.

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Boney M takes Dubai by storm

“So you want to go back in time? Back to a time of no responsibilities. No bills. No kids!”

The words rang out across the clear, moonlit night. Retro images of Doc Martens and grungy fashion flashed brightly on the big screens and you could almost hear the audience of 30- and 40-somethings collectively reply: “Yes, yes, take us back!

“If you came looking for THIS, we truly apologise,” the voiceover continued.

A picture of Justin Bieber appeared on the screen and as the crowd, children of the 70s, 80s and 90s, roared with laughter, his face was crossed out with a big X. Cue more cheering and a cartoon skit, showing the troubled teen singer brawling with Peter from Family Guy.

Nothing personal Justin (our eight-year-olds still adore you), but this was our night to enjoy 90s vintage dance-pop, performed at Dubai’s second MiXTAPE Rewind concert by the likes of N-Trance, Vengaboys, Snap!, Dr Alban and the famed 70s band Boney M (bring it on!).

cassette-tape-and-pencilThe huge screen at Emirates Golf Club then flashed up a picture of a cassette, conjuring up memories of teenage mix tapes, middle-school crushes and recording the Top 40 off Radio 1 in your bedroom. And the scene was set for an amazing night of feel-good dance beats, topped off with wigs, punk mohawks and neon dresses among the enthralled audience.

Snap! romped their way through 90s hits such as Rhythm is a Dancer and The Power, then Dr Alban (remember him? The Nigerian-born dentist) proved that his 1992 dance floor anthem It’s My Life could still rock a city. So much so that he played it twice.

Boney M: The original line up. DH missed out!
Boney M: The original line up. A travesty that DH missed out!

N-Trance kept the crowd moving with an energetic performance and while I’d loved every single performer so far, it was the next band that had really piqued my interest.

Yes, Boney M. Except DH had barely heard of them.

To me, they symbolise classic tracks such as Daddy Cool, Brown Girl in the Ring and Rivers of Babylon (don’t even get me started on the Christmas hits). But it turns out they weren’t big in the US at all. DH’s music memories are Boneyless.

I wasn’t disappointed – led by the sole surviving band member Maizie Williams, who still has an amazing voice at the age of 62, the reconfigured group performed all my favourite super duper hits. I even caught DH swaying in time to their ode to the Russian mystic and best piece of disco cheese ever: Ra Ra Rasputin!

Boney M was a hard act to follow, but Vengaboys did so in pure Eurotrash style, proving that snappy, bubblegum pop songs sound brilliant when the retro vibe kicks in.

After racing their way through hits such as We’re Going to Ibiza and Boom Boom Boom Boom, the glitzily dressed Dutch group launched into a song that reminded me I wasn’t actually at a 90s disco, or in my teenage bedroom, but was standing outdoors without a coat in January 2014 in a Middle East city.

Sex on the Beach

Ibiza would probably be a better bet.