In certain parts of Kensington, South Philly, and the Northeast, it eternally remains 1989. Some of that has to do with the slow glide of time in neighborhoods that have proved, for better or for worse, gentrification-proof. But it also has to do with the soundtrack, and for these neighborhoods that we're thinking of, that soundtrack is Freestyle, the unlikely subgenre of '80s dance music that has proved to be nearly immortal. There are places in the world that haven't stopped playing these records since the week they came out, and Philadelphia is one of them. Originally derided as music for "disco bunnies" back in the day, Freestyle's big chunky beats, rudimentary sampling, and chirpy vocals play on, often in spring and summer, from rowhome to rowhome still.
A man cries "because I love youuuuu" from long ago on a stoop-perched radio. Girls lost in emotion prepare their hair and weirdly anachronistic clothes for a night out at Bamboo. Scattered guido remnants still bemoaning the loss of Jersey Shore hope they don't awake to another silent morning alone. For these lost souls are still looking for a real love, baby, in a idealized mental world where Club Fizz never shuttered its Skidz-encrusted doors, and Q102 still soundtracked nights at the 49th Street Galleria. Perhaps they'll find redemption at the Super Freestyle Explosion at the Wells Fargo Center this summer, when their forgotten musical heroes take the stage once more. Seasons change, feelings change. But not for everyone. We respect that, we truly do. So much so that on this dreary Friday morning, we offer you this: Our shared freestyle legacy. Play it loud, and use a lot of mousse.