June 28, 2007. Let us remember this day, for it was this day that the Spice Girls announced the much anticipated and rumoured reunion world tour. Let’s just say that I have been waiting for this for awhile, since hearing about reunion rumours for Live8. It is said that this tour will be the very last chance to see all five girls together on stage, singing their 90’s hits, proclaiming “girl power”, while invoking nostalgia for all in attendance. Unfortunately, though, the 12 dates announced so far are lacking Canadian dates, something I hope will be rectified in the near future. [ Addendum: At the end of July and early August, two new Canadian dates were added! The tour now starts out in Vancouver and “The Spice City”, Toronto, will have its dated added later on. Huzzah! ]
As I said, this is very, very exciting for me, both as a person who loves all things nostalgia and as a person whose life once revolved around “girl power” and the Spice Girls. And truth be told, I still listen to the Spice Girls’ first two albums every so often and have them on my iPod. The Spice Girls, to me, signify more than just a music group, more than just a few catchy songs, more than just “a package” moulded by record execs. No, to me, as corny as it sounds, they epitomize the carefree, fun days of my youth. They were just that integral to my days growing up.
I still remember how it happened. In 1996 when I was in grade 8, my closest friends, or “BFF’s” as the kids say, at the time were in history class or maybe geography class. Well, it was one of those classes we used to rotate to in the afternoon. We were talking about the Spice Girls and someone within our group suggested WE be the Spice Girls, just for fun. Like a game of “make-believe” but with pop culture references. We all picked one member to pretend to be and I chose Emma (Baby Spice) as my first choice, as did someone else. Whoever was writing this down, as we were quite efficient and organized, gave Emma to someone else. In the end, I got Victoria (Posh Spice) and while bitter at first, I later decided that it was the better choice anyway.
Soon after, we were singing Spice Girls songs in the corridor during recesses, doodling Spice Girls related stuff on our books, recording and watching their videos and performances, discussing pertinent Spice Girls matters on the phone, deconstructing every move or sound byte from “our” Spice Girl and basically becoming obsessed teenyboppers. While, I’m sure looking back on this, it seems rather pathetic and kind of embarrassing. Nonetheless, our shared devotion, if you will, for the Spice Girls acted as the catalyst for social cohesion –our bonding and friendships– at the time. The pre-teen and teenage years can be quite rough and lonely for some, having to deal with bullying, antagonism from peers and the like. I think that I can look back fondly on my youth due largely in part to my close-knit social circle – a tight bond that was made stronger as a result of our shared interests — the Spice Girls being one large part of our interests. For this, among other reasons, the Spice Girls to me will always be huge part of my life.
I’ve had a lot of Spice Girls related memories. Let’s see…
- The first time we found out that the Spice Girls would be performing on SNL, we decided to have a sleepover to watch it all together. So on April 12, 1997, we headed over to my friend Jen’s house where we would spend the hours before SNL started watching our Spice Girls tapes. Watching and re-watching their performance on the Brit Awards, music videos, interviews, everything. Then when they finally performed “Wannabe”, we were kind of shocked at how terrible they sounded live. We rewound the tape and watched it again to analyze it second by second, not realizing that musical acts on SNL perform two live sets. After we stopped the VCR, we caught the very end of “Say You’ll Be There”. Well, we were majorly bummed out about missing this second performance (though we did eventually see the rerun and taped it in full).
- In the grade 8 yearbook (which included some hokey pictures of us doing some “Say You’ll Be There” type poses), we got to write personal messages beside our picture. I, alongside my fellow “pseudo-Spice-Girls”, wrote messages that referenced our favourite group. I had written “Spice Girls rule!” and, being at a Catholic school, my teacher objected. He said that God rules all and so if I wanted to express such a sentiment, I would have to be more specific. Thus, my yearbook message now reads “Spice Girls rule the world” which doesn’t have the same ring nor is it really something I’d say. Oh well.
- Around the time the Spice Girls were making headway in North America, there was news of an autograph signing in Toronto. The minute we heard the news, we started planning the day of skipping school and heading down to get a spot in line. Needless to say, the parents were not at all thrilled by our plans of missing school and going downtown but we were determined. I mean really, it was our chance to see our idols in the flesh! Sadly, though, a few days before the date, the appearance was canceled and we were again majorly bummed out.
- Then there was the release of “Spice World“, the first and only Spice Girls feature film. Oh boy, were we excited even though we were a bit older, more into the boybands by then (and for me, my beloved to this very day, Hanson), and our enthusiasm had withered away. And by “we”, I mean the three of us who were left that were still fans of the group. Still, we went on opening day weekend to watch the movie. Afterward, we were quoting from the movie (and to be honest, to this day I still remember almost all the lines from Spice World). In fact, my friend Tanya and I went to see Spice World a second time when it came to a smaller, cheaper theater. As can be expected, I went out and bought the VHS when it was finally released and I still have it to this day (although collecting dust).
- Later in 1998, the Spice Girls had their first concert in Toronto. It was at the Molson Amplitheatre in the summer. By then, we were fans but we weren’t big enough fans to spend whatever it was to see them in concert (frankly, during that time we were going broke from all the concerts we were going to from N’SYNC to Hanson to the Moffatts to random boybands). Also, it was pretty much down to two of us who still followed the group, my friend Tanya and I. We still went though, not sure why, just to check it out and maybe be in the near vicinity of the group we once so loved. Luckily, we found a way to sneak into the lawn section – I guess security was lax back then – and we watched the show from there. It was a good show except the Spice Girls were like the size of ants from where we were sitting.
A photo I took when I saw the Spice Girls in ’98
- A day after that concert, the Spice Girls had an I&I at MuchMusic. And guess what? Yeah, Tanya and I went to that too. We lined up as early as can be (or as early as the Sunday TTC schedule permitted) to stake out a front row spot in the squish pit to see them. It was July and it was humid as can be. I remember almost having a heat stroke. But being the determined cows we were, we stuck it out. When it finally came time for the show to happen, it was like a blur of excitement (maybe the blur part was due in part to heat exhaustion, but anyway). I was within poking distance of these people that always seemed larger than life to me. It was quite a day. I took a roll of film, which combined with Tanya’s roll, equaled to a LOT of photos. We also got some candy that was thrown out [to the crowd] by the Spice Girls, which I actually kept until a few days ago when I was cleaning out junk in my room (yes, it was chucked because I imagine almost 10 year old candy would be inedible).
And fast-forward back to 2007. The announcement I have been waiting for and literally, fills me with a warm, happy feeling that brings me back to those days in grade 8… singing Wannabe with my friends as we huddled in the cold during recess.
Those were the days.