Bring the 90s Back (Alright!)

5_More_Stories_LewisA FEVER OF nostalgia has been going around, and it’s only going to get worse now that the holidays are here. I’m not talking about spinning the dreidel by the candlelight nostalgia. I’m talking about camping out at night to get your hands on one of them Tickle-Me-Elmos or Furbies nostalgia.

It appears 90s nostalgia is in full effect! From bars with 90s-themed nights and old arcade games, to an “I Love the 90s” concert tour and an entire block of 90s musicians with residencies in Las Vegas (Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Ricky Martin and more). We just can’t say goodbye! And by we, I mean the generation who grew up in the 90s (the Millennials) because these are the folks who are more often than not creating and consuming all forms of 90s nostalgia.

A possible reason for this is that so much changed in such a short time period. Millennials saw the fastest growth in technology compared to others. And what makes the 90s so much different (and better) than now?

Instead of…

  • PokémonGo, we did all things Pokémon: traded/collected/played cards; sang along to the cartoon theme song as we watched Ash Ketchum and Pikachu (remember Saturday morning cartoons??) and played the latest version of Pokémon on our latest version of Game Boy.
  • For social media (like Snapchat and Facebook), we had AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) which is sadly set to shut down this month. And for the longest time, the 90s version of a data plan was monopolizing the phone line in order to access the Internet and enter one of these chat rooms!
  • For iPods, we had cassette players & boomboxes. I remember waiting for my favorite song to come on the radio so I could play DJ and record it on a mixed tape.
  • For Netflix, we had movie rental stores like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. Today, streaming services are experiencing their own 90s fever by bringing back Bill Nye and rebooting shows like “Full House” and the “Magic School Bus.” Fingers crossed, more 90s shows, like “Xena,” join the list of comebacks!
  • Depending on cell phones for storing our contacts, we had to memorize phone numbers and call our best friends up from a landline.
  • For Apps on our smart devices where we build towns and farms, we had Tamagotchi— a keychain digital pet that we had to take care of and play with as much as any real pet.
  • For One Direction, we had the Boy Band Craze— Backstreet Boys and *NSync!
  • For a self-balancing scooter, we had a Razor (a kick scooter), and it definitely was not prone to catching on fire like its modern day counterpart.

All of these 90s highlights (and I don’t just mean the hairstyle) and more are covered in a video that went viral last summer, fittingly called “Back to the 90s”. It was co-created by Jensen Reed and Ben Giroux, (who happens to be Jewish!) and it scored no.11 on Billboard’s Comedy Digital Track Sales chart. Giroux has called this video a “massive love letter to our childhood.” And boy, is it ever! I would go as far to say this is the anthem of our generation. The song is so catchy, it’s playing on loop in my head right now!

For a longer trip down 90s-memory lane, check out the “Back to the 90s” video here: https://www.youtube.com/user/BenGirouxTV.

Dvorah Lewis is the Genealogy Librarian for Sutro Library.

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