Freestyle Explosion at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Dance Hits of the 1980s Hold Up

On Saturday, July 7, Goldenvoice presented myriad musicians for a celebration of freestyle, a dance and music genre that dominated clubs in New York and Miami in the 1980s. The capacity crowd at the Bowl made it clear that freestyle is still a nationwide phenomenon. The lineup of this revue-style concert featured the distinctive voices of Nu Shooz, Taylor Dayne, Stevie B, Lisa Lisa, Exposé, Debbie Deb, and The Jets. In its prime, freestyle energized dance floors through its vigorous electronic beats and upbeat tempos. This was certainly still true on Saturday night, with people rushing back from the concessions to dance to their favorite tunes.

Even after 30 years of playing their hits, these artists still bring endless amounts of passion and enthusiasm to their performances, so much so that the crowd rose to their feet time after time, song after song. It was a unique experience in many ways: The atmosphere at the Bowl felt very nostalgic and emotional; several artists spoke of the gratitude they felt for the support they had received for their music over the years, and all were clearly moved to be playing for such a large and enthusiastic crowd. Dayne’s “Tell It to My Heart”— an anthem from that period — was received with screams of delight from fans. The audience, loyal supporters since the start, danced all night, escaping for a moment from their day-to-day troubles and reconnecting with their youth.