No, there wasn’t a weird time warp in Anaheim last September when Madonnas and ghostbusters could be seen walking around the Anaheim Convention Center. They were simply attendees to the inaugural NostalgiaCon: The Ultimate ’80s Reunion. The Comic Con-esque event, focused solely on pop culture from a particular decade and starting off with the 1980s, brought 2,500 attendees dressed in some retro styles — like quarterback-worthy shoulder pads — representing that decade.
“We are tapping into a massive global trend of fan conventions that are very successful and valuable, spanning everything from comic books to sneakers,” said Manny Ruiz, CEO of NostalgiaCon and self-proclaimed fan of all things ’80s. “NostalgiaCon Anaheim demonstrated that fans love retro pop culture and we’re leveraging that passion to celebrate people’s favorite decades, one decade at a time.”
Driving the Theme Home
The two-day event was packed with blasts from the past, from a reunion of some of the actors from The Goonies to an ’80s car show that featured such vehicles as Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters, Back to the Future’s classic DeLorean, and a “really hard-to-find station wagon that is a throwback to National Lampoon’s Vacation,” Ruiz said. “We believe that car culture is part of each decade’s pop culture, so cars will continue to be an integral part of our traditions.”
Suddenly Last Summer
Ruiz knew NostalgiaCon couldn’t be a true celebration of the ’80s without “one of the most important facets of the show — without music, we would not have even attempted to do the convention,” he said. “Integrating music adds a core component that is multifaceted and representative of different genres from the decade.”
Two evening concerts showcased those genres, with performances by new wave band The Motels, English pop band ABC, rapper Doug E. Fresh, and metal band Dokken.
The ’80s edition of NostalgiaCon will head next to Miami’s Wynwood Art District this April. After that, the plan is to return to Southern California in 2021 to usher in the ’90s — which is sure to be pretty fly.
Casey Gale is an associate editor at Convene.