by Curtis Lanclos
It wasn’t just a week full of fun in the sun; it was an ’80s nostalgia vacation event like none other. Held at the all-inclusive Breathless Spa & Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, ’80s in the Sand 2017 had it all; pool bars, Presidente beer, MamaJuana, theme nights with incredible costumes, awesome bands, music bingo, karaoke and ’80s movie stars.
November 11-17, 2017 was the inaugural gathering of this annual Fall event which was hosted by the original MTV VJs Alan Hunter, Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman and Downtown Julie Brown. Also sharing in the hosting duties was legendary west coast New Wave DJ Richard Blade.
I was there to assist my good friend Steve Spears (aka “Spearsy”) of the Stuck in the ’80s podcast with four hour-long sessions of Big ’80s Trivia. We were just a small part of a very large festival of ’80s entertainment.
Memorable musical performances were offered by:
- Starship with Mickey Thomas
- Howard Jones
- Tom Bailey (of Thompson Twins)
- Wally Palmar (of The Romantics)
- Berlin with Terri Nunn
- Night Ranger
- Jody Watley
- Mike Score (of A Flock of Seagulls)
- Farrington + Mann (of When in Rome)
- The Motels
- Nu Shooz
- Annabella (of Bow Wow Wow)
- Awesome ’80s Cover bands!
- Jessie’s Girl
- The Reflexx
Additionally, three ’80s movie icons from the movie Better Off Dead (1985) were there to meet and greet hundreds of adoring fans. Diane Franklin, Amanda Wyss and Curtis Armstrong all appeared to be enjoying themselves as much as the “Sanders” in “The Sandbox” (the nicknames ultimately given to the guests and the event respectively).
Being encapsulated for a week with hundreds of like-minded ’80s fanatics is an interesting experience. For one thing, any introverted tendencies seem to go out the window (or at least for me they did). I made many new friends; including Mike Fellwock and his lovely wife Betsy (from Tulsa, OK). Mike is a big Loverboy fan, and he’s involved in the first of two significant memories of mine in “The Sandbox.”
Mike and Mike
First of all, on Goth/Punk/New Wave Costume Night, I was dressed up as Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick. My costume included a white coat with checkered lapels, white Dream Police baseball cap, checkered Vans sneakers and a modified Paper Jams guitar decorated with checkered duct tape. As Mike Fellwock and I were waiting together for the costume contest to begin, Mike Reno of Loverboy walked by with someone I can only assume was his manager. He had two drinks in his hand, and appeared to be a little on the tipsy side. Fellwock exclaimed, “Hey, get over there beside Reno and I’ll take your picture with him!” I approached the singer and asked for a photo. He graciously agreed, and Fellwock snapped the photo. Not more than 5 minutes later, Reno’s colleague looked at me and said, “Hey Reno! Look! He’s supposed to be Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick! Get next to him for a photo!” Reno looked at me like he had never seen me in his life and said very enthusiastically, “Yeah, let’s get a photo! I LOVE Cheap Trick.” He put his arm around me to pose, and then whispered in my ear in a playfully seductive voice, “I’m Loverboy.” I learned from this experience that Mike Reno gets very friendly when he drinks, but something simultaneously happens to his short-term memory.
Curtis and Curtis
The second story involves actor Curtis Armstrong. In addition to Better Off Dead, this wonderful supporting actor also starred in such ’80s classics as Revenge of the Nerds and Risky Business. On Pop Icon Night on the ’80s Cruise (also hosted by VJs Hunter, Blackwood and Goodman) in early 2017, I dressed up as a Tri-Lam from our favorite nerd movie, complete with a sweater matching the one Armstrong and the other actors wore in the film. The costume was accented with a Tri-Lam Fraternity Paddle I crafted myself. I bought the blank paddle on eBay, stained it and then affixed some Tri-Lam and Adams College stickers I bought from Redbubble.com. Knowing the beloved actor who played “Booger” would be joining us on this trip, I brought the paddle with me with the intent of having him sign it. While waiting for the meet and greet with Armstrong, becoming so overwhelmed by the great spirit of the other Sanders in line with me, I decided instead to give him the paddle as a gift.
When I finally approached Armstrong, we exchanged a couple of pleasantries, and then I handed him the paddle. I told him the story about my costume on the cruise, and said I wanted him to have it. He was completely speechless. “Are you sure?” he said. He almost got teary-eyed about it. When he found out my name is also “Curtis,” it seemed to make it all the more special to him. After the photographer took a few photos, he signed my copy of his recent autobiography. “From one Curtis to another… Nerds Rule! Curtis Armstrong” he wrote on the cover page. It was extremely satisfying to be able to give something back to a key contributor to the ’80s pop culture which is forever a part of me.
6 Months and Counting to the Sequel!
All in all, the week was incredible. It was a lot of fun assisting Spearsy with trivia and recording two Stuck in the ’80s podcasts with him (which can be heard HERE and HERE) while we were there. There were SO MANY memorable costume presentations by the Sanders; including Pee Wee Herman, Hellraiser, Laverne & Shirley, various incarnations of Jeff Spicoli, the Eat’Em and Smile era David Lee Roth, Spuds MacKenzie, and even the MTV Moon Man! As icing on the cake, the cover bands Rockstar, Jessie’s Girl and The Reflexx all gave incredible performances at the pool stage.
6 months from the publishing of this post, ’80s in the Sand 2018 will begin (November 3-10, 2018)! Berlin, Jody Watley and Farrington + Mann will return. They will be joined by Bret Michaels, Sebastian Bach, Cutting Crew, John Waite, Taylor Dayne, ABC, Wang Chung, Ivan (of Men Without Hats), Honeymoon Suite, The English Beat, The Romantics, Richard Page (of Mr. Mister), Tony Lewis (of The Outfield), Midnight Star and John Parr. All the VJ/DJ hosts will be back, joined by Eddie Trunk of That Metal Show fame. As for the ’80s movies thespians, Amanda Wyss and Diane Franklin will once again greet the Sanders, along with Bachelor Party and The New WKRP in Cincinnati star Tawny Kitaen!
I will be back, co-hosting ’80s Trivia and ’80s Music Bingo with returning Sander Dale Schumaker (whom I affectionately call “Diamond Dale,” since he wore the David Lee Roth costume).
Rooms for this sequel event are going fast. In fact, it’s already 80% booked! The payment plan and pay-in-full discount expires on May 29, 2018. So, BOOK TODAY and join us for this amazing retro event! You won’t regret it!