Date Night meant trying your best to scrub yourself clean, thanks to the old Bhagwan water heater that is not a problem, just don’t forget to turn it off while you are soaping unless you want to burn your skin when you open the water again. Given central or automatic water heaters nowadays it is hard to imagine the old drill of opening the water, turning the heater on, turning the heater off and closing the water. Soaps of choice are those made by the cologne company you intend to wear, in its absence good old Dial or Irish Spring will do.
After the bath, a young man spends an inordinate time in front of the mirror. Whether the ritual is to practice gestures or trying to hide pimples is a thousand page novel waiting to be written. Oxy Cover in some instances actually makes the zits look worse, but who cares, it is the whole thought of perfection in the mind that matters most.
There are two ways to meet a date. You can either pick her up in her house with her requisite chaperone or you can meet her in the place of the date. Picking her up in her house is the better proposition. You have the chance to let her hear your song playlist. Playlists during the eighties meant song compilations in cassette tapes. Yes, those antiquated magnetic strips holding your songs. These are lovingly done in your friend’s house with the pile of records you bought and borrowed. It would take the same amount of time to create the cassette tape as its length, a C60 meant an hour of taping and a C90 meant an hour and half. Nowadays, it is simply burning your mp3s in a disc or simply hooking your I-pod in the car stereo. I guess you can say that car music then was like a musical score in a movie, inconvenient as it may have been to make, it was worth the time if your date complemented the sounds. The cassette playlist was a great non-verbal expression of oneself.
Dinner had a myriad of choices then depending on your budget and mood. For a romantic evening there were Café Adriatico/Prego in Malate or Café Ysabel in Greenhills. Being in a Bohemian mood meant going to Penguin with the artiste crowd. During the later part of the eighties there were the very pop Dean’s street Café/Angelino’s in Pasay Road and the delicious but expensive La Primavera in Greenbelt. All of these places were romantic and tried hard to take your mind away from the problems of the country.
Post dinner meant going to Calesa bar in the old Hyatt if you were into bands. But if your date was in a dancing mood the mid-eighties meant Zigzag in Makati. Faces, Mars and Euphoria(Ewphoria as the mestizos pronounced it) came some years later with varying crowds and degrees of success . All these places evoke a particular memory and a particular song at one moment in time. So much so that when a favorite song is heard again in the radio, one is transported back to that same time and place with certain special persons. A dear friend once told me that every friend she ever danced with had a particular song that was associated with that particular friend. Upon hearing old 1980's hits, suddenly one is seventeen again. Now, thats nostalgia!