New wave at old theater

While many students are too young to remember the 1980s, a significant percentage still clings to fond memories of the pre-Britney days when new wave ruled the airwaves, John Hughes movies such as The Breakfast Club and Weird Science were all the rage and Pac-Man chomped his way to popularity at the arcades. In an effort to appeal to the up-and-coming professionals who still remember when MTV played actual music videos, Tampa Theatre is hosting Fast Times at Tampa Theatre, its second annual ’80s themed bash, Saturday at 8 p.m.

The concept of an ’80s party was introduced last year as part of the theater’s 80th anniversary commemoration, but the event was such a remarkable triumph that the theater is hoping to repeat its success. Since June, the theater’s staff has worked tirelessly to design its journey back in time, and Fast Times will offer plenty of opportunities to experience the ’80s all over again.

Featuring food from Chipotle and La Casa Dolce, the event will have live on-stage music from Lost Marbles and DJ Rich Ranck will spin some of the best tunes of the era. In addition, guests will be able to sharpen their video game skills with several old-school titles such as “Frogger” and “Donkey Kong.” Tommy Bahama Rum will provide drink samples, and a costume contest will reward wearers of the best ’80s outfits with special prizes.

Tampa Theatre’s underlying goal is to increase awareness of the landmark theater and, more specifically, to reach out to potential members of the Balcony Club, its membership organization for young


“We’d like to get that younger age group into the theater,” said Kelly Prata, the membership coordinator for the Balcony Club. “A lot of them have never been here, especially from UT and USF, who come from out of state, and this is a great way to introduce them to the theater and just let them know that it’s there.”

Since Tampa Theatre remains a nonprofit organization, it relies on groups such as the Balcony Club for continued support. According to, the Balcony Club, made up of 120 of the city’s most vital young businesspeople, has rapidly grown into the largest support group of its kind in the downtown area, hosting several film events throughout the year.

Since its inception in 2004, the Balcony Club has served to not only provide members with unique social opportunities but also keep one of Tampa’s most vital cultural institutions in operation. Accordingly, attendees of Fast Times at Tampa Theatre will have the chance to join the Balcony Club during the event and help support the theatre’s efforts to keep the arts alive.

So, while the ’80s may have come and gone, the latest event at Tampa Theatre is sure to reignite the spirit of the past while simultaneously working to ensure the future of the theater itself.