It was in the days of training bras and crimped hair that I started refining my musical tastes beyond what my parents listened to, and that led me to a life supersaturated in Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls merchandise. The true marker of adulthood, thought, was getting to see my heartthrobs and heroines live; I couldn't cheat with YouTube then. Concerts were a truly special occasion, and they often came with a few delicious things that every good '90s pop concert had.
Now, I want to be very clear that the early aughts of the '90s were more grunge and alternative focus. More flannel, more crowd-surfing, more unwashed hair. It was very much akin to what I'm seeing in modern day Brooklyn, and the kind of shows that adult me would've killed to be at. But those were not, my friends, the kind of shows that little me ended up going to, mainly because Kurt Cobain died while I was still a toddler.
No, we're focusing hard on the later TRL-loving side of the '90s. The boy bands, the girl groups, the bleach blonde pop starlets. The concerts from your pre-teeny-bopper days, and what was characteristic of that now-nostalgic era. Scroll down and relive it all.
1Plastic-y Tube Tops
Or hey, maybe an inappropriately short halter top. It had to be midriff-bearing and sort of impossible to dance in unless you were the performer in question.
2That One Guy That's Fangirling Harder Than The Rest Of Us
He claims he loves the Backstreet Boys like brothers, but uh, you'll find out years later that that wasn't the case.
3Fireworks Left & Right
I feel as though the late '90s pop acts weren't really big on lasers, because pyrotechnics were where it was at.
This was especially essential when seeing the Spice Girls live. You would fight super hard to be Baby when you played Spice Girls on the playground, and then you'd wear your Sailor Moon pigtails proudly when you saw them on stage. It was '90s law.
5Glow Sticks & Stick-On Glow Badges
The second part may sound weird, and technically I'm drawing from an early 2000s memory, but I distinctly remember purchasing a red star shaped glow badge that said "A-Teens" on it. Why was that a thing, and more importantly, why was this a thing my mother spent money on?
6Synchronized Dance Moves
Of course, this was essential. Ideally all dance moves would be performed in color-coded outfits, too, for just conformity across the board.
8Back-Up Dancers Gyrating Up Against The Cute One
They were very often wearing flared pants, and they were most likely hired to make you feel a lot of feelings you didn't quite understand yet.
9A Space-Themed Interlude
This was a thing at the turn of the millennium where we air-dropped pop stars floating on hoverboards (OK, there might've been strings) and make them look like sexy intergalactic warriors. Or at least that's how I remember it. That's how I'm choosing to remember 1999.
10"I <3" Signs
Back in the '90s you couldn't just aimlessly Tweet marriage proposals to Justin Timberlake whenever you want, you had this one chance to shout "Marry Me, Justin" from the crowd. Usually that meant utilizing a poster board.
11Misinterpreting Lyrics En Masse
This was long before you could easily get lyrics that you're unsure of on the Internet — I mean, this was also back in the day when getting on the Internet took 40 minutes. So not only were you and your friends singing along, you were usually spouting nonsense that were very much not the lyrics. There's something beautiful about that.
12Saving Your Ticket Stub So You Can Hold Onto This Memory Forever
This may seem nonspecific, but consider how we've grown accustomed to printing out our tickets, or just showing them on our phone to be scanned. Consider how you usually wouldn't even get legitimate photos of the show since digital cameras weren't a necessity, and iPhones weren't even a concept. Aside from maybe a "Mrs. Nick Carter" baby-tee, a ticket was your only physical memento of the night.
Hold onto it tightly, and keep those '90s concert dreams in your heart forever.