I’m feeling a little nostalgic today because I’m still high off of the New Edition concert I went to last night. The 1980’s heartthrob singing sensation rocked NYC’s Beacon Theater (unfortunately sans Ralph Tresavant who was ill) and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was two-stepping to Popcorn Love and Mr. Telephone Man like I was eight years old again. Good times. I have rather fond memories of my childhood and I grew up in a very working class household. Could that be an oxymoron? Nope. Contrary to what mainstream media often portrays (the Huxtables aside), every little black kid growing up in NYC or any ‘urban’ city for that matter during the 80’s and 90’s isn’t a scene from a Charles Dickens story. I love to reminisce on the pioneers of hip-hop, playing ‘it’ and being extremely excited about hearing the Mister Softee truck during the summer months.
So, I was grinning ear-to-ear when I learned that Reebok re-launched an entire collection of Freestyle kicks to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the sneaker. WHAT?! Most of you reading this remember these sneakers as ‘fifty-four elevens’. For those of you out of the loop, the sneakers were given that nickname because that is exactly how much they cost with tax during their hey-day. In the 80’s to mid- 90’s, these sneakers were so popular that I believe they became and remain to be the highest selling women’s sneaker for Reebok - ever. (Please know that I did not fact-check that information.) They were sold in all of these yummy rainbow colors - I had a spearmint pair myself. Sometime in the late 90’s it became very passé to wear these sneakers however because they had become relegated to ‘young girls’ or dare I say ‘chickenheads’. But I am old enough to remember when and therefore really can appreciate this anniversary collection. Reebok went all out and is introducing a pair practically every month this year. I’m quite excited about the Basquiat pair. I might not be able to afford one of his paintings just yet but I can have a little bit of the visionary’s work on my kicks. Be sure to take the little quiz on the site http://www.rbk.com/us/freestyle/ to find out your sneaker-personality match. (Mine is Sheen.) Since I’m no longer 15, I rarely wear sneakers these days but I think any of these would be perfect worn with a pair of skinny jeans, a funky belt and a feminine, flirty top without appearing juvenile. Also, after viewing the website, you will see that the Freestyles no longer cost $54.11 even before tax. Just looking at these sneakers takes me back to a time when all I had to worry about was cleaning my room, doing my homework and eagerly finishing the latest Judy Blume or Sweet Valley High book. But as some wise person once said ‘Nothing is constant but change itself’.
Random Fun Fact: What’s always been really funny to me is that most people I know never actually paid $54.11 for their fifty-four elevens. You see, around my way (Southeast Queens) everyone copped their kicks from the Ave aka Jamaica Avenue and no one pays tax in most of the stores on the Ave. Every borough has a version of Jamaica Avenue by the way. Brooklyn has Fulton Street (Downtown), the Bronx has Fordham Road and Manhattan has 2-5th or 125th Street in Harlem. I don’t know what Staten Island has. Those kids from Shalin probably went to BK to get their sneaker shopping on.
Leave me a comment and let me know what your favorite memory of growing up in NY is.