A Teenager's Life In The 1980s: From Dusk Till Dawn

Join us as I take a nostalgic trip back through my life as a teenager living in the 1980s. From morning rituals to after school activities, explore what it was like growing up in this era!

A Teenager's Life In The 1980s: From Dusk Till Dawn
Breakfast Club

Welcome to a day in the life of a teenager growing up in the 1980s. Grab your scrunchies and leg warmers, because we're about to take a trip down memory lane.


The Wake-Up Call

The sun peeks through my curtains as my alarm clock blares "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper. I groggily sit up, rubbing the sleep from my eyes and making a mental note to change that song.

As I stumble out of bed, I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror. My hair is teased to perfection, thanks to the can of Aqua Net I used the night before. My outfit, carefully chosen the night before, consists of acid wash jeans and a neon crop top. Fashionable? Maybe not. But it's definitely on trend for the 80s.


Breakfast Time

Eating Breakfast

I head downstairs to the kitchen, where my parents are sipping coffee and reading the newspaper. I grab a bowl of cereal and plop down at the table, ready to start my day.

As I munch on my cereal, I can't help but overhear my parents talking about the latest news. The Cold War is still going strong, and tensions between the United States and Soviet Union seem to be escalating. But as a teenager, this seems like a distant problem that doesn't affect me.

After breakfast, I grab my backpack and head to the bus stop. On the ride to school, I listen to my Walkman and flip through my latest issue of Tiger Beat magazine, crushing on all the heartthrobs of the decade.

Once at school, it's a blur of classes, gossip with friends, and trying not to get caught passing notes in class. Lunchtime is spent hanging out in the cafeteria, trading snacks and talking about the latest episode of "Saved by the Bell."


The Drama Lesson

Drama class 1980s

Drama class was always an adventure and today was no exception. Our well-intentioned but slightly eccentric drama teacher, Mrs. Henderson, decided that we were going to re-enact scenes from the hit film "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial". The catch? She'd lost her glasses again and she insisted on distributing the roles. As luck would have it, I landed the role of E.T., the adorable little alien. Now, bear in mind, I stood a good foot and a half taller than anyone else in class, meaning I was the least likely candidate for the role of a pint-sized extraterrestrial. But Mrs. Henderson, in her infinite wisdom, believed I was perfect for the part. She said with a dramatic flourish, "You're perfect! E.T. was all heart, and so are you!" Cue the laughter from my classmates. There I was, the tallest E.T. in history, attempting to waddle around the stage saying "E.T. phone home" with a straight face. It was a sight for sore eyes and a memory that still brings a chuckle to all involved.


Smoke Signals Behind The Garage

When the final bell rang, and our school day was officially over, we'd all file out of the classrooms like ants scurrying from an anthill. We'd disperse in different directions, some rushing to the bus, some hitching a ride home, while a small group of us, the 'cool kids' as we'd like to believe, would sneak behind the garage for our covert operation: smoking.

smoking at school

Now, the garage was a worn-out, dilapidated shack that was meant to hold gardening tools. But to us, it was our Fortress of Solitude, our very own nook of rebellion. Armed with smuggled cigarettes, we'd huddle in a circle, the cloudy tendrils of smoke forming a secret veil around us. There was something about the forbidden allure of puffing on those cigarettes, trying our best to act mature and nonchalant as we coughed and spluttered on the unaccustomed smoke.

The smell of burnt tobacco and teen spirit would hang heavy in the air as we shared stories, dreams, and teenage angst. It was a strange medley of rebellion and camaraderie, a rite of passage if you will. Those moments of shared defiance behind the garage, they weren't just about breaking the rules; they were a testament to our teenage solidarity, a shared language of growing up in the 80s. It's funny how something as simple as a sneaky cigarette behind a garage could encapsulate the spirit of an era.


The Journey Home

The school bus was more than just a vehicle transporting us from school to home; it was an extension of our high school lives, a place where friendships were forged and teenage drama unfolded. The ride home was as eventful as any school day, with its own set of unwritten rules and social hierarchy.

One such ride still stands out in my memory. Our usual bus driver, Mr. Davies, a man of few words but many stern looks, was off sick that day, replaced by a temp who was oblivious to our usual shenanigans. As soon as we realised the opportunity, a bus-wide game of "pass the note" began.

school bus ride home

The goal was simple: write a message, pass it along, and try to get it to the back of the bus without getting caught. The contents of the note were inconsequential; the thrill was in the passing. As the note made its way, snaking through the rows, giggles erupted in its wake. The tension rose with each successful pass, reaching a crescendo as the note finally reached the last row, where the cool seniors sat.

Just when we thought we had succeeded, a sudden brake sent us lurching forward, the note flying down the aisle for all to see. The bus erupted in laughter, the ridiculousness of the situation becoming apparent. As MR. Davies, picked up the note and read the message, "The '80s rule!" out loud, we couldn't contain our chuckles. He gave us a confused look but decided to join in our laughter. That day, the journey home was a testament to the carefree, rebellious spirit of our teenage years in the '80s.


After-School Antics

Returning home wasn't the end of the day for us. Without the convenience of mobile phones, every interaction was face-to-face, making our friendships richer and more meaningful. We would gather at the local park, where the swings became our thrones and the slide our podium. Talking about everything under the sun, from politics to pop culture, we bonded in a way that no text message could capture. And every day ended with a promise to meet again the next day, same time, same place.


Knock, Knock, Who's There?

In the age of smartphones and social media, the idea of physically knocking on a friend's door to see if they're coming out seems like an antiquated practice. But in the '80s, we had no other option. There were no text messages or status updates to let us know where our friends were or what they were up to.


A Game of Hearts

As the sun began to dip, the conversation would invariably turn to the topic that had us all aflutter - our celebrity crushes and the boys we fancied at school. Our hearts belonged to the heartthrobs of the '80s - Tom Cruise with his devil-may-care smirk from "Top Gun", Michael J. Fox with his irresistible charm in "Back to the Future", and of course, the magnetic allure of Rob Lowe in "St. Elmo's Fire". Each of us had our poster boy, their pictures cut out from glossy magazines, tacked onto our bedroom walls and stashed in our school notebooks.

Girl teenagers on park bench

We'd giggle and swoon over these unreachable stars, but closer to home, there were the boys from our school - the ones we admired from a distance, dreamt about at night, and doodled hearts around their names. The handsome jock, the brooding artist, the charming class clown - each had a fan club of their own in our little group. We'd take turns to confess our crushes, our cheeks flushed and hearts fluttering with the thrill of the admission.

But it wasn't just about the crushes, it was about the camaraderie, the shared secrets, and the giddy thrill of first love. Whether it was a celebrity thousands of miles away or a classmate sitting two rows ahead, these crushes represented our youthful dreams and desires - the hope of romance, the thrill of attraction, the heartache of unrequited love. They were the beads on the necklace of our teenage years, strung together by shared glances, whispered dreams, and the hope of what tomorrow might bring.

Teenage girls 1980s

The highlight, though, was our make-shift baseball games. With a broomstick for a bat and a rolled-up sock for a ball, we'd have the most intense matches, our cheers echoing through the neighbourhood. The game wasn't about winning; it was about the camaraderie, the shared laughter, the playful banter, and cheering each other on. These moments of simple fun, without the distractions of the digital age, are some of the most cherished memories from the '80s.

Impromptu dance-offs were another staple. Someone would bring along a portable radio, and we'd all try to outdo each other with our versions of the Moonwalk or the Electric Slide. We laughed, we cheered, we danced until we were breathless. We were free, unburdened by the incessant pings and notifications of smartphones. Instead, our time was filled with real conversations, heartfelt laughter, and the kind of memories that last a lifetime.


Saturday Cinema Escapades

Saturday was the day we all anticipated, as it held the promise of cinematic adventures. If there was a film we'd been eagerly awaiting, we'd save up our pocket money and head to our local cinema, a beacon of dreams in our small town. The aroma of freshly popped popcorn, the muffled excitement in the queue, and the anticipation as the lights dimmed, were all part of the thrilling experience. The movies transported us into different worlds, from the swashbuckling adventures in Star Wars to the wild and whimsical world of the Goonies.

1980s Granada Cinema

We gaped at the larger-than-life images on the screen, awestruck by the stories that unfolded before us. Even the adverts and coming attractions were part of the experience, often setting off a ripple of discussion and speculation among us about what to watch next week. Post-movie discussions were an event in themselves, full of animated debates, dramatic re-enactments, and passionate disagreements about the film's plot or a character's motivation. These Saturday trips to the cinema were not just about watching movies. They were about camaraderie, shared experiences, and creating memories. In the '80s, a trip to the cinema was a weekly adventure that was eagerly anticipated and fondly remembered.


Youth Club Tales

The local youth club was our sanctuary, our haven away from the trials and tribulations of teenage life. Once the school bell rang on a Friday, we'd sprint home, toss our school bags aside and rush over to the club. The small building, with its worn-out paint and creaking doors, was a treasure trove of joy and adventure. Inside, the air buzzed with excited chatter, the metallic clunk of pinball machines and the twangy notes of the latest chart-toppers from the jukebox. We'd spend hours there, engrossed in games of table football, mastering the art of darts, or challenging each other to the popular arcade games of the time - Space Invaders, Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong. No apps or online games could ever replace the thrill of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with your mates, hands poised over the joystick, eyes fixed on the glowing screen, as you navigated through pixelated mazes and fired at alien invasions.

80s Youth Club

The youth club was more than just a place to hang out; it was the epicentre of our teenage social life, where friendships were strengthened, rivalries were settled, and budding romances blossomed under the dimmed disco lights. Amidst all the fun and games, there were also the heartfelt conversations, the shared secrets, and the comforting presence of friends who were navigating the same tumultuous journey of adolescence. As the evening drew to a close, we'd head home under the star-studded sky, the echoes of the day playing in our minds and the comforting knowledge that we'd be back again next week, ready for another round of adventures in our beloved youth club.


Home Sweet Home...Or Not

For teenagers in the 80s, weekends were a whirlwind tour of friends' houses, local haunts, and cherished hideaways. Home was merely a pitstop on this grand adventure, a place to refuel before setting off on the next escapade. Breakfast was a hastily eaten affair, often gobbled down in between laughing fits and last-minute plans. Lunch was a magpie's feast of whatever snacks we could find in our friends' kitchens - crisps, biscuits, a pilfered slice of cake, or the holy grail of '80s snacks, the cheese and pineapple on sticks.

teens in bedroom during the 1980s

Dinner was the only meal that required mandatory attendance at home. Our mothers would put together hearty meals, the kind that filled you up and left you ready for a few more hours of fun. Between mouthfuls of shepherd's pie and beans on toast, we recounted the day's adventures, our voices filled with excitement and laughter. But even dinner was a rushed affair, with one eye on the clock, ready to dart out the moment we finished our last forkful.

The evenings were spent at the youth club or at the cinema, and drinks were often cans of pop or the occasional sly bottle of cider, drunk amid giggles and nervous glances. The real appeal of these drinks wasn't the liquid courage they provided but the sense of camaraderie and the thrill of doing something a little bit naughty.

Being home was confining, a limitation on our freedom. So, we stayed out as much as we could, returning only when our stomachs called or thirst beckoned. The world outside was our playground, and we were eager to explore every nook and cranny. Home, unless it was offering food or drink, was merely the place we slept before the next day's adventure began.


The Late Night Fashion Chats

It was a decade of bold styles and unforgettable fashion, and we teenagers were always eager to keep up with the latest trends. After our daily adventures, we’d often gather in our rooms, sprawled across the floor amidst stacks of glossy fashion magazines. We'd pore over the pages, marvelling at the wild shoulder pads, lacy fingerless gloves, and neon leg warmers sported by the models.

teenager on landline phone during the 1980s

Often, we'd spend hours discussing the latest fashion trends - acid wash jeans, oversized blazers, chunky jewellery, and, of course, the ever-popular 'Madonna look'. We would swap clothes, share style tips, and even try to recreate some of the outrageous outfits we saw in the magazines. These late-night fashion chats were not just about clothes; they were about expressing our individuality, bonding over shared interests, and learning how to navigate the world of fashion together. As we experimented with different styles, we weren't just figuring out what clothes we liked; we were discovering who we were and who we wanted to be.


Babysitting Adventures and Sleepover Shenanigans

The ’80s were the golden age of babysitting and sleepovers, activities that brought an incomparable sense of excitement and independence. Babysitting was more than just a way to earn a few extra quid. It was a rite of passage, a taste of responsibility. The evening would usually start out with some sort of dinner – a pizza or fish and chips – followed by an ill-advised sugar rush courtesy of too many sweets. Then, it was time for the true highlight: the children's bedtime. After tucking them in and promising to check for monsters under the bed, we'd plop down on the couch, switch on the telly and enjoy our reign over an empty house.

friends sleepover 1980s

Sleepovers at friends’ houses were equally thrilling, a chance to escape the everyday routine and plunge headfirst into a night of unscripted fun. Armed with sleeping bags and an endless supply of crisps and fizzy drinks, we'd spend the night giggling at ghost stories, playing truth or dare, or whispering about school crushes, all under the dim glow of a torchlight. The night would inevitably end with us trying to stay awake as long as possible, a challenge that was always lost to the lull of sleep. Waking up the next morning, bleary-eyed and amid a sea of scattered popcorn, was a testament to the fun-filled night that had passed.

These sleepovers and babysitting stints were more than just opportunities for late-night antics. They were shared experiences, pockets of time where we were free to explore our young independence. Whether it was managing a household for a few hours or staying up past our usual bedtime, these moments were stepping stones to adulthood, fondly remembered and treasured.


The Liberation of the Unreachable

In the 80s, mobile phones were still a thing of the distant future. We were blissfully unreachable, free from the shackles of instant communication. Our whereabouts were a mystery to everyone but us and the friends we were with. The only people who knew our location were those we chose to tell, often in hushed whispers during lunch or hurried exchanges in the school corridor. If we were lucky enough to have a house phone, it was usually kept on a short leash, tethered to a wall and used for quick chats or last-minute plan changes. And that was it. No constant pinging, no ceaseless barrage of updates, tweets, or messages. Our time was wholly ours, uncluttered by the digital noise that permeates modern life. This freedom lent itself to a sense of adventure, of being able to disappear into the day and emerge only when the street lights flickered on. We lived for the thrill of the new, the unexpected, the challenges that came our way. Everything was vivid, real, experienced in the moment, not viewed through a screen or captured for an intangible digital audience. The '80s, free of the intrusive glow of technology, was a decade of genuine experiences and relationships, of freedom and discovery, of growing up and finding oneself. It was a time when we truly lived, an era marked by an unspoiled joy and a sense of boundless possibility. Looking back on those times, one can't help but feel a pang of nostalgia for the simplicity and authenticity that defined the decade. The '80s may have lacked the high-tech allure of modern times, but they were rich in something far more valuable – the untethered freedom to savour life as it unfolded, moment by moment, adventure by adventure. We were explorers charting unknown territories, masters of our own destinies. Looking back, it was a liberating, exhilarating time, a period of life marked by independence and the pure joy of living in the moment. We didn't realize how lucky we were!