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spice up your life

Why I owe it to my nine-year-old self to see the Spice Girls in Croker

For old time’s sake.

I WAS NINE when The Spice Girls released Wannabe.

wana Giphy Giphy

I remember sitting transfixed in front of the television, watching as five squealing women clattered into a black-tie event; a flurry of shrieks and giggles, a haze of colour made all the more vivid by the formality of the backdrop.

A boy band devotee up until this point, I had Boyzone posters pinned to my bedroom wall, worn my treasured Take That T-shirt at every available opportunity, and expressed little to no interest in female artists.

And then came The Spice Girls.

Within days of the song’s release, myself and my friends were singing the words as we cycled through our estate, assigning each other Spice-related nicknames and performing choreographed routines for our parents.

A few months later, we rushed home from school in a frenzy because a children’s presenter had promised us a sneak peek of the video for the group’s new single, Say You’ll Be There, and as the show came to a close, he made good on that promise.

As Christmas approached, their debut album was top of our Santa list, 2 Become 1 dropped, and it was official, The Spice Girls were our new goddesses.

Without the internet or digital TV, we trawled radio stations in search of their latest tracks, recorded their Saturday morning TV appearances on VHS so as to be watched over and over, and memorised their lyrics with the help of magazine pull-outs and interior CD booklets.

For anyone who wasn’t a pre-teen at the time of the group’s first year in the public eye, it’s hard to articulate just how mammoth an impression they made on the music industry and pop culture as a whole.

They transcended the charts, and permeated much of our daily lives.

We plastered our bedrooms in posters, we dressed as much like them as our parents would allow, we chanted ‘Girl Power’ instead of ‘cheese’ when posing for photos, and when deliberating over doing something which may get us in trouble, we did it anyway because, well, that’s what they’d do, right?

For two years, there was no one bigger in the eyes of a primary schoolgirl.

There was that Union Jack dress, their caper-like film, the follow-up to their debut album, and – moment of moments – the news that the video for Stop was being filmed in Dublin. Dublin? Our capital city? We weren’t worthy.

Spice Girls announcement FIONA HANSON / PA Images FIONA HANSON / PA Images / PA Images

And then in May 1998, Geri left.

Just like that, my favourite member was gone; the announcement made the front page of almost every newspaper, the report was top of the evening news, and it truly felt like the bubble had burst.

Geri ended her Spice Girls journey ahead of their US tour, and left millions of us wondering what the hell had gone wrong.

Whether it was down to her departure or the fact my taste in music was simply maturing, my contribution to Spice Girls mania came to a gradual end in the year that followed.

And then last week, it was announced that in May 2019 – twenty one years after Geri left the group – she, Mel C, Mel B and Emma would be playing Croke Park. 

Victoria wouldn’t be joining them, but the idea of seeing the four other members perform the songs that punctuated much of my time in primary school felt like too much to pass up.

For the nine-year-old girl who styled herself on them, carefully typed up fake interviews she imagined conducting with them, and who never got to see them live, her future self will be as close to the stage as possible.

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