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9 nostalgic throwbacks for people who remember Malta in the '80s
Grew up in Malta in the '80s? Enjoy this ride down memory lane

Melanie Drury

Who doesn’t enjoy a little nostalgia? Here are some sweet memories of a decade when modern technologies were just emerging and life was very different. Malta in the '80s was a time of manga cartoons in Italian and the Escort Mk 1.

1. Cartoons on Bim Bum Bam

There was one Maltese channel, which apparently would have had Maltese kids deprived of such entertainment. Thankfully, a good old fashioned aerial could capture the signals from our neighbouring Italy. And we grew up with manga cartoons dubbed in Italian showing on Italia Uno’s Bim Bum Bam. Who would not remember Holly e Benji and the way that kicked ball took a whole episode to travel up the football ground, with life stories unfolding as the boys ran to get it? Then there were Georgie, Lady Oscar, Lupin, Occhi di Gatto and all the rest of them, all as good as real life dramas. Now, those were real cartoons!

2. Popular TV Series of the '80s

No matter your age at the time, in the '80s you’ll have also been watching The A-Team, Miami Vice, Mac Gyver, Chips, Starsky and Hutch, Magnum PI, Hazzard, Roseanne, The Jeffersons, Webster, I Robinson (The Cosby Show), Dallas, Dynasty, The Love Boat, Star Trek, Wonder Woman, Supercar (The Knight Rider) and many others! We truly were fascinated by television in those days. Although TV arrived in Malta in the '60s, the '80s were probably the time when every household could afford a TV set, and what was happening on the most popular TV shows was a social talking point.

3. '80s Nightlife in Malta

The Coliseum, Raffles, Ta Cassia, Dewdrops, Styx, Palladium and BJs were popular discos and venues in the '80s. Paceville was not sleaze town then, but actually an awesome place to mingle, with different venues featuring their own music style and crowd. In 1988, Axis Discotheque was the place to be: a massive two-storey, high-tech club unlike anything else on the island at the time. It was plush and it had a strict dress code, so all the boys removed their earrings - which was still considered a little taboo - while standing in the queue!

4. The advent of popular electronic music

Local music revolved around the Riffs and other acoustic bands. But the 1980s was the decade of electronic music, which was just starting to be widely produced. In the early 1980s, digital technologies for synthesizers were popularised, bringing the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) to popular musicians. Maltese girls were hanging posters of Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Simple Minds, Wham and the likes all over their bedroom walls. But here’s what electronic music pioneering sounded like in 1982.

5. Big hair

Another big feature of the '80s was big hair and Malta was not immune to the trend. My sister, who was a teenager then, spent hours backcombing her hair and her fringe stood a full fifteen centimetres above her forehead. The 80s fashion essentials included copious amounts of hairspray!

6. The Ford Escort Mk1

Anybody who could drive had one, almost. The Ford Escort Mk1 was THE car of the decade in Malta. Complete with modifications, of course: wider lower tyres, fancy rims, ultra-loud sound system, modified steering wheel, modified bumpers, bucket seats, unmuffled silencer - you name it. This car was the driver’s toy and his pride and joy.

7. Home computers

In a time when VR (Virtual Reality) is now accessible to anyone at home, it is hard to conceive that just over 30 years ago, the ultra basic graphics and functions of a Spectrum 48K (Yes!! 48K!) would get us so excited. I remember waiting 20 minutes for a game to load, patiently listening to the squeaks and squeals on the cassette recorder, praying there would not be a ‘syntax error’ that would have me starting all over again. The arrival of the Commodore 64 and Spectrum 128K was so exciting! Blessed days.

8. Mobile phones

Still reminiscing the advent of today’s taken-for-granted technology, the '80s were a time when mobile phones were the size of bricks. No kidding. My brother-in-law got one with the arrival of the Telecell at the end of the decade because he was the marketing manager of a hotel. The thing was huge, weighed a ton, battery life was poor and it cost a bomb. Cell phones then were something of a status symbol that belonged to a small group of elite businessmen and the rich. Within less than a decade, I had my very own small, strong and sturdy blue Alcatel, already such a huge innovation that a smartphone was beyond our wildest imagination.

9. Ghal min jiftakar MALTA fl-80s on Facebook

Enjoying the throwbacks? There’s plenty more to have you gasping and wowing, smiling and crying tears of nostalgia on a special, very popular and active Facebook page dedicated to remembering Malta in the '80s, where over 17,000 locals people are posting memories of all the above and much more, including photos of the island during that decade. Another awesome page for lovers of that amazing decade is The Very Best of the '80s with a worldwide community of nearly 328,000 people.

Enjoy the reminiscing!

12th January 2020

Melanie Drury
Written by
Melanie Drury
Melanie was born and raised in Malta and has spent a large chunk of her life travelling solo around the world. Back on the island with a new outlook, she realised just how much wealth her little island home possesses.

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