Vodafone & Spotify ‘Vodafone Firsts’ – 1984G Street

written by Guest Angel

Last week, Hel’s Angels provided staff for the ‘Vodafone Firsts’ activity held in London by Vodafone and Spotify. Over to ‘Leroy’ AKA Super Angel Nana for the details…

Around thirty years ago, Michael Harrison made the first mobile phone call in the UK. Vodafone facilitated this, on a handset as mobile as a suitcase filled with pebbles. Nevertheless, mobile telecommunication, in principle, was born.

Also remember, communication via a phone in those days was simply a conversation; Mr. Harrison certainly didn’t flash call his mate to have lolz about a Chevy Chase comedy he’d watched with a film app, nor could he check Spotify for lyrics to Milli Vanilli’s latest installment of musical fraud. And if he started playing Snake, the chances are he would have been bitten, rather than gained a high-score. Nope, to watch a movie, listen to a song, or play a game in 1985, you needed to go the high street. This was the thinking behind a fantastically unique celebration created by Vodafone – they built a mini street from the 1980’s, right in the middle of the Covent Garden square.

There were no half measures on this one. “1984G street” (chortle) held actual walk-in shops, complete with faux-brick walls and “staff” dressed accordingly. At the top of the street was the Vodafone store -set up like the mobile phone shop of today, but housing the behemoth handsets from yesteryear. This was a fascinating trip through innovation, showing how ten years makes technology ten times smaller. Next to Vodafone were current partners of their empire – a Now TV store, holding tens of VHS boxes displaying Predator oddly next to Transformers, and the Spotify store with over a thousand original vinyl prints of the best 80s hits (each song, of course, available online on Spotify). There was an arcade, with the biggest Snake game ever and Indiana Jones Pinball, and even a little sweet shop stocking preserved newspapers of the decade, and packets of sugar-filled hyperactivity (I tried all the sweets).

Each shop had accessible prizes to win; the arcade had a scandalously addictive arcade grabber teasing you with pencils to a Rubix cube lamps, and that Snake game could bag you a Samsung tablet. Every single video box in the Now TV store got you something – more often than not a free months’ Now TV subscription and some popcorn; if you were really lucky, a 60″ TV. In the Vodafone shop, answering a few simple questions put you in the hat for tickets to an exclusive Run DMC gig. In the Spotify store, picking out a gold-starred LP won you a pair of slick Spotify headphones. People walked into the street wondering what was going on, and left unable to carry what they had won.

Visitors to Spotify Records were invited to pick one of the “latest” hits and pass it along to the DJ Tommy Daytona – if it had a gold sticker on it, the headphones were theirs. We could also show them a totally futuristic way (even for these times) to get a free Spotify playlist: they’d swipe song of their choice to an interactive TV screen via their smartphone, which would promptly send back a 20-song playlist back. The feedback was appreciative of both eras; the nostalgia of flicking through records had grown men emotional, but there was also satisfaction that the contents of the whole shop were now available on almost any phone today.

So there we were; me as ‘Leroy’ sliding about, professing that Whitney Houston had a great future if she behaved herself, and ‘Angie’ (Rachel), the desirable Cyndi Lauper-esque cool chick, both dressed like the in-crowd for Top Of The Pops. It was impossible not to get happily lost on 1984G street, listening to songs that where probably created on a Casio watch. I might have to buy a single, studded leather glove to remind me of when work and fun blended so seamlessly, and of the time when turquoise and orange totally complemented each other, and stuff was so bad, it was cool.