Tuesday 31st July

| BY Dino Bonacic

Ten Tips To Spice Up Your Life

spice me up 2

There are three items from my childhood home that I’d save from a fire. My parents’ wedding VHS tape, my sister’s multicoloured Fisher-Price tricycle and a white scrapbook filled with Spice Girls lollipop stickers, magazine cutouts and personal impressions written out in not-so-scented scented multi-coloured markers. It was the height of the 1990s, and only thing me and my sister would ever agree on is our love for these five girls. No, we couldn’t agree on our favourite one (mine was Baby, hers was Scary) nor our favourite song of theirs (mine was Say You’ll Be There, hers was Wannabe), but we both knew these talented, glittery, fabulous women made us feel happier than our mum’s pancakes on a Sunday night. And those are some mean pancakes.

I still can’t remember how it exactly started, but I do know it was a love that I haven’t experienced until getting together with my current boyfriend. How and why did I love five strangers so much? Admittedly, I was four, five years old and didn’t really understand the meaning of the word, but it definitely was love. Unconditional, over-the-top, head-over-heels kinda love. I would listen to everything they said, watched every performance ever shown. I would cut out their images and forced myself to learn how to read predominantly so I could understand what all the newspaper were saying about them. I would engage in verbal confrontations if I wasn’t allowed to be the Baby Spice of the group. The heck – I was blond, cute, and hyper-feminine. Could I have been anyone else?

Fast-forward 20 years and I’m standing in the middle of a conference-like abode in Angel, Islington, surrounded with glossy black mannequins dressed in the best of Girl Power fashion. I’m at the Spice Up exhibition – a celebration of everything Spice Girls. Barbie dolls, stage wear, original Buffalos (and every other pair of platform shoes you never knew you needed). Backpacks, baby bibs, and wallpaper. There’s even the packaging of all of 51 flavours (five per girl + one for the group) of Walkers crisps that the girls were the faces for back in the day. Spice Up is a place to lose yourself and fall back to that all-familiar love for 5 girls that formed the vision of power for a whole generation of boys and girls. You can even watch the whole the Spice World movie and the famed Girl Power! Live in Istanbul, footage of which is rarer than a Spice Girls-branded Polaroid. And trust me – I missed out on buying one of those on one of my first ever trips to Camden Town and I still hate myself for that.

The exhibition is organised and curated by Alan Smith Allison, the biggest Spice Girls superfan you’ll ever encounter. You think you know their 1996 Top of The Pops performance play-by-play? Well, he’ll know what the cameraman was wearing that day, and how many people were in the audience. I know this because Alan also acts as the exhibition’s tour-guide. He leads you from the early days of Wannabe-era flimsy polyester dresses and long black capes the girls shed during the Istanbul performance of Naked, all the way to Geri’s 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony red dress. And he leads with fun facts, adorable fan gushing and a sense of nostalgia that will wanna make you call your best friend circa 1998 and do the full choreo from the Stop music video. Or is that just me?

After the tour, I felt overwhelmed with emotions. It was partially all of my childhood flashbacks and a need to share all of this with sister who is thousands of miles away, but also the spiritual experience of encountering a shrine filled with memorabilia that defined other people’s love and the ways Geri, Victoria, Emma and two Melanies defined their lives. Call it Girl Power or whatever you wish, but it seems like these five women still hold a set of magical powers that are strong enough to enchant masses and make them feel as good as it was 1996. I can tell you what you want, what you really, really want – visit the Spice Up exhibition at the Business Design Centre until August 20th before it heads on over to Manchester. HAI, SI, JA – HOLD TIGHT!