If you were to ask me about my childhood, I would fit the bill of most children raised in the nineties: nerf gun wars, playing MASH, eating far too many Bagel Bites, freaking ourselves out with Furbies, all but one minor detail: Alaska. Yup, I was born and raised in the 49th state of America, The Last Frontier, Land of The Midnight Sun, Russian America, Sourdough State, or whatever you want to call it. The reactions I usually get are, “Whoa, I’ve never met anyone from Alaska” or “Can you really see Russia from your house?” The answer is obviously no, but some people (Palin) make that hard to believe sometimes. I mean the snow suit is essential to everyday life and building snow forts was how we passed the time. Also can’t forget about the family of moose that would take over the backyard forcing us to play indoors.
Though I was born into this rare cold but majestic environment, I still felt there was more to summer than the cool mid 60 degrees so I looked to MTV (secretly, parents thought it taught evil) and the radio. There is one song in particular that has stuck with me through the years and always reminds me of the summer I discovered the true meaning; “Whoomp! (There It Is)” by Tag Team. This is a classic song from the early nineties about summer fun and somehow made its way up to us folks in The Last Frontier.
I first heard this song one summer in my backyard during a party my family was hosting for the UAA college basketball team. While I was in awe with all the tall people around me I heard the words: “party people” and was instantly hooked. This song is all about having fun in the summer sun with the classic pool party with babes, gin and juice and shaking your derrière but my 6-year-old self only cared about the catchy beat and phrases like: “Whoomp chaka laka chaka laka chaka laka” and the bridge inspired by the cult classic film The Warriors, “Can you dig it.”
I loved it so much I got the tape and would play it in my Walkman literally every chance I got and unfortunately overplayed it to the point of no return. It wasn’t until I moved to New York and was at a rooftop party in midtown during Pride Week that I heard the song again. I had completely forgotten about this song but damn it felt good to hear it in all its glory. Here I was experiencing a true summer in New York City surrounded by beautiful people on a rooftop shaking my derrière getting hype with my boys Tag Team once again. Whoomp there it is.
This is one of more than 50 posts that make up our musical map of the United States, published by region—the West, Midwest, South, and Northeast—by writers who have strongly associated a song with a state.