Bianca’s Borderland Beat: TLC as a time machine

The full-color, 20-plus page catalog arrived monthly, just in time to hit our 4th week of allowance savings.

If my kid sister and I each skipped a couple of lunch days each week, we could hit close to a combined $40 each month for our BMG Music CD collecta.

A daily battle of the FM radio dial bounced between 102.1 and 95.5 after school, as we studied music with our ears plastered to an 80s boombox on shag carpet. I’d usually have my Composition book, scribbling the artist and jams that got us grooving.

It was the ongoing buildup to our next BMG order, a whopping 12 CDs for the price of 1 (plus shipping and handling.)

One afternoon in 4th grade, TLC made my list. That very moment, in all capacities of the 5-sense memory, was resurrected almost 25 years later at the Don Haskins Center. On a Tuesday.

I was in deafening unison with the screams of middle-aged fans as T-Boz and Chili graced the stage. I also joined the die-hards in fighting tears at the absence of Left Eye, the group’s saucy rebel with a cause.

My recall immediately pulled the treasure chest of stored, dusty lyrics that soon converted to off-key shrieks and 90s dance moves. It was the time of my life.

“This is my shit!” I screamed at the crowd, who bellowed along with me as their countless invisible flashbacks radiated in and out with the stage spotlights. It was a million perfect moments of retrospect and presence perfectly orchestrated in the craziest, sexiest, coolest of notes.

The set hit the peaks of their 34-year career to include early hits like ‘What About Your Friends’ to remind you if they’ll stand your ground and ‘Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg’ to revive the times when you need it in the morning or the middle of the night. The nostalgic sing-along intensified as T and Chili flipped on the infamous red lights.

My friends and I laughed, realizing that as 10-year olds we were obliviously expressing our non-existent sexual desires.

After interchanging bouts of hollering and laughing, dancing and cheering, came the moment that gave purpose to my countless karaoke sessions over the years. It was ‘Waterfalls’ and I was ready.

There’s something comforting about thousands of voices in perfect harmony, as if a homesickness I didn’t know even existed was immediately soothed. As Left Eye’s notorious verse approached, her devotees braced themselves for their Left Eye moment. But the arrival was delayed.

The lights dimmed, the decibel levels drastically dropped, and the image of Left Eye was projected on several screens.

“We’d like to dedicate this moment to our girl, Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes.” The emotional energy paralyzed most if not all attendees, forcing a present-moment awareness of the unwavering love for Lefteye while T-Boz and Chili expressed their love.

An infinite swarm of white LEDs blanketed the auditorium in honor of the late artist, who died tragically in a car crash while traveling in Honduras in 2002.

When her verse did begin, fans summoned their inner Left Eye with a renewed dedication, and I performed my best impromptu karaoke session yet.

It was a bucket list moment crossed out in the craziest, sexiest, coolest of ways.

Fast-forward to a hoarse voice and fast-looming bedtime (10pm and 35 years are a combo meant only for sheets and pillows,) and Nelly managed to keep most concertgoers awake another hour or so.

The hits reminiscent of bridge crossings into Tequila Derby and Copa Cabana off the Juarez strip revived the blurrier moments of adolescence. The very fit rapper bounced between hits like Country Grammar and Ride Wit Me, that most could follow, with the occasional unknown jam that brought people back to their seats.

It was a good show, and although a hailstorm delayed my sitter’s arrival in time to catch Flo-Rida, we all know the real headliners were TLC.

Photo gallery by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta – Chief Photographer – El Paso Herald Post