If your fingers and/or social reputation have ever gripped a Tech Deck for dear life: Welcome. More specifically, welcome to the 2000s-era slumber party at the home of a girl named Victoria who you’re not really sure is your friend (she’s not), but who has the best Hit Clips collection in the school, so, here we are.
Ring a bell? Then you and I were probably in the same mall in the 2000s, picking our T-zone acne, getting our butts stuck to the same inflatable furniture, and singing along to “Bandages” by Hot Hot Heat. We lusted after every dELiA*s catalogue, the flower power iMac, and wanted one green eyeball like Kate Bosworth after watching Blue Crush. It was a hyper-stimulating time to be a teen, and TikTok—the oracle of today’s youth—agrees with me:
Trends of the 90s and 00s have made a massive cultural resurgence in the past few years, with Gen Zers snatching the minimalist, terrazzo tiara from millennials and replacing it with their own romanticized idea of what the bubblegum Y2K era was like—which, as a millennial, makes me ROFL with joy. That kind of nostalgia for an era we’ve never known happens to all of us; that’s the nature of the trend cycle. But for those of us millennials and Gen Xers who do recall the absolute chokehold the inflatable Britney Spears chair had on the culture, this resurgence hits hard.
The epicentre of dELiA*s-core, the absolute pulse, was the bedroom. The ambiance goal was a blend of Lindsay Lohan’s room in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, everything on TRL-era MTV, and those celestial ceiling stickers that glowed in the dark.
“The period from approximately 2000 to 2008,” explains the Consumer Aesthetics Research Institute (CARI), “[saw] a hard shift away from the minimalist futurism of the Y2K era [and] towards maximalist remixes of mainly 1970s and early 1980s trends and motifs.” Now, 20 years later, our resurgent interest in that maximalism seems like a clear response to the white-wall minimalism that’s become ubiquitous over the past decade.
The late 90s, early 00s aesthetic was the apex of 1970s “Groovival” energy (think: Deee-Lite; Y2K-techno-eco-futurism), but marketed to teens with aspirational “McBling” diva vibes (as seen in the popularity of Juicy Couture and bedazzled Nokia phones). So now, in the 2020s, we’re getting a tech-driven revival of a 90s tech-driven revival of a 70s aesthetic. If I’m underlining it to death with this scented Tutti Fruitti gel pen, forgive me. It’s only because I don’t want dELiA*s-core to get trivialized.
The turn of the millennium was a truly transformational time, for better and for worse; as internet access became widespread, it opened up our malleable little minds and wallets to more information and possibilities than ever. Pop music was at its peak, and tech commodities had a rare moment of non-cis-het-male-centered design (again: please see the flower power Mac). “Starting in 2004,” says CARI, “consumer products that came in multiple colors usually came in four colors: Electric Lime, Sky Blue, Hot Pink, Tangerine”; that penchant for bright colors and experimentation goes for a lot of the products in the Curly Girly off-shoot, too. It was also just… fun.
Now that I’m a grown ass person with adult money, I would like to blow it all on the dELiA*s-core bedroom of my yesteryear fantasies. I would also like to understand why every kid on the planet had this dolphin sculpture, and find out if all the finger watches from Afterthoughts Boutique—the cooler, chain-smoking sister of Claire’s Boutique that went out of business—went to heaven.
Here’s where to buy all the most highly coveted Y2K decor essentials that every middle schooler in 1999 would have killed for, somewhere between butterfly hair clips and Hard Candy eyeliner. I mean, if the Etnies fit…
The slumber party ambiance
Slip into those Paul Frank pajamas, and get ready to play Never-Have-I-Ever. The slumber party was a pivotal moment in any Y2K baby’s life, and there was always that one kid at school who had a Lizzie McGuire-worthy bedroom filled with glow-in-the-dark stickers, butterfly chairs, and aesthetic lighting. Not in a Sunset Lamp way, though—we were busy burning our hands on lava lamps. We thought a lot about lighting in general, and craved canopies over our beds (although our parents never wanted to help us install one).
Your life was inflatable and fluffy
Again, the Britney Spears inflatable chair was the holy grail. But anything that vaguely made your bedroom feel like the bus from the Spice World movie was fair game, and any old chair could be zhuzhed up with the right flower power pillow.
Your boom box (and internet) was your life
Shout out to LimeWire, man (also, if you had a computer in your room, you were def rich/an only child). Every teenage iPod or boom box was filled with a weird blend of illegally downloaded baby bop music, R&B, alternative rock, rap, electro, and a whooole lot of Sublime. I remember having my fifth-grade bestie’s mom drive us to see a Swedish girl band called Play at the Ventura Mall, and wearing a Band-Aid on my face like Nelly. No Doubt was getting their Rock Steady knuckle-rings, Usher had his Confessions, and all the older kids wore Chemical Brothers tee-shirts.
In your Kipling bag…
Your hot 90s mom probably had a Body Shop misting spray, but you got the Lip Smackers that tasted like Coca-Cola, and carried around a Happy Bunny book because yOu wEre dIfFereEnt <3
Long live the bubblegum Baroque, Y2K teen dream–and props to the Gen Zers who are so into it. There’s something to be said about putting such a high-energy decade through a sieve, so many years later, only to squeeze out the best, glitteriest content from the Juicy Tube. It brings levity, feels retroactively validating, and tastes like the freshest Lunchables.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.