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January 24, 2010

The variety of our lives: Reunion planned for punks, Goths, Mods, Freaks, and Pretties who dance partied at Heather Farm Park in the ‘80s


Once they were punks...

For a time in the mid-1980s, a crew of teens, organized by a San Quentin Prison guard/club deejay, would party at Heather Farm Park almost monthly to the sounds of punk, post-punk, Eurowave, gothic rock, and hip hop—from The Cure to Two Live Crew.

This parties were called Primary, and they were designed for Central Contra Costa teenagers whose penchant for leather, eye-liner, multi-colored hair or Mohawks made them stand out in suburbia—and scare some adults.

Primary was created by Harry Leras, who was on disability from his guard’s job at San Quentin. Leras also moonlighted as a club and radio deejay. He worked with Walnut Creek’s Youth Council, and the city and to organize the dance parties and performances.

These dances “attracted the kinds of teens who don’t join every club at school,” according to an article published back in the mid-80s by Diablo magazine. “ They’ve adopted a European Style. They’re interested in art and music, and they don’t attend the big school dances and athletic events.”

These ‘80s non-conformists are probably now raising teens of their own. And maybe they have respectable jobs and suburban mortgages—and no longer wear lots of leather or Mohawks.

They’ve begun plotting and planning to party again like its 1985. The event is scheduled for July 24, and they will return to Heather Farm Park. According to a Primary Walnut Creek Facebook page, some 200 are planning to come. If you’re interested in attending, check out the Facebook page to get the info.

Hmm, now they are old enough to drink, and Heather Farm community center does have a BYOB policy. Back in the day, Primary had a strict no alcohol, no drugs policy, and police reserves hung outside, just to make sure nothing got out of control.

11 comments:

Josh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josh said...

Thank you so much for this blog. I just discovered it a few days ago. I grew up in Walnut Creek and it has done my soul good to read through the updates and links. I'm a writer and live in Tennessee now, and one of my main subjects/inspirations are the suburbs of the East Bay: WC, Pleasant Hill, Concord. I really appreciate your blog. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I believe they no long do it, but there was a group of punk kids who put on monthly barbecue acoustic concerts next to the skate park in Heather Farms only a few years ago.
They had a myspace page and the events were free. I remember once they had electric bands play.
I don't remember what the myspace page was anymore, but it is cool to see that this kind of thing has been going on for a long time.

Anonymous said...

What a fun post!

I lived in San Francisco for so many years; am now living in Walnut Cree and finding it fascinating to read about some of the past and current events that one might not expect to be happening out here in the suburbs.

First there was the ongoing controversy over some bldg plans by the local Sufis; then I read about the "purple people" commune in the Lafayette area; and now this! Excellent. I like knowing there are some organizations and individuals out and about who are spicing up the local mix.

Thanks, Soccer Mom! Keep the info coming!

irish said...

I was at almost every Primary from the start of them and I cant wait to be there to see face's ive not seen in some 20 plus years!! Skid

Anonymous said...

Wow so cool I am one who missed the high school dances I was one of those non sporto Monte vista kids who spent my time at dolches and primary. It was one of our only sanctuaries. So many amazing memories and friends that have lasted a lifetime. I live in Nicaragua now but I'm booking a ticket to come home for this! thank you Harry for Giving us kids a place at a time when it seemed everyone was against us. This rebelious crowd was one of the most intelligent, creative, and interesting groups in the east bay. It will be fascinating to see how this really special bunch is making it's mark these days. I can't wait to see everyone!
- David Menache

Robert said...

As a former Primary punk and past managing editor of Diablo, that cover cracks me up to no end.

Ron S said...

Ok - at the risk of sounding sentimental (and very un-punk rock) I have to say that the Diablo cover has jarred back memories of a great era in my life. Sadly enough, I remember when the article was first published! Yes, I was one of those rebellious teens that hung out on the sidewalk in front of Dolces in Walnut Creek and frequented Primary sporting an absurd haircut and Doc Martins, thinking little of the future and causing trouble in the present. Oh yeah - and cruising across the Bay Bridge to check out Attitude Adjustment and Verbal Abuse at the Farm – just had to toss that in. The Contra Costa area, with it’s higher than average per capita income and sprawling suburban geography was a ripe breeding ground for teenage dissention and the distain of the youth spread across the county like a mold. I was lucky enough, after years of making bad decisions, to wind up as a “respectable” citizen working for a global humanitarian organization, landing finally in Portland OR a few years back. Old as I may be, I am still playing in rock bands and listening to crass music and will never fully let go of the tight-knit scene that influenced me probably more than any other since. Let the world know… the kids of the East Bay rocked.

Ron S.

Austin said...

I still have this Diablo Mag from the 80's...wonder how Laurel is doing now...

Greg said...

Nancy Bachman of the CoCoTimes used to right nasty columns about the kids (like me) who hung out at Dolce's.

What that other all ages club? Tiffany's?

Mishi Chan said...

OMG! Just reading all of these comments brings major flash backs to my teen hood. Someone mention The Farm to see Attitude Adjustment and so forth, I was there, Dolce..there too. Primary, Tiffany's and Twilight Zone, yup..did it all...and yet to recall anyones names to the faces I can not. I do remember quite vividly venturing to see the Purple peeps, that has a crazy tail behind it. I will be going to the reunion hopefully someone will recognize me and jog more of my memories. This time around with there be alcohol served?