by Nicole Ireland
If I had to describe Salad Days in one word it would be nostalgic. The whole documentary is steeped with nostalgia for DC’s 80’s punk scene. Salad Days used an impressive amount of original footage from various shows throughout the decade, as well as quite a few interviews with people who grew up in and contributed to the scene.
I didn’t know a whole lot about the DC punk scene, and Salad Days did a good job of portraying the scene in the most honest way possible. The film doesn’t spend 90 minutes forcing a romanticized idea of the DC punk scene down the audience’s throats. Instead we saw the good, the bad and the ugly sides of it, which I really appreciated.
Starting in the early 80s, we follow the scene through its beginnings and we see the camaraderie and community that the DC punk scene was built on. We then take a look as the scene went through a dark period around 1984 when DC was filled with drunk punks, skin heads and ‘queer bashing’. The people who grew up in the sect were losing hope in the community they were a part of. What I found to be the pivotal point of Salad Days was when we were shown how the members of this faction decided to respond to this dark period. This response was called Revolution Summer and took place in the summer of 1985. The members of the punk community worked together to take their scene back and to turn it into something positive again, and I found this very inspiring.
Punk music isn’t just about being angry and raising hell, it can be a vehicle for positive change. Salad Days puts the highs and the lows of DC’s 80s punk scene on display, but most importantly it encompasses the punk spirit, making it a really fantastic film for any punk fan.