Hootie And The Time Travelers Love The 90s

On April 1, we're revisiting an era of our nation's history that's often overlooked. The 1990s were boom years: grunge was hot, Pogs were cool and the Internet was just beginning. One group in Lynchburg, Va., doesn't just celebrate the '90s — they re-enact it.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So we're at the beginning of a month that's noted for memorable historical events. April was the time for everything from General Lee's surrender at Appomattox to the sinking of the Titanic.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, a group in Lynchburg, Virginia will spend part of this month reenacting the more recent historical events of the 1990s.

JASON TARCHUCK: Everybody, I want to thank you guys all for coming out.

GREENE: The group is called Hootie and the Time Travelers, and at a recent meeting, they prepared to reenact the last viewing of the Hale-Bopp comet. Today marks the 16th anniversary.

TARCHUCK: We need to - if we're going to get this done, we really need to get started in our planning.

INSKEEP: That's group member Jason Tarchuck(ph), who's spearheading this reenactment. His father is a Civil War reenactor, which inspired him to take up this hobby. He joined the group, founded by Melissa Lee(ph) of Gaithersburg, Maryland.

MELISSA LEE: We're a group that really recaptures that sort of, like, golden era in the '90s, which is sort of, like, forgotten a lot - I mean, that sort of Pearl Jam-era. It was, like, the best version of ourselves when, like, you know, we really had the right eye makeup on. We really understood how to define our lips. And that was, like, kind of like an important moment.

GREENE: At this gathering of a dozen or so members, it's clear that historical accuracy is taken very seriously.

INSKEEP: The snacks include corn cones called Bugles and the popular drink Zima. The costumes are accurate down to the tiniest detail, like hair scrunchies and slap bracelets.

LEE: So you'll look around and you'll definitely see greasy, long-haired Kurt Cobain types, and you might see with the girls, like, baby doll dresses with, like, heavy, like, boots and stuff.

GREENE: The group Hootie and the Time Travelers has been around for four years now. Lee and the group's outreach coordinator, Ryan Burford(ph), are planning the first '90s reenactment national convention in 2014, on the 20th anniversary of a defining moment for the era.

LEE: 1994 was the first episode of "Friends." It's really like a clarion call to our members.

RYAN BURFORD: We have, like, at least 70 to 80 people who are committed. And, like, Lynchburg is one of, like, I mean, at least a few dozen groups throughout the country.

INSKEEP: Now, while the group is not afraid to take on some of the big news events of the decade - from the OJ trial to the death of Mother Teresa - many say it's the music that keeps them coming back. Here's member Lindsey Stewart(ph).

LINDSEY STEWART: I think about Axl Rose. I think about Nirvana, Salt-N-Pepa.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Would you guys want to do Third Eye Blind?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: I could do "Jumper."

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: "Closing Time."

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing) I know who I want to take me home, take me home.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CLOSING TIME")

SEMISONIC: (Singing) Closing time, time for you to go out to the places you will be from. Closing time, this room won't be open till your brothers or your sisters come. So gather up your jackets, move it to the exits.

GREENE: That's '90s reenactors Hootie and the Time Travelers. On this first day of April, it's NPR News.

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