A clandestine hideaway in the far reaches of nowhere–sometimes better known as paradise–sounds increasingly impossible to reach in the era that is now. Not just as a result of the expensiveness of affording such a place, but the fact that even those with money have found it a challenge to re-create the magic of a utopia like “Club Tropicana.”
As Wham!’s signature video opens with two women in bikinis and red and white striped shirts driving their Jeep to a secret location, we’re given the impression that something tantalizing and illicit is happening behind the palms they’re about to cross. And, yes, from the moment they step in to see a mustachioed man in a straw hat and neck bandana, it’s clear that there’s no judgment here.
While, at the time of the single and video’s release in 1983, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley were making an ironic statement about the popularity of singles resorts like Club 18-30 that catered to providing a place for sexual lack of inhibition, its retrospective significance would change as the 80s came to an end. As George sets the scene for drinking one’s cares away poolside, Andrew lazes away on an inflatable chaise while talking on an oversized cell phone. George then establishes the almost socialistic sense of community felt by everyone at Club Tropicana as he insists, “Club Tropicana, drinks are free/Fun and sunshine, there’s enough for everyone.” This egalitarian approach to partying was, indeed, rather anathema for the time, as the 80s was all about class division.
Saying “all that’s missing is the sea,” the Duncan Gibbins-directed video then cuts to George sitting by the sea. Even at the outset of his career, it was thus evident that the Brit had an unbridled sense of irony. It seems even his faint rattail might be tongue-in-cheek, too–but then, that might be giving him too much credit. Similarly rattailed men frolicking along the beach staring back at passing women add to the fanciful trumpet sequence of the video–which includes the duo going so far as to play the instruments in the pool (which kind of puts the Lost Boys saxophonist to shame when you think about it).
At this point, Gibbins just starts recycling the same scenes of George drinking by the pool and floating on a chaise–maybe for budget reasons as it was shot at the luxury hotel formerly known as Pikes Hotel in Ibiza. Though there is a little plot “twist” at the end pertaining to the double life nature of flight attendantry, “Club Tropicana” is all about speaking to freedom from admonition, no matter what one’s lifestyle. And, come to think of it, perhaps utopia does exist–in Ibiza. The problem is sifting past all the foam and/or semen blocking you from enjoying the full potential of the vista.