The Northeast Goes Dark: Wake-Up Video

Six years ago today, the lights went out. On a sweltering day in August, the National Power Grid failed some time after 4 p.m., which cut the electricity to over 55 million people across New York, Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and much of Ontario, Canada. The blackout lasted a little over 24 hours, and despite the underlying fear that major cities would devolve into anarchy, most everybody came out unscathed.

If I could interject a personal story: Back in 2003, I was living in an apartment in Manhattan and was on the phone with my employer when the lights went out. I initially thought that the power had simply gone out in my house (I lived in an old building with a notoriously unreliable fuse box), but I quickly realized that something was up. The rest of the evening was spent trying to figure out what was going on (and planning on how to eat everything in my quickly-warming refrigerator). That night, a bunch of the local bars decided they didn't want their beer to skunk, so they gave away free drafts to the neighborhood. A bunch of friends of mine who were living on the NYU campus ended up coming downtown and crashing in my place because I at the very least had running water (their dorms relied on electric water pumps).

We spent the next day eating what was left in my fridge, playing board games and making up blackout playlists (at least until my laptop finally died). Those mixes are long gone, and I can only remember two songs that were definitely on there. One was the Damned's "Wait for the Blackout," and the other was 5ive's "When the Lights Go Out." For those of you who don't recall all the boy bands from the turn of the millennium, 5ive hit the charts with that song in 1998, and every now every time I blow a fuse at home, I hum this song to myself. It's an unbelievable compendium of '90s-isms (the clothes, the haircuts, the dancing in a bowling alley), and will almost certainly ruin your day. You're welcome.

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