Stephanie Luddy was in middle school when the Spice Girls came to Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia.
So many of Luddy's friends went to the show, but money was tight, and she couldn't make it.
Not this time around.
Now, six years after disbanding, and one greatest hits album later, the Spice Girls are temporarily back together and triumphantly winding down their reunion tour. When they come to the Verizon Center in Washington tonight, Luddy will be there.
"It's a little silly, but it's fun," said Luddy, a 23-year-old middle-school math teacher. "I can remember all my little friends going and a couple of us not getting to go. I get to go now."
When Scary, Sporty, Baby, Ginger and Posh made their debut in the mid-'90s, they melted the hearts of pop-music lovers around the world.
Millions and millions of Spice Girls albums flew off shelves as American and European teenagers were swept up in Spice Mania. The craze, though intense, lasted only a few years.
But the release of Greatest Hits last year and the start of their tour (called The Return of the Spice Girls) reignited the craze and gave girl-power fans waves of nostalgia for years past.
Carrie Murphy, a 22-year-old nanny who lives in Towson, couldn't wait for the Spice Girls to announce a date in Washington. Instead, she and her sister Meghan bought two $100-plus tickets to the Newark, N.J., show Feb. 10. The show was everything she really, really wanted, Murphy said.
"I've never been to a concert that has exploding glitter and so many costume changes and lights," she said. "And the music sounded great. It sounded as good as it did when I was in sixth grade."
Murphy said the crowd at the Newark show was made up almost entirely of women and girls between the ages of 16 and 26. Each of the Spice Girls had their own song, and as a group, they sang all their hits.
"It didn't feel '90s, which I was a little scared of," she said. "It felt very modern."
Unlike the openly seductive and scandalous Britney Spears, the Spice Girls kept a fairly wholesome image throughout their musical careers.
"You don't see the Spice Girls doing crazy things," said Kelsey Publicover, a 15-year-old who lives in Crofton and plans on attending tonight's show.
"Britney's in rehab, but they all have families."
Tickets to tonight's show were among her Christmas presents, Kelsey said. She was a diehard fan since age 7, and dressed up as Baby Spice one Halloween. This will be her first concert.
"It's really exciting," Kelsey said. "All my friends were like, `This was the best first concert to go to.' I think it will be really fun and upbeat."
The recent Spice Girls resurgence has also sparked new interest among early- and pre-teens, as Luddy learned recently when she chaperoned a dance at the middle school where she works.
"I don't think I felt old until they played `Wannabe' at the school dance and all the kids were screaming the words," she said. "I was like, `Geez, Louise."
Listening to Greatest Hits has brought back middle-school memories for Luddy. Though some friends teased her for buying Spice Girls tickets, she can't wait to see the show.
"I tell people that I'm going, and so many people make fun of me," Luddy said. "But who doesn't want to see a group that was popular when they were younger?"
The Return of the Spice Girls comes to the Verizon Center at 7:30 tonight. The arena is at 601 F St. N.W. in Washington. Tickets are $72.50-$122.50. Call 410-547-7328 or go to ticketmaster.com.