As we evolve into a culture that’s increasingly dependent on technological advances, the days of drive-in movie theaters and video game arcades are a thing of the past…or are they? While these old stomping ground may feel nonexistent, some business owners are reviving retro hangouts for the next generation to enjoy. Check out these incredible photos of retro hangouts we almost forgot about and see where you can still enjoy these relics of the past today.
Tiki bars were originally a Polynesian tradition. The beach-inspired hangout spots were known to serve elaborate cocktails and a whole lot of rum and other delicious libations. They were usually found in the nearest tropical paradise and were a true symbol of Hawaiian culture. The interior and exterior of these establishments were full of masks, “tiki god” carvings, torches, lava stone, and other tropical decorations. Some of these bars even had large stages for live music and dance performances that usually follow a tropical motif.
The Tiki Franchise
The first well-known tiki bar was established by Ernest Gantt in 1933 in Los Angeles. It was named “Don the Beachcomber” and showed promising success and eventually expanded to 16 locations. However, the fall of the tiki bar happened sometime around the mid-’70s when the war in Vietnam made tiki culture seem less appealing.
The last standing original tiki bar is somewhere on the island of O’ahu, in Hawai’i. Pictured above is the modern-day franchise version of what a tiki bar is, today. While the concept of the tiki bar may be a relic of the past. we still enjoy novelty versions of the ’60s fad in metropolitan areas.
You may be familiar with the Western saloons from old cowboy movies and Southern states who refuse to give up their rustic charm. The sad truth is, however, saloons have become a relic we only get to experience through Quentin Tarantino films.
The first truly original saloon was built and operated in Wyoming in 1882. Saloons in the Old West were populated with lumberjacks, lawmen, miners, authentic cowboys, soldiers and fur trappers. The Wild West was a period reckless drinking, dancing women, and unlawful gunfights that eventually faded with time. We certainly wouldn’t mind jumping into a time machine and ordering up a whiskey with a side of firewater!
When you think of drive-in movie theaters your brain probably draws an image of Sandy and Danny in the movie “Grease.” The drive-in was a popular place for young high school couples and groups of friends that were trying to escape their “square” parents for the night. The first drive-in cinema was built in New Jersey, and the idea took off. Although they are not nearly as popular as they once were, they haven’t completely vanished, and it’s still a nostalgic treat for some adults to catch a flick and reminisce on old times.
Drive-In Food Joints
Before teenagers in the ’50s and ’60s drove to the outdoor movie theater, they stopped at a drive-in food shack for dinner and snacks. The ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s were booming with the conveniently placed restaurants but eventually went out of style in the early ’60s. Those days, there were drive-through windows that include cute girls on roller-skates serving our food. Eventually, as seen by giant fast food corporations such as McDonald’s, drive in food has transitioned into fast food with is much less personal. These places used to be a popular hangout spot, and now they’re a quick and convenient way to grab something while on the road.
Diners Of The ’50s
Diners in the 2000’s may be a fun novelty establishment to take your kids to eat but back in the day, they were the ultimate pit stop for traveling salesman and lonely truckers. Starting out, they were most common in the Northeastern and Midwest United States but eventually spread across the country. Roadside diners were convenient for those passing along the highway, but the 50’s turned the concept of a diner into a teenage hangout that served cherry cokes and food old-fashioned American hamburgers.
The Original Diner’s Charm
By the mid-’50s, every small town had a charming diner that came complete with a jukebox and pastel color schemes. To honor this classic relic of the past, the American Diner Museum organization was opened in 1996 to celebrate the evolution of the restaurant. The diner is considered a unique institution to the American people. Still today, you can find these retro diners all over the country that look like something straight out of a history book, with the colors, and family friendly environment. Some things will never change, and it looks like diners are here to stay.
70’s Roller Discos
Before disco died and left the building for good, roller-skating rinks took the ’70s by storm. A common weekend tradition for teenagers and young adults was to gather at the skating rink or “discotheque” and dance on wheels to disco’s biggest names in music. Roller was a common theme in many Hollywood movies such as “Roller Boogie,” “Skate Town,” and “La Boum.” The roller discos were also custom designed to match the party with special effects, fog machines, and traffic lights. Skaters also typically skated in a circle to avoid collisions with a free skate area in the center.
80’s Roller Rinks
By the mid-1980’s, roller rinks had reached its peak even with disco on its way out. There we even roller skating magazines being made at the time, a testament to how big the trend really was. The popular activity crossed the Atlantic Ocean and made its way over to the United Kingdom. The music theme ultimately changed from disco to pop and rock. Roller skating wasn’t big in the ’90s but made a retro comeback in the mid-2000’s in middle America. Now, it can be a fun activity for young adults and kids to do on a night out to travel back to the 1970’s and 80’s and try their hands at roller skating.
The 1920’s saw a lot of mayhem ensue during the Prohibition Era. Speakeasies opened up all over the country illegally served alcohol to its patrons. Typically, there is a password or some kind of code necessary to get enter in order to keep its existence a secret. The roaring ’20s were a time for celebration and the laws were easily broken, providing paying customers with the opportunity to let loose and dance. speakeasies are still around today, however, instead of keeping it hidden from the law, they’re meant to be hidden from the general public to keep it an exclusive spot.
Alcohol During The Prohibition
Speakeasies were technically known as hidden drinking spots for the common night owl or party animal. These illicit establishments were mainly organized and ran by New York City gangsters who had the necessary connections to the much-needed alcohol. Many of these illegal bars can still be found in the city, preserved for nostalgia’s sake and to commemorate a period of time that would change the fabric of America forever. Also, the speakeasies and the alcohol used formed the way we drink and make cocktails today. Since mostly only cheap bootleg liquor was available, it led to the creation of many of our favorite cocktails today such a Brandy Alexander.
There once was a time when vinyl records were the only viable option for listening to music, other than radio. While it’s true that record shops sold these now-ancient relics of the past, they also provided a location for confused teens and misunderstood young adults with a musical environment free of judgment and parental enforcement. Record stores then became a mecca for an exchange of music and ideas which lead to a growth and establishment of a true music scene. The first shop was founded in 1894 by Henry Spiller called Spillers Records in Cardiff, Whales, and only grew from there.
The Last Standing Record Shops
Record shops kept up with the changing times and sold the most current form of purchased music whenever they could. Eight-track tapes, compact cd’s, and cassettes were added to the inventory to prevent the shops from going out of style. Inevitably they did, at least for a while. After the year 2000, vinyl records became a hot commodity and a valuable collectible, making record shops somewhat relevant again. With record players making a comeback as well, those who never experienced records in their heyday have a new found interest in the old way of listening to music.
Sock hops were all the rage in the late 1940’s and all throughout the ’50s. Essentially, they were informal sponsored dances for teenagers and were started by the American Junior Red Cross to raise funds during World War II. The name came about because the dancers were required to remove their shoes in order to protect the floors of the school gymnasium where they were typically held. After the sock hop fad died down in the early ’60s, dance halls were left empty. The informal dance activity would soon make a comeback in the ’80s thanks to the Rockabilly movement.
Sock Hop Locations
The beauty of a sock hop was that it could take place almost anywhere, most likely in a school gymnasium or a cafeteria. Local dance halls would often host the teenage dance gathering with sponsored events and of course, adult chaperones. Since shoes had to be taken off to avoid scuffing the floor, sock hops are also accredited with making the indoor shoe a popular option for footwear. The sock hop locations were the essence of the late 40’s and 50’s and are what comes to anyone’s mind when anyone thinks about dances in that era.
Burlesque clubs are a rare diamond in the adult entertainment industry nowadays. They began as early as 1890 but didn’t take off until the 40’s in the United States. Basically, burlesque clubs were held in cabarets, clubs, and even theaters, which provided a variety of shows from comedy, dancing, and ladies stripteasing. One of the most well-known burlesque entertainers of all time, who is also responsible for the lack of clothing performers wore, was Gypsy Rose Lee.
Burlesque theaters, or clubs, featured many famous actresses who pursued comedic roles in their careers. The famous ladies include Mae West, Fanny Brice, and Sophie Tucker. Burlesque shows aren’t a mainstream performance art anymore, but Dita Von Tease remains one of the top performers who perfected the craft in her early years. On top of young actresses looking to entertain in other ways than just acting, there were also boxing matches, wrestling, exotic dancing, acrobats, singers, and magicians. All in all, just about any form of unusual or unique entertainment was featured at these clubs.
Gentlemen’s clubs were also known as cigar bars or lounges that excluded their female counterparts and families. Started in Britain for upper-class men in the 18th Century, the clubs were usually exclusive to accepted members only and were tucked away in private locations. The 18th and 20th-century clubs adhered to these specific guidelines that discriminated against who was in a lower social economic class. Gentlemen’s clubs that remain open today are more inclusive. Moreover, in the United States, the term gentleman’s club has become another way of saying strip club which is far from the intent of their original establishment.
The Abandoned Gentlemen’s Club
Pictured above is an abandoned gentlemen’s club that was stuck in a time capsule from 1909. The design of this particular club, and many others like it, was to fit a parlor or lounge that provided entertainment to its members. The abandoned club included a lounge, ballroom, and restaurant on the second floor. As you can see, these old clubs greatly differ from what we know them as today. Originally, they were places for men to gather and talk about business and politics through a cloud of cigar smoke while drinking brandy, not to throw money at naked women.
Cabaret Clubs would sometimes host burlesque dancers and can-can girls but ultimately gained their reputation for dramatic performances in the arts. The actors and actresses were often glammed up and performed musical numbers and satirical stage sets. What separated a cabaret from other clubs was the venue. Cabarets tended to be at pubs, restaurants or nightclubs. The audience typically just sat at tables and watched as they ate and drank. Cabaret originated with the French and the Dutch in the 18th century with the intention of having performances of a secretive as well as adult nature.
Cabaret shows can still be seen in major cities such as New York, Berlin, and London. The dancing routines are considered to be more traditional for their time, but since the 40’s, the remaining clubs have begun hosting drag shows and retro-style burlesque. If you can snag tickets to a modern show you’ll take a well-worth trip back in time. This is also what people typically want to see if they attend a cabaret show. They can see modern entertainment anywhere, but a true cabaret show is unique and not something everyone gets to experience.
Comic Book Shops
Comics and graphic novels were popular in the literary world before the 1960’s but didn’t have a place to call home until ’67. The fandom factions that hung out in comic book shops were different from record stores and weren’t considered to be as “cool” as the latter. Both groups were, however, outsiders in mainstream society and found refuge in their comfort zones. Today, although comic book stores are struggling compared to the past, avid comic readers and collectors still attempt to ensure their survival by supporting their local shop or including other activities and creating clubs to draw in customers.
Founded In The 60’s
The first comic book shop was founded in 1967 by Gary Arlington in San Francisco. The store stayed upon 2002 until he died of heart disease. Comic book shops are hard to find in 2017, but there has been a recent submergence in the trade since 1996. This is partially due to the film industry’s reboot of many popular superhero sagas. In addition, other individuals continue to seek out comics and comic book stores purely for nostalgic reasons or because the stores commonly have more than just comics, but trading cards and other hobby-related items.
Video arcades were the perfect playground for children from the 70s until the 90s. When Pacman came out in 1980, the arcade industry was booming and experienced what is still referred to as the “golden age” of arcade games.
Not only were video arcades a great place for the youth to come together and hang out in an adult-free environment, but it was one of the first glimpses into what technology had to offer in the entertainment world. The phenomenon also hinted at the future relationship concerning children and technology as it was frequent for kids to skip school to go the arcade.
The Arcade Decline
During the 90’s, the arcade game industry began to decline after the release of game consoles. The number of arcade locations quickly diminished as consoles became more advanced and the internet offered recreational amusement.
There are still a few video arcades left over around the States but the most successful gaming establishments are Dave & Busters and companies alike. These establishments are usually visited once again for nostalgic purposes where 50 cents can let you relive a childhood memory for a few minutes. Now, some people even own these old consoles in their homes so they can enjoy them at their own convenience.
The term “dive bar” doesn’t hold the same meaning today as it did during the Prohibition Era. A dive bar back then was a step down from the typical speakeasy but still was a place to gather for entertainment and drinks. These bars weren’t well-kept, but for some, that played into the appeal.
The dive bars were essentially a bit of a lawless land where the drinks were cheap, and the company tended to be locals only, hence the nickname “neighborhood bars.” Speakeasies were typically a more reputable place for a night out with a certain level of class, whereas dive bars were for the common man grabbing a drink with their work buddies at the end of the day.
Chumley’s Dive Bar
Located in Lower Manhattan, Chumley’s is one of the last remaining dive bars of the Prohibition Era. F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, and E.E. Cummings are just a few of the famous writers who have frequented this bar during their time. The original owner, Henriette Chumley, is rumored to haunt the bar since dying at her favorite table in 1960. The landmark was closed 5 years ago and reopened in October 2016. The bar is almost an exact replica of what it looked like during its heyday in the 1920’s. Although there are a few minor changes, for the most part walking into the bar is like walking into the 1920’s, the drink prices are just higher.
Original poetry cafes used to be a happening place in the 1960s. They were a place where people from all walks of life could come and perform spoken word poetry in a safe and unjudgemental environment. This form of artistic expression became increasingly important after the oppression that American youth felt in the 50s. So poetry cafes became a communal area people could let off steam and share their opinions with like-minded people. These cafes were especially important during the Vietnam War when violence was taking a toll on the hearts and minds of the American people.
Beatniks And Poets
The patrons that frequently visited these cafes were usually beatniks. The Beat Generation was compromised of literary enthusiasts and authors who inspired the hippie counter-culture and embraced the dark aspects of human living. They were also known for their drug use, pseudo-intellectualism, and disgust in everyday society.
Famous authors from the Beatnik Generation include Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, whom the younger Beatnicks strove to imitate. Beatniks may not be totally present in today’s society, however, they have a close resemblance to the “hipster” culture that we see among the millennials today.
Jazz used to be considered the “devil’s music” in the 1920s, but that didn’t stop the clubs from opening and throwing outrageous parties. After dance halls banned the genre from the venues, the jazz community didn’t have a choice but to create their own establishments to perform and dance in.
Underground jazz clubs multiplied during the prohibition era. Those that attended these jazz clubs tended to be the more “out there” group of people and the obsession with the music was highly regarded in the Beatnik generation years later and eventually everyone else.
One of the biggest reasons for breaking the law and entering a jazz club was for the swing dancing. Prohibition wasn’t able to slow down the roaring ’20s and the dance movement only propelled the use of jazz clubs further.
The dance genre didn’t fade until the 1950s and has yet to see a mainstream reemergence. Eventually, however, the dancing aspect of jazz began to fade away with the introduction of the bebop style of jazz. This type of jazz was more for sitting and listening since the faster tempos made it difficult to dance to.
We forgot that joke shops actually existed before the Weasley brothers opened their own cabinet of laughs at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Believe it or not, there used to be entire shops dedicated for the purpose of buying miscellaneous gags and tricks in order to terrorize your friends or little sister.
Playing pranks and jokes on your friends is definitely a favorite childhood past time, but since the ’20s no one has really experienced a need to spend so much money on the immature hobby.
Magic shops are not nearly as popular as they once were and you can certainly see why. In the 1920s, before special effects and Criss Angel existed, performing impressive magic was a simple skill set that could be picked up in a shop on an NYC corner. With no internet or television, it was a fun and interesting hobby for any age.
The oldest magic shop that remains open today is Tannen’s in Manhattan. The popularity is low but Tannen’s still sells magic supplies to young boys with big dreams. Although there still are magic shops, much like comic book stores, there is a very small niche of individuals that go out of their way to visit one.
Can-Can Dance Halls
In the 1840s, can-can dancing swept the Midwest and stole the hearts of men everywhere. Can-can dance halls housed large groups of female dancers that performed for paying customers with the promise of splits, cartwheels, and high kicks. The dance movement originated in French music halls before making its way over to the United States.The can-can was no easy dance routine to master. It was a difficult and physically demanding genre of dance that was originally performed by both genders. The can-can is still performed today in professional theaters and modern cabaret clubs but you’ll be lucky if you can actually find them.
Blockbuster: A New Relic
Blockbuster may as well be added to the list of past relics because, well, they simply don’t exist anymore. Netflix and live streaming put the popular chain out of business for good in 2013 even though the video store franchise was dead way before then.
We’ll never forget the Friday night tradition of going with your friends to Blockbuster and renting the latest new releases. It’s only a matter of time until Blockbuster is long forgotten similar to poetry cafes, or saloons. You served us well Blockbuster.
The “Adult” Video Store
Blockbuster didn’t have its own special “back room,” but plenty of other small video stores did. Adult video stores and those curtain-concealed rooms have definitely become a relic of past. So has trying to peek in when your mother isn’t looking.
Thanks to the internet, it all too easy to find dirty films online and the only place you can really buy physical copies anymore is at an actual shop dedicated to that kind of stuff. This is a change for the better, considering no one wants to be caught buying already dirty laundry in public.
The death of the internet cafe is largely in part due to the invention of laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Also known as cyber cafes, these coffee houses with desktop computers were convenient in the ’90s but became irrelevant as the internet made huge bounds in its overall function and smartphones became more advanced.
The internet cafe had a nice run but now it’s just a relic of the past that barely made a dent in human history. Today, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a classic internet cafe, but it’s still not uncommon for people to utilize the free wifi in a coffee shop.
Bowling originated as a leisurely activity in Ancient Egypt, but by the 19th century had become a competitive sport. The first bowling alley was built in 1840 and became a smash hit a century later. By the mid-20th Century, the bowling alley became a hangout as well as a sport with serious leagues, but the fad died down after the ’90s. While bowling alleys still remain a cheap option for birthday parties and the like, it’s not the go-to place it used to be. For the most part, it’s become a cheap source of entertainment with overpriced beers and unmaintained establishments.