Have you ever imagined how you’re going to explain “planking” to your grandchildren?
“Well, you see, we used to lay really flat on things, like balcony ledges or statues, and have a friend take a picture.”
“But why, grandpa? Why did you do that?”
Got an answer? Probably not. Every generation of young people has their inexplicable fads and trends. Remember in the late ‘90s when pop starlets and high school girls alike wore jeans so low-cut the straps of their underwear were visible outside their pants? Thanks Britney.
And just as every young generation embraces a trend that will one day seem pretty silly in retrospect, we can count on a generation of older, wiser adults to collectively shake their heads and sigh, “In my day, folks had more sense.”
However, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the common lament of the old timers just isn’t true. Our grandparents did plenty of bizarre and silly stuff in the name of a good time. The next time your grandmother scolds you about Miley Cyrus, ask her if she ever threw her panties out a window to a cheering crowd of panty raiders below (or don’t because, you know, that’s your Nana). Next time your grandpa hounds you at Sunday dinner about your dumb parkour obsession, ask him if he ever tried to see how many friends he could stuff into a phone booth or streaked across a crowded college quad (or, again, don’t).
But whether your PawPaw and Granny participated in the following trends or not, it’s still pretty fun to take a few clicks through the past, giggling at some of the cleverest, silliest, and just downright weirdest things people did in the past for the sake of entertainment.
Okay, so this is probably technically how your great-grandparents got down, but still, a rent party is pretty genius. In the 1920s, cash-strapped tenants in Harlem would hire a jazz band then pass a hat to pay the musicians. Anything extra went towards apartment rent, which gave rise to New York’s iconic jazz scene during the Harlem Renaissance and helped lots of people avoid eviction.
Speaking of Prohibition-era house parties, they also gave rise to the “cocktail” as we know it. While the upper-crust toured Europe, where partying was cheap and alcohol was legal, the folks back home got creative with their bathtub gin. Next time you enjoy a martini, thank the temperance movement that made them necessary.