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VINTAGE ENTERTAINMENT PRIMER

Updated: Nov 10, 2019

How to unplug and enjoy some of the simple pleasures of a vintage lifestyle.




Nowadays, if someone were to turn out the lights, or cut our electricity, many of us wouldn't know what to do. For some of us however, when the power goes, it's a chance for us to light the oil lamp, and sit around the table with family or friends; engaging in conversation, playing games, or telling stories. Whether you're suffering from a power outage or not though, one thing we can all do is take the time to unplug.


For many of us, at least once every so often, an inward desire to shut out the noise of the world can urge us to put away the cell phone, close up our laptops, or turn off the TV, and yet, when we do, we're stuck not knowing what to do instead! If we're honest with ourselves, it's easy to just keep scrolling through Instagram, or let Netflix prompt you into watching another episode of a binge-worthy series, so it takes a little more initiative to seek out an activity that doesn't require modern technology.


For those of us who are at a loss for what to do when technology is removed from the picture, I wanted to compose this little primer on vintage entertainment. We didn't always have technology, we didn't always even have electricity! So here's a few things you can try at home the next time you want to unplug, and hopefully you can get a taste of what life was like for your parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents. Here goes:


1) Play a game


Now this is an obvious one, I know, and many of us turn to the closet under the stairs when looking for something to do (though I'd wager it happens a lot less often in 2019), but there are loads of fun board games out there. Many of these are bona fide classics, that retain their popularity today in various forms, such as Monopoly, but have you ever tried a game of Chinese Checkers? What about marbles or dominoes (not just setting them up to knock them down)? Another real classic is cribbage. Dating from the 17th century, crib is a simple card game which sees you "pegging" your way up a wooden board in a race against your opponents. You'll also be surprised how many old board games are out there in garage sales or thrift stores; when in doubt, go find something you've never played before and have some fun figuring out the rules!




2) Turn on the radio


The days before television were rife with families gathering around the wireless set for music, sports, and entertainment. Though you might not hear War of the Worlds and subsequently freak out (if you're not sure what I'm referring to click here), you can still lose yourself in the timeless tradition of just sitting and listening, either to an interesting story or to some music. Remember, music wasn't always just on in the background or in your car, listening to it was an activity in itself!



Battery-operated radios were often an important piece of furniture that featured prominently in the home.

3) Read a book


This one is definitely underrated. Oftentimes, if we do read a book, it's for educational reasons, and if we read fiction, it's a novel; but reading doesn't have to be just for learning, nor does it have to be a long-term commitment. Next time you're bored, try picking up a short story. I personally have the entire Sherlock Holmes collection of stories from Arthur Conan Doyle, and they make for fantastic reads when you only have a short amount of time, or when you don't want to dive in to a thousand page book. Other great authors of short stories from days-gone-by include Rudyard Kipling, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, and Ernest Hemingway. Check out their work!





4) Ride a bike


But when I say ride a bike, I mean do it for the simple pleasure of being free to move. When the bicycle was introduced at the turn of the century, many people experienced real freedom to roam for the first time. Try to think back to what it was like to get your driver's license and finally have that independence. That's what bicycles were like for the Edwardians! As you might remember from being a kid, riding a bike can be really enjoyable, but instead of using it to get somewhere or to exercise (which entails pedalling as fast as you can), slow down and enjoy what's around you: the fresh air, the scenery, the sounds; maybe go somewhere you've never been before!



Now all of these activities might seem pretty standard to you as alternatives to modern forms of entertainment, but go ahead and try some of these when you're not forced to, and see how difficult it can be to give up the modern world! Challenge yourself to go a day without social media, or a week without Netflix. Let us know how it goes!

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