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Five Things: Party Like It's 1929

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From increased openness to increased opacity.

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1) Party Like It's 1929

"Prohibition-style bars and speakeasies have been popping up all over, but these lounges go beyond the gimmicks in their near obsessive devotion to the art of old-time cocktails and decor."
- CNN.Com, "Nine Places to Party Like It's 1929"

The question is obvious, Why now? If the emergence of speakeasies, a mainstay of prohibition-era socializing, were indeed directly related to the public's desire to gain access to illegal alcohol, why now, in an age where alcohol is widely available, are speakeasy-style bars suddenly re-appearing all over the country? After all, there are half-a-dozen speakeasy style bars that have opened in the past year in New York's Lower East Side alone. The answer is tied to social mood.

As social mood continues to transition and shift from peak positive to negative, speakeasies are a manifestation of the desire to break down social groups into smaller, more close-knit and tighter communities. Some call it cocooning. When social mood shifts to negative, people withdraw into smaller circles of social interaction. This is true on all levels, from online social networking to family and even physical social interactions.

Negative social mood trends move away from increased openness, which by definition entails greater risk-taking, and more toward increased closure, the fracturing of larger groups into smaller and smaller niches. From that standpoint the modern speakeasy has two important things going for it that make it a timely addition to the social scene. First, they tend to be smaller than regular bars, less open and available to foot-traffic and drop-in customers. Two, they provide the illusion of the illicit; the ability to socialize in an enviornment that feigns illegality and risk-taking even while operating simultaneously in a rigorously rule-grounded and regulated industry.


2) Life Unchilled... and Unplugged

Related to social networks getting smaller and more intimate comes this story from the New York Times last week, "The Unchilled Life." The piece was ostensibly about people cutting back on air conditioning as "a luxury they can no longer afford."
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