The Decade of Decadence #4: The Vintage Party - A Lurid Look

Party to the break of dawn

I've got a bunch more photos of vintage parties that I didn't use up in the last Decade of Decadent post.  So, I thought I'd throw some more at you, along with some thoughts, recollections and quotes interspersed. 
Question: What's the difference between a 1970s dinner party and a porno?
Answer: About 15 minutes. (ba-doom ding!) I'm here all night, folks.

Drinks 'n' Smokes

This quote from director, William Freidkin, kind of encapsulates the mentality of the time nicely.  I think you can see how a "live for today"/"who gives a damn" mentality could arise in this atmosphere:

"America was going through a national nervous breakdown. It started with the assassination of John Kennedy and then the assassination of Martin Luther King, then Robert Kennedy, then the onset of the Vietnam War in which America stumbled very badly and has never really recovered. The 1960s ended with the Charles Manson murders – the murder of Sharon Tate and a bunch of people for no apparent reason at all by a bunch of drug-infested people who were aimless and sort of adrift from the American culture."

Ladies' Night

What was really the difference about parties in the 1970s versus those before and after? This is a discussion my spouse and I recently had. One thing that instantly sprung to mind was that it was the adults who were hosting these things. You'd expect this sort of thing from the young'uns, but not thirtysomething parents.  It was the 76 million Boomers in their thirties simultaneously exploring all the sexual taboos.  Now it's mostly a much younger set having all the fun.

Mama Told Me Not to Come

I just love some of these images of vintage parties.  The clothing, the porn 'staches, the decor.... it's breathtaking to behold.

Party Goers

There's been a lot of debate over when the Sexual Revolution actually began.  Most people would say it was the late sixties, when hippie counter-culture infiltrated the mainstream psyche.  However, a recent study by the University of Florida has demonstrated that it actually started after WWII.... it just didn't go public until the sixties.  In other words, bedroom practices and sexual morals of the so-called Silent Generation were drastically different than those of the 30s and early 40s; however, it was kept in the bedroom for the most part.

There's a Party Goin' on Right Here

You'll notice that several of the tables in these photos (taken from a time period spanning from the late sixties to early eighties) have: (1) tons of liquor bottles, (2) at least one ashtray, (3) a floral arrangement on it or nearby, and (4) a bowl of fruit.  Bizarre.

It's not a party until sombedy eats the plastic grapes

Remember when floral wallpaper was the rage? Probably around 1980, if memory serves. Is there anything more garish and shrill than bright floral patterned wallpaper?  Between the floral arrangement and the walls, my eyes actually hurt looking at it.

Party Like It's 1969

You know the stance here at Retrospace on miniskirts - they were the single greatest achievement since Eve strapped on a fig leaf.  Between all that booze and those two miniskirted damsels, no wonder this young lad is grabbing a hold of himself!

Scenes from a Party

The decor in the image above is kind of cool, in a retro sorta way.  However, those effing lights are hanging a bit low I think.  Between all the fornication and substance abuse, maybe they just didn't have the time to adjust them.  They were very busy in those days.

the vintage party

If there is not a line of cocaine on that table somewhere, I will be very, very shocked. 

Pop quiz (10 points): An invitation to a party in the 1970s meant you would probably get _________:
A) a venereal disease
B) a drug induced coma
C) anally raped
D) lifelong guilt
E) all of the above

Three's a Crowd

It would be an unforgivable oversight to write a post on 70s parties and not at least mention the hot tub party.  Sure, they were disease laden sex tanks, but they were great!  I just wouldn't want to have to be the one to clean it out the next morning.

Hot Tub Party

Bonus Question: When hosting a party in the 1970s, be sure to have plenty of heavy duty cleaning supplies handy the next morning (or several days later if you've blacked out and woke up in Tijuana).  The most common types of carpet stains after a 70s party were a combination of the what two substances?

A) bong water and semen
B) flop sweat and semen
C) vomit and semen
D) Colt 45 and semen
E) blood and semen
F) old semen and fresh semen

highlights of a 70s party

Answer Key: pop quiz =E and bonus question = F


  1. This. Is. Phenomenal. See THE ICE STORM for a good movie on the topic (I didn't read the novel). I think a lot of the liberation began with the Beats before they were known as such; Kerouac was on the road in the mid- to late-40s and wasn't one of those black turtle-necked doofuses always snappin' fingers. Also, I've been to hot tub parties... you never know what fluid's gonna show up.

  2. GRRRREAT post.
    Damn! I love those red curtains with the squares. Those times must have been amazing (except the venerial diseases, of course!)
    And your
    "Question: What's the difference between a 1970s dinner party and a porno?
    Answer: About 15 minutes."
    is just hilarious, HAHAHAHA!!!

  3. Methinks the line of coke is behind the brown bottle of Chivas Regal Royal Salute 21 yr old Scotch.
    Classy party, for sure.

    As obvious are the booze, smokes, and fruit bowls, strikingly absent from these pictures are TV sets. People "socialized" back in the good old days.

    There are two types of people in the world, those who watch TV and those who don't. Who would you rather hang out with ?

  4. Awesome images. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I don't know if I should tell this, but....

    When I was a kid my dad smoked pipes. For a while he had a "water pipe." He would let play with his pipes sometimes, but not the water pipe. It was green glass if I remember. I had no idea what it was, I thought it was kinda exotic like from India or something. When someone was describing a bong in high school I about hit the floor! Then I searched the house to see if he still had it somewhere. He didn't.


  6. Another great post on the 1970s Gilligan. But I have a brief question: if those times were too wild and excessive, would you say that today's times have swung too far the other way, and are too conservative? I, for one, long for a time that had a definable point of view, when there wasn't this conformist neutrality, when there WAS an adult culture and not just "child-centered" TV watching.

  7. Brilliant question Dandiacal. Unfortunately, I can't really explain my opinion on the matter without a good degree of explanation.... maybe a post in the future.

    Suffice it say, I think there should be an ADULT culture; distinct and removed from the kiddies. These days, young and old are awash in filthy drivel. In the olden days, dear ol' dad could catch a stag movie or grab a "men's magazine" without becoming a public disgrace. Those days are over.

    As I've mentioned in an earlier post, we hypocritical nowadays... and hopelessly conflicted. We shun the "adult oriented" stuff, yet the porn industry is a multi-billion dollar money maker - by some records, bigger than Hollywood. Somebody's buying this stuff, they're just not manning up to it.

    I could go on and on...

  8. "[B]reathtaking" is certainly one way to describe the decor.

    I've often thought that the "Sexual Revolution" wasn't when people suddenly discovered sex, but just when they put it out in the open. Sweet old Grandma with the white hair? Was the town bicycle back in the day; she'd just never admit it, either then or now.

  9. Oh come on Dandiacal, don't even try to sell it here!

    "I, for one, long for a time that had a definable point of view, . . . when there WAS an adult culture and not just "child-centered" TV watching."

    What hogwash!

    YOU long for a time when you could get all those ladies in halter dresses filled with all that liquor and naked in that hot tub!

    "Long for a time of adult culture" my little blue pill.

    (I laughed so hard champaign came out my nose all over my orange sundress)

  10. I was just being born when all this stuff happened, and I really feel like I missed something. It seems like there was a period (post Sexual Revolution, pre-AIDS) where everything was a lot of fun.

  11. Thank you for this post.
    I came to this blog by chance - and yes - i know all the similar pictures of 'adult magazines' found
    between other stuff from my father...

    Yes, what a shame, those days are over.
    But - are these pictures of the real live?
    Remember: At these times they need a director to make 'good' p+++movies and it was the idea and pictures
    of a 'good'-party.
    Real life?