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Sunday
Nov172013

Played Out II

That last post came at the end of a busy day last night right as we were closing the store, so there wasn't much time to expand on the idea of booze trends and how certain drinks go in and out of style. One point I did want to make that I could only allude to was how the idea of fun plays a role in what's popular and what isn't. Part of what defined the music of the 1980s was the free-spirited party-centric theme at the core of it all. Rap music was about having a house party. Rock music was about hittin' the Sunset Strip and looking for chicks. Pop music was about dancing the night away. As the 1990s approached, however, the trend swung completely the other way. Suddenly life was serious. Kids were being killed in the ghetto. The police were oppressing the African American youth. White suburban kids were using heroin to suppress the pain of their existence. Angst, suffering, and disillusion replaced the carefree attitude of the previous generation. How could you have fun when life was so depressing?

But it always comes back around. It became cool to enjoy yourself again. Fashion became more colorful, the looks more playful and edgy, and people stopped taking themselves so seriously, but that's starting to change once more. If you look at the cocktail culture of the past five years it's also centered around the conflict between fun and seriousness. The pre-Prohibition movement to get more serious about one's "craft" stood in complete contrast to the sugary shooters a la mode. Why would any one want to mask the flavors of alcohol, bartenders asked, when they could be highlighted to make a more complex drink (much like the grunge era rockers asked about the hardships of modern living)? All of sudden you had people telling you to sip rather than shoot, to take your time and enjoy the complexity within the glass. Drinking became a studious activity rather than an escape. Fun is definitely not at the root of today's booze culture as stuffy rules about appreciation become points of contention between online enthusiasts.

It will swing back the other way, however. People who take their booze too seriously will become a mockery in the eyes of the next generation that will rebel against these constraints. The war on fun will continue for now, until its time to remember to start having it again. And then we'll likely fight it once more.

-David Driscoll