Get Ready for the Soaring Twenties
Can you feel those cooler nights? We’re past the midpoint of summer, and under the shadow of the Rona, it’s been a fairly uneventful one. Summer concerts? No. Festivals? Negatory. Itty vacay? Nopeskies.
Normally, I live for summer. I can’t get enough of the long days and warm nights. But this summer, with nowhere to go and nothing to do, time seems to drone on and on.
The cooler nights that come each August are a reminder that as difficult and long as this year has been, seasons are still changing and time is still moving forward. Even though it seems like there is no end in sight to the so-called “new normal,” eventually, this time will be nothing but a story we tell that the younger generations, the zoomers’ kids, who will struggle to wrap their heads around it the way we struggle to understand the Great Depression. That’s not to say the world won’t be fundamentally changed.
But despite what the naysayers, doomsdayers, and conspiracy theorists say, we won’t be socially distancing and wearing masks indefinitely. It’s not over yet, but we’re getting closer to that point with every passing day. And one thing I know for certain is that when the threat of COVID-19 is no longer looming overhead, the world is going to seem better, brighter, more amazing. It’s going to be the Roaring 20s all over again, les années folles, bigger and better than ever, and right on schedule no less.
Just like the 2020s, the 1920s followed some rough times. I can imagine during World War I with the Spanish Flu shutting down major U.S. cities in three distinct waves, people in some areas must have felt that life would never feel carefree again. But things did improve, and unburdened by war and plague, the country thrived for nearly a decade.
We all know the original decade was a time of cultural growth, thriving industry, and economic prosperity. But let’s review what that meant in more specific terms. Look at all this awesome stuff that went down in the 1920s:
Social and Cultural Advances:
- Women’s voting rights continued to be expanded in most countries with representative or direct democracies.
- Women’s issues became more prominent.
- Art deco, surrealism, and expressionism emerged and spread.
- Cinematic advances led to movie theaters becoming an American staple.
- Major advances in animated cartoons turned animation into an art form. Check out the first cartoon, from 1908, here.
- The Harlem Renaissance, a time of artistic and literary development for Black Americans, was born.
- Jazz rose to popularity.
- Dance clubs became popular and many innovations in modern dance styles took place.
- Fashion moved away from the restrictive styles of the 19th century, and many innovative fashion styles emerged. Coco Chanel played a key role in creating fashions that emphasized freedom for women, popularizing comfortable fabric, women’s trousers, women’s suits, and the LBD.
- More women began cutting their hair, speaking their minds, partying, embracing their sexuality, and wearing fashion and makeup they preferred rather than what society dictated.
- The idea that women were sexual beings emerged.
- Women began to have more purchasing power.
- Men began to defy gender roles as well.
- Conversations about LGBTQ rights were begun, although they would have a long way to go (and still do). Check out this interesting article about gay culture in the Roaring 20s.
- Sports became a huge part of American life and stayed that way.
Inventions and Innovations:
- Dramatic advances in aviation led to the beginnings of modern air travel.
- Television was invented, although it would not become a household item until the 1940s.
- Phone lines went up across the country.
- Most of the US was added to the electrical grid.
The Flip Side
The 1920s weren’t all great. Prohibition led to a boom of the American black market and brought mobsters like Al Capone to greater power. And anyone who has read The Great Gatsby knows that American materialism hit a fever pitch, one that would directly lead to the stock market crash that would plunge our country into the Great Depression. But even so, the social, technological, and infrastructure advances of the 20s continued to impact the world long after the effects of the depression were over at the end of World War II.
The Lasting Impact of COVID-19
Even though we won’t always need to wear masks and socially distance, COVID-19 will leave its mark on all of our lives even when it becomes endemic or seasonal. With millions of Americans shifting to remote work and working from home, people may come to prefer this over the old model when it is implementable. In the future, perhaps many companies will emphasize results over showing up and clocking in.
Here are a few other predictions I’ve come across from experts:
- The healthcare industry will more fully embrace telemedicine after experiencing it during the pandemic.This could make delivering healthcare services to more people possible and help to reduce healthcare costs.
- We’ve all had to work together to help support our families, friends, and neighbors during this difficult time. It’s possible that this will lead to a renewed commitment to our civic and social responsibilities as part of a community.
- People may struggle at first to get back into the swing of things, but once we start getting back out there, we will be hungry for more. Although many businesses and restaurants have closed, we may see new ones meet an increase in demand for all kinds of entertainment, travel, and dining experiences.
- The impact of COVID-19 on families has threatened the American way of life as families struggled to find childcare and elder care while working from home. The importance of social support for families may be more widely acknowledged.
Plenty to Look Forward To
In our home, the way we talk about the coronavirus has begun to shift. It’s easy to get caught up in feeling like there are two options: either stay at home and miss out on life or get out there and live like there’s absolutely no risk. But the risk is real, and exercising caution to mitigate that risk isn’t fearful any more than wearing a seatbelt is. It simply is what it is: cautious.
But we’re starting to talk about where we’re going to land when the risk of the virus isn’t so high. We’re making big plans for big days ahead and putting them on our own post-corona version of a bucket list, and we’ll more than make up for this year by the time it’s all over. For lack of a more creative title, I’m calling it our Soaring 20s Bucket List.
Here’s a sample of what’s on it:
- Take our entire family to a Flaming Lips concert
- Have a crazy bash at our house
- Take a Great American Road Trip® across the country to California and then drive up the coast.
And in the meantime, I’ve started a journal to write down everything I think my grandkids and grandkids’ kids might someday want to read about the pandemic times. Maybe it will be entertaining or educational for them, maybe it will make them feel like they know me better, or maybe it will help them avoid being avid unmaskers during the big pandemic of the 2120s. Either way, there’s no bad outcomes to keeping a pandemic journal, although future generations may be a bit perplexed by the fact that I’ve been keeping my Dungeons and Dragons notes in between journal entries. Come to think of it, I should probably include a disclaimer so they don’t think the pandemic included battling the undead in an underground cavern.
Here are a few more things you can do to get pumped for the Soaring 20s:
- Learn some 1920s dances and be ready for your next dance party or night out at the club: The Lindy Hop, the Charleston, the Shimmy, the Foxtrot, and the Black Bottom.
- Embrace some 1920s fashions: red lipstick, finger waves, feather boas, Mary Janes, long beaded necklaces, cloche hats, vintage day dresses, sporty menswear, wide-leg pants, and low-heel Oxfords.
- The biggest pastime was listening to the radio. In that spirit, find some great podcasts to listen to.
If you’ve got the Corona Blues, maybe it’s time to start looking forward by making your Soaring 20s Bucket List, planning your big post-corona bash, and getting ready to embrace a new age of social, cultural, and technological advances. And keeping a journal isn’t a half-bad idea, either.
Are you doing anything to plan for the post-corona party that the Soaring 20s will be? Let me know in the comments below. Thank you for reading and have a beautiful week in your little socially distant nebula!