Allison Plean: Fad or fixture

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Allison Plean

Allison Plean's column appears Fridays in the 4 Points arts and entertainment section in the Steamboat Today. Contact her at 871-4204 or e-mail aplean@steamboatpilot.com.

American pop culture needs to be constantly inundated with new ideas - things people can love and then love to hate - like pop songs.

Every decade of pop culture since at least the 1920s, had their fads.

The 1920s gave America radio shows, dance marathons and the always-popular Halloween costume, the flapper. According to crazyfads.com, after Peter Pan peanut butter was introduced, so was the beloved peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That wasn't a fad. That was a gift - especially when served without the crust.

The 1930s introduced drive-in movies and board games. According to the Web site, more than 20,000 Monopoly board games were sold within their first week of release by Parker Brothers in 1935. I still have my original Monopoly game, though some of the money is missing.

All I could find out about interesting fads in the 1940s was that people started swallowing live goldfish. Yes, live goldfish.

The 1950s opened a whole new world of fashion for us from saddle shoes to poodle skirts and even sideburns. Panty raids and telephone booth stuffing also were gifts of the '50s according to crazyfads.com.

Telephone booth stuffing "was started in South Africa where 25 students packed themselves into a booth and claimed they set a world record," the Web site said. "The fad died out in 1959, but was reincarnated in the form of Volkswagen stuffing a few years later."

The '60s gave us troll dolls, Sea-Monkeys, Ouija boards, lava lamps, mini skirts, go-go boots, Barbie Dolls, tie dye T-shirts, mood rings, platform shoes, bellbottoms and free love.

Eating glass became popular in the 1970s with Tim Rossovich, a linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles, who would publicly eat beer mugs and light bulbs, according to crazyfads.com. Students at Harvard University then picked up the glass-eating trend until "Harvard authorities quickly terminated the budding trend, and the fun was over."

What we really have to thank the '70s for was disco music, John Travolta, pet rocks and streakers.

After the release of the movie "Animal House" in 1978, toga parties and fraternity parties took off. This is when things started getting dangerous. People died from cruel hazing methods and high levels of alcohol intoxication.

It wasn't until the '80s when people started dying from drinking too much water at rave parties. These all-night parties orchestrated by deejays sometimes in obscure places didn't see their demise until only a few years ago.

Despite ravers' bad reputation for drug use, the phenomenon had a huge impact on the MTV generation. It gave us a place to finally throw our heads backs and dance without judgment. It gave status to the deejay.

It was underground, it was dangerous and it was cool - while it lasted.

What did the 2000s give us? Energy drinks, myspace.com and reality TV shows?

We all are tired of following jam bands around and hanging out in parking lots before concerts. The biggest trend of this decade is the iPod, but it's an anti-social activity.

What is the young adult and over 21 population of Steamboat Springs to do now - besides ride our bikes, ski our mountain, kayak the Yampa River, hike, camp and admire beautiful sunsets?

El Rancho closed. Levelz closed. The Golden Cue closed. And then so did Chelsea's Restaurant, with its great, late-night dance parties. That was the last straw for my friend Nick Marzano.

When he approached me with the idea of hosting a series of "underground" events for locals, I immediately bought into it. The idea behind it would use a series of revamped fads and - with the luxury of modern technology - would bring back the sense of adventurous and belonging indicative of a subculture.

We named the movement the "Local Brigade."

We plan to organize events whose location will be unknown until the day of the event and advertised solely through word of mouth, text messaging and myspace.com. There also will be members-only events that include downtown scavenger hunts, kickball tournaments, camping colonies and a modified Cardboard Classic event on the Yampa. Since it seems that every Steamboat resident loves to dress up for theme parties - every event also will have its own theme.

The first event is tonight at Amante from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. We got a couple games of Twister, two deejays and a theme in which attendees should come dressed in only three articles of clothing. We've got more than that planned, but I don't want to spoil all the fun.

The Local Brigade is either an experiment or the development of a new subculture that all Steamboat residents, and friends and relatives of residents are invited to take part in.

We may not be able to surpass the longevity of pop-icon Madonna's career, but we are going to try with the same entrepreneurial spirit that America and its pop culture economics was founded on - but without the drugs and swallowing goldfish.

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