How to Have a Retro Good Time in Philly

For whatever decade you desire, there's back-in-time entertainment

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve known the one thing I would ask for if ever I was granted a wish: a time machine. What could be cooler than dancing the Charleston in the 1920s, watching go-go dancers in the 1960s, or popping quarters into arcade games in the 1980s (again, that is)? Well, despite a lifetime spent rubbing lamps, I’ve never gotten that wish. But by moving to Philadelphia, I’ve come pretty darn close. A quick look around shows that you don’t have to start a band called Wyld Stallyns to travel through time in Philadelphia. In fact, I can tell you how to travel through 10 decades in 10 days, starting tomorrow, November 30th.

1910s: The Shane Confectionary first opened on Front and Market in 1911. One hundred years later, it’s being re-opened, thanks to the brilliant Berley Brothers who gave us Franklin Fountain. They bought the store from the Shane Family last year, and the grand opening is at 10:30 on December 5th. I’m gonna suggest you miss the early crowd and walk in on Day 2. [December 6th]

1920s: No better way to relive the Jazz Age than sipping on a gin fizz while listening to Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society play some lively 1920s jazz, as they’ll be performing on Saturday night at the Farmers’ Cabinet. [December 3rd]

1930s: December 5th is the 78th anniversary of the official repeal of prohibition. Why not celebrate with a beer both the man and the amendment that made that cold one in your hand possible? You can go to City Tap House (or Grey Lodge) and grab a 21st Amendment Fireside Chat. And the best part is, if it’s not raining or snowing, you very well might be able to have your fireside chat at the fireside, beside one of City Tap’s awesome outdoor fire pits. [December 5th]

1940s: The word “bombshell” supposedly comes to us from Rita Hayworth, whose likeness was supposedly attached to the first atomic bomb in 1945. Well, on Sunday, December 4th, there will be plenty of bombshells at the Trocadero, as photographer Celeste Giuliano celebrates the release of a special edition of Retro Lovely. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here. [December 4th] Of course, the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor is next week. If you’re looking to commemorate this occasion and learn more about the people who fought in World War II, check out the Fighting for Democracy exhibit at the Constitution Center.

1950s: If you’re hankering for linoleum floors, doo-wop on the jukebox, and plenty of neon, head over to the Trolley Car Diner on Germantown Avenue. Of course, the 1950s theme is just a ruse to get you to try one of their 240 beers. There’s an Allagash-hosted beer dinner on Friday. If you want your ’50s fun in Center City, head over to Macy’s for the spectacularly simple Christmas light show. [December 2nd]

1960s: I haven’t been there yet, but I’ve been hearing great things about the new and improved Trestle Inn. Go for the go-go dancers, stay for the whiskey. On Thursday, they tap their first firkin, with Philadelphia Brewing’s Chris Morris spinning old funk and soul. [December 1st] If go-go is a no-no, then get your Don Draper outfit on and head to R2L for happy hour, where the decor will have you swearing that Roger Sterling will walk in any minute to meet you for a martini.

1970s: Before disco ruined everything, there was a time when Americans loved great music. That time was the 1970s, and one of the greatest rock bands of that era was Led Zeppelin. Well, you can’t see Zeppelin, but you can see the next best thing. Get the Led Out, a much-heralded Led Zeppelin cover tribute band, performs at the Electric Factory next Friday. [December 9th]

1980s: Brave the hipsters and the fairly high beer prices ($7 for a beer in Fishtown? Dude.) and make it out to Barcade—but not on the weekend, when it’s packed and you’re standing in the Donkey Kong line forever. Instead, head over there on a milder Wednesday when you can be reminded that there are certain things (cursive, Ms. Pac Man, passing a drug test) that you were a lot more capable of at age eight. [November 30th]

1990s: Start your time travel in Doylestown, at the historic County Theatre. Not only was the 1938 theatre revived in the 1990s, it is showing one of the best films of the 1990s as well. LA Confidential is showing on Wednesday night, starring quintessential ’90s stars Kim Basinger and Kevin Spacey. [November 30th] If you’re not up for a road trip and more into politics, Anita Hill will be speaking at the Free Library on the 7th at 7:30 p.m.

2000s: In the second half of the 2000s, everyone in America (besides me, apparently) watched American Idol. But in the first half of the 2000s, there was another show that dominated the top spot of the Nielsen’s. That was CSI, which was watched by pretty much everybody in America (besides me). Whether you watched it or not, “CSI: The Experience” at the Franklin Institute is apparently really cool, and focuses on modern crime techniques, not on Ted Danson’s recent arrival on the show. [December 8th]

There you have it: 100 years in 10 days. Now tell me … what did I miss?