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Subject: How long is it before you consider something "retro", "old school", etc.?

Written By: yelimsexa on 02/24/10 at 11:51 am

This can vary from person to person, but I notice there are several different nostalgic terms, yet each one seems to have a different vibe about them. In my instance, "back in the day" seems to me not quite like the present, but not yet distinguished enough to be classified as "vintage", "retro", and possibly "old school". I currently think of something around 4-9 years ago as "back in the day". Far enough to not be current events, but still relevant to the present. It's basically "adult contemporary/network rerun territory", plus most video games from that time frame are often still available at stores (regular XBOX, Playstation 2 for instance).

"Old School" is a step further and is in between "back in the day" and "retro" in terms of datedness; songs start to sound dated from this time frame (Lots of the Boy Bands/Nu Metal and of course Eurodance); technology seems like a "primitive version of the present", for instance dial-up Internet, early 3D video games on systems like Nintendo 64 and Playstation 1, and newer touch-tone phones and answering machines; many people still use that stuff, but it's rapidly falling out of flavor. Non HDTV is also starting to be considered old school to me. I'd say "old school" is considered around 10-20 years ago. Lots of stuff on eBay during this phase is a great bargain if you grew up on it, still fairly contemporary yet in no means expensive in terms of historical value. Sometimes referred to as our "big brother's time".

Retro is a more broad nostalgic term and often is crept into the "old school" and "vintage" timescales, but is generally thought to be the time between 20-30 years ago. This is when the youth start calling that time frame their "parents generation", and music from this range enters oldies/classic hits playlists. Classic seems to be a popular word beginning in this phase to lots of pop cultural media, from Classic TV to Classic Movies to Classic Gaming. It's far enough back where it seems like "a different planet". Lots of technology from this era are now only for "retro enthusiasts", and have no use for being up to date (just look at 8-bit video game systems, Apple II computers, and various fashions from this time range.) Lots of contemporary pop culture recycles certain elements from this era while presenting new ones. A collector's fan base increases seeking memories of their youth at this phase. Lots of reissues penetrating to this era. However, the relevance of these items to the present is decreasing.

Vintage is a shade older, and this is where it starts to feel like a "relic of the past", with relevance to the present fairly low. I generally consider it to be between 30 and about 60 years ago, old enough where it is only for the truly dedicated people who came of age then, but still young enough to have a generation of people living at the time active into it. Lots of classic stuff starts to get harder and harder to find on various avenues of communication, and thus the value of most collectibles continues to rise. A book is often the best way to get introduced into something about this era or to reunderstand what happened into a more contemporary way. It's old enough where it's basically "historical". Sometimes called your "grandparent's time", especially at the older end.

Antique tends to be the oldest nostalgic term for anyone living, and is generally thought to be between 60 and about 200 years ago, after which something becomes strictly "historical" and best left for museums/societies. It's a pure time capsule at this stage, and you only look at most of these elements for their sentimental value (Jazz/Ragtime music, Silent Films, Old Time Radio, Dime Novels, etc.) It's all about the love and passion for objects at this age; all that relevance possibly except for a few basic things (such as the layout on a typewriter keyboard) has evolved.

So basically, from newest to oldest:

Current--->Back In The Day--->Old School--->Retro--->Vintage--->Antique

Subject: Re: How long is it before you consider something "retro", "old school", etc.?

Written By: amjikloviet on 02/24/10 at 12:53 pm

Current--->Back In The Day--->Old School--->Retro--->Vintage--->Antique

It does vary, never really thought about this and it makes sense. Basically to me it always seemed that anything that is 15+ years ago is labled retro, which is the same as saying old school. Vintage being defined as older anything over 20 or 25 yrs. Whenever I think of antique I think of 50+ years ago.

Subject: Re: How long is it before you consider something "retro", "old school", etc.?

Written By: Davester on 03/11/10 at 10:55 pm

  "Old School" (also Old Skool), as I understand the term, is a reference to the culture of the 1970s and 1980s, and only the 1970s and 1980s.  The term is mostly used by folks who spent a portion of their youth in those decades and therefore is static.  It's considered slang...

  I'm thinking "back in the day" is a phrase coined by those very same folks but is only intended as an alternate way of saying "back then".  The term is not static, anyone can throw it around and not look like a poser.  Also slang...

  "Retro" is a cultural revival of some aspect of a previous era...

  "Antique" is commonly used to describe collectible objects or any outmoded practices or methodologies...

  "Vintage" is a year of manufacture.  If I buy a car that was manufactured last year, then it's a vintage 2009...

  "Classic" is supposed to describes something 20+ years old at it's lower end.  I'm not sure where upper cut-off is.  At least it used to be that way.  Maybe it's changed...

  The terms don't sit comfortably next to each other in a hierarchal sequence...

  So what do you think..? :-\\

Subject: Re: How long is it before you consider something "retro", "old school", etc.?

Written By: MaxwellSmart on 03/12/10 at 1:21 am

Early Frank Zappa documents the Hippie movement deteriorating from a passion for Universal Oneness (never mind redundancy) to a ticket for humanistic counseling or EST or Scientology!  It was a lot easier to split the generations and the social values in 1966.  He used thirteen subjects:
1. Neurotic suburban housewives.
2. Neurotic suburban husbands/fathers
3. Neurotic suburban teenagers
4. Go-getters.
6. Inane gurus of Eastern mysticism.
7. Sleazy business execs
8. Drop-out kids
9. Corrupt politicians
10. Gas station attendants with psycho girlfriends
11. Aspiring professional musicians
12. Good-hearted liberals
12. Mexican teenagers
13. Petty criminals
14. Women with fat calves
15. Incestuous lunatics...

Feel free to add more!


"The Idiot Bastard Son" applies better today than it did 40 years ago.

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