List Of Safe Social Distance Activities (That Were Around In The '60s & '70s)

Culture | June 23, 2020

circa 1955: A boy, who has just completed making a model of a F 92 jet plane at the Hunter College Elementary School in New York City. (Photo by Jacobsen /Three Lions/Getty Images)

Maintaining social distance in the middle of a pandemic is necessary but it can feel like a chore if all of your favorite hobbies and pastimes involve other people or people outside of your bubble. Thankfully, we can look to the ‘60s and ‘70s for help with keeping our distance from people while having a good time. While the following social distance activities are all inspired by activities from the Groovy Era that doesn’t mean they can’t be carried out today. From mild to wild, all of these social distance activities from the middle of the 20th century will keep you from getting bored and ensure that you stay safe.

Read A Book That Takes You Back In Time

source: etsy

What better way to pass the time in the groovy era (or today) than nestling up in some blankets and reading a book? Or if you were in the middle of a warm ‘70s summer it was totally acceptable to climb up on the roof with a chunky pair of sunglasses to catch some solo rays while you flip through the pages of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Reading really is the best social distancing activity because you don’t need to do it with anyone. As long as you’ve got a great author to keep you enthralled you’re good to go. Thankfully, the Groovy Era was filled with books like Catch-22, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Slaughterhouse-Five.

Play A Distanced Game Of Dungeons & Dragons

source: wizards of the coast

If you want to practice social distancing while hanging out with friends then table top gaming is the way to go, and in the ‘70s Dungeons and Dragons was (and still is) the perfect way to spend your day falling into another world with your friends. Admittedly you need to work out some extra rules if you want to play six feet apart from your Dungeon Master.

Before Zoom or Google Hangouts were a thing, multiple players were still able to play D&D remotely although they had to get on the phone and wait their turn. It’s best to build a quarantine bubble with your guild so you can play a complete game. If you used to play with a group of high school or college friends, the online option is a great way to get back together for some quality time.

Check Out What's Under The Hood Of Your Car

source: reddit

Car culture was at its peak in the middle of the 20th century and even if there wasn’t a pandemic you can bet that gear heads were spending their days under the hood of a car. It’s possible that this is one of the safest and most responsible ways to practice social distancing. Not only are you changing your oil and keeping your car in tip top shape, but you’re doing it all on your own. This is definitely an activity that can keep you busy for an entire day where you don’t have to come in contact with anyone else.

Catch Some Waves

source: new york times

In the 1960s, surfing culture exploded, and while going to the beach isn’t the most responsible thing to do in the middle of a pandemic, getting out in the waves early in the morning, when it’s just you and the water, is a great way to stay safe and have fun. Anyone growing up in a landlocked area in the ‘60s may not have been able to catch a point break, but they could always grab a skateboard and carve up the concrete. That being said it is a little lonely to skateboard all on your own.

Lose Yourself In The Television Of The ‘60s And ‘70s

source: reddit

Without a doubt, the best television that’s ever been broadcast came out in the groovy era. You had shows like Star Trek, Dark Shadows, and The Gong Show, not to mention your Incredible Hulks and Wonder Women. By 1974, 46% of Americans said that their favorite past time was watching television, and that totally makes sense because it was all so good. Maybe you’ll rot your brain watching all that TV, but at least you’ll be safe and you won’t have to wear a mask. Just imagine if there had been more than three channels in the ‘60s.

Ask yourself: Are you sure you've seen every episode of The Twilight Zone? Because Netflix has them all -- you might need to binge the whole series.

Put In Some Work On A Model Kit

source: youtube

No matter what you’re into, in the ‘60s and ‘70s there was a model kit for your particular interest. Whether you were into rockets, cars, or the Universal monsters, you could hang out in your room piecing things together. What to do with the model after it was finished is a whole other topic. After putting together a model of Frankenstein’s Monster you would put it on display, but if you built a rocket you just had to go shoot it off. 

Go Bird Watching

source: reddit

Birding is a completely acceptable thing to do alone in nature. Even if you don’t know anything about birds you can pass the time walking around in the middle of nowhere trying to differentiate between mocking crows and grackles. By 1965 birdwatching became a must-do past time in England, and while air travel to an area with the most miraculous birds isn’t the best thing to do while practicing social distancing, it’s something that you can do all on your own and wherever you are. Remember, birds are literally everywhere, so why not try to keep track of them?

Play Some Pong, Dig Dug, Joust, Donkey Kong, Or Pitfall

source: reddit

In 1972 the Magnavox Odyssey made its way into homes across America and brought Pong into our living rooms. It’s a simple game, but one that players could spend hours messing around with until their brains melted out of their ears and the sound of a digital ball bouncing back and forth between two paddles was all they heard.

Even if you had to wait for Atari’s version of the game it’s still a great way to spend your time when you’re stuck inside, whether it’s because of a rainy day or a pandemic. And you don't have to wear a mask while you're playing.

If your system got yard-saled years ago, you can still play many classic games online -- fire up Galaga (or anything else) at free80sarcade.com and marvel at how simple it all was.

Tie-dye Your Clothes

source: pinterest

Anyone who’s been stuck inside for months upon months knows that you start to go stir crazy. At one point or another you’re going to start making your own clothing, painting, or doing both. The most fashionable way to show off your socially distant fashion is to tie dye your shirts, pants, skirts, or whatever you have handy.

If you don’t want to have hippie-dippy colors all over your clothes then there’s always bleach dying your clothes, which is a little more goth than tie dying. Whichever version you run with you’ll have a great time and you’ll stay safe.

 Get Really Into Your Record Player

source: Reddit

No matter what you like listening to, be it exotica, country, heavy metal, or jazz, there was a ton of great music coming out in the groovy era. Audiophiles obsessed over their hi-fi systems, and they built and customized their set ups in the search for perfect sound. Soldering wires and cleaning volume pots is an excellent way to maintain your physical distance from other people while accomplishing an attainable goal. And, when you’re finished you can spend however long you want jamming to your favorite tunes. You can’t beat that.

Just take those old records off the shelf
I'll sit and listen to 'em by myself

If it was good enough for Bob Seger, who are we to argue?

Tags: Bird Watching | Hobbies | Social Distancing | Surfing | Tie-Dye | Video Games

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Jacob Shelton


Jacob Shelton is a Los Angeles based writer. For some reason this was the most difficult thing he’s written all day, and here’s the kicker – his girlfriend wrote the funny part of that last sentence. As for the rest of the bio? That’s pure Jacob, baby. He’s obsessed with the ways in which singular, transgressive acts have shaped the broader strokes of history, and he believes in alternate dimensions, which means that he’s great at a dinner party. When he’s not writing about culture, pop or otherwise, he’s adding to his found photograph collection and eavesdropping on strangers in public.