In the midst of the coronavirus global lockdown, social scientists projected things were going to get real in the baby department. Yeah, you know what we mean — 8 billion people getting cozy, trying to make up for lost personal time — and with a baby boom on the way, we’re going to have a shortage of names to share among all those tots.
Luckily, a historical solution presents itself. Why not take a page from the 1940s, when a similar global struggle, World War II, created a baby boom? Sure, these are stereotypical Boomer names, but why not reclaim them for the Zoomer generation? According to the Social Security Administration, these were the top 20 names for girls in the ‘40s.
20. Dorothy: When The Wizard of Oz came out on American screens in 1939, its heroine was so brave and endearing that everybody just had to name their daughter after her. We can’t blame them; it’s got a nice ring to it.
19. Joyce: Joyce sounds like the girl everybody wants to be friends with. Day or night, she’s up for an adventure. She has enough charm for twenty people, always tries new foods, and probably keeps a swimsuit in her car just in case.
18. Kathleen: Kathleen’s a lovely Irish name, originally spelled “Caitlín” in Gaelic. It means “pure,” has been around for centuries, and is oddly common as a given name among writers, according to Wikipedia.
17. Donna: With a name literally meaning “girl” or “woman” in Italian, the Donnas of the world are not here to goof off. It’s an efficient, “get ‘er done” name fit for a hardworking individual, like disco star Donna Summer.
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16. Karen: Take back this name from memehood by birthing a child into the world and raising her to be so profoundly kind, so amiable, so altruistic, that she’ll give Fred Rogers a run for his money. We need a new brand of Karen.
15. Judy: Be like actress Judy Ann Santos — or like an aunt Judy, who’s one of the coolest people ever. She has a giant dog that doesn’t bark, she always smells like perfume that you can only get in Europe, and she taught us how to play bocce.
14. Shirley: This name owes its astronomical 1940s popularity to none other than America’s darling, Shirley Temple. The polymath child star grew up to be an ambassador for the United Nations, so it’s a historically high-performing name if you want your kid to achieve big things.
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13. Margaret: This is a two-for-one name. If your child grows up to be British nobility, she can go by Margaret. If she grows up to be an indie rock star, or a writer, or an environmental scientist, or anything else awesome like that, she can go by Maggie.
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12. Carolyn: The hipper, more mischievous version of Caroline, this name translates to “song of happiness”, though the Internet doesn’t say from which language, so you’ll have to fact check that yourself. At least it doesn’t mean “funeral dirge.”
11. Betty: Betty is absolutely lovely. The name reminds us of the color yellow, or Betty White, or Betty Crocker, or Betty from the Archie comics. Some grandmas have a friend named Betty who give out graduation money. Bettys are winners.
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10. Susan: Susan’s a name fit for royalty, as C.S. Lewis made clear when he gave the name to one of his four Pevensie characters. It’s elegant but unfussy, and classy without sounding pretentious.
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9. Judith: Not everyone can think of a Judith they know personally. We like the name Judy, but Judith sounds like a kid who’s lost a tooth saying “Judas”; we all know how that guy turned out. No disrespect to the existing Judiths in the world, of course. Love y’all.
8. Sharon: Somewhere out there, an English teacher named Sharon, who was very tall and very kind, still writes students emails asking how they’re doing in life. A comforting name for a lovely woman — as we’re sure Sharon D. Clarke MBE, British actress, also is.
7. Nancy: Here’s a no-nonsense name for a spunky kid who’ll go places in their life. Nancy Drew, Nancy Kerrigan, Nancy Reagan, and Nancy Pelosi were all bestowed this high-power moniker.
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6. Sandra: This name is a vintage find. The first Sandra that comes to mind is Sandra Oh, star of the TV shows Grey’s Anatomy and Killing Eve. You may also associate Sandra with the song from Grease where they mock Sandy’s modesty.
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5. Carol: It makes us think of Christmas cookies, or of a nice grandmother who brings peaches and casseroles to your house when she visits. Just be sure not to add an E at the end — that’s reality star Carole Baskin’s territory.
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4. Patricia: Ask any Gen Z’er if they know a Patricia, and they’ll likely scream “PATRICIA!” back at you. It was popularized in 2015 through a famous video from Vine user Chrish. Memes aside, it’s a nice name.
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3. Barbara: Santa Barbara! Barbara Ann! Barb from Stranger Things! Barbie dolls! Barbaras are everywhere in American culture, but the name is rare for youngsters these days. Fun fact: In Catholic tradition, Barbara is a saint and protector against lightning.
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2. Linda: It’s a name of European origin. In German “linde” means “soft, tender,” and in Spanish “linda” means “beautiful. Either way, it sounds lovely and is fun to say.
1. Mary: You’ll never go wrong with the classic name Mary. It was number one from the 1890s up through the 1950s, but in 2018, it wasn’t even in the top 100 — making it a unique choice for a destined child.
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Thirty years later, many women of the 1940s were beginning families of their owns and were faced with the important task of naming their own daughters. In the 1970s, we started seeing an entirely new crop of names. Here they are, ranked.
20. Holly: This festive-sounding name was huge in the ‘70s, probably because it brought happy holiday memories to mind during such a tumultuous time. Also, the name “Holly Golightly” made quite the splash years earlier, all thanks to Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s/Paramount Pictures
19. Dana: While Dana is still widely considered to be unisex, the name had its own revolution in the ‘70s, when it was primarily given to females. We can all agree, though, that regardless of who you are, it’s a beautiful name!
18. Melanie: We might have Melanie Griffith to thank for this name’s popularity in later years! Interestingly enough, the name was once given solely to girls with dark complexions and/or dark hair, and all because “Melanie” originates from the word “black.”
17. Tonya: The name “Tonya” brings strong, confident women to mind, probably because of famous (and infamous) women like Tonya Harding, who was born in 1970. The nickname “Tonya” is sometimes short for Antonia, a feminized version of Antonio.
16. Stacey: Spelled with or without the “e,” this name was one of the grooviest names of the 1970s. It means “resurrection,” is derived from the royal-sounding “Anastasia,” and was given to approximately 7,482 babies in 1971!
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15. Monica: Here’s proof that Monica Geller was a child of the ‘70s! The iconic Friends character’s name means “advisor” and “truth,” which makes sense, given her wise nature on the show. ’70s-era Monicas were truly fun, feisty, and fabulous.
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14. Tara: The name “Tara,” meaning “hillside” or “tower,” reached its peak in popularity in 1977, and it’s easy to see why. The name is short and sweet, especially since it usually derives from more dramatic girls’ names, like Tarala and Tarangini.
13. Carrie: Is it any guess who inspired this sweet-but-salty girls’ name? When Carrie Fisher debuted as Princess Leia, both names skyrocketed in popularity. Stephen King’s 1974 horror novel also may have had something to do with the name’s rise in the ranks.
The Empire Strikes Back/Lucasfim Ltd./20th Century Fox
12. Wendy: Surprisingly, the Wendy that inspired the name’s boost in popularity in the ’70s wasn’t strictly a person. The fast food restaurant was founded in 1969, and as the chain spread across the country, so did the delightful, girl-next-door name.
11. April: You hear this name in countless love songs for a reason. It brings to mind springtime, sunshine, and flowers, and not just to songwriters, but to parents, too! Interestingly, April has made a small comeback in recent years.
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10. Andrea: Since the name “Andrea” comes from the male name “Andreas,” it’s unsurprising that the name means “manly.” Though it’s considered unisex, it’s been popular among females since the ’70s, and is often shortened to “Andie.”
9. Dawn: Does it get any more ‘70s than the name “Dawn”? The name, which obviously means “sunrise,” was helped along by actress Dawn Wells, who played the chipper castaway Mary Ann on the show Gilligan’s Island.
8. Tracy: This name means “descendent of the fierce one.” No matter how you spell it, many famous Tracys are certainly fierce, especially Tracey Gayle Norman, the first black trans woman to achieve prominence in the modeling world in the 1970s.
7. Shannon: This popular girls’ name is also a river in Ireland. Though the name means “old,” it’s anything but. Most Shannons are energetic, bright, and filled with life. The name even had a boost in popularity in the ‘90s!
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6. Julie: We wonder why the name “Julie” makes us think of raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens? Probably because of Julie Andrews, whose popularity in the ‘60s likely gave rise to the name Julie in the ‘70s.
5. Christina: Considering how this name means “follower of Christ,” it’s pretty much as classic as it gets, though it definitely had a resurgence in the ‘70s. It was even more popular in the ‘80s, thanks to celebrities like Christina Applegate.
4. Kelly: Since Kelly means “bright-headed,” it’s no wonder we always associate the name with pep and cheerfulness. TV Host and ‘70s baby Kelly Ripa certainly fits this description! The name spiked again in ‘80s…just ask Kelly Clarkson and Kelly Rowland.
3. Heather: When we think “Heather,” we think “popular girl.” After all, it was the #7 female name of the ‘70s! Heather Locklear’s role on Dynasty and the 1988 movie Heathers proves how influential it was in the ‘70s and beyond.
2. Michelle: Michelle Pfeiffer didn’t arrive until the ‘80s, but her name was the second most popular among girls in 1972. It’s the french form of the name “Michael,” and some of the most influential women out there — ahem, Michelle Obama — have boosted the name’s popularity.
1. Jennifer: We all know a Jennifer! This name, which means “fair phantom” or “white wave,” was the single most popular name for girls in the ‘70s, thanks in part to the character of Jenny in the 1970 film Love Story. Now go hug a Jen!
Love Story/Paramount Pictures
You’d be surprised to see how much can change in a decade. Trend-wise, things that are stylish one day are suddenly lame the next, and the same can be said for baby names! The biggest girls’ names of the ’80s may surprise you…
Three Men and a Baby/Buena Vista Pictures
20. Katherine: The name “Katherine” originates back to the reference of Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The “K” spelling derived from the Greek word katharos, which means “pure.” If you count all the Kates you know, you”ll see just how many there are!
19. Brittany: Oops, I did it again… and again, and again. The name Brittany, known to have a complex French, English, and Celtic origins, was the 21st most popular girls’ name in the ’80s. Today the name rings synonymous with the legendary pop singer Britney Spears (who uses a different spelling).
Paul Burnett / The New York Times
18. Crystal: Being named Crystal comes with a heavy weight, as it means “carrier of Christ” in Greek, and “follower of Christ” in Latin. It was the ninth most popular girls’ name in 1982, with 19,104 babies rocking it.
17. Christina: The name Christina, meaning “a Christian” in Greek, peaked in the US in 1985, with 16,597 Christinas born that year. Christina Applegate, Christina Aguilera, and Christina Hendricks are some of the most famous Christinas we love today.
Barry King / WireImage
16. Kimberly: This name has been in the running for American baby girls since 1933 and was the 17th most popular girls’ name of the ’80s. Today, the most famous Kimberly born in the ’80s is Kim Kardashian West. You may have heard of her.
@kimkardashian / Instagram
15. Rachel: The name Rachel boasts a Hebrew origin, once meaning “ewe,” was the 16th most popular American girls’ name in the ’80s, peaking at 1985. It was on the decline in the late ’80s, but spiked back up in the mid-to-late ’90s. Hm, we wonder why… cue the theme song.
14. Amy: Though the name Amy has seen several iterations and evolutions, it stems all the way back to the Latin name Amata, which came from the word amatus, meaning “beloved.” Its wild popularity in the late nineteenth century stemmed from Louisa May Alcott’s cherished novel Little Women.
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13. Megan: The Welsh name Megan stemmed from the nickname Meg, short for Margaret. These days Megan is typically used as a full name, though actor Meg Ryan’s full first name is actually Margaret. The name saw immense popularity from the mid ’80s to the mid ’90s.
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12. Amber: The name first became popular with the release of Kathleen Winsor’s 1944 historical romance novel Forever Amber, followed by a film adaptation of the same name. But the name really shined in 1986, as it was the 13th most popular girls’ name in the America.
20th Century Fox
11. Michelle: The name possessing a French origin loosely translates to “who is like God.” Whew, that’s really something heavy to live up to. Though the name’s popularity was on the decline after the ’80s, former First Lady Michelle Obama gave it a boost in the early 2000s.
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10. Tiffany: You likely know several 30-something-year-old Tiffanys, enough to band together and form a Tiffany army! The name was popular between 1980 and 1991, peaking at 18,361 babies named Tiffany in 1988. Maybe ’80s pop star Tiffany and her 1987 cover of “I Think We’re Alone Now” had something to do with it.
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9. Heather: One report showed that the name Heather has seen the most striking rise and fall of any modern baby name, achieving wild popularity from the mid ’70s to the mid ’80s. The name’s demise came with the release of 1988’s dark comedy Heathers, which boasts three separate evil characters named Heather.
New World Pictures
8. Elizabeth: The name Elizabeth is an ongoing classic beauty, as it’s been one of the 25 most popular girls’ names in the United States for the past century. The Hebrew name meaning “my God is abundance,” was the ninth most popular girls’ name of the ’80s.
7. Melissa: The name Melissa derives from the Greek word for “honey bee.” In Greek mythology, Melissa was known as The Goddess of the Bees. What a title! She was a nymphic nurse of Zeus, famous for feeding him goats’ milk and honey.
6. Stephanie: The name Stephanie is a derivative of the Greek word “stephanos,” which translates to “crown” or “garland.” This was the seventh most popular girls’ name in the ’80s. Perhaps Full House‘s little Stephanie Tanner gave the name a boost.
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5. Sarah: Is it just us, or are Sarahs literally always the kindest of souls? In its Hebrew origin, Sarah means “lady,” “princess,” or “noblewoman,” so it all makes sense. Sarah was the fifth most popular American girls’ name of the ’80s.
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4. Ashley: Coming in at number four on the list of most popular girls’ names of the ’80s, Ashley reached its peak in 1987, as a whopping 54, 819 American babies were given the name that year. So, it’s no coincidence that Ashley Olsen (and of course Mary-Kate) was born in 1986.
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3. Amanda: These days, it’s almost weird if you don’t know somebody named Amanda. The Latin gerundive name meaning “deserving to be loved” was the third most popular girls’ name of the ’80s.
2. Jennifer: We really feel for all of the students named Jennifer in the ’90s and 2000s, as you were probably forced to go by “Jen” or “Jenny” or Jennifer plus the first initial of your last name. There were just so many Jennifers. It was excruciatingly popular for decades, especially in the ’80s.
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1. Jessica: We’ve reached the only contender to the wretched Jennifer curse, as Jessica was the number one girls’ name of the 1980s, with 469,487 American girls receiving the name. Whether you call her Jess, Jessie, or simply Jessica, we’d bet 50 bucks you have one in your life.
The most popular girls’ names of the 1950s have a more genteel, and less Valley girl, flare to them. The name Mary is timeless, considering the fact that it was the most popular girl name in the United States from 1880 to 1961. It fell out of the top 100 for the first time in 2009.
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2. Linda: This name is another one that has stood the test of time, with some of the most famous Lindas being born during the 1950s. The list includes actress Linda Blair, model Linda Evangelista, and Terminator star Linda Hamilton.
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3. Patricia: This nam may have been very popular during the 1950s, but Patricia has certainly fallen out of popularity. In 2018, it was the 918th most popular girls’ name in the United States. So, if you know someone named Patricia today, she is pretty special.
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4. Susan: This name hit peak popularity during the 1940s and ’50s. Of course, this name is one of the most nicknamable, leading to Sue, Susie, and Suz. And how can we forget the convenient kitchen tool, the Lazy Susan?
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5. Deborah: In 1955, the name Deborah reached peak popularity when it became the second most popular name in the United States! The alternate spelling “Debra” was also in the top ten names during the ’50s.
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6. Barbara: Glamorous actresses like Barbara Stanwyck and Barbara La Marr cemented the popularity of the name during the ’20s and ’30s, keeping it popular through the ’50s. However, the name went out of style in the ’60s.
7. Karen: Today, this name is often jokingly associated with a middle-aged woman seeking help from a manager, but during the 1950s, it was all the rage. In 1956 alone the name when up 117% in usage!
8. Nancy: Although the Nancy Drew mystery series gained popularity well before the ’50s, the name stuck around. Plus, Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, was born in 1957 during the Nancy boom!
9. Donna: The origin of the name Donna is pretty simple: it means “woman” in Italian. Ritchie Valens released a song “Oh Donna” in 1958, which lead to an all-time peak of babies named Donna in 1959.
10. Cynthia: Although this name might make you think of the adorable Cindy Brady, the fairly common title surprisingly has its roots in Greek mythology. The Greek goddess Artemis was born on Mount Cynthus, earning her the sometimes-nickname Cynthia.
I Love Lucy / CBS
11. Sandra: Anyone named Sandra has a lot to live up to, even from birth. The name means “protector of man” and rose to popularity during the 1920s. It peaked during the 1960s because of popular figure Sandra Dee.
12. Pamela: The year 1954 saw over 27,000 girls named Pamela born. It was popular during the ’40s and ’50s, but fell out of popularity in the 1960s, when it wasn’t even in the top 1,000 most popular girl names.
13. Kathleen: This Irish name was in the top 100 most popular named from 1948 to 1953. It is the subject of old songs such as “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen,” sung by Bing Crosby. It was also popular in the 1980s.
14. Carol: The popular comedian Carol Burnett helped create a wave of Carols during the 1950s. Sadly, today it is on the verge of extinction in the United States, as it has basically disappeared from the popular name charts.
15. Diane: Diane reached peak use in 1955 and is one of the rare names that managed to remain popular throughout the 1990s. However, by 2015, it fell out of the top 100 most popular names.
16. Janet: If you know someone named Janet, hopefully they have managed to be humble even though the name means “God’s gracious gift.” The name is certified vintage, as hardly any new baby girls are graced with the name.
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17. Elizabeth: As a name literally fit for a queen, Elizabeth has been consistently popular for a long time. It has remained on the top 25 list of girls names for the past 100 years.
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18. Margaret: A popular choice among saints and royals, this name has been popular in the United States since the 1800s. Plus, it comes with cute nicknames like Peggy and Maggie!
19. Janice: Long before Chandler from Friends dated his Long Islander girlfriend with this name, the Baby Boomers were all named Janice. The name dropped off in popularity by the 1970s.
20. Carolyn: This cheery title means “song of happiness,” so anyone named Carolyn will probably brighten your day. The 1950s had some interesting names, but there is something that decade is even more famous for: slang terms that need to make a comeback.
“Wig chop” – Every pompadour needs a touch-up now and then. Elvis and other greasers went to their local barbers for a regular wig chop, or haircut. Obviously, the “wig” part is just a joke, though Elvis (a natural blond) did dye his hair!
“Come on snake, let’s rattle” – Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega would’ve approved of this slang. The reptilian idiom is an invitation to dance, perhaps to Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell.”
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“Backseat bingo” – A favorite activity of sweethearts at the drive-in theater, this is slang for making out. Unlike actual bingo, your chances of winning this game are decently high — plus it’s actually fun most of the time.
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“Give me a bell” – Decades ago, phones couldn’t take photos or play Candy Crush. All you could do was call friends and hope they’d pick up. This request meant that you wanted someone to call you, as folks used to actually look forward to a ringing phone.
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“Bird dog” – Luckily, this term doesn’t refer to some mad science experiment gone awry. A bird dog, like a bloodhound following a trail, is a shifty guy who tries to steal someone else’s date.
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“Radioactive” – Contrary to the Cold War tensions of the era, 1950s folk described incredibly popular things as “radioactive.” This probably made sense because nuclear technology was relatively new at the time, although now nobody would want to get close to radioactive food or clothes.
“Later, gator” – Often followed by, “After a while, crocodile,” it’s just a cool way to say goodbye. Bill Haley and His Comets even managed to score a hit song in 1955 called “See You Later, Alligator.”
“Ankle biter” – It’s not just Charlie from the famous YouTube video that has a biting problem. Apparently ’50s tots were constantly sinking their teeth into their parents’ legs, because adults coined “ankle biter” to refer to any young child.
HDCYT / YouTube
“Made in the shade” – A nice shadow is more than just a way to avoid sunburn at the beach. This idiom describes an ideal situation where nothing is wrong or something that is a total success.
“-ville” – You can add this suffix to any adjective to describe a place, real or imaginary. Coolsville is where all the hip daddy-os hang out. Squaresville is full of nerds. And Nashville, well, that’s actually just the name of a city in Tennessee.
“Cruising for a bruising” – Tough guys like James Dean dropped this catchy line to let other fellas know that they were seconds away from instigating a fight. Violence is never the answer, but at least these toughs had a passion for rhymes.
“Pile up z’s” – Frank Sinatra would’ve done this after a long night of performing and partying with the Rat Pack out in Vegas. It just means going to sleep — with or without the most famous set of blue eyes in the world.
“Razz my berries” – How did people in the 1950s feel about fruit? Well, if something got your proverbial berries razzed, then you felt excited or impressed. There’s no evidence of anyone’s berries ever being cranned or blued, however.
“Meanwhile, back at the ranch…” – At the end of a long digression, people used this phrase to get a conversation back on track. The phrase is a reference to western dramas, which were everywhere in the 1950s, and was meant to curtail blabbermouths, who are still everywhere.
“Go for pinks” – Hear those motors rumbling in the distance? That sound usually follows this phrase, which is a challenge to drag race. The winner would get the pink slip to the loser’s car, giving him ownership.
“Bash my ears” – Ralph Kramden probably wasn’t hip enough to know the slang of his time, but the main character of The Honeymooners certainly knew what it was like to get your ears bashed, or to get talked at too much.
“Knuckle sandwich” – If you’re familiar with this dish, then you know you won’t find it on an actual menu. A knuckle sandwich is nothing but a punch delivered straight to the mouth. Worst of all, it doesn’t come with fries.
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“Earth pads” – You might be thinking this term has something to do with the space race, but you can get those images of rockets and satellites out of your head. Earth pads the strips of rubber keeping your feet off the dirt, otherwise known as shoes.
“Agitate the gravel” – This saying isn’t literal, so no need to start a brawl with your driveway. It’s roughly equivalent to “let’s go,” but with lots of extra syllables. Perfect for when you’re at a boring place, but aren’t in a hurry.
“Daddy-o” – Every greaser knew daddy-o referred to a man, usually a cool one. And while Americans won’t find a self-described daddy-o outside of a vintage diner, there is one place in the world where plenty of people still hold on to that label.
When you picture the average Tokyo resident, you might imagine a businessman who spends most of his time crammed into crowded subways or board meetings. There are plenty of those, but not everyone in Japan is so buttoned-up.
Daigo Yamashita certainly isn’t one of those squares. Going by the moniker Johnny Jeana, he spends each morning meticulously sculpting his hair into a tall, slicked-back mound. It’s a tribute to one man who’s the personal hero of Johnny and many others in Japan.
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That would be the King of Rock and Roll. Even decades after his death, Elvis Presley remains as iconic a cultural touchstone as ever. His heyday during the 1950s represents an era of fun and innocence that many fans are desperate to connect with.
Most people can get their 1950s fix simply by checking out a retro diner or watching an old movie. Johnny Jeana and his pals, on the other hand, are far more dedicated. It’s not unusual for all of Tokyo to be staring at them.
Flickr / Heath Cajandig
These diehards make up Tokyo’s little-known rockabilly subculture. Instantly recognizable by their incredible pompadours and leather get-ups, the greasers frequent many of the city’s parks on weekends. They’re not just playing dress-up either.
The rockabilly lifestyle is the most important part of many of their lives, and some have been members of this retro circle since their teens. As a matter of fact, Japan’s love affair with American rock and roll predates Elvis.
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The Japanese weren’t just following American trends; they made the culture their own. From the day that singer Chiemi Eri covered “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and His Comets in 1955, greasers popped up all over the country, which terrified more conservative folk.
A biker gang called the kaminari zoku, meaning “thunder tribe” arose soon after. They tore up the streets with rampant drug use, fighting, and illegal racing, but also provided a sense of identity for youth raised in a country ravaged by war.
With the Cold War brewing not long after, the leather clad-gangs died out. Japan was no longer as interested in imitating the fashions of the politically aggressive Americans. Still, they couldn’t stay away from rock forever.
Flickr / Andrea Hale
The 1980s saw Japan’s love for the oldies come roaring back. All of the sudden, there were more pompadours and pointed boots walking Tokyo’s streets than ever. Musicians started blasting rockabilly music around every club and street corner.
Between writing their own boogie-woogie tunes and covering classics by Elvis and Eddie Cochran, rock and roll seemed like it was here to stay. Specialty stores opened up for greasers like Johnny Jeana to always dress to the nines.
Flickr / Mattias Hallberg
Specialty boutiques like Jumpin’ Jack’s peddle the vintage clothing and tubs of pomade necessary to keep this subculture alive. But make no mistake — the ardent rockabillies are more than just a fashion trend.
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It’s a way of life, one that places extensive demands on the greasers’ wallets and careers. Johnny, for instance, works as a nightclub rock singer whenever he can land a gig. Every minute of stagetime is becoming increasingly precious.
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That’s because, with every passing year, it’s undeniable that Japanese rockabilly is shrinking. Leaders of the movement are getting older or dropping out, while many younger people simply aren’t interested in reviving 1950s counterculture.
Flickr / Andrea Hale
For long-standing members, keeping up with retro looks can take its toll. Members of the Rockabilly Club often resort to keeping their old boots intact with duct tape. Others who are severely balding have given up on their slicked-back ducktails.
YouTube / NOWNESS
Even so, any Japanese greaser will tell you that they wouldn’t give up the lifestyle for anything in the world. They still meet up every Sunday in the scenic Yoyogi Park to crank up some Bill Haley and shake a tail feather.
Flickr / Andrea Hale
Throw in a couple souped-up hot rods, and the rockabillies are guaranteed to draw a crowd any given weekend. The exposure should keep this niche group going, especially in the age of social media. A few animal-lovers in the group have already acted accordingly.
Flickr / Olivier Lejade
With custom jackets and biker goggles, a couple canines have joined the trend! That adds an extra layer of meaning when the greasers get down to Elvis’ “Hound Dog.” While members consider themselves descendants of the kaminari zoku, the modern gang is far more accessible.
Flickr / Dave Golden Photography
With such an invigorating blend of old and new, East and West, Japense rockabilly will live on. After all, far more elaborate subcultures are flourishing in other parts of the world. Maybe Johnny Jeana can take a hint from some of the more metal rockers out there.
YouTube / NOWNESS
Under the open sky of the Mojave Desert, a mob dressed in tattered leather cheers on a fire-breather. It looks a lot like some barbaric civilization risen out of the ashes of the apocalypse. But it’s something else entirely.
Las Vegas Review-Journal / Benjamin Hager
It’s a yearly festival! Known as “Wasteland Weekend,” the California event spans four days and welcomes fans of all things post-apocalyptic to party down and show off their striking costumes. One particularly big cultural touchstone inspired the festival.
Wired / Tod Seelie
The George Miller fans out there will recognize that Wasteland Weekend is all about Mad Max. This film franchise depicts a dystopian future where humanity breaks down into violent tribes and fights over the remaining resources.
With the popularity of the Mad Max films, thousands of wastelanders make it out to the festival every year. Attendees kick up a huge cloud of dust as they arrive in monstrous, tricked-out vehicles. Up close, the guests are even scarier.
Daily Mail / Todd Seelie
Each year since the first Wasteland Weekend in 2010, festival-goers show up in crazy outfits. They combine military, punk, and horror elements to create some truly frightening visuals — though it’s all in good fun.
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The most serious attendees put together both incredible outfits and custom vehicles to recreate some of the most iconic moments from Mad Max. It’s hard to miss one of the series’ biggest villains — or at least a guy dressed like him — perched atop this vehicle.
Daily Mail / Todd Seelie
It’s the fearsome Immortan Joe! In Mad Max: Fury Road, he rules over the wasteland with an iron fist and a massive army of cultish supporters. In real life, fortunately, Joe is just at the festival to have a wild time.
Naturally, War Boys — ghoulish members of Immortan Joe’s fleet — are a popular costume at the Wasteland Weekend. We can only hope they pack a lot of sunscreen! At the same time, the festival also offers plenty for fans of the older Mad Max flicks.
Tina Turner made a big splash back in 1985 as Aunty Entity in the series’ third installment, Beyond Thunderdome. Thanks to Wasteland Weekend, her deadly arena is more than just a figment of George Miller’s imagination.
Flickr / hytam2
Thunderdome is real! Of course, they take plenty of safety measures to ensure that nobody is actually clobbered to pieces. Participants wear safety harnesses, and the “weapons” are made of PVC pipe and foam. Still, this Thunderdome makes for a fun show.
Wired / Todd Seelie
And for guests who’d prefer not to get so down and dirty, Thunderdome also has a thumb wrestling version. The miniature cage will stop your opponent from using his other hand to cheat.
Wanderlust and Pie
Along with the number of guests paying homage to specific characters, Wasteland Weekend offers plenty of room for creativity. Many others piece together totally original costumes, with unique personas to boot. They only add to the depth of the festival.
Wired / Todd Seelie
Take, for example, this mohawked raider. Between his hair spiked shoulder pads, he sure looks sharp. There may not be much water after the apocalypse, but it looks like there is still plenty of hair gel to go around.
But this woman isn’t green with envy – except for her hair. She’s got her own dazzling get-up. Channeling a bit of Disney’s evil Maleficent, she created a character she calls The Sand Witch.
Red Bull / Jim Krantz
Speaking of apocalyptic wordplay, these gearheads transformed an old school bus and dubbed it a “Cruel Bus.” With a set of scary jaws painted on the front and a (fake) harpoon launcher on the roof, it certainly lives up to its name.
Daily Mail / Todd Seelie
The Cruel Bus isn’t the only vehicle with a bark as big as its bite. With a few buckets of paint, one owner of a finned 1962 Cadillac turned his ride into a shark.
In addition to the cars and trucks, attendees show up with lots and lots of motorcycles. These bikes are perfect for speeding across the Mojave terrain. It gets hot riding through the desert with no roof, but lots of Wastelanders have inventive ways to stay out of the sun.
This partygoer not only covered her face in a sinister wrap and headdress; she also brought along a metal umbrella. That’s the kind of accessory that’s perfect for creating some shade and winning some glory in the Thunderdome!
With his ominous mask and black wings, it’s no surprise this reveler calls himself The Crow. It’s hard to believe that after the long weekend wraps up, The Crow probably flies back to some office job!
And if night falls before you arrive, just look for a lantern lighting the way. Professional cosplay model Jessica Nigri stole the entire show with her ghostly shaman costume.
Las Vegas Review-Journal / Benjamin Hager
Wasteland Weekend happens at the end of every summer in California City. If you make it out there, you shall ride eternal, shiny, and chrome. Will next year be your time to take over the world?
Daily Mail / Todd Seelie