The 1950s in Second Life®

Retro styles (often called “vintage”) abound in Second Life (SL) – fashion, cars, furniture, architecture, and music. Retro is where I’m at in one of my courses this semester. In the team-taught, American studies course, we’re currently surveying the Fifties; so I decided to see what SL sims focus on the era. In preparation for the visits, I bought myself a polka-dotted sundress, complete with a crinoline :^).

Admiring a fin-tailed Cadillac on a street in DecoRetropia

I found two regions devoted to the Fifties: Serenity Point and DecoRetropia. Both sites lavish affection on various objects and icons of the time – with wonderfully crisp details. But in terms of overall atmosphere – and in terms of suitability for instructor-sponsored excursions – they’re quite different. You’ll see.

Serenity Point Harbor

Serenity Point, a 1950s Pacific Northwest town, has three landing sites. The first, Serenity Point Harbor (241, 184, 28), is featured in the SL Destination Guide, which categorizes the region as an urban/noir, role-playing community; indeed! I got “killed” there once for no apparent reason, at least that I could figure, and was zapped back home. Even so, it’s a great build, one I’d recommend to college students (it’s rated “moderate”).

Serenity Point Harbor street scene

The coordinates above land you at a docked ferry exit, where you’re greeted with a notecard: “Welcome to Serenity Point, SL’s only realistic full 1950’s Sim community.” The card also highlights a few of the sites and activities and lists rental information. As you’re leaving the ferry, you’ll see a vintage warning sign that lays out the sim rules and says, “This is a strict 1950’s roleplay area.” Thank goodness I was dressed for the occasion.

In the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant

Right outside the entry point, you can rez a scooter for getting around. Vintage cabs, cars, and trucks are parked on the streets, at the drive-in, and in a parking lot. There are shops,  entertainment spots, a church, and several lounges and restaurants. I had tea at a Chinese restaurant and found the excellent bowl replica above in the kitchen; and after returning from being “killed,” I prayed in the church – the pews include a prayer pose.

On the tarmac at the Kaynaquoah International Airport in Serenity Point Valley

If you choose to arrive at Serenity Point Valley (80, 149, 31), you’ll find yourself at the baggage claim area of the Kaynaquoah International Airport. I didn’t see any planes take off or land, but I did watch a video of a Japanese prop plane taxiing, lifting off, flying briefly around the sim, and landing – all with a tango soundtrack, fun!

Serenity Point Civic Center

Near the airport are industries, a U.S. Navy group, and a carnival with a ferris wheel. I was much impressed with the Civic Center’s Frank Lloyd Wright motifs. The Center houses an art gallery of 1950s paintings, including those of Edward Hopper, one of my favorite artists; but I had to cam around to see the art because I couldn’t figure out how to get upstairs (there’s no flying in the Harbor or Valley areas, except for airplanes).

Gas station and Eagle Rock Lodge at Serenity Sound

The third landing is on Serenity Sound (128, 128, 30), in front of a wood-framed house at the beginning of Eagle Rock Park. Here in this lovely, forested area with a winding road that climbs to a rocky top, there is serenity – and you can fly without a propeller. Near the top is an old-timey gas station and a lodge with booths and Native American decor.

Rental on Serenity Sound

I even imagined renting one of the charming homes there – two-stories, with a porch swing, working blinds, off to itself on the water, and reasonably priced – until I realized that I have no desire to remain in a 1950s mode. As they say, a nice place to visit, but….  And why is it still autumn in the whole region? Maybe it’s an autumn kind of place.

Ellie's Burlesque Club at DecoRetropia

Next I visited DecoRetropia, a “Retro 50s town” (184, 198, 24; rated “moderate”), where it’s still winter and, best I can tell, perpetually night. In fact, I just checked and landed in a snow bank surrounded by holiday lights, neon signs, and a dark starry sky. On one side of the landing is Ellie’s Burlesque club, in front is the Blitz Roller Rink, behind is a diner, and on the other side are shops, one of which has Robbie the Robot for a greeter.

DecoRetropia hot rod and diner

The builds are beautifully detailed, and for this alone it’s worth a visit. But I don’t consider it a learning space, except for those interested in SL burlesque (I’m not). I counted four clubs: Ellie’s Burlesque, E & S Burlesque Factory, Beautiful Freaks Burlesque Circus (in a circus tent), and the South Side Church (yes, burlesque inside a church).

DecoRetropia drive-in theater

What I most enjoyed at DecoRetropia was sitting in a Cadillac convertible at the drive-in theater watching a few minutes of The Killer Shrews (1959). Quite appropriate for the times; after all, the Cold War between the USA and USSR is getting hotter, nuclear arsenals on both sides are growing, H-bomb tests are polluting the atmosphere, and sci-fi horror films abound with mutated critters.

Snackbar in Serenity Point Valley (next to the Civic Center)

I saw a lot of 1950s Coke machines – you’re never far from one in Serenity Point – but, fortunately, didn’t see a nuclear explosion or run into giant shrews. Hmm, all in good time in Second Life :^). Enjoy!

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About Lotus Greene

I'm an educator and an explorer and student of virtual worlds -- the interactive Second Life, as well as books, films, music, and art.
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