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You can’t pump your fist in the air to rock favorites forever, although Lord knows, some boomers and busters will try.

 

There are those who are intent on growing old with the volume laden anthems of their youth just as their parents and grandparents did with Benny Goodman and Perry Como. There are distinct disadvantages to this unimaginative loyalty. Not only does it keep one’s musical vocabulary and mental boundaries constricted to the primitive yearnings of youth, but as raging hormones subside with the advancing years, there is a diminishing return in listening to power chords and excessive decibel levels can be downright annoying.

There is also the cold hard reality that the confident experienced suaveness of the late great Dean Martin is an infinitely more worthy ideal to shoot for than the utterly embarrassing “I’ll never grow up” foppery of Mick Jagger.

The generation that grew up in the depression and fought in World War II was generally a hard crowd who had been through a lot. They got their ya-yas out to big band swing in their youth but retreated to the aural anaesthetic of the piano lounge when they no longer felt the need to strut their stuff.

Piano lounges were total environments that once dotted the American landscape and featured low lighting, a semi-formal dress code and plenty of liquor to wash the work week away. The aesthetics were maximized to create a self-contained world of attainable sophistication, and the music was never so loud as to drown out the after office hours conversation or to make seductive schmoozing difficult.

Some piano lounges featured cozy fireplaces to heighten the hein’ and shein’ atmosphere that should be the focus of all nightlife. In an age where it is difficult to find a live music outlet where patrons are not forced to face the band like rounded-up cattle and shout over the din, we need the decompressive effect of the piano lounge more than ever.
But alas, piano lounges are passing away as quickly as their long term customers. And leaving nothing comparable to take their place. We must hold fast to the few threads left of this rich fabric and study them intently, so that one day a new piano lounge culture will arise.

But on that glorious day one common bylaw must be recognized by all: anyone who at any time requests “Stairway To Heaven” will be ejected with extreme prejudice and malice aforethought.

—Bob Rust

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