44. Sociable Bridge: Retro 90s & bridge in Manhattan

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Getting the attention of the media regarding sociable bridge in the 90s was skimpy compared to those business tycoons. There was, however, a lovely article in Harper’s Bazaar in 1994 describing a bridge game played in an up-scale Manhattan apartment. In it one Brian D’Amato is quoted saying: “Bridge is back” –translation? “sections of the fashion and style crowd were taking it up again.”

In it, one of the players is actually playing with his mom–shades of the 50s!

There’s nothing more iconic about the popular culture of the 1950s than one’s parents playing bridge. So if the boomers were suddenly feeling nostalgia for that 1950’s world of their parents they had so despised at college and revolted against–a revival of interest in the game seemed inevitable.

In my book’s chapter about Retro bridge in Manhattan of the 90s, I also quote an article “Bridge pulls in the young” from the New York Times, by Jennifer Steinhauer. It’s about a weekly bridge game involving young career women at the No Bar Cafe. Nostaliga, was not the appeal for these young people, Steinhauer said.  It was more about bridge being in tune with modern entertainment ethos–inexpensive, brainy, doesn’t hurt your body.

If these are skimpy evidence of a revival of social bridge, remember, sociable bridge is a subterranean activity. Even at its height, more bridge games went on than ever reached even little local weekly papers in the hinterlands. We’ve always been uncountable, under media radar. Which is why, I’ve concluded, nobody in the pop culture field ever wrote a book about us even though we were, are, millions strong.

Anecdotally, in New Hampshire  toward the end of the 90s, I did not observe that underground revival of interest in bridge until  my own one-table club had to disband, I stuck a notice on the sign-out desk at the local library (with librarian permission): “Anyone want to play bridge on Tuesday afternoon here at the library?”

My gosh, even in the dead of winter I got enough responders, men and women, to start a weekly bridge game that still exists last time I checked. The number of tables goes up in the summer when the summer residents take up their cottages around Lake Winnepesaukee.

Who knows what I could have created had I been younger and willing to really work at it?


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