Retrocon 2024

What Was Entertainment Like In The '80s?

This is 2022, a year when entertainment can be consumed in a variety of digital forms. Now we’ve got so many streaming services for music, movies, and even live sporting events. You can also bet from the comfort of your home at casino online Canada, but the same could not be said of the '80s, as digital technology was still in its developmental stages. If you read articles about life in the '80s, you’ll see just how far digitized entertainment has come.

If you were not born around that time, you might be wondering how people entertained themselves during that era. Wonder no more, as we’ll be discussing a few of the things the older folks did for fun. You may find some of these things hard to comprehend, as they have now become obsolete.

Renting Movies

People in their teenage years will find this hard to believe, but it’s true. There was a time that Netflix didn’t exist!

If you wanted to watch a movie at home but didn’t want to make the trip to the cinema, then you had to visit a movie rental store.

These stores included small local outlets and larger chains like Blockbuster. And just as you now spend time scrolling through a streaming service to find the hottest movies, people used to browse through the video rental shelves to pick out their favorites.

In fact, once a movie was off the cinemas, the only other place you could find it was at the video rental store. Funny enough, this tradition spilled over from the '80s into the '90s! All you had to do was pay a few bucks over the counter, take the movie home, then return it back to the store at the stipulated time.

The movies in the rental stores were arranged in sections, according to their genres and PG rating. And of course, you needed to have a VCR or VCD player at home to watch the movies.

Gambling at a Casino

Not every adult in the '80s was a movie lover. Some were more interested in winning the jackpot more than anything else! For such people, gambling at the casino was their thing. More specifically, going to Vegas and spinning with the high-rollers was a dream come true!

Unfortunately, there were no online casinos back then; all you could find were land casinos. And it wasn’t like they were in every neighborhood, so this meant making long road trips.

Apparently, gamblers didn’t mind making these trips, as Vegas casinos were always packed. And for those who managed to win big, the trip was worth every kilometer! Besides the big winnings, being physically present in a land casino also had its perks. Gamblers got to see the bright lights, beautiful women, handsome men and sip some of the finest champagne!

These are among the thrills lacking in today’s online casinos. The popular online casino games you find today were in existence back then (of course, in the physical form). These include Blackjack, Russian Roulette, and several slot games.

'80s casinos also inspired many popular movies like Ocean’s 11, The Gambler, and Casino Royale.

Watching Movies at the Cinema

This shouldn’t sound strange to any 2000s baby, as cinemas still exist today. The difference between then and now is that cinemas used to be the only source for the latest movies!

Thankfully, many great films came out during that time. These included classics like E.T, Back To The Future, Scarface, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Batman. It is safe to say that cinemas were a big deal back then, so much that they used to be a popular destination for guys who wanted to take their girlfriends on romantic dates.

Parents weren’t left out of the fun, as they also took their kids to see the latest children’s films. As for single fans who just wanted to see the new Batman movie, they went alone, grabbed some popcorn, and enjoyed the thrill.

Playing Arcade Games

Long before the Sony PlayStation and the Xbox, there was the old-school arcade. And similar to the films, there were also many great games that came out in the '80s.

These games included classics like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. Speaking of Pac-Man, it was one of the most popular arcade games in the '80s, as it generated over 2 billion dollars in revenue worldwide!

Many teenagers back then actually preferred going to the arcade over watching a kiddies’ movie. They didn’t mind spending their last quarter on their favorites, as long as they could top their friend’s highest score and claim the bragging rights!

Every arcade in the U.S was packed during the weekends. Though things have changed as smaller gaming consoles and mobile gaming applications have taken over.

Attending Live Concerts

Entertainment in the '80s may be old-school, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have quality. Far from it, as that era arguably produced some of the greatest musicians ever.

Iconic acts such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Madonna, and the N.W.A, thrilled the world with their music. Among the great albums that came out during that era are Thriller, Born In The USA, Purple Rain, and Appetite For Destruction.

For some die-hard fans, the only thing better than buying the album of their favorite artist was attending their live shows.

Yes, arenas were packed in the 80s, and people used to wait in long queues to get their tickets. Many of these fans viewed these superstars as gods, and some even fainted upon seeing them performing live.

Those who have seen a Michael Jackson show can attest to this! And just like the movies, couples used to attend these shows together. Some lucky individuals even got the chance to get on stage and take pictures with their idols!


There you have it. Now you know what entertainment was like in the 80s. No Netflix, no Instagram, no Apple music, and no online casinos, but people still managed to have loads of fun! Don’t you just wish you could take a trip back in time?
Close Menu