Fondue Party, Los Angeles, 1968

A '60s era fondue party

Ordinarily, beer can-curled coifs, clanking cocktails and cackling conversation around a stainless steel fondue pot, sitting on a rich, blue felt-covered board atop a pool table, would be enough to inspire my imagination and make my spirit soar. But this slide offers much more!

Psychedelic beaded curtains (WOW they photograph well!) and lava lamps are rarely captured on film. And here they are side by side! I weep!

I have no idea where those breathtaking beaded curtains come from or who the genius was that first strung them, but I do know that Lava Lamps were originally called Astro Lites. They were invented in England by a man notorious for making eye-popping nudie films. According to the legend he claimed “if you have and Astro Lite you won’t need drugs” and “if you don’t like Astro Lites then you’re afraid of sex.”

In 1965, after fifteen years of perfecting the “recipe” two Americans spotted his hypnotizing creations for sale at a trade show in Germany. They bought the rights to manufacture and market them in the USA and changed the name to Lava Lamps.

Being mesmerized by Lava Lamps is among my earliest childhood memories. There was an old hardware/gift store in downtown Ontario, California that displayed them prominently. Every time we went shopping there I would just stand there and stare at them. I begged my mother to buy one. But even as a four year old I knew it was never going to happen. Guess she just didn’t think one would fit in with our early American living room d├ęcor.

All these years later Lava Lamps are still being made. I have one on all the time. It never wears out! If you don’t have one you need one! Trust me it will improve the quality of your life. And don’t forget to turn it on every night -not just every time you have a smart fondue party!

Here’s to fondue parties, beaded curtains, Lava Lamps and YOU!

View more great vintage slides of Americana!

25 Responses to “Fondue Party, Los Angeles, 1968”

  1. Kenny says:

    The Festivus party (before the airing of the grievances)

  2. Dave Ramsey says:

    The photo is a gem but what makes it sparkle are you comments.! I’ve got enough laugh wrinkles on my face, please.

  3. jim schmidt says:

    love this picture…would you happen to know what type music would be playing.i only hear it in commercials and dont know what genre it is???(not rock,jazz ,country…its great music

  4. some_dewd says:

    The brunette is kind of a babe, and she sort of looks familiar too for some reason. Love these photos so much. I might just go out and get me some door beads, no idea where I’d put them though.

  5. lilojijaz says:

    Jules sighed, i tara reid boob got such sensitive nipples. No more time to.

  6. juliette Whitney says:

    I still have those beads!
    I had a fondue pot…I remember how exotic I thought I was and feared people would think I was too “euro showy.” Great picture…great story. Julie

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  8. Mdm DaDa says:

    WOW, it’s Jane Jetson with a dye-job!

  9. Jo Ann says:

    Obviously, the buffet is on a pool table…see the racks on the left? May be a custom made cover….my folks still have theirs for those special once a year parties… when the food was done, the men could take the cover off and yell “RACK EM!” to their buddies before selecting the perfect cue stick….

  10. Lynn Perry says:

    My childhood dentist in the 60′s had a lava lamp sitting on the counter along with the infamous drinking bird that bobbed back and forth…I was facinated by both…never minded going to the dentist!

  11. Tim Severs says:

    Looks like a happenin’ party! You’re right Charles. Lava lights are cool. I got one for my brother a few Christmases ago

  12. Tom O'Sullivan says:

    Amazingly balanced shot! The table funnels the eye to the center of the slide where she and the hippie curtain/room divider thingie just seem to jump off the page, leaving “the gray people” in the frame (as Truman Capote might say) nearly un-seen. I guess the others didn’t get the memo about proper party attire-they look like they’re on the way to the PTA meeting. Love the Lava lamp. It looks like the one I had when I was 17, in my room listening to Pink Floyd, eating Twinkies, smoking…nevermind. My wife and I use the same lamp as a night light.

  13. Miss Sharon says:

    Swiss Treat Charles!

    When I looked at this slide, I thought that the Etiquette Goddess had swept me up into her lovely arms while I slept. Honestly, this slide is heaven! The graceful beaded curtains! The elegant buffet! The tasteful accessories! Can’t you almost hear the witty banter going seamlessly between those elegant guests? I admit to a pinch of disappointment when I realized that I was just looking at a slide, and that Emily Post had not in fact called me to her side.

    I have two things for us all today. One: a psychedelic and swoony dessert suggested for a fondue party in _Betty Crocker’s Hostess Cookbook_ (1972). The other: a fun game for adults from _Adult Games: 101 Sure Ways to Liven a Party or a Quiet Night at Home Alone!_ (no date, clothing on the cover suggests early 1960s). Shall we begin?

    This delish dish is called “Riviera Peaches” and it calls for peaches, raspberry jelly, and pistachio ice cream. Please enjoy it’s gorgeousness:

    Just right for after the fondue, no?

    The fun game is called “The F-M Quiz” and it is described as a “quickie quiz is designed to reveal the degree of femininity and masculinity possessed by your friends (they may soon be your ex-friends).” Players are instructed to write “True” or “False” in answer to the following questions. The results follow the questions. Fun!

    1. The opposite of love is indifference
    2. If I could have my choice, I would take $5,000 today instead of $25,000 in ten years.
    3. I’d like to take a ride in a space capsule.
    4. People deserve praise and recognition every time they do their jobs particularly well.
    5. It is more important to be logical than creative.
    6. A man and a woman can have a friendship as close as the friendship of two men or two women.
    7. Hate is a stronger emotion than love.
    8. If I were reborn, I’d choose to be my own sex.

    Okay. Ready for the scoring? “F-M Quiz: A 100% feminine woman would have answered ‘true’ to statements 2,4,6,8. A 100% masculine man would have answered ‘true’ to statements 1,3,5,7,8. (When your friends shriek, remind them there’s no such things as 100% man or woman).”

    Forward thinking! This game perfectly suits these swinging, swanky people at the fondue party! I suspect, however, that I’m Wearing All Black and White Tonight and It’s Going To Just Bowl All The Girls Over might just want to take a ride on a space capsule. She seems adventurous and quite ready for outer galaxies and far-away planets.

    Don’t forget to take the Riviera Peaches, doll!

    Miss Sharon

  14. GailMarie says:

    I remember — at age ten — being mesmerized by my first sight of a Lava Lamp in a piano bar (it was on the piano, of course). As I sipped my Shirley Temple and my parents sipped their Manhattans, we were delighted by its orange undulations. My uncle offered the piano player $50 for it, but was refused (the piano player said he could’ve sold it fifty times over). Thanks for the memories!

  15. Chris says:

    What a swingin’ fondue party! Time to plan one of our own. Great slide!

  16. Donna Lethal says:

    these remind me of the women who would spend all day Saturday at my aunt’s beauty salon, getting ready for parties like this one. i always wondered what they were like!

  17. Elle says:

    I have two fondue pots! One for cheese, one for chocolate. This has made my spirit soar so much that I must now plan a fondue party.

    Big wigs will be required and I’ll have to go buy some lava lamps and beads as well. Hmm, perhaps I should serve the astro weenie ball as an accompaniment…

  18. nylasor says:

    This was years before Laugh-In, but could that be Joanne Whorley with a sprinkle doughnut on her right arm chatting with Dick Martin?

  19. Carol Hunter says:

    I love the beads I have wonderful beads hanging in my windows, and in the doorway of my home office. I wish I knew who made the beads they have hanging the colors are spectacular…

    I’m going to purchase a Lava Lamp my grandchildren will love it….

    Thanks for putting smiles on all the faces in this office, what a nice way to end the week…

  20. Thomas says:

    Wow! What a hip crowd. What a great wig on Madame Glam! Are they dining in the rec room, on a covered pool table?

    Nothing says sophistication like hot cheese.

  21. Mike from Cleveland says:

    It’s amazing how The Hippie culture infiltrated even the most reserved sections of America(Full Groovy Swinger Decor)! My best guess is that the lady in black did not forget to spike the punch bowl,and is asking “Johhny Carson”? were all the strobe lights are!It also looks as though Austin Powers or Jimi will be walking in at any moment.

  22. Jim Walton says:

    Hi Charles,
    I’m surprised you didn’t mention anything about the stylish Atomic Age earings and matching bracelet.

  23. Charles, this is one of your best slides yet. Besides the fact that they all look like my parents did, the beaded curtain and the Lava Lamp, along with their being a part of the Fondue trend in the ’60s fills me with joy.

    Thanks for the slide, and also thanks for turning me on to Zanzarelle.

  24. Christine says:

    That bead curtain is fabulous! Love it!

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