What happened to "Lovers Lanes"? Do they still exist?

A common feature of 50’s films (and leading well until the 80’s in films I can remember) was the idea of a “Lovers Lane”, a usually wooden place on the outskirts of town either overlooking the town or overlooking a body of water where teens could drive their cars to and then make-out/have sex in the cars with some level of privacy.

However this “trope” just kind of disappeared since the 90’s, and only appears in 50’s throwbacks. Were they a real thing? And what happened to them? Where are people having sex now that lovers lanes seem to be no longer a thing?

I personally never used or knew about a lovers lane. Every dirt road is a lovers lane when your desperate enough. It seems having other high school aged people knowing where you where would be ripe for shenanigans. (And may compromise your ability to have sex in the future)

Yeah, any secluded spot. As a teenager I don’t recall anything like a ‘Make-out Point’ or other specific location where I lived, but one time I ran across a bunch of cars parked on the beach in Florida serving that purpose, and then there were the drive-in theaters too, and also make-out parties. I preferred seclusion, a bunch of people around was distracting. I guess some people don’t care, and I think some want to be seen.

They call it “dogging” over here. “the practice of watching or engaging in exhibitionist sexual activity in a public place.” It is not illegal in itself, but a crime only if someone witnesses it, is offended and is willing to make a formal complaint.

The term has been in use for over half a century and comes from the practice of some people (men) taking the dog for a walk in places where they might see couples having sex in cars. It developed from there into organised meetings which attract voyeurs and exhibitionists to their mutual benefit.

When I was a teen there was La Cuesta Point, which was just the end of Via La Cuesta, a paved road going up into the Palos Verdes hills. The road was there and the lots had been subdivided, but the lots stayed vacant for several years. The cul-de-sac at the end of the road had a great view of the ocean and city lights and was a big make-out spot. Today, the houses have been built and there’s no longer any view from the street.

As for where now, any place dark and secluded.There is a park near my house that sits on top of a bluff with an ocean/city view. You can easily walk down the wooded slope below the park for privacy. Every weekend you will find oodles of broken beer bottles, vape canisters and used condoms in the bushes on the slope. There’s even two couches down there.

Heck, just last Monday I spotted a used condom in the parking lot at work.

Such voyeurism was described as a popular “hobby” in Italy in The Monster of Florence.

When I started dating in the early 80s there were secluded spots, but even the most out-of-the way spot could get a patrol showing up. Which wasn’t that big a deal, the cop would just tap on the window and say “move along, lovebirds”, but it certainly killed the mood.

Drive ins were much better for privacy-- there was one drive in (that still exists to this day, in fact) that was open year-round. It actually had little heaters you could use in the dead of winter to keep the car warm without having to let it run.

There was also a big parking area where boaters would leave their cars when they went out on Lake St. Clair overnight, a big lake on the east side of town. When I dated a girl on the east side, we went there a few times. It had a lot of secluded little offshoot treed areas where you had privacy and a nice view of the lake. I don’t remember seeing cops ever coming through. Good place to watch the submarine races!

Starting in the early 80’s with slasher horror films, many a teen couple would be killed off in a scene while parked in a lovers lane setting. It then became a trope of its own in that genre of movie.

Easy access to close secluded woods has fallen drastically since the 1950s. The “outskirts of town” no longer exist a few minutes drive away. Suburbs now range 50 miles from center cities and the nearer they are, the more developed they are.

Heh. I never went to La Cuesta Point, but I did lose my virginity on a residential street in PV in 1979. The secret was that the rich folks liked not having street lights.

I don’t think the voyeurism was part of how Lovers’ Lanes were used traditionally in the US (although I’m no expert). In other words, the kids were not getting off being watched.

Several “Lover’s Lanes” used to exist in my rural area. There was one close to my parents house, now my home, but it has been replaced by a housing development. There were several others, sort of narrow, overgrown roads where people maybe would go to shoot at bottles or do other things. Young people experimenting with things out side of a laboratory. Usually a couple of old cars abandoned there. But then people started dumping, and dumping, actual garbage and many were blocked off.

The hills, the forest, the off road areas, were closed off next. They used to be open backroads that were great to explore and get around on. But then people started vandalizing the logging equipment that was left on site. You don’t want to have to move the equipment in and out of the job site every day, and they are valuable. So the gates went up and the access became limited, permits required.

And then the homeless problem became an issue, even in rural areas. And so ends a certain era of Americana.

The idea of the wooded area with a view of the city below seems to come specifically from Hollywood/Los Angeles, making it more pervasive in media than it may have actually been in real life.

That would be, of course, Mulholland Drive running along the crest of the Santa Monica Hills, overlooking the San Fernando Valley. It was the proverbial Lovers Lane back in the day. The road is far more developed now and full of rich folks mansions, so there isn’t that kind of open space for pulling off the road and parking any more. But I think there’s still a lot of open space when you get out toward the Topanga Canyon end and beyond up into Ventura County.

Yeah, my understanding of the term is not at all like “dogging,” or only tangentially so.

I mentioned some of them may want to be seen, which is not the same as being watched.

“Dogging” seems to be a british institution…at least that’s the impression I got when I lived there. I’m not sure how it is other european countries.

It also leans more towards the exhibitionist/voyeuristic side of the spectrum rather than teen courtship.

We had the back rooms, the alleys or the trusty woods. We were getting our share.

It was used in an October 2001 Buffy, but I suppose that still counts as 90s-adjacent.

It was also a real life trope (see the California Zodiac killings, Son of Sam etc.).