May 31, 2009
Can you imagine a sunny June Sunday on which you take a ferry to an island nestled off Manhattan? When you get there you encounter a well-manicured ghost town with paths laid out among the trim houses and clipped grass. Wait, what do you hear? The strains of 20’s jazz and a crooner. Yes, a crooner. Coming into focus you see women in a froth of pastel dresses; toile and silk. Cloche hats. Marcel waves. The men. The men are dressed in impeccable three-piece suits. They’re wearing straw boaters and knickerbockers. They’re dancing the Charleston, expertly.
You shake your head but the image doesn’t fade. It’s true. You’ve stumbled across the 2009 Jazz Age Lawn Party. And it happens on Governor’s Island, New York, next weekend.
Governor’s Island is hidden gem just off the southeastern tip of Manhattan, situated in New York’s awe-inspiring harbour. Under a shady grove of centuries-old trees, this true Gatsby affair takes place on a green surrounded by historic officers’ quarters and 18th century naval ramparts. The Jazz Age Lawn Party is one of New York’s most magnificent celebrations, widely anticipated by flappers and sporting gents, curious on-lookers and kids. And a recession-friendly $5 admission gives you access.
Picknickers are welcome and wide array of music, food and drink, activities, games and contests are open for all ages to enjoy.
Front and centre, the headliner on stage is Michael Arenella and His 12-piece Dreamland Orchestra. Michael Arenella is a lovely guy who talks the talk but also walks the walk. He lives in the 1920s, wearing clothes authentic to the time, adapting jazz age music for his orchestra. Living and working in Brooklyn, Arenella and his band can be found regularly playing joints in his neighbourhood. A while back I contacted Michael to buy a Dreamland Orchestra CD, which he sent me, asking merely for me to forward him 20 bucks. I sent him two Alexander Hamiltons and ended up feeling as happy as a clam.
Delightful summer cocktails will be served up at the Lawn Party. Vintage ‘78s will be spun on a 1920’s Victor Phonograph. Take a spin around Governor’s Island in the rumble-seat in one of the autos featured in the 1920’s Motorcar Exhibition. You can stroll amongst the vintage clothing dealers and milliners peddling their wares and the booths of 1920s ephemera hosted by the Dorothy Parker Society and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society. There is also a Tug O’ War and a Parade of Hats. Some savvy party-goers have entered their pies in a recipe contest.
Maybe somebody would take the time to teach you the Charleston. Genevieve would be a good teacher. You succumb and it feels nice to have the grass tickling your toes as you Charleston. It will be a magical weekend.
The 4th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party, Saturday and Sunday, June 6th and 7th, 2009
11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission $5 (Children under 7 Free)
top two Flapper Images by Lynn Redmile
unless noted all other images are by Holly Van Voast.