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


Brian Miller said...

wow. sounds dreamy. the pics look like a lot of fun. alas we live too far or it would be a treat!

David Engel said...

Wow! Doesn't that look like an amazing event! I wish I could go! That said I'll forward this to my friends & family in NYC. Are you going?!



giulia said...

Ah. Yes, I can imagine. Thanks for all the visuals...

Friends & writer colleagues have gone each year & I have the perfect dress (as they have pointed out far too many times). As a member of both FSF & DP societies, I have been remiss (read: too poor to go up, even on the $29.00 bus from DC).

I'm determined to go next year; perhaps your evil-in-good-way trifle shall snag someone to come with me. Or I can just go with an old friend who is one of the wittiest & handsomest men in NYC (who is not a jerk--that really reduces the number!). xoxo svs/gg

The Clever Pup said...

David, no, I've never been.
Giulia - wouldn't it be great if we could meet up there next year. Don't ask me to dance - I've got two left feet!

ds said...

How about that! So close, and yet so far...never ever heard of this before. Thanks for this.

California Girl said...

That is wild. I would love to go. I am a Fitzgerald afficionado who would greatly enjoy going back in time for one afternoon. I watched both videos although I love the one of the girl demonstrating the Charleston. The other video is so choppy and cuts away and back to the orchestra and music playing a song I actually recognize...probably from old movies, certainly not my age! I like an unbroken video when there is music and dancing. Funny to see the Che Guevara tat on the back of an onlooker at a Twentie's theme party. Thanks. That is truly interesting.

The Clever Pup said...

California Girl. I agree about the choppy vid. I've added two more, one has lots of dancing but ANNOYING clapping, the other is silent.

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artslice said...

Gasp! Wish I could go... I'd love to just blend in and feel it all.

Leah said...

That looks amazing! I've been here my whole life and had never heard of it! I am going to try my best to get to it this year; I know my daughter especially would love it.

Diane said...

hi there
This looks like an event we should clone for Sunnyside Park.
Now all we need is a band!
the name of your brother-in-law doesn't ring a bell. what club is he with? Do you know the name of his boat? lol

The Clever Pup said...

Diane, yes, down by the Old Palais Royale.

B-I-L, Full Scale is the name of boat, I thought he was at the marina off the bluffs. Doesn't matter.

Poetikat said...

Reminds me so much of "The Great Gatsby" - the book and the film.

I hope the weather cooperates - it's been darn chilly lately for toile and a tad windy for straw boaters.


Ladybug said...

I'd really enjoy that!

Chrisy said...

It looks and sounds just luscious!

Rinkly Rimes said...

That sounds wonderful but it's rather far to come.
It would be an idea for an Australian country town wanting to promote itself. A 'Twenties' weekend! Wow!
And your verification word is SWANGO which seems appropriate somehow!

dogimo said...

The gentleman with the tuba looks positively menacing!

But all in good fun, of course. It would be so much more fun to attend in proper costume! I don't think I'd go otherwise - although of course I wouldn't look down on those more modernly-attired. More the merrier!

What a great event, Pup!

Candie Bracci said...

Hi,great post Hazel!I really like the 20's!Have a nice day :)