One part Eastwood,
One part Astaire.
Add a dash of Bogart.
Shake, strain and enjoy.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Party Like It's 1921

I've never claimed to be the most current blog on the interweb and this post proves my pokiness. In my defense though, this was an arduous task and a tremendous event to try and summarize. I constantly found myself slipping back to that August weekend when the past became the present and getting lost in the memories.

Almost a month ago, thousands of New Yorkers paid their final respects to summer over two days by ferrying out to Governor's Island off of the southern tip of Manhattan to party like it was 1921. Michael Aranella and his velvety pipes and muted trumpet hosted a Jazz Age Lawn Party along with the Dreamland Orchestra and special guest Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society.

Monsieur Aranella captivated me earlier this year by lending his victrola voice to the ambiance of Clover Club on Brooklyn's Smith Street. It happened by chance that I wound up in his company one Wednesday evening sipping cocktails in speakeasy style while he crooned through standards of the 20's and 30's. His voice could end wars and floats like whipped meringue, soft and weightless.  The notes push up through his throat breathy and muffled and instantly calming. But he also entranced me with his style: crisp french cuffs, tussled bow tie, just the right break in his period trousers and a dramatic pomaded curl perched on the right side of his head. This is not just an act, it's his passion and lifestyle.

The cozy island vanished back in time to an even Gatsby-er like state than the polo match that had been held earlier in the season. The short ferry ride across New York Harbor was both beautiful and entertaining. Saturday brought worlds colliding in a state of juxtaposed hilarity as passengers embarked for two very different reasons. Mashed together on our drab transport yacht were both my fellow jazz party goers and the esteemed attendants of Rock The Bells, a hip-hop concert featuring Wu Tang Clan, amongst other vintage rappers. As you can imagine looks of panic, confusion and judgement hung over the ship. When gangsters met gangstas, eyes rolled at each other's idea of fun.

The party held much in the way of entertainment and relaxation. From historic cars and the tug-o-war to a bathing beauties contest, pie competition and croquet, there was an effort made to not just look the part but participate in the fun of the period as well. Professional dance acts kept us entertained and inspired to challenge our hands and feet when the dance floor opened. And when the weekend came down to the last swings of the baton, a finale of jazz freeform and a street style dance-off allowed for the magic to escape the hourglass for an extra twenty minutes. Some just couldn't let go.

I'll spare you my rambling and let the pictures do the talking. Without further adieu, please enjoy highlights from the best party this side of Prohibition.

The Music:

The treasures his closet must hold! Mr. Aranella sported pink linen and a boater on Saturday. He opted for even more of a throwback appeal on Sunday in true dandy character. I've come to the conclusion that seeing Mr. Aranella in jeans and a T-shirt would be akin to finding out Santa Claus doesn't exist or that George Clooney wears flip-flops.

And Mr. Drew Nugent blasting away. That cat could blow! 


My father has told me 100 times that the way to a woman's heart is on the dance floor. This weekend proved his point. Those gents that could swing had their pick.

This mustachiod fella had the moves.
And all the ladies wanted a piece.
This gal was his best though. 

His face says it all!

Mr. Nugent trades his trumpet for a dame.

Always a shock to see how some are so
light on their feet. 

No shame in sharing a dance.
They were impressive with their
 ladies, even better together. 

The pros showed us how it's really done. 


I honestly wouldn't care if I ever drove another day in my life. Unless I had one of these.

Born in the wrong time. 

Or one of these. 


One of the best parts of the weekend was to see men actually dressed... and not only liking it but passionate about the details.

The King himself: Dandy Wellington

Pure swagger!

Which carried right over to the dance floor.

The perfect MC for a tug-o-war.

And I'm not here to brag, but I was no slouch.
Club collar shirt, bow tie, blue linen vest,
seersucker pocket square, saddle shoes
... and pocket watch. 
A gift from my parents for my 28th birthday.

And the perfect accessory for the event. 

The Scene:

Dresses vs. Suspenders

Bathing beauties take the floor. 

Some prettier than others. 

Possibly my favorite shot from the weekend.

A performance by the Minski sisters. 

White suede brogues - yummy.  

In addition, I was fortunate enough to meet the men behind a site I admire, and count myself lucky to have been featured in their recap post: Fine and Dandy blog (Pictures 3 and 4). Not only do these lads produce a fantastic blog and an even better web store, they are true gentleman as well. They even watched my belongings to allow for a quick spin around the dance floor with my lady.

No outfit is complete without a
beautiful dame!

I was also excited to find out that the man we saw shooting us multiple times was Bill Cunningham, the esteemed photographer from the New York Times. My lady and I didn't make the Sunday Style section this time but I'm honored to think that I am part of his vast catalog of New York style.

If I could only figure out how to bring this style back to the masses. For now, only in my dreams.