Jazzed up: Fops and flappers bid farewell to summer

Photo by Erica Price
Elaborate period cosltumes are a big part of the fun for the Jazz Age Lawn Party


It was a real sockdollager!

Photo by Erica Price
Jolene Walter and her gentleman escort share a smile on Governors Island.

Fetching flappers and drugstore cowboys sailed out to Governors Island on Aug. 26 and 27 for New York City’s swankiest blow since prohibition — the Jazz Age Lawn Party — and boy if that rub wasn’t the cat’s pajamas, according to one Brooklyn Sheba.

“It was great,” said Stephanie McNevin. “It was definitely different than the regular weekend stuff.”

Jazz Age Lawn Party entered its 12th year this summer with a weekend-long bash in June, but the season closed with a second Gatsby-inspired bash in August, which saw hoards of well-heeled bearcats and dapper fops take over the shady lawn over by Liggett Hall.

The event is part of the broader “retro-nouveau” jazz scene that sees young urbanites don gilded-era attire — including the classic straw-boater hat and Oxford bag trousers — while tearing up the dance floor to the rhythm of Peabody and Chalreston-style jazz.

Jazz Age Lawn Party, which spearheaded the throwback music scene when it debuted in 2005, is now one among hundreds of ’20s-themed events, but it remains the city’s largest and most spectacular retro jazz event, attracting old-hats and newcomers alike, according to one swing lover.

Photo by Erica Price
Aimee Hiltz and Peter Shields came to Jazz Age Lawn Party dressed in a WWI theme.

“The diversity of the event in New York is great,” said swing dancer George Gaston, who drove up from Philly with wife Allie for the event. “It was fun because you could see people experience this for the very first time, which is a very healthy thing for the scene.”

The Governors Island event is also the city’s most fashionable Jazz-age event, and while other parties focus on the jazz, the sea-locked soiree encourages lost-generation cosplay that creates a surreal scene out of time, according to one New Englander.

“It’s just he attention to detail that everybody puts into the outfits and the whole atmosphere throwing back to the ’20s is really fun to see,” said Aimee Hiltz, who drove out from Connecticut for the party on Saturday.

For some, the process of shopping for ’20s-esque clothing and putting together outfits is every bit as fun as the event itself, according to McNevin.

“For a couple weeks we were going to thrift stores and going online trying to find things that fit with the era,” said the Brooklyn gal. “Not just the event was fun, but preparing for it was pretty cool.”

Photo by Erica Price
Kris Carpenter pops the question to Alicia Bowerman on Governors Island.

Performances over the weekend included headliner Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra, Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society, The Dreamland Follies, pianist Peter Mintun, and Queen Esther, along with jazz-era dance troupe Roddy Caravella and the Canarsie Wobblers.

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