An Elegant Affair

I’ve been thinking, and I’ve realized that each of my past few summers has had a very distinct theme, or flavor to it. Summer 2013 was the summer of angst, of desperately trying to figure out what in the world I was going to do with my adult life. Lots of apartment hunting, resume writing, and questioning and self-doubt about every decision I had ever made. Summer 2014 was more bright and sunny; it was the summer of exploration. Simon and I fell in love with New York and spent every spare moment discovering a new park, book store, coffee shop, or neighborhood. We were so inspired by our surroundings that we started this blog to record our adventures. It was glorious.

As for this summer? Summer 2015 has been without a doubt the summer of dance. Instead of accompanying Simon to California for his ten-week research stint at NASA, I stayed in the city to prepare for two incredibly important performances in August with Bollywood Funk NYC (videos coming soon!!). I’m absolutely thrilled to be working towards my childhood dream of becoming a professional dancer, and I’ve made some amaaazing new friends along the way. :) But wow, dancing for two to three hours after work every day has left me exhausted! And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss my summer of exploration a little bit. I miss having time to look around and soak up the beauty of the city around me. I’m always doing, doing, doing, and sometimes I miss just…being. Which is why I’m finally making time to blog about one of the few times this summer that I got to simply be. It was early June, and my best friend Natalie and I had the privilege of attending the tenth annual Jazz Age Lawn Party

The Jazz Age Lawn Party takes place on Governor’s Island a couple of weekends each summer. It is essentially an opportunity to travel back in time to the Roaring Twenties and experience the music, dancing, fashion, culture, and overall ambiance of the Prohibition era. It’s a dream come true for anyone who wishes they could have lived in the time of flappers, live jazz, and speakeasies. And it is indeed a most elegant affair. Natalie and I dressed up for the occasion. We each already had era-appropriate white and black dresses, respectively, but we had to do some serious research and last-minute shopping where flapper shoes and accessories were concerned. We ended up donning pearls, sparkly headbands, dangly earrings, and plain close-toed high heels in addition to the dresses, and drew quite a lot of attention to ourselves en route to the event (i.e., some not so subtle photos were taken of us on the subway, because I suppose we weren’t exactly in typical Saturday morning attire). Though once we boarded the ferry that would take us to Governor’s Island and arrived at the party itself, we fit right in. Everyone else had dressed up too; even the gentlemen were decked out in button-downs and suspenders and hats. The third photo below perfectly captures the scene, which frankly reminded me of a certain impressionist painting. ;)

The party kicked off with live music and a Charleston dance lesson. Two dapper young men asked us to dance, and together we all learned the basic step and a turn sequence. My swing dancing experience from college helped me out a bit, but mostly we bumbled about, laughed at ourselves, and had a great time. There were some party attendees and professional performers, though, who danced very convincingly like they were actually from the 1920s. After dancing for a bit, we found a shady spot on the lawn, parked our picnic basket, and enjoyed some cheese and fruit from home, as well as some not entirely era-appropriate but nevertheless gourmet pulled pork sandwiches and mac and cheese. And then we just relaxed and reveled in the calm, peaceful, joyous atmosphere of the event.

Since there are no cars allowed on Governor’s Island, we were far removed from the sounds of the city. A live jazz vocalist crooned along on the mini stage nearby, her band’s music playing through an antique gramophone. Anti-prohibition signs and various vintage clothing vendors lined the edges of the lawn, and we got a glimpse of some fancy 1920s car models too. And after standing in line for nearly an hour, we got our hands on some cocktails and marveled at what a civilized and sophisticated sort of affair this whole party was. Such a far cry from my raucous night at Governor’s Ball the weekend prior. Everyone around us was content to chat, picnic, play cards, sip politely from their drinks, and be merry. The crowd felt like a bit of a cross between Sunday churchgoers and croquet party guests, which was actually kind of ironic considering that the Roaring Twenties were all about being wild and breaking norms and such. I wonder what our predecessors would have thought of our relatively tame shenanigans. I, for one, had a lovely time.

When four o’clock rolled around, the party swiftly drew to a close. We stood in line for the ferry back to Manhattan, back to the present, back to reality. I wasn’t quite ready to leave, and thinking back on it now, I wish I could go back to the Jazz Age Lawn Party just for a little bit. But perhaps the fleeting nature of it is part of what made it such a memorable experience in the first place. There’s always next year!