This weekend was another "Jazz Age Lawn Party" on Governors Island, two days of hot jazz from the 20s and 30s, performed in an idyllic setting amidst a cool canopy of trees and stately military quarters. The featured musical entertainment were Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra, joined by Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society. Both bands played some rousing and dance-friendly renditions of classic hot jazz tunes, for an appreciative audience of several hundred folks on both days of the party.
Beyond the wonderful music and dancing, there were fashion shows, a pie contest, a tug-of-war, vintage clothing for sale, classic cars, and more. That's the lovely Miss Michelle Coursey to the right participating in the "Bathing Beauties" show. (More video of the bathing beauties here.)
What's lovely about the Jazz Age Lawn Parties is that it draws an eclectic and enthusiastic crowd of folks dressed to the nines in their best renditions of 1920s and 30s wear, from girls in flapper outfits to gentlemen in boaters and seersuckers. Folks bring picnic baskets and blankets and lounge around everywhere, appreciating each others outfits and taking thousands of pictures. (My few pics are here.)
[UPDATE 7/19: I'll be updating the end of this post with links to media coverage and photo galleries at the end of this post.]
For lindy hoppers like me and my friends, it's heaven. The organizers bring in a nice sprung wood dance floor, play very danceable tunes, and encourage everyone young and old to take a spin on the parquet. Children run about and leap, older couples do a stately waltz and peabody, gaggles of young girls do their best charlestons — it's glorious fun.
Here's a fun video of Joe and Michelle D goofing around. Sorry it's so shaky — I'm laughing while I'm filming it!
And here's another fun video of Voon and Michelle C dancing.
At about 5pm this afternoon, the bands bid us adieu. Most of the crowds dispersed to catch the ferry back to Manhattan or Brooklyn. Only a few hardy folks stayed to socialize and take pictures.
Then at about 5:30, some musicians did one last jam. The remaining folks leapt to the dancefloor and danced one last time. The musicians strolled around us as we lindy-ed and charleston-ed, the music surrounding us from every side. It was a magical moment.
Tired and happy, we made our way to the ferry back to Manhattan. But the dancing and music was not quite done!
In the lower deck of the ferry, the musicians started playing one last time! I ran down with my friends to see Joe and Heidi, Gretchen and Roddy and others swinging out amidst a crowd of onlookers. We made our way to the band and joined in the dance. I had no partner, so I started doing some solo charleston. Roddy saw me and called me out, so I started breaking on deck. Another guy with the band joined me and did some nice b-boy moves. Then I finished with a P-freeze as the song finished. It was fantastic!
As we walked off the boat, one of the musicians saw me and said, "thanks for the great dancing!" I called back, "Thanks for the great music!"
What a fantastic weekend. Sigh.
More Photos and Media Coverage: