On Sunday (September 11, of all days!) I had the pleasure of spending a lovely day at the 27th Annual "Gatsby Summer Afternoon" picnic sponsored by the Art Deco Society of California. The Gatsby Summer Afternoon is a lavish celebration of a bygone era, with a couple of hundred dedicated fans of the styles and fashion of the 1920s-40s gathered in their Sunday best to picnic, listen and dance to swing music, and play in an elegant park setting.
Located at the Dunsmuir Helman Historic Estate in East Oakland, the park was transformed into a scene straight out of Gatsby, from the vintage cars to the Swing era place settings on the picnic tables.
You couldn't even get into the grounds without wearing appropriate attire. A sign at the entrance stated no flip-flips, mini-skirts, sneakers or other modern attire allowed. For those who didn't come prepared, there was even a booth where you could borrow hats, shoes and clothing.
Most of the men were in appropriate picnic attire, i.e. straw hats, fedoras, seersucker, short pants, argyle socks, and spectators. The ladies were mostly in elegant summer dresses or flapper attire, or in vintage bathing suits. Even the kids got into it, in vintage scouts uniforms or newsboy outfits. So cute!
I was a bit revisionist in my more modern-era cream spring suit and fedora. Here's me with my friend Myriam, one of the "Decobelles" dancers.
Of course, I came to dance, as did my friends there. The band was the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, led by Don Neely. They were actually really swinging and played a good variety of dance-able tunes. I can't wait to see those cats again!
Here's my friend Cathy dancing with Jeremy Sutton.
One of the surprise treats of the afternoon was seeing Casey McGill step to the bandstand and play a few tunes with the orchestra. Casey is one of my favorite swing musicians and a great guy. He apparently flew in from Seattle just for this event!
The Decobelles are another highlight of the Gatsby Summer Afternoon. The Decobelles are a troupe of vintage bathing suit wearing dancers who put on a really swell performance for us. Here's a video of them strutting their stuff. Gotta love the stockings!
Later there was a charleston dance contest, which of course I had to enter with my friend Cathy. We took fourth place! More importantly, we got a lot of pictures taken of us. So much fun.
Finally, at dusk, we packed our picnic baskets, said our goodbyes to all of our new friends, and headed back to 2011.
Thanks to the organizers, musicians, volunteers and fellow picnickers for putting on a glorious and swinging event. Can't wait for next year!
Check out the rest of my photos on Flickr.