The Art Deco Society of California launched the fall of ’16 with a party attended by upwards of 1,000 fans of the Art Deco era in a scene straight out of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famed 1925 novel, “The Great Gatsby.” Held at the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate, the 32nd annual “Gatsby Summer Afternoon” event was an opportunity for revelers to dress in vintage clothing from the 1920s through the early 1940s, and to picnic, party, and dance to the music of Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra in the Oakland California hills.
In the Spirit of Jay Gatsby’s West Egg gatherings, the music, style and fashion of a bygone era trumped “all things of the Gatsby Era”, including some 100 pre-war antique cars on display, croquet lessons, a Great Gatsby Bathing Beauty Revue with the Deco Belles, and prizes for the best picnic, best fashion and best Charleston dance, among other things. Summonsing the spender and yet simplicity of a bygone era, guests were encouraged to tote their picnics to the event in old suitcases, bring pillows and use parasols to keep the sun at bay, and of course enjoy dancing to the music of the San Francisco Bay Area music institution, the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra which has performed at every “Gatsby” event since the beginning.
Among the crowd was the wife of the late See’s Candies president Charles Huggins, who was along-time supporter of the Art Deco Society of California’s preservation efforts. Despite the 75-degree heat, most all the participants seemed comfortable dressed up in their “Sunday Best”, including straw hats, suits and tie. Asked what she liked about the event, another participant, Louise Westcott, said, “Everything! It is the only place that still encourages old-style class and is genuine fun for people of all ages.” A Deco Belle, Emma Farais, a high school teacher from Rohnert Park, said, “We’re celebrating the elegance of the past and embracing some qualities that have been left behind – poise and decency. The Deco Belles do mid-range kicks, the Charleston and a dance with hats. It’s very cute and charming. We don’t twerk.” In addition to the annual “Gatsby Summer Afternoon”, the Art Deco Society of California hosts events and seminars throughout the year. More information can be found here.