Where it is Spring, somewhere it is still Winter. And that somewhere is New York City, 1922. Hemingway and Fitzgerald, ragtime and jazz, lovers’ strolls and silent screens, fogged cafe windows, mobsters, slushy snow, and cobblestone walkways is the scene. And a speakeasy is your destination. It’s a date to remember…or not; the party continues night after night anyway. You’re a hell cat, darlin’. A perfect Gloria. And your date is one hell of an Anthony Patch.
Behind a secret door, lies the next in the series of my ideal era-themed dates: a date in the era of prohibition.
The 1920s: A Speakeasy Date
Setting: There’s a speakeasy somewhere on 52nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenue; towards the back of the cafe, past the chandelier and around the crystal stemmed glassware that glint seductively with flickering candlelight. A concealed door is but a faint outline and accessible by a phone that only calls in. A buzzer signals the ring of a bell behind the door. You pick up the receiver and above the clamor and cacophony in the background a gruff voice asks for the password. “Strike me dead” you purr, referencing slang for a home-brewed cocktail. Inside, you throw off your mink and eggs are cracked as sloe gin fizzes go down easier and easier. You laugh uproariously, each joke funnier than the last. Before you know it, a black wool overcoat is thrown over your shoulders and you’re whisked away in a high-speed chase; the American-made Duesy dodging bullets like it’s all copacetic. The gunsmoke and alcoholic haze clears and you find yourself sitting in the midst of late-night writers who have turned to philosophy and bourbon in favor of alliteration and espresso. Your date pours you glass after rose-colored glass of sweet vermouth and you barely remember pulling the lace curtains shut in your 4th floor walkup and tumbling into bed, humming some ragtime tune you must’ve heard somewhere along this wild, wild ride. (etching: Martin Lewis, “The Glow of the City,” Duesenberg: weareprivate.net, speakeasy photo: barlifeuk.com)
Outfit: A blue chiffon dropwaist dress that shows off the gams, a long strand of pearls that swings with the Charleston, and an art deco headband that blinds any would-be suitors with its Swarovskies. (shoes: 4birds vintage, headband: LiveinStyle, blue chiffon flapper dress: Mamaleanne32,)
Conversation: The Harlem Renaissance and the Apollo Theatre, moral laxity and the lost generation, the rise of communism, Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 and Picasso, and the rise of glorious social decadence and unabashed wealth. (Apollo photo: madamenoire.com)
Music: Gershwin’s jazz-infused classic, Rhapsody in Blue, that plays across the whole city in a backdrop of sweeping, melancholic arcs.
Next week, I plan on powdering my face, painting my lips, and brushing out my fingerwaves to saunter into the glamorous golden age of the 1930s. Dressed in Vionnet, of course.