Bringing the Roaring 20’s Back to Life on Governor’s Island


The Jazz Age came roaring back to life, for two days, at least, on the weekend of August 25-26.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the magic happens. Maybe it’s the flapper dresses, maybe it’s the live jazz, maybe it’s the joy. Either way, it was the 13th year for the Jazz Age Lawn Party, held on Governor’s Island.

This vintage-lover’s fantasy was more than a wicker basket picnic–although there was plenty of that too.

Adults and children alike delighted in the chance to wear Jazz Age costumes outside of Halloween. Men donned bow ties, suspenders, and straw skimmer hats, while women’s feathered headbands accompanied sequined and fringed flapper dresses.

Vendors sold period clothes, jewelry, furs, and anything else you might need to complete your vintage wardrobe. The Housing Preservation Alliance topped it off with an antique car display.

Couples and friends enjoyed cocktails and dancing along to Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra, while families and children could be entertained by a game of squash or classic magic by the Great Dubini.

In the style of Prohibition era dance and garb, alcoholic drinks could be openly consumed, ensuring that the Jazz Age Lawn Party was indeed a party.

Patrons lining up at the “Dreamland Bar” had their pick of beer, rosé and cocktails with themed names like “Hard-to-Get Gertie.” As far as food options went, “Tasty Town” consisted of numerous food trucks lining the perimeter of the lawn accompanied by picnic table seating.

True to the Jazz Age, Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra, Queen Esther and her Hot Five, and other artists graced the stage with 1920s and 1930s music, most appropriately paired with peppy Charleston steps.

The guest performance group Caravella’s Canarsie Wobblers wowed the crowd. Later, those wanting to win rather than be won over had the opportunity to show their dancing chops during a Charleston dance contest.

At the day’s close, everyone left Governor’s Island by ferry, and suddenly found themselves looking quite out of place when they got to the other side. It was a small price to pay for leaving the reality of present-day New York City for a nostalgia-driven daydream on a small island.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.