Sunday, August 29, 2010

Where they dance in New York City

I get around this place. Uptown to Randall's Island, downtown to South Street Seaport, cross-borough to Queens and even across the river to New Jersey. I hear music in most of these places, too, live music, music that's considered by and large to be very good. But I rarely see anyone dancing, and it's always made me a little sad. People should dance when they hear music. Dancing is a joyous expression of complete abandonment of the self. And if you've spent any time in New York City, you can see right away why we don't dance. New Yorkers are almost pure ego. They couldn't survive without a constant awareness of self.

Enough of this discussion. It bores me. Let's talk about the Jazz Age!

Yesterday, the BF and I took a ridiculously short ferry ride out to Governors Island to attend the Jazz Age Lawn Party. (Seriously, the ferry ride is literally a minute and a half long. I could swim the distance.) There are a lot of odd little subcultures in New York, so I wasn't that surprised to learn of a whole community of 1920s nostalgists that dress up like characters from "The Great Gatsby," listen to early jazz, and dance the Charleston.

That's right. They dance. The Charleston.
There's something so wonderfully weird and happy about these people. They aren't exactly "cool," but neither are they geek chic anti-cool. It's like they reached back far enough into history to locate a mode of fashion that's too classy for irony. The whole thing is just too sincere to believe. Look at the Dreamland Orchestra. Just look at them.
Not only is there a band in New York that plays 1920s jazz, but there's enough people who know how to DANCE to 1920s jazz that they get together for lawn parties. And I know it's hard to tell from looking at the pictures, but they aren't playing dress-up or wearing costumes. Most of them are tooling around in linen suits and flapper dresses like they dress like this all the time, and like anything else they have to wear to fit in is just disguising their true 1920s selves.

I'm not about to join their ranks. The flapper look is prejudiced against women with big tits and very long hair, and the overhead on that lifestyle seems kind of high (who can afford gin these days?). But they're out there, dancing and boozing and looking fabulous, and I though you should all know about it.

Cheers, darlings. It's been a wonderful summer.

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