The Art Deco Society of California’s Gatsby Summer Afternoon is right around the corner Sunday, September 11, 2016. Time to start planning!
New to Gatsby Summer Afternoon? Well simply put, it’s THE period event of the year. Attendees arrive at Oakland’s Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate decked out in 20s to 40s attire and set up picnic sites using only vintage gear and vintage-style food. The afternoon includes a display of vintage cars, music by Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, dancing, croquet lessons, touring the Dunsmuir mansion, and contests for: Best Car, Best Costume, Best Charleston, Best Picnic Site.
This marks 32 years for the ADSC’s popular event and leading the way for us is Heather Ripley as the event chair. A member of ADSC since 2000, Heather says, ” … what I found with the ADSC was a very passionate group of people with a shared interest in keeping the Art Deco era alive. It felt like I was coming home.”
Part of keeping the Art Deco era alive is events like Gatsby Summer Afternoon, which is as close to time-travel as we can get.
Heather works at Larkin Street Youth Services where she is special events manager. Those work skills have proved handy – this is her fourth time up as chair of Gatsby Summer Afternoon but she’s quick to point out it’s a team effort with many volunteers helping her to make the magic of the day happen.
Heather and I recently had a Q&A via e-mail chatting all things Gatsby Summer Afternoon:
When was your first Gatsby Summer Afternoon and what stands out about that experience?
My first was in 2001, I believe. I went with my high school friend, Julie who came up from Southern California. She made her own dress and I got mine at Dress Barn, but we had the best time putting together our outfits and packing our simple picnic lunch. It was a glorious day and we were in heaven watching all the pretty people go by while lounging on our blanket on the lawn. We then handed out “It’s-It” ice cream sandwiches. That was our volunteer task. We had such a wonderful time and I’ve been “hooked” ever since.
How did you go about planning your outfit for the day?
I think I just looked at some fashion history books from the library. I was a theater major. In fact, Julie and I had both done some stage work and we both loved old movies, so it came somewhat naturally. I had a small collection of vintage items from my mom and I had loved going to antique and second hand stores to find interesting items for special occasions. A great way to learn about tips and tricks is at the How to Gatsby lecture.
Thanks, Heather. The How to Gatsby lecture is coming up on Sunday July 31st, 2pm at Bellevue Club in Oakland.
Speaking of tips, as a former picnic site winner what tips would you offer to a new or returning attendee?
First, don’t expect to be awarded your first year, it can take some time to collect pretty items. Be sure they are things you like and reflect you and your personality. The one thing we keep in mind with judging is to bestow the award to “classic” picnics that do not fall too strongly into the “theme” category – like western, gypsy, or circus. We tend to favor pure era picnics. Plus keep in mind it’s not just about the plates and linens if you are into winning, it’s also important to prepare appropriate food from the era and possibly dress in the same colors. And having a sense of humor and creativity does not hurt. Think about it, the judges have a very difficult time!
As a former and current picnic site judge, I agree that we sure do have a difficult time! But it’s also great fun to walk the grounds and meet so many interesting fellow Art Deco lovin’ people.
Gatsby Summer Afternoon is a full day of activities and time goes by quickly, what would you say is a definite Not To Be Missed?
We do provide printed programs with the events of the day listed so you won’t miss anything. But I would say four things this year:
- If you have never done it you really should go on the house tour. They are free from 3-4pm in the beautiful mansion. It’s nice to get away from the sun and appreciate the collection of items lovingly displayed.
- This year we are hiring a “DJ” Tanoa “Samoa Boy” on the porch area of the mansion who will be playing vinyl records with songs from the 20s and 30s! We wanted the folks closer to the mansion, who typically cannot hear the stage entertainment, to have an enjoyable experience.
- Stop by Stookey’s Club Modern tent to refresh with an authentic cocktail and/or enjoy tastes of delicious wine at the Le Vin Winery tent.
- Finally, the day would not be complete without the lively Decobelles performance at 3:30. Be sure to line up early since it can be challenging to view.
Yep, the Decobelles are always a big hit and I would add don’t miss the crowning of 2016/2017 Miss Art Deco, which happens right after the Decobelles performance.
Thank you, Heather for this chat and for all you do putting Gatsby Summer Afternoon together.
We’ll see ya there!