The spirit of F. Scott Fitzgerald was alive and well Friday night at Joslyn Castle. Actors, staff and members of the public stepped back into the 1920s and enjoyed dance lessons, a history lesson on flappers, and a sampling of cocktails from the 1920s.
The evening began as guests were welcomed to the castle by two tommy gun wielding guards and guests were broken into groups to experience three rooms in the castle. Guests were decked out in their best 20s garb with women dressed in flowing, glittering jewelry and feathered head pieces while men were dressed in elegant suits and hats.
The first event kicked off in the castle’s music room, transformed into the “dance palace,” where Nate Woodhams a dance instructor spoke about the importance of dance in the 1920s. After a reading from the Fitzgerald’s first novel “This side of paradise” Woodhams gave a dazzling performance of the Charleston, which he described as “the greatest dance craze in history.” The brief discussion was followed by a dance lesson in the both the Charleston and the foxtrot.
Guests were moved to the second floor decorated in beautiful era appropriate clothing and furniture. Known as the flappers boudoir, Omaha fashion designer Laci Neal and a group of live models in flapper attire spoke about Fitzgerald’s influence on women, the changing attitudes, and how their advancements have effected women today.
“The flapper lies in the heart of every woman,” Neal said. This particular event was fun and frivolous, not unlike the flappers they were speaking about. After the presentation guests were ushered into the Gold Room, where Ethan Bondelid and Allison Hunt of the House and Loom and Berry and Rye bars spoke passionately about prohibition era drinks and the art of making a great, perfectly put together cocktail.
It was a fun historical lesson and it was Bondelid’s pure excitement and knowledge that guests enjoyed. Concluding the presentation was another Fitzgerald reading by Omaha actor Ben Beck, that highlighted the excitement of prohibition in New York.
Before the guests were turned loose to explore the castle further Katherine Neary, a fan dancer performed a burlesque dance that was soon broken up when cops “raided” the event. In a fun twist the three men were actually real Omaha police officers.
The Speakeasy feel benefited from the classic, vintage beauty of the Castle, a thought that attendees Molly Hobson and Sherri Moore pointed out. “The castle is so linked to the glamour of Fitzgerald,” Hobson said. Reneacting some of the most famous aspects of the 1920s gives people a “new appreciation” for the era, especially considering that the 20s are currently going through a resurgence.
While the event did have some bumps, it started a little late, it was a fun and worthwhile experience that gave guests a chance to see what the 20s might have been like.