Summer at Gatsby’s

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In the summertime, on the southern hillsides of Oakland, California, the old Buicks and convertible Chryslers roll onto the vast grounds of the Dunsmuir Hellman Estate, setting a barrier around tents and striped canopies of picnic goers in cool cotton dresses or light beige suits topped in Panama Hats. A band is playing, a grand ensemble brass group at the head of the dance floor where beneath swaying, pastel paper lanterns, these ladies and their partners kick up their heels for the Charleston and perky jazz tunes that flow into the light wind of the day.

Thing is, this is not a hot summer afternoon, let alone an afternoon in 1926. It is 2016, and like the past 35 years before it, it is a balmy September where we find the Art Deco of Society hosting the Gatsby Summer Afternoon.

The local Bay Area nonprofit excels at its mission of preserving the Art Deco beauties of the Bay Area through promotional events such as this picnic. All enthusiasts are invited to join in for an afternoon recreating the delights of the deco decade, dressed in their finest and, highly encouraged, most accurate clothing of the time. And apart from the music, the costume boutique from which you can rent last-minute finishing touches to your look, and the Ice Cream vendor bicycling his way around the grass, attendees bring their own necessities for a great time. Even if you’ve forgotten the lemonade or petit fours, wandering over to meet and partake in the festivities of the other guests is just what the Gatsby Summer Afternoon is all about– having a grand time, and no one left out, just as our benevolent host Jay Gatsby would have wanted it.

Take a glimpse into the roaring twenties as the sleepy facade of the Dunsmuir Estate transcends the present into a timeless and magnificent gathering of flappers and gentlemen– much to the dismay of Nick Carraway’s observation on failing to repeat the past,

Why of course you can, Old Sport!

Save the date for the next Gatsby Summer Afternoon September 10, 2017.

The Dunsmuir Hellman Estate as seen from a well-stocked picnic. Built in 1899 as a wedding present to his wife, Josephine, Alexander Dunsmuir envisioned the home as the perfect retreat from running his family’s coal mining businesses in San Francisco.
A buttery beauty parks among the reserved tables from larger groups of guests close to the dance floor. Within minutes, the Art Deco Society announces a lively dance number by the cheery Deco Belles, donned in bright bathing suits and eagerly hoping one of them might be voted as this year’s Miss Art Deco.
The pool off of the sprawling grass lawns of the present day estate lies in ruins.
Alongside dancing, costume admiration, and hourly tours of the Dunsmuir mansion, cars are on display and the talk of the party, the best restored one awarded with a prize at the end of the day.
Our founder, Paris Kim, as seen in attendance with her beau and picnic date, Douglas Blatecky. Her look was inspired by breezy English tea parties in summer, with an oversized sunhat and slit sleeves embodying an efficient yet elegant cool outdoor party dress, perfectly draped in pearls.

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