The weekend of June 13 was The Jazz Age Lawn Party – a 20s themed day on Governor’s Island, complete with brass band, vendors and decade dress. The event, which was named one of the most memorable events of 2011 and 2012 by the New York Times, is an unbelievable opportunity to travel back in time while only traveling a few miles.
Tickets go fast, but we’ve had our for a few months – Kate and I opted for one of the fancier ticket packages (intended for couples, but hey whatever). We got entrance, a meal each, 8 cocktails/a bottle of wine and 3 cocktails, dessert and 2 non-alcoholic drinks for about double the ticket price. We woke up early Saturday morning, ready to transport ourselves back to the 20s with some dropwaist dresses and pearls.
Once ready, we headed out to meet our friend Brandon who was also going. We met him on Wall St. and headed over to the Governor’s Island ferry only a few blocks away. For anyone attending TJALP later this summer, make sure you hit the ferry stop early – we went hoping to hop on the noon ferry, but didn’t get on (and barely) until the 12:30, which lost us some time.
After the short (REALLY short, like 10 minute) ferry ride to Governor’s Island, we walked along to the path to the fenced-in area of the festival. After waiting in line for entrance, gift bag in hand, we scored a spot in the grass between the two brass bands and settled in to have a fun afternoon of hanging out, eating and drinking, but mostly people watching.
Because we got food with our ticket, Kate and I hadn’t thought ahead to pack food. Note for anyone going in August: DEFINITELY bring food. Once we were there, we were sorry we didn’t. Even though we didn’t have to pay for ours, we had to wait in crazy lines for everything. But the biggest downfall was the cocktail line; no outside alcohol is allowed into the festival, so there’s no way around the immense line for cocktails and wine. If you want to drink, you’ve got to be dedicated to wasting some time.
After hanging out for a bit, we made our way to the big dance floor for the Charleston dance contest, which was my favorite part of the entire day. There had been classes earlier in the afternoon, which we unfortunately missed, but even people with no experience were encouraged to participate. 5 women ended up being in the finals, and each got the chance to dance solo and show their stuff. Aside from the fun and impressive dancing, we also really got to hear the band play during the contest – they were amazing, and so was their front-woman. As the contest wound down and they declared a winner (who was awesome!) we headed back to our blanket to relax a bit and grab a snack.
We decided to grab our dessert, and went for ice cream since it was such a hot day. Though the food isn’t decade-themed, they have a wide array of food options that included barbecue, lobster rolls, burgers, popcorn, and empanadas, among others. For dessert, I went with a classic and got a chocolate eclair bar – yes, like the kind you bought in elementary school or from the ice cream man. It hit the spot on such a warm day.
In late afternoon, we decided to call it quits and head back to the ferry to beat the rush. The day was fun and relaxing, but the best part was seeing all of the amazing period clothing and accessories that people were able to put together. It was one of the best people watching opportunities I think I’ve ever seen. That’s probably why NYTimes fashion photographer Bill Cunningham goes every year.
Here are some tips for those rookies, like us, attending later this summer, or even next year:
1. Get an early start – we wished we had gotten the first ferry. It guarantees you your choice of spot to camp out for the day (try the shade!) and you’ll beat the crowds and lines.
2. Bring food! Tons of people had picnic-y food like cheese platters, pasta salads, soda and water, and sandwiches. We were sorry as we watched other people chow down on some delicious stuff that we had to go wait in long lines for ours.
3. If you’re really dedicated to bringing your own alcohol, just sit outside the designated area for the festival! Brandon thought of this towards the end of the day – you can come and go with your wristband, so if you really want to just stick a bottle of wine in the bottom of your bag, sit outside, and then move inside once it’s gone.
4. This may be a no brainer, but make sure you bring a big blanket. It gets really packed, and you’ll want to make sure you’ve staked claim to as much territory as you need so you can spread out and lounge around.