Good Old-Fashioned Fun at the Jazz Age Lawn Party

This past weekend saw NYC’s niftiest party of the summer, the Jazz Age Lawn Party! Governor’s Island was transported back in time to the roaring ’20s. But with legal alcohol and much better cameras!



This year marks the 10th anniversary of this swell event. Live music, performances, dancing, vintage, fashion shows, even a pie baking contest: they aren’t kidding when they call it the bee’s knees! Spirits were high, St. Germain spirits were flowing, and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.


It brings you back to simpler times. Before blogs, before Instagram, when people watching was the highest form of such entertainment. Before tanning was ever in vogue and fans were the perfect hand-held device.

I hope these ladies bring parasols back into fashion on the city streets!


There’s something about this event that is hard to describe. Perhaps good old-fashioned fun best covers it. Everyone who enters the fenced event space seems to have a smile on their face. Everyone is in a good mood, even if they somehow missed the 11:30AM ferry (even though they were totally on time for it) and had to wait half an hour for the next one.

The ferry ride to Governor’s Island full of Jazz Age Lawn Partiers!
The view from the ferry- doesn’t get better than this!

Perhaps it’s the sort of people this event attracts- cats and kittens who love an excuse to dress up and boogie on the dance floor surrounded by trees under sunny skies.




Also families. The Jazz Age Lawn Party is known for being a family friendly event. Yet it has few aspects that cater specifically to children. Fun for all ages is every inch the case of this lovely celebration. (Every inch apart from the bar I should say! Prohibition has no place at this jazz age event. Let me assure you, the St. Germain signature cocktails are incredibly refreshing in the heat!)





Michael Arenella & His Dreamland Orchestra provide a steady soundtrack of big band jazz tunes throughout the day. The man looks impeccable and his voice is smoother than the ferry ride over the calm New York harbor. He’s also a terrific master of ceremonies, bringing in the lovely dancers of the Dreamland Follies and Carvella’s Canarsi Wobblers.



Michael Arenella is the fella responsible for this whole event. He’s grown it from a small picnic into a giant, 2 weekend party over the past ten years. It’s absolutely remarkable. I’d love to meet him one day, but it probably won’t be a Jazz Age Lawn Party day because he’s the man of the hour, in greater demand than anyone else on the island! I can only imagine what a wonderful human he is, given the atmosphere he’s created for this party!


Were you distracted from the band leader whose praises I just sang? In this picture, yes, he may be upstaged by a New York icon! That man behind the camera is indeed Bill Cunningham, the lauded NYTimes street style photographer! It was a special surprise to get to see him in his element. I was especially tickled to be on the same press list as him!


The Jazz Age Lawn Party is certainly an event with fantastic fashions, “lawn style” if you will, as opposed to “street”.

She made her dress and hat herself!
Who knew a man could look so good and so masculine holding a parasol?


Ah the days when no outfit was complete without coordinated head wear!


Dear Gentlemen of New York City,

I hope you made it this far through the post without tuning out because I have a very important message for you.

YOU NEED TO ATTEND THE JAZZ AGE LAWN PARTY. August 15-16 is the next and final weekend of the season, buy your tickets now!


If you’re a fella who likes fellas: I don’t think I need to make more of a case than I already have. It’s a fabulous party!

If you’re a fella who likes the ladies: The female-to-male ration at this event was easily 3:1. Go to this event, I guarantee you a dame dripping with joie de vive. If you can dance, they’ll hanging all over you.


I was lucky enough to have this fella ask me to dance. His name was Tony and CRIPES was he an amazing dancer! I’m a terrible dancer, but even so Tony made me look good, spinning me around, and leading me firmly into a dozen moves I thought I’d need at least an hour to rehearse.


When the music ended, I felt like I’d just been on a roller coaster! This guy’s world-class! He told me his dance teacher is on TV and that he has mastered every dance form except ballet! I believe it! Thanks for the dance, Tony!

The Jazz Age Lawn Party is such a hit that it takes place two weekends every summer. So you still have plenty of time to plan for the next one, which (like I already told the boys) is August 15-16th. Don’t be intimidated by all the amazing outfits I show cased here! You need not have a 1920’s vintage swim suit like the participants of the Bathing Beauties and Beaus Promenade!

Spot Bill Cunningham again?


That said, almost everyone wears something that gives at least a nod to the period. Gents, strap on suspenders and a bow tie and you’ll be grand. Even just garden party attire will do. Ladies, throw on your best shift dress and a long strand of pearls. Everyone, put something festive in on your head. Here’s what Elaine and I came up with from our (+roommates’) wardrobes!


Of course if you want to go all out, it really is the perfect time. There are some amazing vendors on site, selling vintage pieces as well as hand crafts. My favorite was Dora Marra for Headdress NY. Her fascinators are so fun and I hope some day I have enough style to wear one!


All information for the upcoming August Jazz Age Law Party can be found on their website. Tickets start at $35 and are selling out quick! Children under 12 are free. If you can not attend but want more jazz age swankiness in your life, check out my post from last year’s 2014 party. Then put Pandora on a jazz station and re-read The Great Gatsby. We’ll all have a grand old time.




About New York Cliche

NYC lifestyle blog by Mary Lane. Events, adventures, epic mistakes, dating, life, humor. A 20-something trying to make it (and make out) in the city of dreams.

9 thoughts on “Good Old-Fashioned Fun at the Jazz Age Lawn Party

    1. Awesome!! It’s so fun, you’ll have a blast 🙂 My advice is: wear sunscreen, don’t be afraid to dance (even if you don’t really know what you’re doing :)) and take lots of pictures! Ooo and blog about it after so we can see how much fun you had!

    1. Thanks Trudy! I had fun putting together my vaguely 20’s outfit! The event is being held again August 5-6, so even if you only heard of it day-of, and even though I’m following up with this comment a month late (I’m so bad at replying! I’m sorry!), you can still catch the August edition!

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