It was just about a year ago that I wrote about the Newport Vintage Dance Week, hosted by The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers. (If you missed it you can read about it here.) Part of the schedule last year was an afternoon at The Newport International Polo Grounds to watch a polo match, enjoy a picnic buffet and dance under the big white tent. The CVD contacted me to see if I wouldn't mind adding a bit of vintage tailgaiting decor to the event and to observe, interview & capture it through photographs. I jumped at it, of course.
There was one common thread that ran through the brief conversations I was able to have with some of the guests: a fear that the days were numbered for events such as this and that there was a weakening interest in all that the CVD and it's devotees stand for. I drove home that night feeling as if I had been transported back in time to old~world Newport, the original resort town by the sea and fearing, too, that this wonderful experience would not be had by many more in todays rapidly & ever-changing world. . .
After much thought, I decided to wait until the spring to write this post, thinking that it could give the event a big shout-out as the season was just about to descend upon us but in plenty of time to book the trip and save the date.
I visited the website this week to confirm the event dates and so forth and lo and behold you won't believe it but:
Booked Solid. The entire week. A wait list in place. How is that possible? I ask myself after so many voiced concern over a lack of interest, not to mention that bad "e" word -- the troubled economy. Well, maybe it was the wonderful piece Bill Cunningham wrote for the NYT about it or the great narrated video he created. Perhaps all the attention and excitement about the release of the 2012 version of "The Great Gatsby" directed by Baz Luhrmann? Who knows? What I do know is that it doesn't get much better than that for CVD and I am sending my warmest congratulations to them and best wishes for another wonderful week in Newport.
And now, just about one year later, but all the sweeter for the memory, are my photographs from
The Newport Vintage Dance Week at The Newport International Polo Grounds 30 July 2011.
So what do you do when the telephone rings 4 days before leaving for a vacation that's been planned for a year only to learn that the house you had rented was flooded and will not be available? Generally, you call your travel agent/realtor and they find you a place to stay. Generally. When said house is located on Martha's Vineyard and the week you booked is not only "Fair Week" but "The 150th Anniversary Fair Week", there are 14 in your party and the President is coming, that simple feat becomes a bit like the Bermuda Triangle of vacation planning. Packing (everything but the kitchen sink) came to a screeching halt, and that special bottle of cognac that was saved for "The Vineyard" was unpacked to keep us company as we sat anxiously by the phone and computer, our week of sun, sand & sea hanging in the balance. Tick Tock. Tick Tock. Two days went by, two long, frustrating days. But sometimes, when things go very, very wrong, as they did, they turn out very, very right.
This is the lovely house we had the privilege of calling "home" for a week. A restored 18th century farmhouse on 8 acres of lush island land. Owned by a young, very talented family man who calls himself a carpenter, but I would call a craftsman. I cannot begin to imagine the hours of painstaking work that went into restoring and creating this beautiful estate, but I am quite certain it was a labor of love. I actually got goosebumps when my friend, who had arrived at the property first, escorted me through the door. I still have them a week later. As the days passed I kept pinching myself, half expecting to see Jane Austen walk through a doorway at any moment.
While days passed and we sat at the shore, survived the wild surf of South Beach with bruises to show for it, saw the fireworks at Oak Bluffs, spent an afternoon at The Fair, took in the spectacular views from Gay Head, played 18 holes at Farm Neck (in spite of getting bumped from the original tee time because Mr. President wanted to play), bumped into David Letterman at Morning Glory Farm, consumed insane amounts of seafood and libations and even jumped off "The Jaws Bridge" at sunset, the best part of this vacation was that we spent it in this beautiful home.
If you happen to follow the Facebook page of my blog/site, you may recall I mentioned quite awhile back that I had been invited to attend "The Newport Vintage Dance Week" after one of the sponsors came across my post about Vintage Tailgating. It was one of those moments when, upon learning of this event, I again thought to myself: "How is it I have never heard of this?"
Newport is less than an hour away, and although my days of hanging out at The Black Pearl, The Pelham & The Red Parrot have been long laid to rest, I do at times feel the urge to head to Newport, but on a far more grown-up level. I now tend to head there "off season", when traffic has slowed, parking is available & the weather is much more conducive to enjoying the coast with a wicker basket picnic or dining outdoors sans staring tourists with cameras and drunk prepsters who are trashing yachts Onassis couldn't afford to own. I suppose you can consider yourself a grown up when you'd rather be "un-seen" than "be seen" in such a place as Newport purports to be.
Although still the lovely "City By The Sea", when you watch films shot on location in or about Newport such as "The Age of Innocence", "The Great Gatsby", "High Society" and "Mr. North", you have to wonder where all the charm, the grace, the manners and propriety that was once associated with and demanded by those who swam the circles of Newport's social seas has gone. The glamour once associated with the glamorous likes of Doris Duke and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy has all but disappeared and been replaced with a much less refined sense of entitlement and entertainment.
While I cannot tell you (in a simple blog post, anyway) where those days have gone, I can tell you there is a troupe of rather talented, aesthetically concerned persons who wish to reclaim, revive, and at the very least recall the grand days of yesteryear.
"Travel Back in Time to the summer playground of the Gilded Age. Perfect your dancing skills with classes taught by leading experts on vintage dance. Experience the breathtaking opulence of America ’s finest ballrooms as you dance in Newport’s famous mansions. Let yourself be immersed in a bygone era as you sip tea by the shore..."(courtesy of TCVD website)
The week kicks off on Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 5:00 pm with a Polo Match (Newport vs New York), a Dinner Buffet & Welcome Dance to be held at The Newport International Polo Grounds at Glen Farm in Portsmouth, RI and includes private box seating in the Subscriber's Enclosure for excellent viewing of the match. Registration for the event will begin at 1:00 pm to allow plenty of time for settling in, mingling and enjoying the lovely grounds of this Rhode Island landmark.
I am honored to have been personally invited by Nicole Carlson of The Vintage Commonwealth Dancers to document through photographs, brief interviews and personal observation The Newport Vintage Dance Week Events. This is the first year that events can be attended as a "Per-Venue" Event for a very reasonable fee. Please visit the website for more information or direct inquiries to Newport@VintageDancers.org.
Lunching at Stanley's with your best friend with respective Barbies in tow....
Making homemade sundaes when you should be in bed....
Perfecting one's croquet swing at dusk in a swirly frock....
Waiting patiently for a bucket of fresh steamed clams....
Loving thy neighbor for sharing nature's bounty....and agreeing to eat vegetables tonight to make Mom's day....
Saying "Goodbye & Safe Passage" to a dear old friend....
"Parting is such sweet sorrow......"
Walking down the aisle for an adored friend and her betrothed....
And watching them dance the night away....in the manner of a fox~trot....
Understanding why Mommy is so happy this suit still fits her almost 20 years later....
One thing I have learned this summer is that one must take whatever joy one can from the present. That is not to say that we can just go hay~wire and be careless about tomorrow, rather, we have to stop and enjoy the moment....for the moment is just that~ a moment~~which, if un~noticed, un~enjoyed, un~appreciated, can be gone forever....and there are enough things that are "gone" in this world before we are ready to see them go...so hug your Mom, hug your Dad, hug your wife/husband, hug your children, hug your sister/brother, hug your cousin, hug your friend, hug your neighbor, ...because I have friends who, at this moment, would give the rest of their life to, just once more, hug their wife, mom, and friend...
"Be it a jewel or toy, not the prize gives the joy, but the striving to win the prize." ~ Owen Meredith (Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton)
While true in many instances of life, this may be one exception to Sir Bulwer-Lytton's poetic quote. A few weeks ago I learned of a Give~Away via Lily Lemontree. The host was Sarah of My Little Boudoir, and she was generous enough to host a give~away to win a signed copy of this fabulous book:
Having a rare spare minute or two, I entered the give~away and spent a few hours day dreaming (while ironing, that is) about how great it would be if I actually won...just the cover photograph had sent me reeling into old~world New York...
Half awake, waiting for the coffee to finish perking just after 6:00 o'clock this morning, I opened my "mail" and found this:
Summer has most definitely arrived here at the North East Coast. . .and with it the daily wardrobe conundrum~~what should I wear? Old J Crew cotton drawstring shorts and a soft, cool baggy Gap T~shirt call loudly from the bottom drawer each day, especially if it's just a lazy day at home. And while that is more than fine for some hot, lazy summer days hiding out from the heat & humidity, watching old movies and eating ice cream sandwiches & popsicles, one does eventually have to venture out into the "Real World" (if only to replenish the Ice Cream Sandwich & Popsicle supply!)
So what's a gal to wear?
The Romper/Play-suit/Jumper has made a big comeback
but there is still a bit of a debate about the look.
I guess it all comes down to "HOW" you wear it. It can look amazing, or downright horrible.
But when you think about it, that is true about almost every fashion trend, don't you agree? While rompers and play suits have been around forever
They are a bit of a "trend" right now and if you are a vintage clothing lover there are some amazing pieces out there, like this adorable little number below (click on the image to find out the details, it is still available, so hurry!)
I love this sailor~inspired little number. Alas, it is already in the closet of some very fortunate vintage gal!
Sunglasses: Vintage, Made in France Romper: 1980s Vintage (no label) Purse: Vintage wicker clutch, Made In Italy Shoes: michelle K
Here's how I'm wearing "Le Romper" this summer~~we spent the afternoon on our boat and at the pool~~it was quite comfortable to wear*, and I was very cool despite the heat that day. I paired it with some flat leather sandals (for practicality!) and that made for a more dressed down, casual look. *(Downside: You have to practically take the suit off to use the restroom.)
What's your take on the Romper/Playsuit look? I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. And if you are on the hunt for the perfect little romper for those dog days of August just ahead, here is a cute one I just added to "The Shoe"