By Wicker Van Orsdel
If you’re a fan of the 1920s, Templeton Rye Whiskey, dressing as a flapper-inspired beauty, hobnobbing and foxtrotting, the Salisbury House Gatsby Gala Sept. 7 was the place to be!
For the past three years, I’ve heard how fabulous this party is. Previously, I’ve always been out of town for the event, but this year I finally got to attend and I was not disappointed with any of the hype. It has to be one of the most fun dress-up events of the year! My friend, Diane Proctor, and I dressed as flashy flappers and stepped back in time for a raucous night of unauthorized dancing and imbibing. After parking, we were jitneyed up the hill to the north entrance where several vintage cars parked on the lawn immediately transported you back to that racy era. We were signed in by adorable Katie Wengert and entered the foyer and where many were bidding on auction items. The auction was not overly huge (as you know, some can be daunting), but there were lots of fun items. I bid on a great fedora but, alas, it was not to be.
When we stepped out on the veranda, the evening was so crisp and clear and beautiful, and Tom Boesen’s glorious flowers made for an opulent and glam ambience. The crowd had all the elegance of Fitzgerald’s West Egg parties. Dandy dames and cigar-smoking big shots were there to be seen—and to make a statement. And that statement was: “Check out my flapper-finery…and pass the Templeton.”
The delicious fare was catered by Occasions Made Right. The Tiger tails, (spicy grilled shrimp) in creamy risotto were a special treat as was the Stam’s Italian gelato served up by Terri Keys. The wine was courtesy of Snus Hill (a Madrid winery) and beer compliments of Court Avenue Restaurant & Brewing Co. and Iowa Brewers Union (Home Brewing Club), which both provided some very interesting and tasty ales. Of course it wouldn’t be Gatsby Gala without Iowa’s most famous Prohibition-era whiskey: Templeton Rye, which was a secret ingredient in the signature “Blind Tiger” drink. (It may not blind you, but it will definitely impair your vision.) I couldn’t figure out the Blind Tiger role in the evening (but I kept an eye out for him) until I found out that in the 20s, there used to be a speakeasy named Blind Tiger in Des Moines. (Apparently, there were many terms like that were code words for bootleg bars!) Who knew?! The guys from “Boardwalk Empire” show I bet!
Later in the evening, Gina Gedler and the Ballyhoo Foxtrot band livened things up. IMHO (in my humble opinion), the music started a little late but it was great. My dancing partner, Tom McBride, and I tried to lure the crowd out on the dance floor with our Charleston and foxtrot and other curious gyrations, but they were a stubborn bunch and we pretty much had the dance floor to ourselves.
Diane and I left the party after a brief visit through the secret tunnels to the after-party; we had had more than our quota of fun. The Salisbury House is the perfect backdrop to bring back the golden age of the Roaring Twenties with their signature Gatsby Gala 2012. The co-chairs, Chad Alley and Liz Lidgett, committee members Liz Proctor, Natasha Ahmed and Libby Stanton, and so many others did a great job making this such a glamorous, stand-out event. It also doesn’t hurt to have a venue like the fabulous Salisbury House to work with—it’s an American castle just meant for a party like this.
Check out the photos here: http://mzwick.smugmug.com/Other/Salisbury-House-Gatsby-Gala/25280486_7mZ2R9#!i=2076685257&k=pPFF763