Don’t you know that there’s a war on, Gentle Reader?
Now, I’m not much for blind patriotism, despite the fact that Ex-Husband was an airman; I am huge on the Big Band era, however, and the costuming in general. Thus it was that when Miss Ward and I, co-chairs of the F.P.A., needed a summer theme for one of our fêtes, I suggested WWII. As Miss Ward was in a period of dress-making, she readily agreed. We shifted the date from summer solstice to Independence Day, and the Swingin’ Fourth Extravaganza was born.
Décor, food, and music, of course, were criminally easy to procure and set up for this event. Vintage Americana is still widely available, and as long as there are countries on this earth, there will be an abundance of bunting.
We arranged a bandstand in a borrowed backyard where we were holding the event. It came complete with Victory Garden and a “bombed out” shed. As this event was to remain strictly out-of-doors, we were enjoined to actually rent an outdoor toilet for this event. It was very glamorous.
Naturally, we arranged for photographs for all the young bucks leaving their brides behind for the war. Miss Ward and I are seen here; I will be gone by morning.
Our entertainments began with a swing-dance lesson. It went over reasonably well – if you’d like your guests to dance, always find someone to give a quick lesson. It encourages participation, makes your event vaguely educational, and is a hell of a lot of fun, even if you’re not very good at it.
After that, the celebrated DJ Tons-o-Fun played vintage tunes while people enjoyed our extraordinary barbecued buffet. Standard American fare; hamburgers, corn on the cob, baked potatoes of all sorts. Straying a little from period, we had a variety of Jell-O mold salads – the sort that grandmothers like to serve, with carrots, celery, raisins, and whipped cream in. Delish.
Before the sun set, we ran period-themed Karaoke – or we attempted to. Requests quickly went from “Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy” to things like “Lola” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which were clearly enjoyed by our boys as they liberated Paris. Still, the guests were having fun, and an impromptu chorus line formed on stage, which is all that really matters.
As the evening grew darker, we deployed our Cigarette-Girl, Miss K, to bring an extra period flare to the evening.
Meanwhile, S., our pyrotechnician, set up our glorious fireworks display in the area prepared for it. At a given cue, when the first went off, I alerted the guests to the fact that we were not actually under attack. They were not amused. S. sustained an injury during the fireworks, however, and that proves that we were under attack. Clearly.
The evening wound to its natural conclusion, as these things so often do. The guests departed in groups of two or three, and we basked in the knowledge of a job well done for a moment, before beginning the lengthy process of cleaning up.