The Gatsby Gala at the Wilmington City Club

If time would lend me only one enchanted evening, I would step back into the Roaring Twenties, the Jazz Age of flappers and speakeasies, back when the country looked forward with hope and giddy expectation. The Great War was finally over and we were getting our legs back. Oh boy, were we. The Charleston, the Black Bottom, and a dance so naughty it had to be banned, the Shimmy. Sure, booze was illegal, but that was really only a suggestion.  I would attend one of Jay Gatsby’s extravagant parties in a pinstriped suit and gold tipped walking stick and listen to the soft laughter of women spilling into the champagne night. I can almost imagine I’m there.The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names.”   

Can’t repeat the past?…Why of course you can!” – Jay Gatsby

A shining motor car comes over the hill with tipsy guests throwing confetti into the evening sky to mix with the stars.  And from the mansion come waves of sweet jazz swimming in the liquid night. It is as if spring had finally arrived after a long, dark and cold winter. Bones begin to thaw. The music gets faster and the skirts shorter. Women cast off corsets and bob their hair. There is a new naughty mischievousness in the air. The orchestra finishes “Let’s Misbehave” and launches into “Crazy Rhythm.” Languid women drape themselves poolside; others sway, shimmy, and kick up their heels to the sounds of saxophones, trumpets, and trombones. It’s a wild whoopee and a swirl of sequins, silk, feathers, and diamond tiaras. Everybody’s dancing on happy feet like it’s the end of the world. Or the beginning! In a private enclave, Louise Brooks and Clara Bow look-alikes chat each other up like school girls, while Josephine Baker moves slowly through a swell of well-wishers like a sensual panther. “She’s the bee’s knees” (the best). Across the frolic pad (dance floor) men in ivory linen suits, with white and grey two tone shoes, quaff Mint Juleps and Manhattans. Huddled around a mahogany bar the posse’s burning a blue flame (drunk). One zozzled (drunk) egg (man) says to the other, “I was at the petting pantry (movie theater) with this doll, a choice bit of calico (pretty woman), and the Little Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) does his funny walk, sits down, and chews on his shoe!” “Horsefeathers,” says the other. “Tell it to Sweeney” (believing something to be untrue).

Yes, if time would only lend me a certain evening. To have attended just one of those parties would have been the cat’s meow! Alas, the invention of the time machine is still a few years in the future, but I can suggest the next best thing: the City Club of Wilmington’s 7th annual GREAT GATSBY GALA!  With glitz and glamour galore, this is one bee’s knees soiree that you just don’t want to miss. The whole joie de vivre of the Jazz Age comes reeling back with flair and sophisticated high jinxes.  Guests dress in true Roaring 20’s elegance, sip Prohibition era cocktails, and dance themselves silly doing the Fox Trot and Charleston. After savoring an incredibly choice meal, they can enjoy a burlesque show in the speakeasy, compete for best-dressed prizes, or just groove to the live jazz.  Gatsby himself would approve of the setting for it couldn’t be more perfect. Festivities commence at the home of the City Club of Wilmington, the stunningly beautiful de Rosset house, an antebellum mansion surrounded by terraced gardens and red brick walkways. This is the place, old sport, where it all happens. But decadence aside, the gala’s for a good cause. A sizeable portion of the proceeds goes to the City Club Foundation for promoting volunteerism and charitable work in the community.

To attend this year’s event you must become a member of the Wilmington City Club, but believe me, this is one club you definitely want to join. The benefits far outweigh the reasonable initiation fee and dues. The exquisite food alone will make the de Rosset mansion your home away from home. Relax on the expansive front porch and enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail or postprandial. Members enjoy both fine and casual dining, prepared and presented with the highest standards. Let yourself slip into decadence:  spicy Ahi tuna wraps, to die for Lobster Mac and Cheese, Chicken Carbonara with smoked pork shoulder bacon, or perfectly pan seared scallops with a zest of Yuzu Dragon. The service is exceptional, professional, and smoothed over with Southern charm: There’s never a wait. Only anticipation. And for the savvy oenophile, the club offers a monthly wine gathering where you’ll sip varietals carefully selected by the expert staff and paired with foods to pamper the palate. The perks of membership keep flowing: frequent socials to schmooze and network with the people you need to know. Members may also host private or business parties, birthdays, retirements, wedding receptions, and rehearsal dinners. Other member offerings include annual events: Thanksgiving Buffet, Valentine’s Dinner, and Brunch with Santa. The Triangle Society offers a personal concierge service and the Preferred Partner Program provides opportunities for sponsorship and exceptional exposure for your business. As a member with the City Club, your ties are long lasting and far reaching- to over fifty reciprocal clubs nationwide that offer the same elite amenities and standards.

Don’t be a wet blanket. Get on the City Club of Wilmington’s website and become a member. See you at the Gatsby Gala and we’ll cut a rug.


Written by Doug Franks | Photography provided by The City Club

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