When it comes to retro, the ’50s has always been one of the coolest eras. Yes, the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s can be oh-so-glamorous, but things started to really shake, rattle and roll when Chuck Berry, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Marlon Brandon and Marilyn Monroe stormed onto the scene. Who doesn’t love hot dudes in tailored business suits, petticoated circle skirts, tight sweaters, sexy, slicked-back pompadours, pointy spike heels and leather jackets?
That’s why I cruised uptown to Morningside Castle for the Enchantment Under the Sea party, designed to replicate a senior prom from 1955. Thanks to being a freak in high school, I never went to my own prom— now I could finally twist the night away.
For those of you who’ve never been, Dances of Vice is a peripatetic costume ball for those who love elegant vintage wear and music from the past. This was their fourth anniversary, and welcoming us all in a mint taffeta dress was Shien Lee, elegant creator of the regular nightlife event that attracts vintage wear aficionados with a love for the past.
“How in the world did you get this great venue?” I asked her. The Gothic-style “castle” belongs to Union Theological Seminary, so enchantment was definitely in the air. As I walked in, Matthew Piazzi and the Debonairs were playing some atmospheric 1950s swing music.
The title Enchantment Under the Sea was lifted from the famous scene in Back to the Future in which Marty McFly’s parents exchange their first kiss while he plays Hendrix riffs and smashes his guitar for the stupefied bobbysocker teens. The blue-and-white-streamer-festooned room looked like it was peopled by the cast of Mad Men clad in brocaded party frocks, gloves, wide ties, sharkskin suits and twirling girls flung around by their dates.
DJ Michael T looked snazzy as a hep cat in cream suspenders, pink-and-white striped shirt and blond rockabilly ‘do. “Hey, lady in orange!” I called after a willowy, bespectacled woman mounting the staircase wearing a sherbet-colored dress so lovely I just had to take a picture. I discovered it was party thrower Larisa Fuchs, the Miss Scorpio of the Gemini & Scorpio events.
As the dreamy night came to a close, I ran into Remi Pann, an acquaintance who was heading over to Long Island City for Night Swimming at The Palms, a bash held in dumpster pools with party entrepreneur Kevin Balktick. And they had wheels!
But before we could burn some rubber, we were off to a rocky start.
“The tire’s flat!” he exclaimed. After waiting for AAA to show up, I decided to buzz off. Unlike my tortured prom years, I suddenly realized I didn’t need a partner to boogie. I had nothing to lose. I’d go dancing with myself.
Tags: dances of vice, DJ Michael T, Enchantment Under the Sea, Enchantment Under the Sea party, Matthew Piazza and the Debonairs, Morningside Castle, Morningside Heights, retro, Shien Lee, Union Theological Seminary, Upper West Side