Last night the basement of St. Mary’s Hall was transformed into a prohibition-era jazz club, with the help of a little mood lighting and Christmas lights hung throughout the room.
Jimenéz-Porter Writers’ House students dressed in outfits reminiscent of flapper fashion for the 1920s-themed Jazz Age/Harlem Renaissance party. A small ensemble of jazz musicians, formed by senior Garrett Gleason, performed live 1920s-style music for most of the evening.
Though the recently viral Harlem Shake Internet videos have already started to fade into obscurity, Writers’ House students celebrated the timeless style of the 1920’s with the party, dubbed the Harlem Renaissance Shake Party.
Writers’ House second-year students Sung-Min Kim and Hannah Strakna planned the event. Kim and Strakna are members of the Writers’ House’s “party people,” the student committee that works with program director Johnna Schmidt to plan special events for Writers’ House students.
Earlier in the semester Schmidt emailed the “party people” for event ideas. Strakna and Kim suggested a jazz-era party.
Strakna said she loved the idea of a party reminiscent of Jay Gatsby’s lavish house parties in “The Great Gatsby.” “I personally have always wanted to go to a 1920s themed party,” she said. The Roaring Twenties had a lot of interesting themes that could be brought to the event.
Because the 1920s was a time of prosperity, the zeitgeist of the twenties would be a great atmosphere for a party, according to Kim. They wanted a theme that was relatively easy to pull off and related to literature and writing.
Guests trickled in slowly as the band warmed up. First year Writers’ House student and member of Ballroom at Maryland sophomore Daniel Haller showed off some West Coast swing dance moves.
Though they blended in with the rest of the party-goers, a few special guests of the evening were incoming Writers’ House students for the fall 2013 semester. Kim said he hoped the party would provide a good first impression for the new students.
Charles Zhuang, a second-year Writers’ House student, said, “The best part was meeting the incoming Writers’ House students.”
As the night wore on, the party spilled out onto the St. Mary’s patio. Students snacked on cookies, fruit, veggies, hummus and cheese and crackers when taking a break from dancing. The band left around 9 p.m., at which point Kim took over as DJ. Before the end of the evening, he even played “Harlem Shake” by Bauuer, the song featured in the viral video craze.
Back in Dorchester, students raved about the party. Many praised the music, which Kim said had been Strakna’s idea.
Taí Coates, a first-year Writers’ House student, said, “Coming from someone who doesn’t go to parties, I really enjoyed it.”
View more photos of the party here.