On a warm September evening, I stepped off the sidewalk on Second Street and into the 1920s. Dixieland Jazz filled the air, guests in period dress filled the garden, and—perhaps most importantly—a sharply dressed server handed me a glass filled with champagne.  Thus armed, I made my way up the steps to join the party inside the De Rosset house proper.

The annual Great Gatsby Gala is the largest event hosted by the City Club of Wilmington. Inspired, in part, by the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the party channels the spirit of the Roaring Twenties with period cocktails, costumed guests, and live entertainment. And the club’s members and guests embraced it fully.  The house resounded with the clink of glasses, gloriously energetic jazz, and laughter.  I found myself enthusiastically greeting complete strangers, laughing at corny old jokes, and making my way further into the building.

My press credentials got me into the speakeasy—and no, I won’t tell you where it is.  Greg Matheson, bartender extraordinaire, greeted me with his trademark style and a fresh cocktail. We chatted about the Prohibition era bartending and the party itself while guests milled about.  The highlight of the speakeasy experience was, of course, the burlesque show.  I’ll spare you the details—if you were there, you know—but a beautiful dancer performed a classy, racy routine in the spirit of the occasion.

Dancing of a different kind took place in the main room of the house, as couples jitterbugged their way across the floor to the living music which marked the affair.   I shared a quick drink with Jonathan Weiss, the owner of City Club and a consummate host.  We both agreed that the evening could have gone on forever.

Sadly though, reality returned, the music went silent, and we reluctantly returned to a world of 24 hour news and smart phones.  During the long walk back to the 21st century, I consoled myself with the thought that there would be another Gala next year.

Take a peak at the highlight video below and see you next year!

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