The spirit of 1920’s Prohibition swept through Downton on Saturday. The Memorial Hall was transformed into a speakeasy rivalling Fat Sam’s Grand Slam; with black, white and gold Art Deco trim and glamorous table decorations sourced by Courtney Spence. The stage boasted a silver screen on which projectionist, Jeremy Parsons, showed a rolling programme of 1920s silent classics, a fitting backdrop for the 100 guests clad in 1920s gladrags: Bonnie and Clyde rubbing shoulders with Al Capone and Gatsby.
Live music was provided by Suite Jazz who serenaded the guests at dinner; sultry vocals provided by Anwen Howells and Trelawny Rogers. The themed feast included: devilled eggs; locally sourced Boeuf au Vin Rouge and fruit tartes with Chantilly creme. Thanks go to Head Chefs, Caroline Bromilow (of Downton’s Borough Café) and Jules Osmond. As the courses were cleared the barber shop quartet, Barber#, cracked through their set with silky crooning: ‘Tootsie’; Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby’ and ‘Someone to Watch Over You’.
The pace picked up after dinner. Waitresses became the Grand Slam Charleston dancers: a line-up of sequined skirts and high kicks, keeping perfect time with the growing tempo. Flappers and their partners left their tables and took to the floor. All reminiscent of a scene from The Great Gatsby!
The party was in full swing when the local US Police Department arrived: whistles blowing and truncheons drawn. The lights came up and the music died as blue-shirted officers searched the room for Event Organiser and Band Leader, Paul Borrelli. He was last seen high-tailing it out of the venue.
Fortunately no arrests ensued and the guests evaporated to after-parties elsewhere.
Prohibition aside – great local worthy causes, the Downton Memorial Hall and the Downton Moot will benefit from Paul Borrelli’s Suite Jazz evening, possibly the last of the like for a while!