BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Nearly 800 guests transformed themselves into flappers and dappers for the Chicago History Museum’s sold out celebration, “The Last Speakeasy: On the Eve of the Repeal,” on December 1.
Held on the 83rd anniversary of the repeal, partygoers were transported back to the 1930s by the Prohibition Orchestra, Templeton Rye craft cocktails, and themed lectures across the Museum.
Marianne Ronquillo, one of Chicago’s top dancers who never misses the annual costume party, shared some of the festive details:
“Everyone is out dancing the Charleston, wearing the most terrific fringed and beaded costumes. Some men dress as gangsters while others have Fred Astaire canes and look very dashing. There are Suffragettes who march around the dance floors on both levels. The only restriction is ‘no feathers’—they cause havoc if they fly around in a museum. They even had the barrel bus, which gives speakeasy tours, parked out front for guests to inspect. It is always the greatest party.”
Guests tried novelty gaming tables and soaked up Chicago history provided by experts on the era. Historian and author Richard Lindberg, spoke on the gangs of Chicago. Joy Bivins, the History Museum’s director of curatorial affairs, related tales from the Chicago World’s Fair of 1933, and John Russick, the museum’s vice president of education and interpretation, lectured on the prohibition movement.
A 2016 revival of the era’s “Joe Sent Me” was a password-only access for VIPs to a private bar serving up specialized Templeton Rye cocktails and treats prepared by Spiaggia’s James Baird award-winning chef Tony Martuano, and its beverage director and Food & Wine 2016 Sommelier of the Year, Rachel Lowe.
Templeton Rye, the Lincoln Motor Company, Tasting Table, and Spiaggia sponsored the Speakeasy, helping add to the already-building anticipation for next winter’s event.
James Warden, Five Lake Arts