The Chelsea's fifth floor will be transformed into a modern-day speakeasy, celebrating the 91st birthday of the onset of Prohibition.
Doing things you shouldn’t do can create a strong sense of excitement — especially when you get away with it — and that’s perhaps how it was when Prohibition was in effect. That 13-year period when alcohol was outlawed in the United States, 1920 to 1933, probably made the parties at the speakeasies, and places where bootlegged booze flowed freely, even more fun than after the law got repealed.
This Saturday night, Jan. 15, you can get a taste for what that era might have been like at the Chelsea hotel. CJM’s Enterprise Ltd., the father and son entrepreneurial team of Michael and Cyprian Jennetta that created the MissInkAmerica.com pageant, will host a retro cocktail party to celebrate the 91st birthday of the start of Prohibition, which officially took effect at midnight, Jan. 16, 1920.
An authentic, Prohibition-era atmosphere will be replicated, reminiscent of the time when Nucky Johnson ruled Atlantic City and Al Capone’s reign over the underworld was in its infancy. Those in attendance are encouraged to dress the part, and prizes will be awarded for the best-dressed male and female guests. The party will also include a gala red-carpet entry, dark liquor specials, old-fashioned photo ops, and will segue into the Chelsea’s regular Saturday night dance party at the C5 nightclub.
“Personally I don’t watch a lot of TV and haven’t really gotten hooked on the show [HBO’s Boardwalk Empire], but my dad and others have been talking about how cool it is, and I love the fact that it’s having an impact on putting a national spotlight back on the city and helping to bring it at least a little bit of positive national attention,” says Cyprian Jennetta.
“We’re going to keep [the party] simple — guys dressed up in their gangster suits and fedoras, and girls dressed as flappers in their best ’20s getup, and it’s going to be a social mingle that turns into a dance party later in the night when [Chelsea’s nightlife manager] CJ opens up the nightclub. So our guests will have the option of either mingling in one of the separate rooms at the Chelsea or heading out to the dance floor, or going back and forth and maybe switching speeds a little bit.”
The party will feature live, era-apropos music, and guests will include “Inkmates” — past and future MissInkAmerica.com pageant contestants. The 2011 MissInkAmerica.com pageant is slated for Sept. 10 (or 9/10/11) at the House of Blues, and will again highlight attractive women sporting body art and vying for the title of MissInkAmerica.com. Since it started three years ago, the MissInkAmerica pageant is structured similar to the Miss America pageant. Its purpose is to “encourage tolerance before forming an opinion,” primarily where it applies to acceptance of women with tattoos and body art. Prior to the party’s start, there will be a casting call for any women interested in participating in the pageant from 8-9pm at the Chelsea.
“It’s going to be a good night,” says Jennetta. “It’ll be something different. Instead of going into a loud club where it’s hard to talk, you can come in and mingle, meet people, network a little bit, and then maybe hit the dance floor a little later.”
“The Chelsea feels it’s the perfect Prohibition-party fit, as its design harkens back to an earlier, classic era,” says Patrick Logue, general manager of the Chelsea. “This is a fun concept for Atlantic City, as the spirit of Prohibition — the teetotalers — and A.C. are the height of irony, as A.C. is the quintessential party town.
“This concept party is exactly the type of special event all of Atlantic City can embrace, accentuating the fun and creativity of a Prohibition party with booze, not tea, amongst the backdrop of A.C.’s dynamic entertainment scene — including gaming, of course,” adds Logue. “Visitors to A.C. increasingly long for special-event driven programming and concerts to participate in as a unique seashore amenity, and as part of the overall Atlantic City experience, knowing that gaming is now omnipresent.”
Prohibition Cocktail Party
Where: The Chelsea, Atlantic City
When: Saturday, Jan. 15, 9pm
How Much: $10 (free admission flyers at Tony Boloney’s)
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Esteemed filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick explore America’s greatest social experiment in their latest documentary, Prohibition, set to debut Oct. 2-4 at 8pm on PBS. The three-part miniseries follows the rise and fall of the 18th amendment and the era that encompassed its rule.
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Life After Jimmy