In the unlikely event that the Mayan calendar was inaccurate and you, in fact, are on the hook for a New Year’s Eve party dress after all (Editor’s note: It was, and you are.) why not make it a vintage one? Uptown Kingston will be welcoming Jan. 1, 2013 as it did Jan. 1, 1913 — in corsets, capes and spats.
The evening, centered around Backstage Productions on Wall Street but encompassing much of Uptown, will include oldies-but-goodies such as vaudeville and burlesque performances, pre-Prohibition-style cocktails and era-specific menus culminating to a good, old-fashioned ball drop on Wall Street. Patrons will also enjoy roaming street performers, a vintage photo booth and an authentic newspaper reprint as well.
As Americans prepared to welcome 1913, the nation, booming from a period of unprecedented (albeit unbalanced) growth, was just about to step into its seat as world leader. Increased immigration, rising poverty, labor and monopoly battles as well as work safety and child labor problems, dominated the news, as did the looming tensions that would soon explode into World War I. According to the 1910 census, the American population was only 92,228,496 — less than a third of what it is today. The average life expectancy for men was 48.4 years; for women, it was 51.8. The average salary earnings were $750 per year. Some 2,150,000 Americans were unemployed, in a time where there wasn’t much of a safety net for the out-of-work. Our National Debt was $1.15 billion, there were 76 (reported) lynchings, one out of 1,000 marriages resulted in a divorce, whiskey only set you back $3.50 per gallon and milk was 32 cents per gallon. Ballroom dancing, labor unions, mass-produced cars and women’s suffrage were all emerging in American culture. Locally, though, people were bullish on Kingston’s future — later that year, the local chamber of commerce released a brochure trumpeting the city as a city of “industrial pride and civic growth.”
In the effort to simulate the Kingston of 100 years ago, Rondout’s At Home Antiques store owner Rebekah Milne will, when BSP opens up at 7 p.m., be transforming the front lounge and private burlesque room there into authentically century-old suites, including a piece or two Standard Furniture pieces from the original former Standard Furniture Warehouse. After 9 p.m., BSP will charge a $10 cover for (adults 18 and over!) There will also be a swing band and a DJ after midnight.
“Though I’ve been working at BSP Lounge for close to a year, I just moved into the neighborhood itself in September … I fell even more in love with the historic buildings and architecture, and often found myself wondering what the neighborhood was like 50, 100 or 200 years ago,” said event coordinator Michael Amari of BSP. “I have not seen an event like this in our area in the last couple years, but I am definitely inspired by the neighborhood-wide ‘vibe’ of O-Positive festival and the Wall Street Jazz Festival.”
Boitson’s on North Front Street will have a special Edwardian-era dinner and cocktail menu which includes beef consommé, oysters, hogshead cheese, blinis and caviar, walnut and grapefruit salad, pan-roasted squab, bacon-and-apricot stuffed lamb breast and pork tenderloin Lyonnaise. Drinkers and diners will be treated to sounds from 1912 converted from ancient 78 rpm records.
Duo Bistro on John Street will offer “era-friendly” menu items. Along the theme of “Duo,” the bistro will also host Kingston’s own talented husband-wife duo, Rebecca Martin and Larry Grenadier, performing jazz and folk standards at 10 p.m. After the stroke of midnight, Duo will begin serving breakfast.
The Stockade Tavern on Fair Street has their pre-Prohibition regular drinks menu as well as special cocktail blends especially shaken for the New Year. Their menu offers not-oft-seen specialty cocktails based on classic American spirits with egg-white fizzes, bitters, house-made ginger beer, simple syrup, fresh juices and other ingredients of yore. Caprice Rouge (formerly the Pamelech Klezmer Orkester) will be performing at 9 p.m.
Since all patrons will be offered special deals and discounts in the event they come in period-appropriate attire, the composition of one’s outfit bears serious consideration. Henrietta Goveia of Vintage Clothing Out of the Past on Wall Street said 1913 is not so easy to find duds for, considering it’s sandwiched between the Victorian era and the “Roaring 20s.” Goveia said you could go with a long, crisp-white, cotton, proper Victorian frock just as easily as a flapper’s fringed, beaded and feathered drop-waist job. As women moved closer to being able to vote, they also sought to shirk the corset in favor of more comfortable clothing. Fabrics became lighter, colors brighter and styles loosened up from a formally constricting approach. Fur coats, wraps and accessories increased in popularity. Necklines even got lower. The sack, the sheath, oriental costumes, harem trousers and the Hellenic tunic all came into daily view, including a view of (gasp!) ankles.