Other bookish fun

Throwing a 1920s speakeasy party

In honor of the Gatsby frenzy, I am going to share some secrets with you.

My roommate and I threw a speakeasy party at the end of the school year at our apartment.  To say it was a success would be a gross understatement.  It was the best party I’ve ever been to (at a very party-driven university, mind) and any party I will ever throw again will pale in comparison.  I thought I would share with you the secrets of achieving this triumph.

Nobody likes prohibition
Nobody likes prohibition

Here’s what you will need:

1. The decorations

We printed out a big stack of vintage posters and covered the walls with them.  We also found some lovely prohibition signs which we hung at the entrance (and defaced, cause, you know, fuck prohibition!)  These can be found on Google image search.  We also took some fabric my roommate had and made drapes over the windows, entry ways, and above the bar to give the apartment a darker, more elegant look.  Finally, twinkle lights.  We hung twinkle lights inside the apartment and on our balcony and turned off the rest of the lights to set the mood.

Do you know the password?
Do you know the password?

2. The music

We did not go all Baz Luhrmann anachronistic on this one.  For the music, I created a Pandora station called “Charleston Radio.”  I actually listened to it for a week prior to the event so that I could thumb songs up and down depending on whether they were the right kind of time period jazz for a speakeasy.  I know.  Dedication.  Also, make sure there is space for a dance floor, cause we did the Charleston allllll niiiiight! (I suggest you learn how to do the Charleston).

3. The drinks

We  printed up ingredient lists for a few different 1920s-themed cocktails and posted them up by the drinks so that people could make their own.  We had classic vodka martinis, bourbon sidecars, and Kentucky cocktails.   Other options were champagne (my drink of choice) and beer (cause, you know, we’re college students after all).

This is basically what our party looked like.
This is basically what our party looked like.

4. The entertainment

Aside from the dancing and the drinking, we also had a poker table, a roulette table, and a convenient balcony area for people who wanted a smoke.  Additionally, we had a pretty awesome photo booth with a jazzy backdrop and a bunch of cool props for people to wear and take photos with (including hats, boas, mustaches, bottles in paper bags, fake cigarettes with fake cigarette holders, beads, and playing cards). We had plans to do some jazz singing (both my roommate and I are theater nerds), but that didn’t happen, though we did have a fake microphone ready.  One guest got up and did some stand-up comedy which was pretty good (if my memory serves me correctly….)

Photo-booth. Identities disguised to protect the innocent. (Yes, the name of our apartment is Vault 713...)
Photo booth. Identities disguised to protect the innocent. (And yes, the name of our apartment is Vault 713…)


Not just anyone should be allowed access to your speakeasy.  There must be rules.  We created a private Facebook group for all of the people we wanted to invite, and discretely invited the members to an event within the group (remember to request proper attire!). On the page we posted the secret knock and password needed to enter the apartment.  We had a friend act as a bouncer while we hostesses greeted guests and hooked them up with our impromptu bartender, another obliging friend.  Upon arrival, guests were given a name-tag with an alias to go by the entire night; no real names were permitted, to protect the “innocent.”  Aliases ranged from names of real gangsters (Machine Gun Kelly) and fictional film crooks (Toothpick Charlie, Velma Kelly) to ridiculous sounding fake mob names (Giuseppe Slapnuts).

Net time we'll have fireworks
Next time we’ll have fireworks

6. The result

Mix all these things together with the right group of people and you will have one unforgettable night.  Everyone who came really got into it.  They dressed up, they used the aliases (some of them now sticking as permanent nicknames *cough*Slapnuts*cough*), everyone’s profile pictures changed to photos from our event, and they all got home safely on foot without any tragic accidents (too soon?).  Yeah, we were pretty damn proud of ourselves.  I think Jay Gatsby would be, too…


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