OAKLAND: The Art Deco Society of California hosted an evening of Tango-inspired flare in the style of Buenos Aires on Saturday evening. The Art Deco Society’s annual grand gala and Preservation Ball is a celebration of the architecture, design, art, fashion, music and all things from the Art Deco era (1920s-1940s.)
This year the event was once again held at the Bellevue Club in Oakland with the theme “A Night in Buenos Aires – the City of Tango.”
The Art Deco Society of California (ADSC) is headquartered In Oakland and makes their home in the stunning Bellevue House. ADSC’s mission is to carry on the spirit of an incredible time in history. Preserving the sights, sounds, activities, and tastes of this distinctive era.
The exquisite Bellevue Club sits right on the water affixed to Lake Merritt, providing breathtaking views from every floor. Immediately guests take note of the design details of the building: the light fixtures, the crown molding, the archways, and the handrails going up the stairs leading to the party.
Dressing the Part
All the guests wear their very best Art Deco attire. The gentlemen wear tuxedos, top hats and cufflinks and the ladies don their best gowns and dancing shoes. Attendees truly have the sense that they’ve gone back in time. As if by crossing the threshold to the Bellevue Club, they’ve walked through a time portal.
This is no costume ball.
These are era-specific gowns, shoes, handbags and oh the jewelry and hair accessories! Vibrant colors, sparkling gems, wispy feathers and ornate handbags were the stars of the evening.
A Night in Buenos Aires – The Gala
With a glass of champagne in hand, guests stroll through the 2-level party. There is a silent auction to the left, featuring items such as 1920s furniture, advertising, barware, and fashion items. To the right is a grand room with towering ceilings, magnificent chandeliers, windows that stretch to the ceiling with views of Lake Merritt and a Hearst-like fireplace at the center.
Around the corner is the main ballroom.
Buenos Aires comes to life!
The Don Neely Royal Society Jazz Orchestra is sounding in perfect pitch.
The dance floor is abuzz with not only the Tango but the Charleston, the Waltz, the Lindy Hop (Jitterbug), The Rumba, the Samba, Foxtrot and Swing.
At a time when old Hollywood performers like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were hypnotizing us with their dazzling footwork, dance and film were quickly embraced as a welcome getaway from troubling times in the 1930s.
And soon after Latin dancing made its way into the big bands set list and into the fleet feet of Americans. Carmen Miranda Chica Chica Boomed her way through Hollywood and the Silver Screen and these dances quickly found their way to dance floors all around the country.
At the gala, the dance floor is bulging at the seams throughout the evening.
Dancers range in age from 25 to 95 as they prance around the dance floor until the band plays its final note.
Upstairs there is a much smaller room, but no less grand, and no less packed. There, a smaller band plays, mostly South American inspired tunes, as guests tightly clasp hands of their partners and dramatically play out the Tango.
In this room, there were real professional-looking dancers. Tell Dancing With The Stars that we’ve found their next contestants!
Finally, the evening comes to a close.
The auction bidders collect their spoils, the band plays its final song and the guests drink their last drink. This ends another successful preservation ball for the Art Deco Society of California.
Up next is their annual Gatsby Summer Afternoon, taking place on September 8th, 2019 at the Dunsmuir Hellman Estate in Oakland.
For information on joining the Art Deco Society of California, the awards given at the gala or about their upcoming events, please visit their website.
“Our awards this year are celebrating the theme of travel, an important aspect of the Art Deco era, where some of the architectural motifs denote movement or speed, and innovations such as air travel and the boom in radio opened up more and more of the world,” said Therese Poletti, ADSC Preservation Director.
A few standouts from the awards presentation include:
- Art Deco Technology Award: Radio in the Art Deco era
Joint award to California Historical Radio Society, a 43-year old non-profit in Alameda and to Craig Roberts, Swing Street Radio, Host & Producer, and long-time ADSC emcee and radio collector.
- Li Po Cocktail Lounge, San Francisco, 1937. The restoration of its neon sign, funded by SF Shines, a program of the City of San Francisco.
- USS Potomac, Oakland, 1936: Restoration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Floating White House, by the Potomac Association.
- Michael F. Crowe Award: Imperial Western Beer Company / Streamliner Bar – Union Station, Los Angeles, 1939. Restoration of the former Fred Harvey Restaurant and bar at Union Station.
About the Bellevue Club
The Bellevue Cub was originally the Women’s Athletic Club of Alameda County, 1926.
The building was modeled on a “perfect French design of the Louis XIV and XV periods,” with the interior decorations inspired by Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon.
When its doors finally opened in 1929, members enjoyed activities ranging from swimming to fashion shows, to movie nights, and even classes such as ‘French Posture’ and ‘Creative Dancing.’
In the 1960s the club voted to admit men to its membership and changed its name to the Bellevue Club. Today, the Bellevue Club is one of the anchors of the Bellevue-Staten Historic Preservation District. The club is on both California’s and the National Register of Historic Places.
The Club received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Art Deco Society for stewardship and preservation in 2018.
About the Art Deco Society of California
The Art Deco Society of California (ADSC) was founded in 1981 by architectural historian Michael Crowe and other preservationists in the San Francisco Bay Area. They are a not-for-profit membership organization.
Art Deco Preservation Awards are presented annually. Their goals are to increase public awareness of the Art Deco era. They work through the preservation and promotion of its art, architecture, music, design, and other forms of popular culture.