Charleston · Film

Who Wants to Visit the Roaring 20s?

Hotel del Coronado, 1925.
Hotel del Coronado, 1925.

This blog post was not inspired by Midnight in Paris, just to be clear. Instead, this blog post was inspired by San Diego and the Hotel del Coronado. I’ve decided I want to take a trip to the Roaring Twenties and live there for nine years—you know, right before everything went to hell when the market crashed in ’29.

The Hotel del Coronado (famous for the exterior beach scenes in the classic film, Some Like It Hot) was a very pleasant part of last week’s visit to San Diego and the nearby Coronado Island, where I had the chance to freeze my feet off in the ocean and see dolphins. I also admired the hotel: a 125-year-old architectural monster filled with crystal chandeliers, dark wood décor, and 1920s jazz music.

Although the hotel made me happy, it also made me sad. Let’s face it: I don’t always like Phoenix. Phoenix considers architecture from 1970 to be “historic,” and after living in Charleston, South Carolina, I have to tell you people, there is nothing historic about the 1970s. Phoenix is shiny and new, and I do have a place in my heart for skull décor and wild graffiti.

COCKTAILflapper2However, San Diego made me realize how much I miss walking the streets of Charleston, surrounded by flickering gas lamps, ivy that’s older than me, and houses that were around during the Civil War.

My need to time travel is more than just architectural. I did love the film Midnight in Paris, because not only did it embrace one of my favorite cities, but the movie embraced a golden culture and a specific time: the “Roaring Twenties,” what the French dubbed “The Crazy Years.” It was the era of jazz music, flappers, and the right for women to vote.

I adore jazz music. As you know, I’ve recently developed a girl-crush on Melody Gardot. Then, on the drive home from San Diego, Pandora showed me Koop and Devil Doll: two other modernized jazz/burlesque groups. Most modern music blows. The stuff you hear on the radio is crap. I’d much rather be enveloped by the trumpet of Louis Armstrong or the quavering alto of Billie Holiday.

cyd-charisse-fred-astaire-the-band-wagon1Then, there’s the fashion. Oh, the flapper gowns! And feathers! If I lived in the Roaring 20s, I could wear feathers—feathers everywhere—and people would think I was cool, not a Big Bird wannabe.

Plus, let’s not forget: in the twenties, men used to wear suits. Sleek, stylish, expensive suits every single day. I love men in suits, but unfortunately nowadays, most men only wear suits when going to weddings or funerals. Imagine Jake in a suit every day. Glorious!

Let us also bask in the decadence. Not only would I fully be expected to swing dance and bust out the Charleston at all hours of the night, but I could get away with slurpin’ whiskey and smoking cigarettes out of a big, ivory cigarette holder. There would be no Non-Smoking sections. I wouldn’t be a pariah for the occasional coffin nail; the behavior would be expected. Okay, so this isn’t the healthiest reason to go back in time, but hell, I feel like we’re all too damn worried about vitamins and vegetables nowadays. Wouldn’t it be nice to be bad for a little while?

I guess we all have an era: a time when we believe we were supposed to be born. My brother, for instance, would have been perfect in the 60s. Jake would have been happy dancing to Hall & Oates in the 80s. I think I would have enjoyed the 1920s. I miss old things, old places, which were easy to find around every corner in Charleston. I love 20s fashion. I love jazz. Literally, of course, I can’t go back and dance with the flappers. However, maybe I’ll start wearing feathers more often. I can easily add some flapper-esque attire to my wardrobe. I can lock myself in my house and listen to the music I like. And I can visit places like Hotel del Coronado—places that make me feel like, yes, I am home.