The 1920’s was a kaleidoscope era of fashion, frivolity and social standing. If you were anybody, you were an alcoholic who essentially created all the rich traditions that the rich adhere to in this modern era. To try and control the masses, prohibition was introduced, where drugs and alcohol were banned from consumption/
When all fun things are banned, gangs and entrepenures of all types saw a chance for a big buck and speakeasy’s were introduced. It was a place where you could go and get illegal substances and forget about the harsh world outside.
1920’s parties are all the rage nowadays, with people hosting Great Gatsby get-togethers and Gangster and Doll parties. Even Burlesque and Cabaret themed celebrations are on the rise (my personal faves!). To try and breakaway from the Guys and Doll style of a 1920’s rager, you could go on the more secretive level and host a prohibition speakeasy style party instead.
Photo by At Home with Kim Vallee
Starting with the invitation you can set the secretive tone by sending out old school vintage style keys attached to a card with a secretive location on it. Guests will be thrilled to get something more than just your general paper invitations, and you can even come up with a secret code word on the invite for guests to quote when they get there!
Photo by barwhiz.com
Don’t forget to get someone “minding” the door, keeping cops and feds out and keeping the speakeasy theme rolling from the get go. If you have the oppertunity and the ability, do what they did at barwhiz.com and set up a secret panel for the bouncer to look out of and get guests to relay their codewords. You don’t want to let just anyone in!
Once the guests are in, if you want to make it like a real life speakeasy, do what they did here and cram into the room vintage red drapes, plants, cabaret lightbulb style lights (you can buy lightbulb style lights from stores like Typo) and fairy lights, a bar, comfortable couches and small round cocktail tables. Plush carpets and chandeliers gave the guests a more luxurious edge to the illegal hooch.
Speakeasys were generally hosted wherever there was a big enough venue that was on the down low, so they weren’t always the most spacious of rooms. This makes a great theme if you can’t afford a rather large venue! Fill it to the brim, and it will be very authentic.
Use smoke machines to simulate the cigarette smoke that would have no doubt filled up the area, and set up an area for bartenders and dancers. Get everyone there to appear in costume too! You can’t have a speakeasy theme without a bit of dress up too! Play some jazz music (or the Great Gatsby soundtrack) and you will have people hopping along like it was really the 1920’s!
Photo from Celebrations
Next comes the food! You simply must serve alcohol and other cocktails at this kind of party, or get mocktails in the same style to give it an authentic look. Things like Hooch, Bathtub Gin and Moonshine would be some of the fun names you could give to the alcohol (don’t forget to get labels on them!) and if you serve them in jam jars and mason jars they will have your guests feeling like they’ve just dipped their serve in the bathtub! Absinthe is also a very popular drink you can serve at your speakeasy themed party as well.
Some foods to serve are more vintage style foods, such as lace covered cupcakes, candy cigarettes, macaroons, grilled finger foods and crackers and dips. Delicious!
So there you have it! Your own spin on a Roaring 20’s style party that is sure to keep people whispering behind gloved hands and hand fans – for good reasons! If you host your own speakeasy, let me know and email me at email@example.com.