Monday, May 16, 2011

Sew What?! Avalon Ahoy!

I always find it slightly amusing when bloggers apologize to their readers for an extended absence from the "blogosphere."  I wonder if readers are actually disappointed when a blog that they follow has not offered a new post in timely manner.  Don't get me wrong, I am surprised and delighted that anyone would take time to read about the mostly-ridiculous things that I find interesting.  I truly appreciate all 34 of you loyal denizens of wacky tacky-ness.  I can just imagine you with sunken eyes and tear-stained cheeks sitting for hours - nay, days - in a dark room lit only by the radiant glow of your computer monitor, the onset of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome imminent and finger tips raw from the incessant clicking of  the refresh button just praying that another episode of wacky tacky splendor will suddenly appear.  Wait no longer dear friends.  Splash some water on your face and rejoice!  Oh, who am I kidding?  Be honest, you didn't even know I was gone.  I wish I could explain away the absence with the fact that Blogger went haywire for a time, but truth be told, I barely noticed.  I was just busy, busy, busy.

A 40's-era picture of the world-famous Avalon Ballroom in the Casino on Catalina Island.
Thankfully, the ballroom has changed very little since its opening in the late 1920's.

The Avalon Ball is hosted be The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles
and spearheaded by Annamarie Von Firley of reVamp Vintage Clothing.

Every year we attend The Avalon Ball, a 1930's-themed event held in the breathtakingly-beautiful Casino Ballroom on Catalina Island.  It is an event for which I wait with proverbial, bated breath all year.  It is kind of the art deco answer to Viva Las Vegas - a trekkie convention for the "vintage" set.  It is also an event for which I make a regular goal of creating a whole "weekend wardrobe" for Mary.  This year I did it by the skin of my teeth and that is the real reason I have not been blogging.  Not only have I been sewing non-stop, but I have been sewing NON-STOP!!!!, leaving precious little time for blog-worthy adventures.  Maybe one day, I will make some friends my own age, but until then, Mary will have to suffice.

Shorts, peasant blouse, basket purse and daisy topper handmade by Mr. Tiny.
Bangles - vintage
Sunglasses, belt, espadrilles - new 

30's-style, two-piece, cotton beach pyjamas with peplum and self sash handmade by Mr. Tiny.
Sunglasses and bangle - vintage
Beret and espadrilles - new

30's style evening gown in green, moire taffeta with self belt handmade by Mr. Tiny
Rhinestone belt buckle, Persian Lamb capelet - vintage
Rhinestone jewelry - vintage/new

3-piece cotton playsuit consisting of top, skirt and shorts handmade by Mr. Tiny
Straw sun hat, sunglasses, bangles - vintage
Platform shoes - reproduction
My Great-Aunt Billie was a renaissance woman of the highest order.  Growing up in the 20's and 30's she took an interest in nature, fashion, photography, cooking, athletics, sewing, animals, fishing, dancing and every other endeavor that tickled her fancy.  Until the time of her death, she continued to win gold medals for swimming at the Senior Olympics - in nearly every single event she entered.  Everyone in my family feels a personal connection to her because she invested her time in creating a relationship with each of us.  Unlike some seniors, she didn't constantly rattle off recollections of her youth because she was still so actively engaged in the present.  When asked, however, she would share stories of her great adventures.  My favorites, of course, were the ones that included her treks to Catalina Island.  She remembered driving from San Bernardino to the shore and catching the barge that would carry huge numbers of people over to the island for dances at the Casino Ballroom.  For the two-to-three-hour voyage they would dance.  Once docked in Avalon Harbor, they would dance to the ballroom.  After dancing all night to the likes of Bob Crosby and Benny Goodman, they would dance on the barge all the way back home.

Billie by the shore in the early 1940's

I love Avalon!  I love it because for the most part it is stuck in time.  Many of the hotels date from the early 20th Century.  The town is small and wherever you find yourself, you are really just a ten-minute walk from everywhere else.  There is little to do so I end up doing very little.  It is a wonderful place to unwind.  Our activities are limited to lolling around, attending the silent film at the amazing, art deco gem The Avalon Theatre, going to the dance and enjoying the weather.

The iconic Casino building - home of the theater and the ballroom
This is one of our favorite places in Southern California

The entry to the theater is lined with exquisite tile murals of marine life
and beautiful hanging chandeliers. 

A deco Venus watches over the interior of this incredible movie palace.
Stunning murals surround theater goers as gold-leafed stars
twinkle in the domed ceiling.  

We attended a screening of The Sea Hawk (1924) as part of The Catalina Island Museum's annual Silent Film Benefit.

The film was accompanied by renowned theater organist Bob Salisbury, who let Mary play the original Page theater organ.

At the ball we saw many friends and ended up meeting some great new friends too.  We always make a point of sneaking around the Casino building and we ended up finding some crazy areas that we had never seen before.  We found the projection room for the theater, hidden stairways, storage areas, and spooky switchback hallways.

Kazumi, Nicole and Mary

Kazumi, Charlotte, John and Mary

Would I trade Mary for that rattan sofa we found in the dressing room?  YES!

Who knew that pointing at oversized birds was such a problem in Avalon?

Mary always makes time for an anatomy lesson.

The following day we enjoyed a beach party at The Descanso Beach Club and the management turned on music for our dancing pleasure.  What a blast!

Mr. Muscles Damian and Mary by the sea

Dancing in paradise
photo by Chantal Filson

Ukulele Lady
Last but not least, a film of Catalina in the 30's.  This video is a long one but totally worth the buffering!

It was a great weekend that flew by much too quickly.  Long story short, if you have the opportunity to go to Catalina Island, go!


Mr. Tiny

1 comment:

  1. Great blog. Always fun to see the outfits and always wonderful to read about Aunt Billie...such an inspiration for life. Thanks for putting in the time and effort to make great memories for all of us.