Friday, December 3, 2010

The Salon's New Year's Eve Eve - A Lounge and Swing Tradition

In December of 1999, swing music promoter "Lo-Fi" Lee Sobel threw a legendary party at New York's Webster Hall. The date was Dec 30th, two days for the beginning of a new decade, and it seemed like the whole city packed the historic ballroom in their best 1940s attire. He dubbed it the "New Year's Eve Eve Swing Ball."

In later years, Lee kept the party going at the gorgeous art deco Supper Club ballroom and it typically featured as many bands as there were bars, on two floors and multiple rooms. New Year' Eve Eve became the scene's must attend event. It was a time when retro/vintage culture aficionados, loungers, swing dancers, rockabilly scenesters, and everyone in between put on their finest duds and reconnected before the New Year. 

It also turned into a real money maker for Lee's production company because it was regarded a special holiday gathering for everyone in the community. People who never went out made it a point to attend the Swing Ball. However, as the retro scene splintered and evolved, the Swing Balls came to an end.

We caught up with Lee recently and he was pleased to see the tradition continuing. I asked him what prompted him to choose NYEE as the night to stage such a party instead of New Year's Eve.
 "It's cheaper to rent a venue the night before NYE when the clubs clean up and expect to make the most money for any single night. They generally don't have anything booked the night before because 'mainstream' people shoot their wad on NYE and don't usually go out the night before."
The event may have been born from convenience and an eye on keeping costs low, but ten years later, it has become much more.

Lo-Fi Lee is currently working on a book about the retro movement of the 90's which bubbled up from several scenes including lounge, ska and rockabilly - the pinnacle of this was the swing scene which brought the music, cocktails, dressing up, and dancing together into one beautiful package and was embraced by the mainstream for a few years before we turned the corner on the new millennium. 

The Salon, a party instigated by brothers Patrick and Andre Soluri picked up the New Year's Eve Eve mantle in 2006 throwing a dazzling fete on the west side that featured the Todd Londnigan Big Band, belly dancing, burlesque, and a farewell toast to the lounge website. It was to be the last party for a while until the brothers joined forces with former Piano Store producers Prohibition productions and Loungerati to resurrected the event in 2009. What followed was the year's best attended party that packed two floors of the iconic Players Club on Gramercy Park.  
"We are not line around the block type people." exclaimed Andre when he surveyed the hundreds queuing up to get into the historic mansion. The line wrapped around the block to Park Avenue.
This year, The Salon continues the tradition at a new venue, called Rebel NYC (which is owned no less by the same group behind the Webster Hall). A fitting end cap to a decade of New Year's Eve Eve parties but certainly not an end to  the biggest night of the year.

On the bill for The Salon NYEE are special performances by:

The George Gee Swing Orchestra
featuring vocalists Hilary Gardner and John Dokes

Queen Esther & the Hot Five
Grand Prize Winner, Jazzmobile Vocal Competition, 2008

The Minsky Sisters
The '20's Tap Dancing Sensation

The Fried Bananas
Late night blues dance

Burlesque by
Miss Ruby Valentine
The Alabaster Beauty as seen on AMC's MadMen

Legz Malone
The Gal with the thirty four and a half inseam!

Dandy Wellington
Emcee Extraordinaire

Cocktails by Eryn Reece of Mayahuel 
and Fredo of Loungerati

Plus DJs by Swing Remix
Spencer Weisbond and Paolo Lanna

New Year's Eve Eve Salon 2009
The Salon's signature commitment is equal billing for quality performances, dancing,  AND cocktail culture. This is quite fitting for a party that Patrick began 11 years ago while in graduate school at the University of Louisville in Kentucky - home of Bourbon Whiskey!

In that spirit of bon vivant, Loungerati's Fredo is quite honored to once again be included in The Salon's 2010 NYEE party as their in house cocktailian. On the libation front, we have special guest bartender Eryn Reece of the award winning Mayahuel cocktail bar joining me behind the stick.

This is the lounge and swing scene's biggest night out, so get dressed up, come see old friends, and meet new ones.

The Salon's Annual New Year's Eve Eve
at Rebel NYC Club
251 West  30th Street 
(btwn 7th and 8th Avenues)
New York, New York
21 and over please
Buy Tickets here
$20 - Early Advance Online (thru Dec 5th)
$25 - Advance Online (from Dec. 6th - Dec. 29th)
- at the door (cash only)

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