This summer will be the most significant time to celebrate life in our lives. Ironically similar to the early 1900s, we’ve endured the pandemic of 2020. And just like in the 1920’s it’s time for us to throw our inhibitions to the wind, ignite our spirits, rejoice and celebrate! A 1920’s themed party is the perfect choice for your summer 2021 bash! We’ve got everything you need to make your event ROAR like the 1920s, be it Gatsby, Speakeasy, or Harlem Nights themes. 

What 1920’s party theme to choose?

Three themes of many possibilities are the naughty, seedy ‘Speakeasy’ or a glamorous and refined ‘Gatbsy,’ or swinging jazz-filled Harlem night event! Regardless of the specific theme, one thing is for sure everyone loves a 1920’s party – and here’s why. 

Women love to be flapper dolls, and men love to be dapper! It’s as simple as that. Almost anyone has something in their closet to wear fitting this theme! There is also a tiny part of each of us that secretly wants to ‘be bad’ whatever bad is for your time – right? Then it was dancing, drinking and being social. Nearly 100 years later (from the end of the Spanish Flu pandemic), not much has changed. We want to dance, sing, play and be social. We need to see smiles and feel emotion. A masked society has left us in the cold. This summer of 2021, we are coming out and finding ourselves again! I rejoice in this; I think we all do! 

To pinpoint your theme – choose your aura. Bright and glittery, or dark and mysterious? Either can be a 1920s party; you only need to target the 1920s theme that best represents you. If you go bright & glitzy, that’s Gatsby for sure. Let’s start here. 

Art Deco Party Setup

1920s Great Gatsby 

When most think of a 1920s themed party, they usually think of the Great Gatsby. The Great Gatsby is a 1925 novel by American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. Set in the Jazz Age on Long Island, the novel depicts narrator Nick Carraway’s interactions with mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and Gatsby’s obsession to reunite with his former love, Daisy Buchanan. In 2013, Hollywood released Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, Gatsby’s former lover, Tom’s wife, and Nick’s cousin. Critics were harsh on the film, but with a generous $105 million budget, the set, costumes, and music did not disappoint me. Good to know, I wasn’t alone; the movie raised $353 million worldwide. I highly recommend watching it before you begin planning your 1920s Gatsby-themed event!  

Gatsby, Oh, how I love this theme! When I think of Gatsby, I think of champagne towers with waterfalls of bubbly trickling down. Sophisticated elegance, men in full-tailed tuxedos and top hats, women in gold and white mid-leg gowns with lots of hand beading and chiffon trains. I see summer and an outdoor setting filled with plenty of strung lights and pools — butlers serving champagne to guests—large galas within a tight space. In the background, I hear a jazz quartet, and there are a few gaming tables to entertain the elite. The Gatsby theme, drinking, gambling, and dancing in refined style and elegance, of course. To make it worthy of Lord Gatsby’s event, be sure to add plenty of glitz and gold – because if it glitters, it’s Gatsby. 

“I love large parties; they’re so intimate. At small parties, there isn’t any privacy.” 

          – Jay Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald 

1920s Speakeasy

When I think of a ‘Speakeasy,’ I think of a secret place that only the invited may attend. Choose a venue with darker templates of black or browns, blended with reds and maroons. The Speakeasy has plenty of brass and wood, trimmed with gold – be sure to add plenty of whiskey barrels and dim lighting. Every ‘Speakeasy’ had a huge door with a privacy slot to prove who’s knocking! While that’s a sign of the setting, it may not be easy to find or practical to reproduce. An elusive entrance with a visual surprise may have the same effect. Start with older venues in Pittsburgh or your city. You can usually find some unexpected gems. 

Entertainment for your Speakeasy party plans, consider gambling tables, jazz band, or a DJ that knows how to bring that 1920s sound to life! We have a few that we can recommend for you. The Speakeasy was all about letting your inhibitions go and embracing life! Plan to have great music, food, and dancing & gambling! Elite offers a 1920s theme for our mirror photo booth! The animation and art designed explicitly for this theme are sure to impress your guests! It too is included in our new ‘Gatsby party package,’ perfect for a gathering of 50 to 70 guests. This package fits all 1920s themes, Gatsby, Speakeasy, or Harlem Nights; you can also book online right here! 

1920s Prohibition was trending 

The 1920s Speakeasy was by design, created of ‘working men’ mixed in with a few ‘mobsters or bootleggers!’ It’s a notorious gang, often of those who were trendsetters, not rule followers. The 1920s Speakeasy fashion varies from the Gatsby theme with more fedoras, suspenders, wide ties, zoot suits, and spats for the men. 

Flapper girls wore slim-fitting dresses in sequins and fringe; each girl adorned herself with plenty of pearls and feathers! They sported tight curls and those short 1920s style bobs highlighted with a glittery feather band. Their lips were ‘painted red,’ and ‘cheeks blushed’ with a romantic look. We wrote a blog on some tips & tricks for a 1920s theme costuming. Be sure to check out my advice to keep those boa feathers from shedding!

1920s Harlem Nights

While both the Speakeasy and Harlem Nights themes are on the notorious side, both were for ‘working class’ locals – the Harlem Nights may have been a bit more of a nightclub or public setting. A club filled with jazz swing music or a supper club with a small band and plenty of dancing! I’ve done so many 1920s parties through the years, and the ones who nailed this theme always had a supper club setting with a jazz singer and band.  Add intrigue with a secret passage to another private room playing for street craps and roulette or the movie ‘Harlem Nights’, which had a brothel.  

When you’re dolled up and dress in the 1920s era, be sure to capture it! Both of our photo booths offer greenscreen features that bring an authentic Harlem Nights setting for 1920s photo fun! Any Harlem Nights party wouldn’t be complete without cigarette girls offering up your favorite cigar, cigarettes, retro candies, or mints. Add in some great food and booze, and you’ve created a Harlem Nights party that people will be talking about for weeks! 

Live Jazz Music
1920s Cigarette Girl

1920s Party Decor 

Elite Casino Events specializes in this theme, and we offer plenty of a la carte decor options. We do champagne tower centerpieces or martini glasses with oversized acrylic dice. Our inventory for 1920s decor includes gorgeous art deco pillowcase backdrops in gold and white or black and gold. Our Elite ‘Aces’ signature series offers customized art standees of 3 flappers and one gangster, all in black, white, and gold-perfect for any 1920s theme! This series also has a 20×10 backdrop that includes all (4) 1920s silhouette characters. Our 24″ cube casino dice are stackable and perfect for any entrance or the center of your gambling area! Roll out the red carpet, and like magic, you’ve got a super chic 1920s party set! 

Gatsby Theme Party Decor

Whatever 1920s party theme you choose is sure to be a success! I’ve never met a person who doesn’t love this era or theme! Be sure to pinpoint your specific 1920s theme and let your inhibitions down – so that everybody wins! 

Dawn Takacs, President and creative soul behind every party at Elite Casino Events!