It’s 8:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night at the Victoria Events Centre (VEC) when a man with slicked back hair, slacks and suspenders climbs the steps to the front desk.
“Frog’s eyebrows,” he says with a smirk to ticket taker Emily Lavender, seated next to an Underwood typewriter and vintage pull-cord lamp.
Lavender, wearing a striped shirt, cat-eye glasses and a bowler hat, hands him a ticket and he heads toward the sound of a smooth saxophone and spunky percussion.
The guest has come for the weekly speakeasy night at the local venue, where a 1920s drink menu and a jazz band playing under the soft, muted lighting of an “underground” bar, launches visitors into another era.
With smoked bourbon warming their lips and the sleek, old-timey tunes of local jazz band Flying Saucers thumping through the room, couples drag one another onto the dance floor and slide back in time with the dips and dives of the 1920s’-era Lindy Hop dance style.
“If you wanted to know what it was like in the 1920s, this is pretty close,” said Lavender, who is also a co-organizer of the speakeasy. “You don’t have to know how to dance, you don’t have to like jazz music, you can just come here and really enjoy yourself.
It’s good old fashioned entertainment.”
In order to get the free drink ticket that comes with the $10 entry fee, guests need to know that week’s 1920s’ slang password such as frog’s eyebrows (nice or fine), cat’s meow (splendid or stylish) or hotsy totsy (pleasing).
And if you don’t know the password but want in on the free giggle water (1920s’ slang for alcohol) you have to enter your email address on the Underwood and wait for the ‘word of mouth’ to hit your inbox.
Once inside, guests can grab a Juniper Rickey or Django Manhattan at the bar and “make whoopee” on the dance floor.
|Jazz band Flying Saucers provided some smooth, upbeat jazz for Lindy Hop dancers at the Victoria Event Centre’s Speakeasy night on Tuesday. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)|
Don’t know how to dance? The VEC takes care of that too, with quick swing dance lessons each night before the event, and once a month at the feature night – where visitors also enjoy a number of music and dance performances.
Plus there’s always a Brown Derby if you need the liquid courage to cut up the dance floor with the others.
“I think with the live music and the creativity of the bartenders and the drinks they come up with, and the dancing, it’s all very magical,” Lavender said.
For more information on the weekly speakeasy, visit victoriaeventcentre.ca.