Invited to a huge party at The Astoria World Manor, we found ourselves in the heart of kitschy Queens. I've never seen the Sopranos, or Gossip Girl, or even the American version of Ugly Betty, so I wasn't privvy to the glorious layout of this renowned banquet hall.
I grew up in the 1950's, just a nip and tuck outside of Philly, so hanging chandeliers, dripping plastic fountains, and artificial greens were the mainstay of many a lounge, foyer, restaurant, and banquet hall. It's comforting, in a way, to know that this atmosphere still exists, and we can revel in the tackiness of it all. The Astoria World Manor has endless rooms, hallways, floors, stairs, doorways...........so much crystal it could be in New Jersey. Dripping with chique, it envelops you in a blanket of festivity.
No snobbery here. No superficial insecurities. Just people having a good time. Down the hall from our party was a wedding. I know this because we asked, because it looked like a cross between Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day in there.....plastic (gold) fedoras and derbies are apparently now the de rigeur party favor at these affairs. Gold leis adorned the men, and women.
Far be it from me to offer these comments as a criticism. As an anthropological experience, there isn't much better. You gotta love the whole reality show of it.
Our party was a "Reminiscence" for a woman who was an important milliner in her 94 years in the Harlem community: Mother Mays. Her fellow style finders and fans convened in a sparkling room , and celebrated her many facets with a fashion show,( hats by Ellen Christine Millinery), music, dancing, and more food than anyone in there could eat. An endless bar, and cheerful fellowship made the evening speed along. May I note that only one other person had a hat on besides myself, and my friend, Marie. So much for being fans of millinery........what does it take???!!!! It was the perfect place to wear a hat, ladies. Wotup?
By the way, if you should find yourself in the Manor, ask for Patrick as your bartender. The servers are all brilliant, but he will go out of his way to concoct something interesting.