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1920s Paris in South St. Louis

TOWER GROVE – As spring began overtaking south St. Louis, local writer Dan Wright looked forward to the opportunity to throw a 1920s-themed party, so he put out a Facebook post asking if anyone might be interested in attending.

When Nanyamka Ewing of Mammoth Piano liked the idea and responded with an offer to host the party on 4/20, the whole affair went up a notch.

Starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday, the party featured vendors, food and bands, spread out in the small park next to Mangia on Grand Blvd. Attendees decked out in flapper dresses, vintage suits and other 1920s costumery strolled about the lawn with drinks in hand, and listening to local St. Louis bands that took to the stage.

In true 1920s fashion, Ewing and Wright sat down with their drinks and cigarettes to talk to the The SouthSider about the event.

“I’m always down for a theme party,” Ewing said. “I’m always down to wear a costume, and have my shtick… [like] ‘I wanna wear pajamas and lingerie in public! I want to buy a 1950s outfit!’”

Wright said that the “Roaring 20s” theme was fitting for this day and age.

“[The 20s] were the lost generation,” he explained, “which is something I think a lot of people in this day and age can really relate to. A lot of sociologists have called millenials the second lost generation. And when we look at what was going on a hundred years ago, you take out the technological advances, we’re kind of in the same spot.”

Ewing added that the 20s were “the beginning of the revolution movement, of free thinking.” Jazz, she expounded, “started really coming into play around then, and feminism started coming into play, civil rights started coming into play.”

She gets that same sense about society now.

South St. Louis, Wright added, reminds him a lot of Paris in the 1920s, he said.

“Earnest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso, all these great geniuses were in one place in time. You walk down Cherokee Street on any summer day, you will find people that talented a stone’s throw from each other, all getting drunk together, all working on great art.”

Wright and Ewing both agreed that St. Louis is a great up-and-coming place to practice art in 2019, as showcased by events like the Roaring 20s party.

Ewing, who, along with singing in her band Mammoth Piano, works as an event planner and books shows for Mangia on Saturday nights. She said there’s an art to planning a good party.

“It’s almost like a play,” she said. “I can plan down to the damn tee, but something’s always gonna [expletive] up. How am I gonna react to the [expletive] up?”

Up next for each of them: Wright will be releasing his first book, and Ewing will be performing with Mammoth Piano at the City Museum. Though the Roaring 20s party was a one-day event, there will certainly be more events from Ewing in the future.

Samantha Auch

Sam Auch graduated from Knox College, where she studied Theater and Gender Studies. Outside her work with The Northsider, she works as an actor, playwright, and artist. You can found out more about her at her website

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