The Jazz Age lived again for one night in Miami as flappers, floozies, wise guys and gangsters packed Magnum Restaurant in Miami for a July 4th Holiday Speakeasy.
Entertainer Bill Campbell created the sold-out event, which was held Wednesday at Miami’s popular Magnum Restaurant and Lounge. The event was designed to recreate an authentic Prohibition experience just as revelers would have been experienced in the city back in the 1920s.
Campbell, the grandson of bootleggers, ushered in the evening by announcing the passage of Prohibition in 1920 and concluded the night four hours later by announcing the repeal. He then led the audience in a rousing rendition of “Happy Days are Here Again.
With Campbell at the piano, he and his Speakeasy Singers performed 40 songs made popular during the era, including those of George Gershwin, Fats Waller, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington and many more. The song list included such favorites as "'Ain't Misbehavin,'" "Embraceable You," "Making Whoopee," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," and Cab Callaway's famous "Minnie the Moocher."
Magnum Owner Jeffrey Landsman and his staff, all in period dress, circulated through the dining room, serving meals. Bartenders served up Jazz Age cocktails made famous during Prohibition, including the Tom Collins, sidecar and highballs, and actual film clips from the era were shown continuously on monitors to create a total immersion experience.
The event was a hit. Most patrons joined in the spirit by wearing period dress. The dining room was sold-out and restaurant's bar and lounge area was packed. In the crowd were a number of notable people, including former Miami Beach city officials Matti Bower and Michael Gongora, MiamiArtZine Publisher Harvey Burstein, and World Erotic Art Museum Owner Naomi Wilzig.
"The Speakeasy transported you back to another place in time where you felt like you were really at a Prohibition bar, except with legal - and delicious - martinis,” said Gongora. "The music was top notch and the singers sounded like well-rehearsed professionals. It was fun to catch up with good friends, listen to fun and timeless music, and enjoy some indoor fireworks before the Fourth of July," he added, "Kudos to all."
George Bettinger attended with his wife Lizette, and their friends. Bettinger, whose popular "Mom and Pop Shop" Internet radio show is broadcast on Dream Stream Radio, was delighted. “It was a colossal evening. The restaurant was jam-packed with high-spirited, fun loving people who had the rare opportunity to authentically relive the Roaring Twenties," Bettinger said. "As a lifetime enthusiast of that era with an ardent appreciation of the brilliant music created during the days of Prohibition, I was delighted by the grand entertainment that was presented at Magnum. It was authentic, energetic and extraordinary," he added.
"I was instantly transported to an earlier time, the days of the speakeasy, wine, women and song! And really fun loving folks, which are not easy to find in this corner of the world," said Ana Cecilia Velasco, executive vice president and COO of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. "Great music, friends and bootleg booze made for an unforgettable evening at Magnum. Bill Campbell's piano accompaniment was perfection, as his endless stream of talented friends crooned around the mic," agreed Herb Sosa, founder and president of Unity Coalition.
For Dr. Ken Wilcox, the evening evoked the lavish party scenes depicted in "The Great Gatsby,” but, he said, “Gatsby had nothing on this party with flappers and their gentlemen downing their gin and dancing the Charleston to the music of Bill Campbell and the merry voices of his cast." “A fabulous night must have been had by all, for even I awoke groggy and wrapped in someone else’s boa,” Wilcox adding, jokingly, and then proclaimed, "Bring on the next one!"
Bill Campbell Presents, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;