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By Saida M.

New York has a unique feature that I particularly love and appreciate – the freedom to be yourself. In this city you can enjoy radical self expression that lives up to its name, and with no obligation. You can experiment with various styles and roles only for a couple of days or for the duration of just one party.

The crowds in the Big Apple are nothing short of mouthwatering and I find endless inspiration in people-watching while having my iced coffee.  New York is colorful and New York is brave in its style choices. I don’t know whether this love for themed parties exists anywhere else in the world with such fervor or whether we New Yorkers simply feel the need to display our exuberant feathers in public more than anyone, but whatever the reason, every weekend this summer there’s an incredible themed party going on somewhere around New York.

Such festivals as the Annual Jazz Lawn Party on Governor’s Island are regularly organized in NY, but this festival is particularly close to my heart for several reasons: first of all, it’s a play on my favorite era of the 20’s and 30’s, second, it’s located on an island that opens only for three months during the year and, third, not too many people know about it, which reducing the number of tourists significantly. If this festival were to take place in Manhattan it would be stuffy and crowded, there would be a lot of uninspired “costumes” and hot-dog salesmen sneaking about, it would stink of bad food and sweltering heat and so forth. On Governor’s Island, however, surrounded by water and blue skies, it’s all about beauty and harmony. Even the ride to the island itself is a tremendously enjoyable part of the experience: the ferry leaves from a couple of piers in Brooklyn and Manhattan, while on your way to the island you can sit and enjoy the views on both sides along with all these colorful people, all beautiful and happy, some with their bikes, others with their picnic baskets. It’s totally worth getting up early from your bed, dressing up, packing your bag with your camera, lenses and other stuff and going for an adventure!


The festival is organized annually on Governor’s Island, in the middle of August. You can find a schedule of all the interesting events going on the island with detailed directions about how to get there on the web-site

The loveliest thing about this festival, in my opinion, is not the live music and retro dance shows, not the stands with antiques, not even the chance to have a picnic while people-watching with your mouth agape at all the colorful costumes, but rather the unique juxtaposition of modern and retro styles. The hairstyles alone can provide you with a day’s worth of visual joy – mohawks and fuscia hair, french twists and well-kept beards abound, not to mention impressive tattoos of every imaginable type. This delightful mixture makes me positively giddy!

Dancers are waiting for their turn while a curly frontman sings in the languid voice of a retro lover that makes me run around in circles with my camera hoping to snap his photo.

I literally running for this shot! I don’t know where the victim was carried off to, but she was hanging like a rag doll all the while.


There were porta-potties placed all over the island for this festival, which didn’t offend the crowd’s esthetic sensibilities; they danced in front of cameras anywhere where there was a free square foot of space.

Various booths offered both retro-style clothes and genuine antiques. I didn’t look into their prices, as they are always 3 times higher at events like these, and I happen to know where to find them for a lot less in NY. Still, they are gorgeous aren’t they?



On my way home.

More amazing photos from the event can be found here for your viewing pleasure. They were taken by a friend I’d only known online hitherto but ran into at this this festival, IRL, as they say. Small world! 🙂

What do you think? Would you visit this festival if you were in NY in August? Does this get your excited to put together your own retro look or grab your camera? Or am I the only one so obsessed? 🙂

PS. If you find this post interesting I also recommend you to have a look at my other stories of New York – BEST OF NEW YORK! or THINGS to DO, SEE and EXPERIENCE DURING FALL in NEW YORK!

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