It was the cat’s pajamas!: Party in Sycamore revives 1920’s fashion


The NIU School of Music Jazz Band plays at the 1920’s themed cocktail mixer at the Stratford Inn, 355 W. State Street Sycamore, on Thursday evening.

By Kelly Bauer

The flapper era was reborn Thursday night at the Stratford Inn during the DeKalb Public library’s 1920s costume cocktail mixer

The mixer, which was meant to call to mind the excessive era of the roaring ‘20s, was held as part of the DeKalb Public Library’s “Big Read” event. Throughout October, residents of DeKalb and the surrounding area are encouraged to read Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon,” which was published in 1929. The book is an example of the “hard-boiled detective genre,” said Dee Coover, DeKalb Public Library director.

The costume mixer benefitted both organizations involved: the DeKalb Public Library was able to “set the scene,” Coover said, and the Stratford Inn was able to welcome its first event since it opened Wednesday. Rachel Bauer, owner of the Stratford Inn, 355 W. State Sycamore, purchased and remodeled the building into a 1920s-era hotel and, seeing the similarity between her business and the event, donated space and bartending services to the library. Coover and attendee Nancy Proesel said that the night helped Maltese Falcon readers delve into the era. Coover emphasized the excess of the era and said attendees should act as if they were living in 1929.

“The book was set at the height of the bubble,” Coover said. “Things weren’t pretty, things weren’t good, and you couldn’t trust anyone. So let’s pretend there’s no tomorrow.”

The event featured NIU dance majors Josiah Payn and Liz Spiewak, who were brought in by the library to dance the Charleston as the NIU jazz band played. Edith Craig, DeKalb Public Library public relations coordinator, said the band and the dancers were “the best part,” as attendees were able to join in with Payn and Spiewak. The majority of the participants dressed in typical 1920s fashion, which Coover said centered around short skirts and pearls for females.

“It just sounded like fun,” Proesel said. “A lot of people like an excuse to dress up. I really appreciate what the public library is doing to promote reading.”

Though only those 21 or older could attend because of the bar, Craig said that younger members of the community would not be alienated because other events are open to them.

“We have crafts for kids [and] some events just for teens,” Craig said. “It’s a good mix.”

Free copies of The Maltese Falcon were available to those who attended, as was information about the “Big Read” program, which is run by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Coover said the library had never run a similar event in the past but might have another book-focused mixer in the future. Bauer said she was considering hosting a 1920s night for New Year’s at the Stratford Inn.

“It’s as if [Maltese Falcon main character] Sam Spade were going to be in town,” Coover said. “If he came to town, he would be here. This is his night.”