Vintage Details Bolster 1940s Army Party by Historical Society of Palm Beach County

By Brendan Spiegel April 25, 2012, 4:17 PM EDT

Photo: Lucien Capehart Photography, Inc.

Historical Society of Palm Beach County Young Friends U.S.O. Bash
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The Young Friends of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County held its premier fund-raiser of the season April 20, a throwback, World War II-era swing-dance party. Inspired by the special exhibition “Paradise in Peril: World War II in Palm Beach County,” now on display at the Johnson History Museum, the evening mimicked a 1940s-style U.S.O. bash, with vintage army décor, big band music, classic cocktails, and even drinks in hip flasks.

The Historical Society chose to host the event at the Armory Art Center because of its historical importance as a military center during WWII. The venue's exposed rafters, industrial grey walls, and parquet wood floors provided an appropriate backdrop for the event. However, planners still had to get creative in order to work around the armory's current modern setup.

“The Armory Art Center is first and foremost an art gallery and artists' studio, and the current installation could not be removed for the event,” said Aime Dunstan, president and creative director of It! Weddings and Events. “We installed pipe and drape and camouflage netting to conceal the majority of the artwork, exposing a watercolor painting or sculpture here and there to keep the flavor of the venue alive. It took two days to complete the event setup.”

The venue was outfitted throughout with camouflage net draping, oversize American flags, and vintage wartime advertisements. Ronen Rental created a military-inspired lounge outfitted with army green sofas, custom pillows made from vintage wool U.S. Army blankets, and cocktail tables emblazoned with WWII images.

Guests were greeted by men in uniform and invited to pose with authentic WWII-era vehicles and arms. After cocktails courtesy of Ketel One, Sam Adams Brewery, and Southern Wine & Spirits, dinner was catered by several local providers: Echo Palm Beach, Howley's Diner, Havana Restaurant, Someone's in the Kitchen Catering, and Grimaldi's. The evening ended with dancing to vintage jazz and swing tunes from the eight-piece Lapis Luna band.

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