Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saints and Sinners Do the Charleston at Prohibition Underground

Posted By on Sat, Jul 28, 2012 at 10:08 AM

Prohibition Undergrounds casino games were most popular.
  • Andrew Crisp
  • Prohibition Underground's casino games were most popular.

"Flapper" style, heavily frilled dresses and pinstripe suits were the costumes of choice on Friday, July 27, for Idaho State Historical Society's Prohibition Underground event.

A shining brown Hudson Essex Super Six, dating back to the 1920s, sat near the door of Idaho State Historical Museum. Nearby, a table held a real Thompson machine gun and a feather boa, ready for portraits near the car.

"The fact that history isn't all boring, you can have fun with it—I think that's a bigger goal of tonight," said Sarah Phillips, curator of the Prohibition-era history exhibit Wicked Waters.

The exhibit explores an era of speakeasies and moonshining after the United States made liquor illegal. To celebrate Idaho's history, Phillips and the society staff organized Prohibition Underground, an adults-only evening meant to bring the era of temperance to life.

Steven Sutherland manned the 1890s era M.C. Smiths bar.
  • Andrew Crisp
  • Steven Sutherland manned the 1890s era M.C. Smiths' bar.

However, temperance wasn't on the evening's agenda. Instead, Budweiser beer, Ravenswood and Campanile wines, as well as a bar's worth of liquor, were poured for dandy-dressed patrons.

The upper level of the museum beckoned "Saints" with a colorful sign, where bingo, Charleston lessons, a raffle and beer sales took place. "Sinners" were directed to the much-busier lower level, which included a roulette wheel, craps and a speakeasy complete with live entertainment.

Attendees were encouraged to pose near an antique car with a machine gun.
  • Andrew Crisp
  • Attendees were encouraged to pose near an antique car with a machine gun.

Casino games were the most popular, with each table crowded by attendees. Strangely, the speakeasy stayed quiet—perhaps because the death of Prohibition was celebrated all over the large museum.

Phillips estimated around 150 people turned out and called the event a success. Judging by the drinks in hands and with more than 90 percent in costume, it was.

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