May 26, 2009
The DecoBelles at the Art Deco Preservation Ball

The DecoBelles at the Art Deco Preservation Ball










The Decobelles at the Art Deco Preservation Ball at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland.

Suddenly they told me that it was a black tie affair and asked me if I had brought a tuxedo. I had driven down from Seattle to meet and shoot interviews with Zoe Dell Nutter, an aviation pioneer. The next thing I know I am putting on my dark sportcoat and we are headed to Oakland. Zoe Dell was the special guest at the Art Deco Preservation Ball to be held that evening at the restored Paramount Theatre in Oakland. Back in the early 1980s I was in the theatre business and owned an old movie palace called the Tower Theatre in Fresno, CA. I loved my time there at the Tower. Not only did I see over 1000 films a year, but I also fell in love with the art deco styling, the neon lights, the gold leaf everywhere, the majesty of the architecture, the charm and the class of the long lost art deco era. As we drove up, there were old fixed up classic cars everywhere. The men were dressed up like gangsters and in Zoot Suits, while the women all took my breath away as they were dressed like out of the Great Gatsby. I took a lot of great video footage that night. They recognized Zoe Dell Nutter for having performed at that exact theatre back in 1936-1939. The audience was very graceful and kind to Zoe Dell by giving her a standing ovation. Then the music began and everyone started doing the great dances of the Charleston, and more. The band was awesome. It was a perfect night of nostalgia. Then at 10pm the manager made sure to remind me to get my camera ready, because here came the DecoBelles, a group of gorgeous, perfectly tuned dancers, who tap danced from the hallways into the main dance floor. They gave a spectacular performance, one to remember always. After a few more hours of fun we all started back to our cars and headed back across the bridge toward the San Francisco skyline. I looked back to see the bright neon at the Paramount. I looked over to Zoe Dell and I think I could see a tear in her eye. Maybe it was mine.

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