Edmonton is a pretty rad city. Sure we're in the middle of a Hoth-like deep freeze and staying in the comforts of a centrally-heated building at all times seems appealing, but then you miss out on fun events that many swell Edmontonians put on to break our winter funk.
Like this week, for example. It was a frosty -17 on the thermometer but my blonde bestie insisted we go to the Beach Party hosted by Metro Cinema at the Garneau. I was hesitant to leave the house on account of the weather vs outfit. I love sixties beach fashion, and I just designed a super summery beach-y collection, but shorts and crop tops don't mix with winter booties. Ugh. I compromised as best as I could. I threw my pink gingham shorts over top of two layers of tights, including the fleece lined variety, and topped it off with my pink/orange/white tunic that has become something of a second skin because I love it that much (seriously, it's probably my favourite thing I've ever sewn....so far). And off I went to beach it up in the middle of January!
So what exactly was this beach party? Only the best thing ever! Metro Cinema was playing a double feature of "Muscle Beach Party" and "The Girls On the Beach" with, WITH, a live surf band and tiki bar in the lobby! The Tsunami Brothers played two quick sets; 30 minutes before the first movie, and the 30 minutes in between movies. The band was SO GOOD and Chantel and I danced our sillies right out! We almost missed the beginning of both movies because we stayed for their whole set. I'd never heard of these guys until this event but they certainly helped make the night. I highly recommend checking them out if you get a chance. They played a lot of surf classics and some unexpected surprises. I never thought I would dance my butt off to a surfin' version of "My Heart Will Go On" or the Peanuts theme. This genre is actually one of my favourites so I was surprised that Edmonton not only has a band that plays this exclusively, but that plays it so flawlessly too! As a causal guitar player I can certainly appreciate a skilled musician when I see one because it ain't easy. I'm certainly no pro at it!
I love this theatre so much and the programming is a huge part of that. Obviously, an old timey theatre would appeal to a vintage loving gal like myself but cool 1940's architecture alone is not enough. I find myself going to more movies at the Garneau than regular chain theatres because the stuff they play is so unique and so entertaining. I've seen many amazing music and fashion documentaries there and many old favourites. Breakfast at Tiffany's on the big screen? Yes please! So when they put on movies from my favourite fashion era my sixties senses start tingling and I must, must go. In fact, I recall poor Chantel joining me for a subtitled Italian movie a few winters ago when she was sick as a dog (I didn't realize she was so under the weather at the time!), just because one of my favourite actresses from the era was in it and I loved her style. Sorry Chantel!
Anyway, I've seen a few Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello beach-centric movies but I'd never seen Muscle Beach Party before. As expected, the movie was dripping with cheese but I enjoyed it anyway. The plot lines are about as thin as tissue paper but the actors find a way to make it fun. And these movies are total fashion and mid century interior design eye candy! Oh, and the hair! Not just the girls, but the men too. The guys back then always had such perfectly coifed hair. I also find it hilarious that they can surf up a storm and not have a curl or hair out of place. Too bad that doesn't work in real life. When dressing in your best mid century pool side wear you must decide between good hair, or a good swim. You can't have both. In short, I get major design and outfit inspiration from these films that it makes the cheesy story bearable. Does Frankie stay with Annette? Or does he run off with the exotic and rich Italian bombshell? Does Jack Fanny get to keep his world renowned gym? I think you know the answers.
Next up! "The Girls on the Beach". I love, love, loved this one! More so than the first. Again, it was super cliche-driven but good golly was the styling ever cute. A group of sorority girls learn that a former, and shunned, pledge with a rich daddy has made arrangements to buy their sorority house if they don't come up with the final $10 000 payment on the mortgage in two weeks. Oh no! Somebody get Lassie! Oh wait....that's a different cliche. Anyway, the gals scheme up ways to raise the funds including a benefit concert where they get duped into thinking the Beatles are coming to play. *Gasp* The Beatles?! How ever will they pull this one off? The actresses were super cute and I could have easily stolen any one of their closets, wigs included. Oh and it even featured Lesley Gore and the Beach Boys! This was typical of teen movies back then and you'll often find popular bands and singing acts of the era playing themselves in film. I'm actually not a big fan of the Beach Boys though. For as much as I love surf music, and as much the Beach Boys are associated with that genre, I don't find them to be anywhere near what the true sound of it is. I certainly don't hate them but I always forget they were such a big part of American music back then, that's how little I listen to them. I much prefer Dick Dale and his Del-tones, who you'll find in Muscle Beach Party and many other Frankie/Annette films. THAT is the surf sound. Sorry....got a little sidetracked there. My point is that this is a super cute film that is a must watch for major style inspiration, or if you're a fan of the Beatlemania phenomenon.
Oh and Chantel and I even won a few prizes too! We were in the lobby grabbing snacks and one of the organizers ran out to tell us about the contest on stage in the theatre and said we could probably win a little something if we made a dash for it. I think it was supposed to be a flexing contest but we missed that part and just did a little sixties beach dance shimmy. It was good enough to win a couple double guest passes for another showing, and a copy of "Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine". We'll take it!! Thanks Metro! I feel so lucky that Edmonton has events like this. Here we are in the middle of nowhere and yet I always seem to find tons of events that speak to my love of offbeat music and fashion. Chantel and I would totally dress up like this anyway, but it is a bit more fun when our outfits suit the event. In fact, they almost suited it too well. I think people thought we were directly involved with the festivities instead of fellow patrons who just showed up to watch the films. Chantel's Candy Johnson inspired two-piece fringe outfit might have had something to do with that. Which by the way, was made by our friend, Nomin, of Handcuffs Required. She does amazing costuming and pin-up inspired looks. Check this gal out if you fancy fringe outfits or have a fun costume idea rattling around your brain.
Also, keep an eye on the Garneau theatre for more great films and event nights. They literally have something for everyone, from cool and current films, to sub-culture and cult classics, to popular favourites of all genres. The beach bummery continues right on through till February. Check their schedule for Gidget Goes Hawaiian and more! I'm super disappointed to be missing Blue Hawaii on January 31st but if you're around you should totally go!
Thanks for reading!
Nicole A Go Go