Sunday afternoon brought us a taste of what we love about summer. Between the beauty of the outdoors, refreshing cocktails, fresh food, a little theater and some good company, the only place to be absorbing all of this goodness was at the Foundry in Long Island City. Secret Summer is a brand new festival, designed to highlight the wonder of theatrical art as accompanied by class and style. The dress code was “Summer Chic,” so the outfits were light, fun, free and flowing, which fit right into the Midsummer Night’s Dream theme of the party. HighLife Productions, Rapt Affairs and The Foundry teamed up to create an absolutely unforgettable experience in the mystically decorated venue. Décor by Patina did a great job of adding culture and richness to the already alluring space.
Upon arrival, I browsed around the courtyard, highlighted with incredible summer greenery. The Giant Beer Pong game, played with full sized kick balls, was up and running to the delight of many guests. The Morris Food Truck and the Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream truck served up the guests as the “Grass Fed Grill” was cooking up some delicious vegetables, shrimp, sausage, steak and chicken. Rapt Affairs was in charge of the grill, but they were also taking care of the booze! I passed through the three gorgeously decorated rooms, each offering two specialty bars, featuring the sponsored alcohols including Astoria Distilling Company, Cachaca 51, Fentiman’s Ginger Beer, Heradura Tequila, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Rekorderlig Cider, and Stoli Group USA. The cocktails offered cute names and delicious blends of flavors. One of the favorites was “Downeast Rickey,” which included Stoli, market blueberry, lime, and micro-bubble soda. From the Jack Daniel’s bar, as we definitely needed to try some of the whiskey drinks, the favorite seemed to be “Bless Your Heart, But…” This hilariously named cocktail featured some Jack, summer peach, market fennel, and lemon. The drinks were all exciting and deliciously fresh, keeping the guests a little tipsy and very content.
There was no shortage of entertainment as there were face painters, tattoo artists, a Bosco photo booth, an aerial silk artist, and some jazzy, ragtime selections by the Miss Ida Blue Band; but the most intriguing part, to me, were the actors. A Midsummer Night’s Dream was not only the theme, but also the theatrical element to the day. The actors of Shrunken Shakespeare Company were decked out in epically colorful Shakespearian costumes as they wandered around the venue, dancing about and interacting with the guests. It was a much less intense version of Sleep No More, but it added a rather dynamic element to the party. As the day went on, certain characters began talking to the guests while in character. The actress assumed to be Hermia, shuffled around as she desperately sought to find Lysander. She asked if I had seen him, and I offered a guess to the direction he may have fled. Before long, there was a scene that erupted in the middle of the courtyard, to the excitement of the guests. Hermia, Helena, Lysander and Demetrius fought over each other, and things got a little violent between the cast members. The festival attendees circled around the scene and enjoyed watching parts of the story play out in front of their eyes, as they sipped on their assortment of drinks. The acting was excellent and the entertainment level was high.
Lucky for me, I had a VIP bracelet and was able to access the Oyster & Champagne room, which was utterly delightful, but even without that coveted bracelet – there was no shortage of activity, drinks, food or entertainment at Secret Summer. My favorite part of the whole experience was probably the feeling of escaping from the world for the afternoon and evening. For the short while, you were immersed in a dream-like Shakespearian world, where you could stand outside the drama depicted by the actors and enjoy the bliss of summer. There was a distinct moment I recall of standing in the middle of the courtyard, watching the girl using a bubble machine blast the area with bubbles, where I looked up at the blue sky, took a deep breath and felt my whole body letting go of stress; I only wish I wasn’t standing in uncomfortable shoes.
Congratulations to Rapt Affairs, to The Foundry and to HighLife Productions, run by the lovely Tyler Hollinger, for a fantastic day at Secret Summer. We can’t wait to see what next year has in store!
Article: Alex Feigin