Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra shook the historic floor of Chelsea’s Norwood Club during his eighth annual Sweetheart Soiree this past Saturday. After we bid Michael farewell at the close of his Jazz Age Lawn Party last August, he invited us this Valentine’s season to see Norwood Club’s five floors of classic decadence. Many in attendance embraced the soiree’s roaring-twenties mise-en-scene
Michael’s orchestra held court against the tall windows of the main parlor at the Norwood, a private club opened in 2007 in what had been the landmarked Norwood House, a fully intact Chelsea mansion. The dancers on the floor had gotten lessons from jazz choreographer Roddy Caravella, whose group The Canarsie Warblers are a Jazz Age Lawn Party highlight.
As the soiree’s guests went up the townhouse stairs, they found a second floor where winding tables gave couples plenty of places to canoodle. Ascending further to the red-lit third-floor parlor, they were stopped in their tracks by the wrought vocals of Queen Esther.
For those in the mood to toast their valentine with champagne, an intimate room at the top of the mansion served little bottles of bubbly to go along with the soft strings of flamenco guitarist Maria Benjumeda.
Michael’s full orchestra won’t be taking the stage again until his first Lawn Party on the weekend of June 16, but in the meantime you can catch his small ensemble every Wednesday night from 8:30pm to 11pm at the Clover Club in Carroll Gardens. During a recent visit, I saw Michael’s friends dancing along the bar. Their footwork was phenomenal considering the quaint space and low light.