I love Napier.
It’s not just a great place to gad about, there really is something quite special about Napier. Nature not only gifted Napier with never-ending blue skies and warm weather, it also shook it so violently, that from the rubble could sprout a city that is now a permanent reminder of the heady and happy golden years of the 1920s. The youth of those years snubbed their noses at both authority and traditional Victorian tedium. They held boozy, cocktail swilling parties, reveling in the economic opulence and crazy materialism of the time. Men in flashy suits drove fast cars with faster girls. Raucous, smoke-belching clubs, belted out jazz and ragtime to shimmying, knee-flapping charleston dancing flappers. The tassels of their short-skirts flew and their ridiculously long cigarette holders dropped ash. They necked, laughed loudly and suggestively. Blacks, whites and homosexuals danced together. Woman could vote. Men couldn’t drink, but did. Gangsters ran cities. Movie stars were born.
It was during this madness, that the cheerfully colourful Art Deco style was born, and it touched the world all over, outlasting the golden era and the parties, surviving long after the ‘bob-cuts’ grew out.
The stock-market crash of 1929 put paid the smiles and the all-night parties, and along with the rest of the world Napier suffered through the economic upheaval. Then suddenly and literally, Napier heaved up out of the ocean, in what is now known as the 1931 catastrophic Hawkes Bay earthquake. The city was crushed and blackened.
As the tears dried and the dust settled, the rebuild began, and out of the rubble grew the artfully angular, geometric style of Art Deco, sprouting out of the ground like colourful, broken shards, and onto the facades of all the new buildings. So despite the fact that Napier was re-built well after the opulent years of the 1920’s, the prevalence of Art Deco in the city makes it now a living and breathing celebration to the fast-moving, brazen and carefree times that was the roaring 20s.
AND … THAT is exactly the happy-buzz I feel when I go there. Even if, like last week, I go there to do nothing much but gad about. I have never not enjoyed a day in Napier.
To me, Napier is the “cat’s pyjamas!”
Photo sourced from: http://hemingwaysparis.blogspot.co.nz/2012/05/flappers-and-fitzgerald.html