Many years ago, when this whole jazz thing was new, someone asked the great jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong, “What is jazz?” He famously answered, “If you gotta ask, you’ll never know.”

These days, we know plenty about jazz, and this year’s Passport to the Jazz Age — the eighth annual fundraiser for Daytona Beach’s Museum of Arts and Sciences — brings it all home. 

A tremendous amount of the culture we know today started in the Jazz Age, the years from the end of World War I in 1918 to the start of the Great Depression in 1929. In the Roaring Twenties:

  • Jazz took the world by storm, courtesy of musicians like Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Bessie Smith, and songs like “Bye Bye Blackbird,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” and George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.
  • Women got the right to vote.
  • Car culture began, including the first motels and roadside restaurants.
  • We got new slang words you can still hear today, like “the bee’s knees,” “swanky,” “lounge lizards,” “flapper” and “scram.”

On Friday, September 28, from 6 to 10 p.m., Passport to the Jazz Age will let you sample the best of the Jazz Age while supporting the Museum of Arts and Sciences. Among the fun on tap for the evening:

Cocktails Prohibition-era cocktails will help set the mood. The cocktail, a stimulating mixture of strong spirits and other flavorings, was invented decades earlier but became a huge fad in the 1920s, served at cocktail parties and in speakeasies, the underground bars where Americans got their booze during the Prohibition years from 1920 to 1933.

Progressive Dinner Showcasing the Museum — Okay, maybe there’s no historical evidence of progressive dinners in the Jazz Age. But you can enjoy historic levels of fun as you progress through the various areas of the Museum of Arts and Sciences to find the next course, from Stacked Caprese Salad to an entree of Chicken Fricassee or Stuffed Portobello Mushroom and concluding with Mason Jars filled with Apple Crisp and Peach Crisp.

Silent Auction — For your own enjoyment or as a gift for that special flapper lady or zoot-suited gentleman in your life, you can bid on fabulous items from event sponsors.

And Jazz, of Course — The finale of the evening is an exclusive musical performance by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. The orchestra-in-residence of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will transport you to various cities where jazz music developed, showcasing the regional styles that grew into the unique language of jazz music.

Daytona Beach is filled with daytime and nighttime fun. Don’t miss this great evening of fun, food and great music! For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the MOAS website. And when you’re ready to jazz up your next vacation, start planning your trip to Daytona Beach!

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