Less Traveled

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Holidays in Old Hollywood

Posted 12/16/2013 2:50:00 PM

Take a step back in time. I bet I have told you all that about two or three dozen times since I started writing about the off-the-beaten-path things to do in South Carolina. It does seem like a lot of what we have to offer harkens to another era.

Nostalgia is big, even nostalgia for a time or place where we ourselves never actually were. I, for example, love to find a place that is reminiscent of the jazz and dance clubs of the 1930s: simple tables, simple glassware, folks dressed up, listening to great music and dancing, sophisticated. At least that’s how I imagine it. I guess part of the allure is that it seems like a place grownups would go, no mosh pits (even though the folks who first dropped into mosh pits in their teens are fast approaching 50); the music volume doesn’t make your ears bleed; you can have a conversation or flirt over a single candle flickering on your table while you listen to music from a bygone era.

Romantic, yes?

Well, there is such a place for adults to enjoy the sounds and good cheer of the holiday right here in South Carolina: Sundays in December at The Willcox in Aiken.

Pianist John Vaughn and singer Brooke Lunday perform holiday standards from the (you guessed it) 1930s through the 1960s, an era for which I was only briefly around, but for which I harbor an enormous amount of nostalgia. The two perform “Holidays in Old Hollywood” in the lobby starting at 6 p.m.

The show title refers to The Willcox’s place in history as a stopping point for the rich and famous of the early 20th century. The lobby bar has been voted the best place to see and be seen at happy hour.

The Willcox continues to be one of the state’s premier hotels, winning a 2012 and 2013 World's Best Hotel Award from Travel and Leisure and two awards from Conde Nast Traveler.

The Willcox and Aiken are part of the region of the state known as Thoroughbred Country because of its reputation as a winter colony for wealthy northerners who kept homes and horses here. The Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum is dedicated to telling the story of Aiken’s role in creating Triple Crown contenders – a role that continues to this day.