F. Scott Fitzgerald spent his scant month in Louisville in the cold, punishing days of March and early April, when spring’s promise still feels quite remote to those left weary by the winter. But his sumptuous descriptions of Jay Gatsby’s glittering parties in West Egg remind us of something … a certain handful of nights in early May, when the city knots its bowties tighter and grips its champagne and bourbon cocktails with a fierce determination to wring the very life out of Derby week:
The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun, and now the orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music, and the opera of voices pitches a key higher. Laughter is easier minute by the minute, spilled with prodigality, tipped out at a cheerful word. The groups change more swiftly, swell with new arrivals, dissolve and form in the same breath; already there are wanderers, confident girls who weave here and there among the stouter and more stable, become for a sharp, joyous moment the center of a group, and then, excited with triumph, glide on through the sea-change of faces and voices and color under the constantly changing light.
If you’re at work today, old sport, recovering from last night and biding your time before you head to the track and/or the next party, treat yourself to a little Gatsby glamour: the soundtrack for Baz Luhrmann’s new adaptation is available for streaming. Next Thursday, we’ll be talking Gatsby, Fitzgerald and Louisville during “Here and Now.”