The Urban Entertainer: Dave and Jeremy’s Dinner Party and the Art of Urban Magic (Plus! Entertaining Tips)

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Last weekend I attended a dinner party hosted by former Open House star, interior designer and vintage furniture expert Dave Hopkins and his boyfriend Jeremy, and I was just obliterated by his creativity, ingenuity and refined aesthetic.  As you may recall, Dave doesn’t have a dining room and no real private outdoor space suitable for entertaining, so I was curious about where the chowing down would actually occur, but I suspected Dave and Jeremy had a trick or two up their sleeves.  They both possess that “of course” attitude that lets you relax and take the logistics for granted.

When I arrived, Dave and Jeremy’s friends sat in the living room chit-chatting chirpily (the whole party was a-flutter about the Twitter) while Dave or Jeremy appeared from time-to-time with drinks and appetizers.  Considering the back-room preparations underway, they both looked composed, but they also at times looked a bit like they’d just seconds ago stopped running, and I suspected that they had taken a moment to compose themselves before entering the room.

Soon Dave appeared, “rang the bell” and ushered us outside the back door and to the narrow thoroughfare between his and the neighboring building.  Remember the scene in Cocoon when Tandy and the others realize they got their youthful mojo back?  That’s what we felt when we saw the gorgeous table and chandelier.

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I didn’t realize until halfway through my veggie burger (no, it was good) Dave and Jeremy had made the chandelier using wood 2 x 2′s wrapped in white Christmas lights hanging from 2 x 4′s propped up on window ledges.  They made the table as well by balancing hollow core doors on much smaller card tables and propping up each end with wood legs.

By dessert – vanilla ice cream served in a warm rasberry puree with ginger cookies, the sun had gone down, the people were drunker and everybody was marveling about how this little alley two blocks away from Wrigley Field (during a Cubs game no less) felt so much like Italy.  The light fixture hung at a height that made the space feel intimate despite the narrow area and lack of ceiling, and the long, narrow table both worked with the space and facilitated better conversation.  If you’ve never eaten at one, you simply must go out and build yourself one (or have Dave and Jeremy build one for you).

In all fairness, the couple did have a bit of help.  They advertised on Craig’s List saying, essentially, “I have very little money and need somebody who knows how to cook.”  Great idea, and it worked out perfectly.

So here’s the deal; I have a dozen posts from New York ready-to-go, but Dave and Jeremy’s party inspired me to write something right away.  Dave makes his living as a designer, and he’s the real deal.  I’m more impressed every time I see his work, and I believe he’s going to be a widely respected lifestyle expert, ala Martha, so get him while you can.  Email him at haring222@aol.com.

Thanks Dave and Jeremy!

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Craig (left) and Dave (right)

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12 Responses to “The Urban Entertainer: Dave and Jeremy’s Dinner Party and the Art of Urban Magic (Plus! Entertaining Tips)”

  1. Apparently I need new friends – so jealous over that nice dinner party!

  2. Where do I go to learn how to think outside the box like Dave does? What a great idea.

    One of the first new words I learned when I moved to Chicago is “gangway”.
    That’s the term for the narrow thoroughfare between the buildings.

    There’s a word for that little patch of grass between the house and the street too, but I can’t remember it.

  3. Mayor Daley should put David in charge of opening ceremonies for the 2016 Olympics. If his design alchemy can transform a Wrigleyville gangway into Italy, imagine what he could do with an entire Olympic village and stadium.

  4. Hi, Tate, thanks for the dinner party photos, especially accompanied by Satchmo. I felt like I was there, as I enjoy my post-lunch treat of fine Orange Pekoe tea and lemon creme cookies. Oops, got to go, one of my clients has a message in the window.

  5. Decorator Dave 01. Jun, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Wow! cell phone pictures actually did the party great justice. It was totally worth it and I was proud to be the host to such great people….I think that it falls into the ‘once a year’ kind of party, though. That was a lot of work! Oh, and the strip of land out by the sidewalk is actually called the parkway.

  6. How infinitely gorgeous–and definitely nicer than something stuffy and inside.

    I always want to go to your friends’ dinner parties, though.

  7. David is marvelous as an entertainer (we were personally treated to a special dinner party in Chicago, at a previous home and his presentation always shines) and a amazing decorater as my Hubby and I personally know and still marvel at his touches in our home…..way to go David.

  8. so beautiful….totally doing this.

  9. This is beyond awesome. How I’d love to attend a gathering like this.

  10. Adoring everything . . . looks fantastic! Stopped over here from Apartment Therapy. Looks like all that was needed was an accordion player!

    Janice: in hickville Ohio they call that patch of grass the Treelawn. Makes me laugh every time I hear it.

  11. Simply lovely.

    I’m curious how he went about informing neighbors in overlooking apartments. My approach would probably be to leave a note at each building’s entrance letting them know that the group would be inside by a certain time and my phone number in case they had complaints.

  12. Where is your place. I’m pretty sure I walked by your dinner party. I live on Fremont @ Addison. This is such a great idea! I think I might try it soon!