It will be a night to remember. To remember a night the world can't forget.
Dressed to the 1912s, ladies in elegant gowns with beading and lace -- constructed for the occasion by members of the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild -- will mingle with gentlemen in black ties and tails, dancing beneath crystal chandeliers in Oakland's historic Bellevue Club on the shores of Lake Merritt. The aroma of Consomme Olga and poached salmon in mousseline sauce -- offerings derived from the original R.M.S. Titanic's first-class menus -- will add to the haze of nostalgia as the Pacific Coast Ragtime Orchestra plays along.
It's a landlubber's re-creation of the "Last Dinner on the Titanic," and while the atmosphere promises to be buoyant at this sold-out April 14 event, it all rides on a somber undercurrent: commemorating that night 100 years ago -- April 14, 1912 -- when the great "unsinkable" luxury liner sideswiped an iceberg on its maiden North Atlantic crossing from England to New York, quickly slipping beneath the waves and into eternal legend with 1,500 souls in tow.
As the fateful anniversary approaches, the deep fascination with the Titanic -- whether romantic, nautical, historical, commercial or merely morbid -- continues to swell in the world's collective consciousness as an epic tale that included issues of social class, the hubris of technology, the danger of the sea, the romance of treasure hunts decades later. And perhaps there are lessons
to be learned.
Our obsession is made clear by the sheer quantity of commemorative events scheduled during the month, here and around the world.
At the Fairmont in San Jose, executive chef Daniel Maurice will also re-create a "Last Dinner" 10-course meal from the Titanic's menu. In San Mateo, Period Events & Entertainments Re-Creation Society (PEERS), will hold a costume ball at the Masonic Lodge. And in San Francisco, the Vintage Days historical re-creation group will tour early 1900s buildings, hold a costumed dinner at the Hotel Whitcomb, lay wreaths out at Sutro Baths and read aloud the survivor's tale of San Francisco banker Washington Dodge.
But that's just -- dare we say -- the tip of the iceberg.
At least two weeklong memorial cruises to the site of the disaster are planned with price tags in the thousands. Artifacts recovered from the wreck will be up for auction in New York and the UK. In Halifax, Nova Scotia -- the closest major port to the disaster and the final resting place of many of the passengers -- there will be concerts, museum shows and special tours.
There are commemorative coins. A line of jewelry. New exhibits. New documentaries. A Titanic app is available with rare archive footage and survivor reports. And, of course, there's a Twitter account, @TitanicRealTime, offering "live" tweets as if coming from those aboard the ship.
Let's not forget the movies. The 1953 version of "Titanic" starring Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck will be released on Blu-ray this month. But the one that really put the disaster on the map of modern consciousness was James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster "Titanic" with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. It grossed $1.8 billion worldwide, left us humming Celine Dion's haunting "My Heart Will Go On" and inspired a resurgence of Edwardian styles for weddings everywhere.
The film will be rereleased Wednesday in an $18 million 3-D conversion. Cameron said in a recent TV interview that he realized a 3-D version is a marketing hook, but he would have shot the film in 3-D originally if the technology had been available.
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