It was really good to see how young people at the GNRS were drawn to the traditional hot rod exhibits in the Suede Palace. It is a huge Quonset-type building from the 1930s that is used to house the nostalgic rides. The term “suede” has to do with the style of the vehicles, the more traditional style of hot rods that are put together from junkyard parts. They often have only a primer coat of paint but not a shiny coat. Sometimes a bit of rust shows through and there is very little chrome finish anywhere on the vehicle.
The Suede Palace is a throwback to a time when young people made do with what they could create on a very small budget. Also, the traditional hot rodder lives in the past, even though he or she might make concessions to having to work in the present. Many traditional hot rodders wear a style of clothes and makeup from the rockabilly era and the music and dancing is pure early Elvis Presley.
The first thing that is evident at the Suede Palace is the energy level. The traditional hot rodders are a maelstrom of activity with lively music that is far too loud for our health and a jive beat that is toe-tapping good. The young girls wear dresses that were in vogue in their grandmother’s day and their stockings are nylons, held up by garter belts.
The guys wear jeans and white t-shirts with the sleeves rolled up to wickedly tuck away a pack of cigarettes. Axle and Celeste Idzardi are in charge of running the place and they do a spectacular job. They know what they are doing and the show reflects their skillful control. Kudos to them and all the participants at SP who keep the ol’ hot rod spirit alive!
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the May 2016 print issue of the Drive Magazine.