The Hideaway’s story begins in August of 1922, during the height of Prohibition. Three years prior, the 1919 ban on the manufacturing, sale, and transportation of alcohol shuttered breweries and distilleries everywhere, leading to rampant bootlegging and organized crime. St. Paul has become one of the “wettest” cities in the nation and a safe haven for some of the country’s most notorious crooks.
It’s State Fair time. Everybody loves the fair…even the bad guys. Tucked up in the underbelly of the Grandstand, hidden away from the crowds and police, is a secret spot—The Hideaway. Gangsters, bank robbers and bootleggers make a point of visiting this speakeasy during their visits to the State Fair.
No one would know it’s there from the outside. So how does a rebel-rouser find this upper-level underground? On the second floor, past the stone columns and shops filled with ephemera, in the back corner, is an exposed brick wall. Only those who know the way or have a carefully trained eye can see the seams in the brick—the hidden door.
If you know the secret knock, you can step inside and move toward the music. It’s a sea of fedoras and bowler hats atop men in zoot suits and Chesterfield coats. Scantily clad women sport flashy dresses of fringe, sequins and lace garnished with accoutrements like long-stranded pearls, feather headbands and fur stoles. Surreptitiously, these rebellious guys and dolls drink, dine and dance.
The atmosphere is festive and quaint, yet devious. The dimly lit light fixtures make sharing a plate of the finest food and a beer or glass of wine feel all that much more dreamy. The balcony’s view of the midway adds romance and whimsy too.
The scandal and secrecy paired with the ambience and libations make The Hideaway an irresistible place to see and be seen. It’s the Roaring ‘20s and this joint is jumpin’.