In 1920, the city of Galveston created a “bathing beauty contest” to mark the start of tourist season for the year. The popular annual tradition, dubbed the “Pageant of Pulchritude,” has continued for a century, welcoming thousands to the coastal community for sun, swimsuits, and beach fun.
This year, like so many events, what’s now known as the Galveston Island Beach Revue will celebrate 100 years at a special online event on August, 1 from 2 to 4 pm at www.galvestonhistory.org and www.beachrevue.com, as well as on the organization’s official Facebook accounts @GalvestonHistory and @BeachRevue.
The free program will feature music, an auto show, vintage Galveston imagery, and the popular Bathing Beauties Contest. The foundation encourages visitors to consider a donation to the organization.
The revue has been a huge draw: By 1928, the event had morphed into the “bathing girl revue” (an idea and name that is cringe-worthy now). It had become so popular, the island’s population was said to have tripled during the event weekend, according to the Galveston Historical Foundation.
The island pageants were the precursor to the Miss Universe Pageant, according to the foundation. The Galveston Bathing Beauties pageants ended in 1932 due in part to the Great Depression and were resurrected in 2009.
For those who want to dive into some Texas nostalgia, here is the schedule of events for the August 1 revue, according to the foundation:
- Building the Perfect Cocktail with Daiquiri Time Out: Brad Stringer, owner of DTO Galveston, will go behind the bar for a look at our special Beach Revue cocktail, the Mary Pickford. This unique creation will also be available for order and pickup through Daiquiri Time Out.
- Seawall Slideshow with Galveston Historical Foundation: Take a look at newly acquired images donated to the foundation of the 1920s Galveston Island Beach Revue. Never before shown by GHF, Historian Jami Durham will share the photos, stories, and history of the event.
- Vintage Clothing and Style with Dandy Wellington: Dandy’s signature panache and eye for detail have earned him features in The New York Times, Vogue, and various other outlets renowned for their taste and sophistication. As a bonus, the revue will select a “Best Vintage Dressed” award from our online audience. Tag yourself in your vintage best at #beachrevue for a chance to win a coveted Beach Revue sash.
- Performances by Matt Tolentino and Gin Minksy: Matt Tolentino is one of the leading performers dedicated to the music of the 1910s, ’20s, and ’30s. Matt continues to bring the music of yesterday to the audience of today, presented with respect and reverence, the way it should be. Gin Minsky has been known as New York City's premier tap and burlesque performer, event producer, and go-to gal for all things Jazz Age.
- Classic Auto Group Virtual Vintage Car Show: Hot rods, rat rods, vintage trailers, and more are lining up to take part in the Galveston Island Beach 2020 car show. This online parade of cars will feature owner submitted shots of their entered vehicles with no models featured built before 1975.
- The World Famous Bathing Beauties Contest: Always a crowd favorite, the main event is the Bathing Beauties Contest, where retro swimwear is chic, and vintage is king. Join this year’s contestants as they model vintage and vintage-inspired swimwear and accessories that echo the “good ol’ days” of Galveston’s summertime history, vying for cash prizes and top honors.