Meet The Team
Each month this is the fine group that produces Wit’s End parties. The first one was held in February 2009.
Speakeasies, pitching pennies on a Sunday, and bathtub hooch are all part of Christine Cassidy’s cultural DNA. The granddaughter of a Jersey City saloon owner and the great-grand daughter of a tough-talking, Irish waitress who slung hash on New York City’s Fifth Avenue, Christine has been taking names (and taking your money) at Wit’s End since 2012. If you buy her a French 75, she just might tell you about that time back in the 30s when Aunt Mary had to hand over her piggy-bank to the coppers. Keep up with Christine’s 21st-century adventures on Twitter and Instagram.
Dandy Dillinger looks sweet but this salty vamp can spice up any party. A 21st Century flapper with a dash of Jazz Age gangster, this classy bricktop dish has been a hostess of renowned establishments since 2008 and has been turning up the heat in New York’s burlesque scene since 2012. Dandy was named Miss Art Deco by the Art Deco Society of New York in 2016. Follow on Twitter and Instagram.
After having spent years in jazz age clubs and cabarets in Los Angeles like the Argyle, The Cicada, and Bricktops, Don Spiro looked for a regular monthly club in NY. After co-founding Wit’s End™ in 2009 with Diane Naegel, and then co-producing with Kevin Fitzpatrick after 2011, Don has been honored to help Hot Jazz, speakeasy cocktails, and dressing up for a night on the town be a fixture in New York culture. Even better, after seven years of helping young hot jazz musicians have a venue to play, a floor for guests to dance to live hot jazz, and a lounge for well dressed gents and flappers to imbibe like it was Prohibition, Don is thrilled to see Wit’s End™ in the even more capable hands of Mr. Fitzpatrick and Mr. Haar, who no doubt will keep it going for a new generation of flappers and gents. Follow Don on Instagram.
Jeri started dancing almost as soon as she was able to walk, and it has been her love and her life ever since! She graduated from Point Park University with a BA in Dance Pedagogy and performed as a soloist with Carnegie Performing Arts Center, worked as a Dance Captain and lead dancer with Comtra Theatre, and taught classes at Elite Dance By Damian before moving to NYC to pursue her dance and modeling dreams. After dancing as an understudy for a contemporary ballet company, Jeri discovered partner dancing through salsa and shortly thereafter, was introduced to swing dancing. It corresponded perfectly with her love of all things retro, throwback, and vintage and she is grateful for all of the wonderful people (including her awesome partner Neal, not to mention Diane and Don, Kevin, and all of the fabulous Wit’s End folks) that it has brought into her life. In addition to dance, Jeri is a professional pin-up model. She has an art studio in Jersey City and a photography/mixed media line called Jude The Blackbird. She’s married to a great beer aficionado/DJ named Jim and is actively involved in Loving More and Open Love NY. Jeri is also an avid bellydancer, and performs tribal fusion pieces with Bellyqueen student troupes. She has been a member of PURE (Public Urban Ritual Group) for the past three years. She loves cats, tattoos, music, reading, yoga, swimming, New Orleans, and Betty Boop. Jeri and Neal are available for private lessons, and dance instruction at a variety of different functions and parties. Visit their page for more information! Follow on Instagram.
Born into show business as the fourth-generation of a circus family from County Kildare, Kevin Fitzpatrick learned to be a trick-rider and juggler at age four. Following a misadventure with a trained dog act outside Waterloo, Iowa, in 1984, Kevin took up writing. Around the same time he quit the circus life and settled on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, taken in by a retired fortuneteller. He spent many years making surfboards in Rockaway Beach until he found his true calling, leading walking tours of literary landmarks and cemeteries. He collects jazz records, comic books, and new friends. Kevin joined the Wit’s End team after meeting Don and Diane at Andy Warhol’s Factory in 1969. For the rest of the story follow him on Instagram and Twitter. Kita
Born and raised in New York City, Kita St Cyr grew up the daughter of a fiesty salsa teacher, and spent much of her childhood in the 1990s in nightclubs immersed in latin music and vintage fashion. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she grew up on a constant quest to bring that same spirit of jubilance and celebration to the ever changing world around her. With over a decade of experience as a pinup model and a degree in fashion design under her belt, she is known for creating an experience that’s equal parts old hollywood glamour and edgy downtown grit. Kita has been called “one of the top Latin Performers in New York” by Fox News Latino, “fiery” by the Village Voice, and “Lewd & immoral” by Press Enterprise. Kita produced the classic burlesque show Rhinestone Follies, nightlife game shows Tiki Dating Game & Porn Karaoke. She appeared in the historic revival of The Marx Brothers’ I’ll Say She Is. Visit her official site and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.
Whether lacing heads or his spit-shined kicks, Mike “the Barber” Haar knows how to keep your feet warm! Every Tuesday you can listen to him, spinning prohibition era tunes on his weekly radio program. Threw your radio out with your portable walkman and stick of MENTOS? Don’t fret!! We’ve got him, LIVE, and in person, every Wits End, showcasing his musical collection and jittery jive! Haar certainly brings a whole new meaning to the term, “Cut a rug.” Follow him on Instagram in black and white and on Twitter.
Technologist by day, jazz age aficionado by night. A long time ago in a Midwestern college town far away, Neal Groothuis was introduced by a good friend to this “swing dancing” thing that all the fine folks in Gap khakis ads were doing at the time. After his first sweaty evening arm-leading pretzels to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, he was hooked. Despite this inauspicious entrée, through the good people in the Chicago swing and vintage scene, he discovered the joys of the Jazz era. Upon moving to New York City, he was fortunate enough to attend the very first Wits End and meet Don and Diane, the originators of the event. Since then, he and the delightful Jeri Lynn Astra have been teaching people to dance at Wit’s End and elsewhere. Visit their dance page if you would be interested in having them do the same for you!