Ostrich Pillow

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

No nap pod?  No problem!

No nap pod? No problem!

When you find yourself starting to travel for dance events, you also find yourself in some interesting sleeping situations – it’s important to be rested, so you pretty much take sleep whenever and wherever you can get it: on an airplane, in a terminal, on someone’s couch, in a recliner, on a bench outside the studio at late night, in someone’s car, etc. There are those neck pillow things, but what if you need to face plant on your tray table? Or something else for that matter?

I ran across the Ostrich Pillow today and had a good laugh, and then thought about how practical it just might be, even though you’d look like a pillow alien wearing it. Once you’ve reached your threshold of sleep deprivation toward the end of a dance weekend, I doubt you’d care (or that anyone else would care, for that matter). There’s a hole for your mouth and nose and there are little pockets for your hands. Can you imagine how warm you’d be in this? Toasty.

Face plant naps were never so comfortable...

Face plant naps were never so comfortable…

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Our Dancing Daughters

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Lana - two tone shirtdress 40's awesomeness

Lana – two tone shirtdress 40’s awesomeness

I am probably way late to the game on this one (given that the copyright on the website is 1999), but somehow my internet searching has finally lead me to Our Dancing Daughters, a lovely little website selling custom reproduction clothing for women from the swing era. The information about Kayre Morrison, the proprietor, was pretty sparse on the website, but a quick Facebook search revealed that we have 71 mutual friends, so this is definitely a dancer making dance-friendly reproductions. I love her drawings of the designs and I also love that in the fabric selection she includes a description of how the fabric will feel and move, making that decision a bit less daunting.

Here’s what I’m loving from Our Dancing Daughters:

Gloria - I love a keyhole and a peplum!

Gloria – I love a keyhole and a peplum!

Hello, Louise...

Hello, Louise…

This one pretty much screams my name.

This one pretty much screams my name.

The Lena dress has some saucy ruching.

The Lena dress has some saucy ruching.

The Slipperie

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

1930's teddy = full slip with built-in bloomers

1930’s teddy = full slip with built-in bloomers

One of my complaints, and one that I hear come up over and over, is that there are no really good slips being made, at least not ones that compare to vintage slips in terms of materials, function, and beauty. I always keep my eyes open at vintage stores for good slips – full, half, camisole, tap pants, whatever, just because the quality of these items is just far superior to anything I’ve purchased that was produced in my lifetime. But what if you didn’t have time to go to all the vintage stores?

If you need a gorgeous slip RIGHT NOW, The Slipperie on Etsy could be the answer. While the undergarments of yesteryear tend to be fairly plentiful, finding them all in one place can be difficult, and finding truly special ones (as with anything vintage) is even harder. I love that these beautiful undergarments are really meant to be worn, not just saved for special occasions. Add them to your dance wardrobe for a pop of color or lace with your twirl or swish (or other functions discussed in a prior post)…here’s what I love from the shop:

1960's hot pink slip - 60's slips are hella durable and generally have a good shape, details, and lace.  I may or may not have confiscated a 60's slip from my mother's chest of drawers and never gave it back...

1960’s hot pink slip – 60’s slips are hella durable and generally have a good shape, details, and lace. I may or may not have confiscated a 60’s slip from my mother’s chest of drawers and never given it back…

Powder blue 1950's pleated tap pants

Powder blue 1950’s pleated tap pants

If only more things were cut on the bias - so flattering and comfy, as this 30's/40's rayon slip probably is...

If only more things were cut on the bias – so flattering and comfy, as this 30’s/40’s rayon slip probably is…

Tap pants with little bows - OMG

Tap pants with little bows – OMG

Another great 1960's slip

Another great 1960’s slip

Aris Allen White Wingtips on eBay, Size 10, $19.99

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

All you need to know is in the title – looking for an inexpensive pair of dance shoes? This is it! Grab these white Aris Allen wingtips, worn once, at this great price!

$T2eC16R,!zcE9s4g3IvWBRPge4nNN!~~60_57

Johnston & Murphey Holbrook Linen Cap Toe

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

BEHOLD! I give you this glorious new shoe from Johnston & Murphey – the Holbrook Linen Cap Toe! I can’t think of many other shoes more worthy of a linen or seersucker suit. Gents, this is one snappy shoe.

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The Original Inspiration and the Reproduction

The reproduction

The reproduction

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I often wonder what inspired certain reproduction dresses – shapes and motifs are obvious, but what about the specifics? I love finding those rare inspiration pieces and found what I believe to be Trashy Diva’s inspiration for their fall collection Lilian Dress (which I immediately began panting over upon seeing it) – this wonderful 1940’s dress on eBay. The embroidery is spot on. While the dress has undergone some Trashy Diva modifications, I think they made some great choices like moving the embroidery closer to the shoulder, changing the embroidery colors to more peacock blues and greens, losing the hip seaming/detail, and giving it an overall sleeker, more Asian-inspired silhouette. The charm is not lost, though, as the embroidery in the original is just as magnificent as the repro, and that little row of buttons is divine on both.

The original inspiration?  What say you, Trashy Diva?

The original inspiration? What say you, Trashy Diva?

Taking Care of Your Dance Shoes

cobbler

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Our dance hobby is relatively light on equipment – all you really need is a good pair of dance shoes. Once you find that pair (or 20) you want to be able to wear them for as long as possible, get the most mileage out of them, but you also want them to look nice for as long as possible. Here are some tips on keeping your shoes in shape:

Air Out

We get sweaty when we dance and gravity tends to pull things downward, including your sweat. There have been those nights after a dance where my socks are a puddle. Rather than stuffing your shoes away or leaving them in a bag, when you get home from the dance take them out and just let them sit overnight. A good airing out will do wonders for longevity and odor prevention.

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For more advanced airing out, you can purchase unvarnished shoe trees to draw the moisture out of your leather shoes, so long as you get the trees into the shoes within an hour or two of removing your shoes. If your shoes are really wet, stuffing them with newspaper will help draw out the moisture. Be sure not to put them on a heater or heat dry them, as this can damage the leather and/or the bonding material.

Wash Your Feet and Your Socks

While I rarely wear out dance shoes, I have had to throw away a pair of shoes for the smell (leather wedges, how I love to wear thee without socks!). To help prevent smelly shoes, in general, it’s a good idea to make sure your feet are clean and that your socks are cleaner – just say no to wearing that same pair of socks all day and night and late night at an event. Bring a change of socks and, if you happen to have smelly-prone feet or a predilection for walking around barefoot between dances, take a moment to wash your feet before inserting them back into your dance shoes.

This must be the coolest kid in her ballet class.

This must be the coolest kid in the ballet class.

Bag Them

It’s a good idea to put your dance shoes in a small shoe bag or another type of small bag before slinging them into another bag, your car, your suitcase, or whatever vessel gets you and them to the dance. It protects their exterior from scuffing up against other things (ballpoint pens, food, sharp objects, etc.) that may be lurking in your bag that could damage the exterior of your shoes. Bagging your shoes also conveniently serves the purpose of protecting your other things from the shoes, which may be dusty from the dance floor. I like to put mine either sole to sole or top to top and then wrap the rest of the loose bag around them like a burrito to make sure they are secure, then put them in my bag for the night.

Repair

I firmly believe everyone should have a cobbler. I don’t know how I would live without mine – I’ve had heels pop off, soles come loose, and giant patches of color scraped from the toe of a shoe by a wayward leader’s giant foot. A visit to the cobbler means that these things can be repaired by replacement, re-gluing/nailing, and I actually had to have a pair of shoes entirely re-colored because there was no polish of that color – but I did it and it meant spending $20 to have them fixed rather than $160 for a new pair. If your shoes are smelly, have your cobbler replace the insole to see if that helps with the odor. I have rarely encountered a shoe problem that could not be addressed, or at least improved, by a cobbler in some fashion.

Resole

Soles getting thin? Cracked? Coming apart? Or maybe you just want a different sole – talk to your cobbler about your options.

My dad has had one of these mega shoe shine kits with the swanky wooden box for as long as I can remember.  When you have to special order extra narrow shoes, replacing them can get expensive.  I used to consider it a privilege to sit down with my dad and help him polish his shoes (is that weird?) and I always loved the results - shiny!

My dad has had one of these mega shoe shine kits with the swanky wooden box for as long as I can remember. When you have to special order extra narrow shoes, replacing them can get expensive. I used to consider it a privilege to sit down with my dad and polish his shoes (is that weird?) and I always loved the results – shiny!

Polish, Shine, Brush, and/or Dye

How to spruce up your shoes is going to depend on the type of material.

If you have leather shoes, polishing them is good not only for keeping them shiny and new looking, but also for preserving the leather and keeping it supple – the salt in your sweat can dry out the leather over time. Cobblers, grocery stores, and other retailers have shoe polish kits that you can buy to help you with the materials and instructions you may need. If you can’t find the right color polish locally, you may have to hit the internet (so many colors!) or get creative to cover those scuffs – I discovered that Gold Sharpies are almost the exact same gold as the Re-Mix Balboas in gold, I just color over the scuff and rub the color in with my finger.

For suede shoes, there are specific materials – you can get a suede eraser to touch up scuffs and a suede brush will restore the nap of the leather.

If you love white Keds, you know that by sueding them you can’t just throw them in the wash when they get dirty. You can use a tablespoon of baking soda and just a bit of water to make a paste and rub it onto the more noticeable spots, then wipe clean.

Then there’s that whole bit about cleaning the white mesh Aris Allen oxfords with Windex…

Finally, some shoes are made of dyeable materials, so if they are just beyond hope you could always make them a different color. Beth Grover at V is for Vintage has a great tutorial on how to dye your Aris Allen oxfords.

Buy More Than One Pair

I know I’m going to get resistance from some people on this one, but you should own more than one pair of dance shoes, especially if you are Lindy Hopping multiple nights a week. You want your shoes to last longer and to give them time to breathe between wearings, which is why it’s not a good idea to wear the same pair of shoes every day. You also want your feet to stay limber and not put repeated pressure on the same areas of the foot with a certain pair of shoes, which is another good reason to rotate dance shoes. Different shoes use different muscles and we want to keep our muscles in good condition so we can dance for as long as possible. :)

Swell Farewell Vintage

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I am happy to announce that Lindy Shopper has a new supporter in the form of Etsy store Swell Farewell Vintage – owner Kate Blank has put together a lovely little shop with items from all of our jazz age and swing era decades, and beyond. Kate’s love of all things vintage began early in her childhood and she even ran her vintage clothing business out of her dorm room in college! You can see her experience in her collection, which includes quintessential items from each decade represented. I also love that she has clothing items listed by waist size, which is so helpful in initially narrowing down what will fit from the shop.

Right now the shop features mostly women’s clothing, but Kate has plans to add more men’s ties, as well as more inventory overall. Not everything is listed, so if you are looking for something specific, Kate encourages you to message her with your sought-after items to see if she has anything in her inventory that would fit the bill.

At the moment, Swell Farewell Vintage is running a 15% off coupon – enter the code 15OFF at checkout – it applies to all items!

Here’s what I love from the store:

1950's plaid peep toe heels

1950’s plaid peep toe heels

1940's dress with peplum and sequin applique

1940’s dress with peplum and sequin applique

So this is adorable...

So this is adorable…

This beyond sweet 1920's dress...

This beyond sweet 1920’s dress…

Black 1940's shoes

Black 1940’s shoes

The use of the fabric print on this 1950's dress is pretty fascinating - excellent neckline, as well

The use of the fabric print on this 1950’s dress is pretty fascinating – excellent neckline, as well

Soles2dance

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

lofri-pro_on_shoe_suede_legend_home_page

We can thank Australian DJ Sam Carroll (aka Dogpossum) for sharing the link to Soles2dance.com, a website selling stick on soles for dance shoes (or to convert street shoes into dance shoes). Choose from classic suede or their special “low friction” soles, crafted to be used “sticky, high-friction floors or for concrete and asphalt.”

You read that right – now all those exchanges with outdoor venues, street festivals, or impromptu Lindy bombs could be a little less cumbersome with the right soles. I know I fret about what to dance in for concrete situations, so I usually just avoid them. I am very intrigued…

From the website:

“Our hybrid low-friction soles allow dancers to modify their dance shoes so that they provide just the right amount of friction on a wide variety of floors. This is different from conventional dance shoes that work well only on well-maintained, clean wood floors. However, many social dances often take place on less-than-ideal floors that frustrate dancers because of their high-friction surfaces. Dancers at such events often complain about pain in their knees, caused by the high torque needed to overcome the floors’ high friction. Dancers also feel that they can’t dance at their best because pivots and turns are limited by high friction. Similarly, party goers at nightclubs and other dance entertainment venues typically encounter dance floors that are designed more for resilience to street shoes and spilled drinks than to promote optimal pivoting, turning, and sliding. For all of these types of floors, our LOFRI-04 product is ideal.

sulofri-pro on shoes legend for home page

Lastly, there are outdoor dances on concrete or asphalt where dancing in suede-soled shoes is entirely out of the question because the suede gets shredded within minutes. On such abrasive surfaces, rubber and most other conventional shoe soles produce so much resistance to pivoting and turning that dancers either have to avoid such moves altogether, or risk knee or hip injuries while trying to force them. Our SULOFRI product overcomes this excessive friction on concrete and asphalt. Indeed, dancing on these surfaces with SULOFRI feels almost like dancing with suede-soled shoes on a well-groomed studio floor.”

I think this is the real clincher here. Sure, we can all go out and buy suede and DIY a pair of dance shoes for indoors (Soles2dance also sells the raw materials), but we haven’t really had any viable options (that I know of) for outdoors until this (duct tape doesn’t count). Has anyone else tried these stick on outdoor soles? I’d love to hear a review of this product.

Review: New Aris Allen Shoes for Women (and Notes on New Shoes for Men)

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Saddle shoes, circa 1938.

Saddle shoes, circa 1938.

If you haven’t been to Dancestore.com in a while, you should spend a few minutes checking out their new selection of shoes. I knew Dancestore was working on a pair of mesh and leather Aris Allens, but I did not know they had other men’s styles and new women’s shoes up their sleeve, as well. They were kind enough to invite me to test out a few pairs and I’m happy to share my report with you about the women’s shoes (and direct your attention to some of the men’s shoes I think are worthy of a look-see).

The first pair I decided to try was their new saddle shoe. I personally think saddle shoes are adorable and if you showed up to a dance in a 40’s skirt, blouse, sweater vest, and saddle shoes, I’d think you were completely awesome. And adorable. Very collegiate, no? I think most people associate saddle shoes with the 1950’s and poufy skirts, but they date back to 1906 when Spalding introduced them for tennis and squash players and reached their height as a trend that spanned 20 or so years, from the 1930’s through the 1950’s.

Saddle Shoe - available in brown tweed, black tweed, and classic black and white

Saddle Shoe – available in brown tweed, black tweed, and classic black and white

I have been looking for a pair of saddle shoes for myself for some time, but have failed to find any with leather soles (like the pair from my childhood), only that spongy “crepe” sole which I find not as well-suited for dancing. Dancestore has introduced a great compromise – a saddle shoe with a hard rubber sole that has been sueded. I opted to try the brown tweed version of their saddle shoe, which has a soft tweedy fabric covering most of the shoe with brown faux leather covering the “saddle” part of the shoe. They came with two pairs of laces, a thicker set and a thin set. When I first tried on the shoe it felt a bit stiff, but after only a couple of dances, the stiffness wore off at the points where I needed movement. The shoe itself was very comfortable, the rubber sole flexible, and I didn’t worry about the shoes as I danced in them. I wore them with socks, which was a nice change for me, and they looked great with the collegiate outfit I described above. :) The only criticism I have, which is more of a personal preference item, was that the footbed was not super cushioned – this is not something that bothers me, but some people prefer a cushioned footbed. Given the shape of the shoe, it would be easy to add an insole or inserts for an easy fix. I normally wear a 7 in Aris Allens and needed a half size larger because I wanted to wear socks with them.

Athletic Mary Jane - available in black, white, black & white, and black & leopard print,

Athletic Mary Jane – available in black, white, black & white, and black & leopard print,

The second pair I tried is actually a style that has been out for a while, but since I don’t normally wear flats for dancing, I hadn’t had much incentive to try out the Aris Allen Athletic Mary Janes. I know there is a population of dancers out there who don’t wear heels who are looking for a Keds alternative, so I thought I’d try them out. The biggest pros for me with this shoe were the wide sole and the cushy insole. The shoes themselves felt of regular width, but the width of the sole seemed wider than the sueded Keds I owned, which in turn made my ankles less prone to roll and just gave me more overall security in feeling “grounded.” The insole on these shoes is cushy in all kinds of good ways – giving without being squishy; soft, yet resilient in its mesh design; arch support with good placement of said support. The strap was ample, so they remained on my feet, and the wingtip styling is adorable. I also had to go a half size up with this shoe for it to fit comfortably. I am hopeful that, like the white mesh oxfords, I’ll be able to shine these up with Windex when they get dirty.

D'Orsay Sandal - available in black satin, tan satin, and silver sparkle

D’Orsay Sandal – available in black satin, tan satin, and silver sparkle

The final pair I tried is definitely a new style for Aris Allen and was the one I was most excited about – the d’Orsay sandal. I have admired the Aris Allen d’Orsay satin t-strap since they launched a few years ago, but never bought a pair because the 3 inch heels were just too high for me for dancing. I hoped that they would create a similar pair with a lower heel and was elated to see the d’Orsay sandal with a 1 5/8 inch heel.

I selected a black satin pair to try out. Initially I got a size 7, but couldn’t fit my foot in the shoe, so I exchanged them for a 7.5. I got the 7.5 on my foot, but because I have a weird foot* the part of the shoe around where your foot enters the shoe near the ball of the foot was too tight. I enlisted the help of my friend Tiffany Linquist, another size 7 lady, to test the shoes for me, as her foot fit into them without the same problem. Another dancer, Heidi Reule, also tried out the fit of the shoe and did not have the same problem.

After about 5 dances, Tiffany came back over to me – the short end of the strap had broken on the d’Orsay sandal. We were pretty mortified, because we both have Aris Allen shoes that we love and know that they can make quality products. We brainstormed about the shoe and here’s what we came up with:

- The quality of the shoe appeared to be good – the materials used appeared to be quality, the overall aesthetic of the shoe was very good, the cutouts added to the comfort at the ball of the foot, and the insole was soft and comfortable.
– The heel height and width were ideal for Charleston, Balboa, and Lindy Hop.
– While the ball of the foot was very flexible, the arch was not – it was stiff and the shoe itself was very narrow at the arch. Tiffany’s feedback was that the shoe was very comfortable while she was dancing on her toes, but not while she was standing still. The arch, overall, felt and looked very narrow and, when she was wearing the shoes, she said it felt like her arches were dancing off a cliff (i.e. not secure).
– The arch support in the shoe felt like it was too far forward in the shoe.
– We were surprised that the strap broke (the small part with the buckle, not the long part with the holes for the buckle) until we noticed that there was no elastic on the strap. The absence of elastic, combined with the stiff arch appeared to put unnecessary strain on the strap, which likely caused the break. There is only so much thread can hold without some give to that tension.

That said, I hope that Dancestore does not give up on this style – I would still love to own a pair of shoes in this style and heel height – I hope that they take this feedback and make some improvements to this lovely shoe – a little elastic and some love in the arch would help what is, otherwise, a good shoe.

Styles I did not try, but that are also new include a cap toe sneaker – if you’ve been dancing in your Chucks and finding them lacking, maybe an investment in the Aris Allen Cap Toe as a viable alternative. Available in black, brown plaid, and black/white/blue plaid. They have also added a number of colors to their heeled oxford selection, including black/black & white houndstooth, black/blue brocade, black/red brocade, and fuschia velvet.

Lurve these

Lurve these

MEN! If you are still reading, you are dedicated – there are good things for you, including a much anticipated mesh wingtip in brown tones, a sweet white wingtip that looks like it may give Re-Mix’s version a run for its money (at half the price), and dance loafers in black, white, and a “Michael Jackson” edition in black with a special rubber insert in the heel that was specific to a pair of shoes worn by the King of Pop. I notice in the descriptions for the white wingtips and the loafers that they have taken feedback from dancers to heart and made these pairs with a thicker sole than the regular Aris Allen dance shoes – the result is something more like a quality pair of dress shoes and requires a bit of a break-in period. Not a bad thing if you are looking for a more quality pair of shoes. Men, I would take the time to read the descriptions of these shoes, as they have taken the time to describe their qualities in a fairly in-depth way to help you make a decision about what shoe would be right for you.

I’d be interested in hearing how the new Aris Allen shoes fare as compared to the shoes from December’s men’s footwear discussion

I love where Dancestore is going with their men’s shoe line – I think the aesthetic is spot on and the focus on quality materials and listening to user feedback is a step in a great direction. I think there are some improvements that could be made with the women’s shoes – aside from the aforementioned satin sandal, I would also like to see more leather shoes in the women’s shoe line and would like to continue to be able to buy leather wedges, which are a staple of my dance shoe wardrobe. I see that my staple wedges are being phased out, which is a shame because there are no viable alternatives, in my experience, that have the same wonderful, flexible sole as my Aris Allens. I am on my second pair of tan Rugcutters (since purchasing my first pair circa 2003/4?), and would still be on my first pair if they hadn’t smelled so terrible after 5 or 6 years that I had to throw them out. I wore them to death, almost every night, until I could afford to expand my shoe wardrobe and buy more wedges. I love them, please don’t get rid of them! *grovels and clings to your leg*

I would like to thank Dancestore for involving me in a review of their products. I am a staunch supporter of their shoes because I believe that they are a great entry point for dancers to buy dance shoes at more affordable prices and are one of the few places offering viable social dance shoes in flats. I hope they continue to make shoes that I love and experiment with new styles and adjustments to make the shoes that they have even better for dancing.

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*I have weird feet, so not every shoe works. I am the genetic product of a father with narrow feet and mother with tiny feet, a high arch, and Haglund’s deformity – the result (in me) is a narrow heel, a disproportionately wide ball of the foot, and the Haglund’s knob on the back of my heels. I also have a Tailor’s bunion and have had two surgeries to repair a toe I mutilated in my youth by falling down the stairs, breaking my toe, and then stuffing the broken toe into toe shoes before it healed. Needless to say, I must have very comfortable footwear and my health insurance has labeled me as having a pre-existing condition.

Shabby Apple Ferris Wheel Collection

Green gingham!  Eeeeeee!

Green gingham! Eeeeeee!

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Like a breath of fresh spring air, the Shabby Apple Ferris Wheel Collection arrived in my inbox yesterday – the collection features some great 1950’s-inspired silhouettes in cotton candy colors, perfect for those looking for an early spring. I am particularly pleased that Shabby Apple selected some really great prints for this collection, as they tend to lean more toward solids. I also love that their full skirt comes in so many colors and prints. As always, Shabby Apple’s dresses are great for dance or work, so we can get maximum mileage with our purchase. Here are my favorites from the collection:

Lovely shaped dress in blue with a floral print

Lovely shaped dress in blue with a floral print

Fruity print!

Fruity print!

A sassy look with a Peter Pan collar

A sassy look with a Peter Pan collar

I am usually not a fan of ruffles on the bottom, but the placement of this ruffle has the potential to create a really flattering silhouette

Dots! I am usually not a fan of ruffles on the bottom, but the placement of this ruffle has the potential to create a really flattering silhouette

On Having a Reasonable Discussion in the Lindy Hop Community

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

In light of a post I wrote on dressing appropriately for dances and the subsequent response (and many other responses) it garnered, I am shedding my Lindy Shopper hat for a post to address you all as a person. I would like to accomplish two things: 1) clarify some misconceptions about the post I wrote that have been taken to places I never even fathomed and 2) talk about how we can accomplish constructive criticism and incite meaningful, respectful discussion about topics within the community that we may agree, disagree, or agree to disagree on.

My intent with the Assaulted by Breasts post was to posit that you should dress appropriately for the athleticism of Lindy Hop, with considerations of mutual respect for those around you. I still agree with everything that I wrote, but I also agree with the feedback I have received that I should have tempered my hyperbole with more constructive how-to advice and delved more into considerations of mutual respect and boundaries.

Part of my hyperbole was in the use of the word “assault” in the title. For those of you who do not know me personally, I am an attorney by trade. If you know any attorneys personally, you probably know that their definitions, ultimate understanding, and frequency of using certain words is different from non-attorneys. When the topic addressed in my post came up in a discussion amongst friends at Lindy Focus, someone noted that in a comment on Dance World Takeover a male dancer had used the phrase “assaulted by breasts” to describe his discomfort in a particular situation. I began thinking about what I knew about assault after attending law school and practicing law and how that might relate to an incident where someone is on the verge of a wardrobe malfunction.

Assault, by definition (from the Barron’s Law Dictionary in my office – it was cheaper than Black’s), is “an attempt or threat, with unlawful force, to inflict bodily injury upon another, accompanied by the apparent present ability to give effect to the attempt if not prevented. Threat, coupled with a present ability, may be an assault. As a tort, an assault may be found where no actual intent to make one exists if the actor places the victim in reasonable fear. Because an assault need not result in a physical touching so as to constitute a battery, no physical injury need be proved to establish an assault.”

I’ll stop there, because there are many more considerations and variables that can come into play with assault, but I’m going to move on and address my rationale. You are given this basic definition, which, in turn, has been muddied, stretched, and pushed to within an inch of its meaning in order for lawyers to create arguments that will either meet the elements of the tort in order to obtain a conviction or judgment or argue a case that will absolve their client of liability. In my torts class in law school we read a case that I, in vain, have tried to locate (it must have been a handout, long gone, instead of in my textbook), but what I remember from the case is that the Plaintiff was a bystander/witness to a pretty gruesome automobile accident. If I remember correctly, his/her claim was that, by witnessing the automobile accident, this constituted assault and the Defendant should pay for their mental anguish.

I could see, in hyperbole land, how I could liken the assault contemplated by the Plaintiff in this case to a bystander’s apprehension and/or witnessing of subsequent wardrobe malfunction. To clarify, I in no way think that this is a real tort or that this argument would hold water in a court of law.

Subsequently, I see that my use of the word assault was extrapolated to mean sexual assault, which was not my intent, but a leap that people made in reading my post, perhaps based on addressing issues of leads being uncomfortable asking a potential wardrobe malfunction to dance. This then lead to outrage, and, ultimately, to the use of the phrase “slut shaming.”

I was not familiar with the phrase “slut shaming” prior to reading the comments I received on my blog post. In Christina Austin’s response to my post, she links to the Wikipedia article on “slut shaming,” which is defined as “the act of making someone, usually a woman, feel guilty or inferior, for engaging in certain sexual behaviors that violate traditional gender expectations. These include, depending on culture, having a large number of sex partners, having sexual relations outside marriage, having casual sexual relations, or acting or dressing in a way that is deemed excessively sexual. This is often done by name calling (often using the word “slut” itself) as well as covert shaming.” The article goes on to cite “an incident where a Toronto Police officer told a group of students that they could avoid sexual assault by not dressing like ‘sluts.'”

This kind of phenomenon pervades in our society and it is one of the most terrible atrocities of perception that we live with in our society. As someone who is, first and foremost, a woman who is both educated and liberal, and secondarily, a lawyer who has studied a body of rape case law spanning the past two centuries and who represents women who are victims of domestic violence, I understand, fully, the implications of this phrase, from a social, psychological, and legal standpoint. As a person, I have been assaulted, battered, and almost kidnapped by a man I did not know. If you would like to know more about my views and experiences, I would be happy to elaborate in a less public forum, but my point is that I disagree with “slut shaming” and everything that it stands for (and stands against) as to women.

When I started to get feedback on my post relating to “slut shaming,” initially from the amazing Sam Carroll (aka Dogpossum) who I admire and respect for her activities online and in her dance community, I had immediate anxiety about how the meaning of my post could be misconstrued. Could I/should I fix it? I reread my post again, and, in light of my personal background and experiences, I thought it was still OK and hoped that others would pick up on the hyperbole and know that I was not capable of having such a negative viewpoint of women. I have not met Sam in person, so it was entirely possible something was lost in translation.

I see now that a lot has been lost in translation and I have learned my lesson about the use of hyperbole. That said, I believe that tossing around accusations of “slut shaming” is a very serious matter having very public and serious implications online. Before taking something to that level of seriousness, I would want to be sure that I was clear about someone’s viewpoint before I labeled them with principles or values that they do not identify with or claim as their own.

Which leads into my second point – how to have a reasonable, constructive conversation or debate in the Lindy Hop community. Some might argue that this would be an impossibility, like having a reasonable debate in our U.S. Congress, but I have faith that we, as Lindy Hoppers, can maintain an environment of mutual respect and respectful dissent. We have this joyful dance in our lives, surely all is not in vain!

How can we have more constructive discussions?

Let’s say you’ve read something that makes you pause. Angry, even. You’ve read something that is so fundamentally against who you are as a person that you are personally offended and must take a stand. Now, take a minute to think.

1. Re-read the post.

I always go back and re-read the post I have just read. Read it three times. Read it until things don’t pop out as new to you. Every time I pause and go back and re-read a post, I find more intent, I find things that clarify, and I find more useful information to help me formulate an opinion and, in some cases, a response.

In this case, I am amazed at the number of people who have responded in a way that indicates they read my post to mean “no cleavage,” when I clearly state at the end of the fourth paragraph, “I am all for cleavage, but proportion, fit, and security are certainly factors to consider.” But I digress.

2. Think about all sides of the issue.

Take 5 minutes this time. Take a day. Take however much time you think you need to think about where this blogger is coming from and how they might have crafted this viewpoint based on their surroundings, their upbringing, their personal experience. We are all unique and our collective experiences have made us who we are and formed our opinions. You may not have experienced the same things as another person, or experienced them in the same way. It’s important to take the time to know where someone is coming from and understand their reasoning behind an idea, even if you disagree with that idea.

3. Don’t jump to conclusions.

If they said X, then they must believe Y! Go back and think about all the sides of an issue – if you can’t think of any other possible explanation for X other than Y, then it’s probably time to seek clarification and confirm that they do, indeed, believe Y. Regardless, it’s good to have clarification, rather than base your opinions or your writings on speculation.

4. Ask questions.

If you are unsure of a person’s position on a certain issue or find yourself jumping to conclusions, it’s a good idea to ask questions. If comments are open, you will most likely garner a response from the author and may further the discussion in a constructive manner, so that we are all clear on a certain issue. You may also further the discussion amongst other people commenting, who may chime in with their own opinion on that particular issue.

5. Be respectful.

There is a way to set forth your opinion on a topic in a manner that is respectful. I will often reword a sentence in a comment or a post several times before I publish it to make sure that it conveys my meaning and intent in an optimal way, especially if it is a topic on which I disagree. Resorting to name-calling, labeling, or strong language is disrespectful, doesn’t convey your ideas, ultimately detracts from your message, puts people on the defensive, and also detracts from the poster’s original message.

6. Reference the post.

I find that if I am crafting a response longer than a sentence, I will go back to the original text and compare it to the single idea or thought I just crafted, just to make sure that I am addressing the topic or issue I want to address and to make sure that I have crafted a relevant response.

If you find that, after all these things, you are still so angry about a particular post or article, keep in mind that you can be the bigger person. Your viewpoint is important, but, unless you can engage people in ways that will make them think rather than react, then your communications may not be as effective as you would like for them to be.

I think an effective response to my post was written by Aries Reyes, who I met at Lindy Focus this past year. I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with Aries, but what time I did spend with her I gathered that she was a liberated, kind, engaging, and thoughtful dancer. Her response reaffirms my positive perception of her and, though she disagrees with me, she sets forth her position in a manner that is respectful, engaging, and informative.

I would like to further the discussion of how we can have reasonable discussions within our community. I’ve outlined a few points above, but I’m sure there are tips I haven’t addressed that would be relevant and constructive. I hope that, in the future, we can all continue to engage in new ways online and show the world (since everything we post is public) that the Lindy Hop community is as welcoming and wonderful as I know it to be in person.

EDITED: To add that this post is, in no way, meant to attack Christina or call her personally unreasonable, childish, or disrespectful. There have been a couple of questions about this and I wanted to clarify. I have mentioned her in this post because she has been one of the driving forces behind furthering this discussion. This is an important discussion to have in our community and addresses issues that go beyond our little dance bubble. I’ll also add that intent is not magical and it is entirely reasonable that the words I used in my Assaulted by Breasts post were read to contain problematic messages. If any of you were hurt, offended, or angered, I apologize for using those words in a way that hurt, offended, or angered you. The pen is, indeed, mightier than the sword and I will, in the future, wield my pen with more consideration and responsibility.

Also, if I haven’t moderated or responded to your comment, please be patient as I have been bombarded with comments and communications about all of this.

EDITED: To add that Christina and I have had reasonable discussion about this and she has posted a follow-up: http://clausti.blogspot.com/2013/02/on-having-adult-discussion-in-lindy-hop.html. Sometimes things are better stated in private conversation and I’m happy that we have been able to effectively communicate our ideas.

EDITED: To add that Dogpossum has a timeline with links to relevant posts about this discussion, if you’d like to catch up on the background and full discussion as of February 8, 2013.

Floweruary 2013

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Oh, Billie, thy gardenias are plentiful!

Oh, Billie, thy gardenias are plentiful!

It’s that time of year again, where the ladies and gents of the swing world don lovely blooms in the midst of winter in celebration of Floweruary. This the third annual Floweruary and I am looking forward to seeing more creative wearing o’ the blooms, as the OcTieBer participants had some particularly creative uses of neckwear for 2012, raising the bar for sartorial challenges.

What is Floweruary? A sartorial challenge for the month of February, whereby you wear a flower (real or artificial) somewhere on your person every day for the entire month. Hair flowers made up the initial blooms, but since then people have come up with other creative ways to incorporate flowers into their ensembles.

So how can you celebrate Floweruary with others this year? There are several options:

1) The initial Tumblr group, established by the Philly dancers, is still going strong – check it out and participate by uploading photographs of you wearing your daily blooms at http://floweruary.tumblr.com/

2) For the past couple of years, this event has been initiated by a Facebook invite, but it looks like a local Facebook group is a presence this year. The group is sponsored by the Cookeville Swing Society in Cookeville, Tennessee, whose organizers have decided to donate $0.10 to a charity every time one of the Cookeville dancers (or anyone who has ever danced in Cookeville) posts a photo of themselves participating in the Floweruary challenge and tags local dancer Kyla Anderson. In addition, the proceeds of all sales of flowers and clips at CSS events will go to charity. Last year Cookeville raised money for The Lindy Hopper’s Fund of America and this year’s charity is the Kickstarter campaign for BLIP: Bringing Swing to Panama City and the Disabled.

3) Set up an Etsy Treasury of your favorite handmade blooms.

4) Check out Jo Hoffberg’s A Month of Hair – a hairstyle a day, coinciding with Floweruary 2011.

5) Can’t afford more flowers? Make your own with help from Jesse Hanus’ blog post Hair Flower Tutorials, with advice and links to tutorials on how to make your own flowers for Floweruary.

In a new turn of events, it looks like Floweruary has some haters, but there’s nothing redeeming about a blog that serves the purpose of relaying apathy and negativity. Clearly, we all have better things to do.

Floweruary is a celebration of joy, beauty, and charity, and we’ll keep that in mind all month long. Happy Floweruary! Let the blooming commence!

Dance-Proof Red Lips by Kat Von D

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I know several people who collect red lipstick for the lovely vintage look it gives them – there are so many reds to have, but not all lipsticks are created equal. The worst part about wearing most lipsticks is that they eventually wear off, leaving you looking thin-lipped, which defeats the entire purpose of wearing it in the first place. A night of dancing can wreak havoc on red lips. I have been looking for a budge-proof lip product and, after a semi-diligent search, I have the answer.

Kat Von D seems like the perfect spokesperson for a lip product that’s both glamorous and tough-as-nails. I was in Sephora on a whim and my friend Ellen Tucker, who works there, asked, “Is there anything you need?” I once swore by an Aveda lip pencil as a red lip foundation, but after it was discontinued I had no choice but to seek other products. I explained the red lip pencil/base search and she brought me over to the Kat Von D cosmetics, pulling out a really vibrant red and black tube of Everlasting Love Liquid Lipstick in Outlaw (brick red). I was skeptical at first because liquid cosmetics can be difficult, but after a demonstration of it’s inability to be removed from her skin without a scrubbing, I was convinced…

…and I haven’t gone back! I am frequently asked how I manage to keep my lipstick on after dancing, meals, and gigs – this is the answer. It’s a bright red, but can be tempered by layering with other lipsticks. It is also matte, which gives it more of a vintage look.

It is slightly difficult to apply the first few times, but then you start to develop a technique and you understand that your fear of its electric red-ness will subside after the color sets in and it darkens a bit. I found it easiest to apply to either the middle of the upper or lower lip, then press lips together to spread the color, then do the outline of your lip. Also, check your teeth before you leave the mirror and give them a once-over with your tongue, or you’ll look like you had a vampire meal after application. Remove at the end of the night with a makeup remover – you may have to go over it twice to get all the color off.

I am hopeful that this line of cosmetics stays around for a while and, of course, I’d love to see some more color variations on red.

1930’s and 40’s Suiting on eBay

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

All of a sudden, there was an influx of men’s 1930’s suits on eBay, including some lovely summer weight suits. Let’s get started:

Linen suit with belt back

Linen suit with belt back, size 36, starting bid $49.99

Palm Beach suit, size 40, bidding at $9.00

Palm Beach suit, size 40, bidding at $9.00

Another size 40 belt back suit, with accompanying cigar from that era?  Gross...LOL

Another size 40 belt back suit, with accompanying cigar from that era? Gross…LOL

Summer belt back suit, size 38, bidding at $86.00

Summer belt back suit, size 38, bidding at $86.00

1936 three-piece suit, size 38, bidding at $168.01

1936 three-piece suit, size 38, bidding at $168.01

Navy tux, size 42, Buy it Now for $135.00

Navy tux, size 42, Buy it Now for $135.00