Brown and White Aris Allen Wingtips on eBay, Size 12

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Because men’s dance shoes so rarely appear on eBay, I’m passing along this gently used pair of men’s brown and white Aris Allen wingtips, size 12. Starting bid is $25, but you could buy them now for $32 (plus a very reasonable $4.50 shipping).

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Lindy Focus 2012 Vendors

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Wide view of the Lindy Focus consignment shop

Wide view of the Lindy Focus consignment shop

This was a bit of an interesting year for vendors at Lindy Focus, in that few of the usual suspects were present, so the vending was made up mostly of DIY lindy hoppers, including endeavors by Lindy Focus itself. Lindy Focus offered a consignment shop for those who had danceable clothes and shoes to get rid of and for those who needed/wanted such items. I did pretty well in the selling department, so some of you may have left Lindy Focus with a Lindy Shopper vintage garment. :)

Noticeably absent was Dancestore and their signature Aris Allen shoes, a serious business faux pas, in my opinion – 900+ attendees, many of which (including me) were looking to buy or replace dance shoes. To make up for the lack of being able to replace dancers’ worn out shoes, Lindy Focus offered a shoe sueding and repair service.

One of Sharon's creations

One of Sharon’s creations

Marathon dance event vendor Sharon Crawford of Creations by Crawford was on hand creating custom hair pieces, boutonnieres, and other elegant accoutrement for ladies and gents at her table, positioned next to the ballroom off the registration lobby. Sharon’s table was always open and always had a bevy of guests – from hairdressers to nappers to chatters, all were welcome to hang out. I don’t know how she got any work done, but I’d wager to say she’s the longest working vendor at Lindy Focus (as evidenced by the sunrise/survivors photo on the last day, she was probably working the whole time).

Forties Forward - love these gals!

Forties Forward – love these gals!

Forties Forward, one of my favorite hair flower vendors, was right across the hallway from Sharon, making sure that the ladies of Lindy Focus had all the hair flowers they needed. With the customary gussying up for New Year’s Eve, I’m sure they did well. Added inventory this year: false eyelashes. Va-va-voom!

Also a regular, Mike Thibault’s jazz and lindy hop prints are always a welcome sight. I love his selection, especially the new-ish one of the interior of the Savoy ballroom packed to the gills with dancers. If you haven’t seen what he has, definitely check out his website – Vintage Jazz Art – and pick up something inspiring to put on your wall.

Next to Mike’s table was a curious little table of notecards with photograph images of dancers with a sign saying “Dance Cards by DJ Stone.” Perhaps a few campers picked one up to send a note saying “Wish you were here?”

The designer and her models - photograph courtesy of Jessica Keener Photography

The designer and her models – photograph courtesy of Jessica Keener Photography

Finally, New York designer Nicole Lenzen not only had a lovely rack of dresses at her vendor table, she debuted her first collection of dresses and rompers for dancers at Lindy Focus in a glorious fashion show during one of the camp meetings, featuring some of your favorite female instructors as models for her designs. The collection was movement-conscious, high in twirl factor, and rich in textiles. The designer loves to work with fine fabrics, produced ethically and created into garments in New York’s garment district. Nicole hopes to have her website ready to take orders soon – she does custom garments as well as those featured in her collection. Nicole is a delight and I look forward to seeing her business grow and flourish. Check out the fashion show in the video below for a full view of the collection and also Jessica Keener’s lovely photographs.

I think a fashion show and debut collection must be a swing dance event first, if not a Lindy Focus first, no? Clearly we are heading in the right direction.

I’ll close by saying I really enjoyed being on a panel discussing blogging and social media with Rebecca Brightly, Michael Seguin, and Jerry Almonte. Everyone had thoughtful commentary and different insights based on our different experiences. Special thanks to Abigail Browning for inviting us to participate and giving us questions so that we actually had something to say. :)

Mike Thibault's wonderful Vintage Jazz Art prints

Mike Thibault’s wonderful Vintage Jazz Art prints

Dance cards by DJ Stone

Dance cards by DJ Stone

I couldn't resist posting the beading detail from one of Nicole's dresses.  You should go look at the fashion show, but you won't be able to see all the wonderful details in her dresses!

I couldn’t resist posting the beading detail from one of Nicole’s dresses. You should go look at the fashion show, but you won’t be able to see all the wonderful details in her dresses!

Lindy Shopper at Lindy Focus

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I am eagerly anticipating my departure to Lindy Focus XI, not only for the shopping opportunities this year, but also for my appearance as a panelist in one of the Lindy Focus Field Day discussions! Come to the Overlook ballroom at 1:00 p.m. on December 30 for a discussion on “Scene Building in the Age of New Media” with me, Rebecca Brightly of Dance World Takeover, Jerry Almonte of Wandering and Pondering, and others!

In addition to vendors and merch, Lindy Focus boasts a consignment shop where you can bring your gently used clothing and shoes (up to 10 items) to sell in their shop to make a little extra cash for yourself (to do more shopping with, of course!). There’s also a shoe shop where they are offering a sole sueding service – $15 per pair for high quality suede and professional strength cobblers adhesive. They will also have many pairs of vintage and dance shoes for sale at the shoe shop. So many things!

Finally, Lindy Focus has a room with some emergency supplies, if you find yourself ailing outside of drugstore business hours. From Eva Millwood: “In room 128, there will be available band-aids/neosporin, Tylenol, Advil, Aleve, Tums, and Benadryl for $.25, and emergen-c and off-brand 5-hour energy shots for $.50. Someone will almost always be here!” They may add to this list of available items, so come to this room if you find yourself in a bit of a medical bind, but don’t need urgent care.

Lindy Focus continues to exceed expectations – I can’t wait to be there!

M.G. Baker Co. Bow Ties

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Red Tartan - can't post of Christmas Day without a Christmas tie!

Red Tartan – can’t post on Christmas Day without a Christmas tie!

Thanks to a tip from North Vancouver dancer Sarah Vincent, I am now apprised of the existence of M.G. Baker Co. Bow Ties, handmade in the U.S.A. and christened with names like Foxtrot, Lindy Hop, Bunny Hop, Charleston, Boogie, and other vintage dances. The funny thing is, this guy is not a dancer…which means he must be very clever to know the names of all of these dances. :)

These ties are 100% cotton, which means they are friendly for the inevitable sweat that accompanies your dancing. It also means you could probably throw it in the wash (but air dry, lest your tie shrink to mini-tie).

From the website: “All M.G. BAKER CO. Bow Ties are the traditional “Self-Tie” variety; meaning they are the kind you tie yourself. But don’t fret! Each and every one is uniquely packaged in a keepsake box complete with illustrated tying instructions to help teach even the most inexperienced beginner how to tie a bow tie to perfection.”

Faves:

Charleston

Charleston

Polka

Polka

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DIY Wingtip Keds

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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One of the first things on my Facebook feed this morning was a photo of a pair of red and a pair of green wingtip Keds, made by St. Louis dancers Beccy Aldrich and Kayce Maureen. I love a DIY project and the shoes were so adorable I couldn’t resist posting them here.

They got the idea from Pinterest, which linked to this site in a language unknown to me. However, the photographs take you step by step through the process so you can make a pair of your own! Beccy adds that they used fabric pens to create all the patterns on the shoe, and supplemented with white fabric paint to highlight the dots in the brogueing. We’re not sure what the turquoise pen is in the photo.

If you’re going to Lindy Focus, you’ll get to see the green pair and red pair in person – nice job, ladies!

Hillsborough Formalwear Outlet

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

My outlet tux!  Photo courtesy of Bonnie Stanley Photography.

My outlet tux! Photo courtesy of Bonnie Stanley Photography.

I had heard rumors about the Hillsborough Formalwear Outlet in Hillsborough, NC long before I actually went there – mostly people who had purchased a hat from their collection, but they spoke of a giant warehouse full of tuxedos, for rent or for purchase, at very reasonable prices. When Raleigh’s Vaudevillain Revue decided to go 20’s/30’s for a show, I decided it was time for me to pull a Dietrich for my performance and get a tux of my own.

The Deal: jacket, pants, shirt, vest or cummerbund, bow tie, studs, and cufflinks for just over $100 (including tax). You take it home, it’s all yours, everything you need but the socks and shoes.

How do they do it? When formalwear retailers and renters liquidate their stock, this place buys the goods. You are purchasing sometimes new, sometimes previously rented, goods. They have a wide selection of tuxedo styles – from tailcoats to modern jackets, every imaginable color of vest. If they don’t have it in the main warehouse/shop, they have a few other warehouses to draw from, including one that is almost entirely full of polyester 70’s tuxes with ruffled shirts – imagine the color combinations (*laugh*cry*shudder*)! All this to say that they probably have a tux that will work for you and your needs.

The customer service was fantastic – someone was essentially assigned to me and helped me painstakingly put together a men’s tux for my not-a-man’s body. I was elated with the result and the price – I’ve put together Halloween costumes with fewer pieces that cost more than this.

I was really hoping that they would be open the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve – people need tuxes for NYE, right? – and with Lindy Focus that week, people could fly into RDU and hit the warehouse on the way to Asheville. Alas, they will not be open that week, so my plans for directing you to them for this year’s LF have been foiled. However, this is a family-owned business, so perhaps if enough of you emailed them we could convince them to open for a day, or take appointments? Just a thought. Perhaps you can hit them up on the way back to RDU and pick up one for next year…

Large Holiday Clutch at Target

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I went into Target tonight to get ingredients for chili and, as I strolled by the accessories, I noticed a large sparkly holiday clutch and thought, “Wow, I bet I could fit a pair of dance shoes in there.” So I took one home with me and found out I was right! I’m not a big fan of collecting purses (usually one purse fulfills 99% of my bag lady/lady bag needs) but sometimes I need an upgrade and I find myself with two bags – a shiny, tiny purse that fits some cards and a tube of lipstick and a separate dance shoe bag in some state of disrepair or dirty. THIS purse is the solution.

Even if I decide not to put dance shoes inside, it could carry a full size wallet, phone, toiletries, meds, grocery bags, etc. I usually stuff in my purse, or if you are out in a pair of 4 inch heels for a night on the town, it could carry your emergency flats. Yay, function! Now, if we could just get them to put pockets in more dresses and pairs of pants…

Available in purple, black/silver, silver, and bronze. $18.00 or $22.99.

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Tightsplease

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Fancy legwear has definitely been a trend in the Lindy Hop community for the past few years and it makes sense – we are paying a lot of attention to movement and embellishing that is one way to get someone to look at your legs. I was contacted by the UK legwear retailer, Tightsplease, about reviewing their site and product and I am happy to report that all is well in the UK for quality hosiery.

I tried a pair of the Tightsplease brand’s Jive Stockings, which proved to be highly durable. I didn’t dance in them, but I did brave a Christmas party with a shooting contest, a parade, hot glue gun crafts, small children, and runway walking on a gravel driveway. They’ve made it through the wash on the delicate cycle and are ready to go again. This is saying a lot for these hose because I am the destroyer of all panty hose that are not, essentially, medical grade support hose. I destroyed a different pair last night on the first wear by simply attending a concert and sitting in a chair for 2 hours. Riddle me that.

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I was very excited to see that they carry what they are calling Charleston stockings, which look like the silk stockings of old, but probably aren’t silk, based on the price tag. I am hopeful for the latter because silk stockings tend to get droopy around the ankles mid-way through the night and I’d love for modern technology to have improved on that, but maintain that same rich, silky look. Ella wasn’t kidding when she sang about silk shiny stockings – they are really shiny!

The website also lists the denier for most of the hosiery, which I find extremely helpful as the hosiery Godzilla. If there’s two pairs that look the same, you can be sure I’ll go for the one with the higher denier number.

Here are some of my favorites from this lovely site:

Side bow suspender tights - sassy without the garter belt

Side bow suspender tights – sassy without the garter belt

Chicago tights - more shiny stuff!

Chicago tights – more shiny stuff!

Freakin' gorgeous hold ups with peacock feather detail

Freakin’ gorgeous hold ups with peacock feather detail

80 denier tights in 7 colors - hoping 80 denier means Godzilla-proof...

80 denier tights in 7 colors – hoping 80 denier means Godzilla-proof…

Dogstooth tights

Dogstooth tights

H&M Goes Deco

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I’m still trolling the internet for a Lindy Focus New Year’s Eve dress and came across two great dresses for aspiring flappers at H&M’s amazing prices. Choose between this lovely contrast beaded black dress with Art Deco lines ($49.95) or the slightly more edgy black dress with Deco detailing around the neckline ($14.95).

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Discussion on Men’s Swing Dance Shoes

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I am often curious about men’s footwear, specifically for Lindy Hop and Balboa. You see everything from sneakers to wingtips, but the options for shoes made specifically for dancing are drastically more limited than women’s options. My friend Matt Mitchell from Austin, Texas posed this question on Facebook: “Looking to retire the Aris Allens. What shoes would you recommend? Nick, David, Jeremy, Mickey, and any other lead?” I’d like to know the answer to this myself!

Pronto Uomo Brown Center-Seam Dress Shoe | Men's Wearhouse

Jon Tigert chimed in first with his endorsement for Pronto Uomo brown leather oxfords, adding that “they are mostly a clothes company, but the shoes hold up great and are super comfortable.” A quick search of the internets revealed very little in the way of offerings for purchase, but if you are looking for tuxedo shoes for this year’s Lindy Focus, their patent leather tuxedo shoes are available at Men’s Wearhouse. A search of eBay shows that there are a lot of these shoes being sold used, which translates into savings for you.

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Nick Williams‘ shoe of choice has been discontinued, Nordstrom brand loafers, but Jeremy Otth posted a link to a pair of loafers from Nordstrom that could fit the bill. Nick says that this particular loafer is different in terms of design, so his search for a new favorite dance shoe continues. David Lee adds that he is wearing the new Nordstrom loafers, which were a little hard on his feet until he bought inserts, and they are now great.

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Andreas Olsson favors these sweet Moreschi Italian loafers, acknowledging that they are pricey, but that they are very comfortable and extremely durable. He’s still wearing the pair he bought in 2006.

In terms of general brand recommendations, Carl Nelson recommends Florsheim because they fit his feet well. Jason Swihart* perfers Allen Edmonds, but adds that “any quality men’s shoes with a flexible, not-too-heavy leather sole (if the heel is rubber, you can have it replaced)” is good. Jeremy says that Stacy Adams shoes are good if you like a thicker sole, but he prefers the Nordstrom loafer so he can “feel the floor.”

Other general tips:

- Buy shoes that fit your feet.
– Shoe trees and leather treatment can help make shoes fit you better.
– Vintage shoes are a viable option, especially if you have narrow feet.
– If you find a pair of shoes you like and they aren’t leather on the bottom or on the heel, you can always find a cobbler and have them soled in leather or suede.

I found this discussion very useful and broadening in terms of knowning what options are available to men. It appears that classic men’s shoe makers/retailers are the most viable options outside of the Aris Allen brand. Thanks to all who participated in this conversation for your feedback and the results of your trials and errors.

* Mr. Swihart appears on the Lindy Shopper blog with the permission of his legal counsel.

Candy Cane Dress

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

How adorable is this 1930’s bias cut red and white striped dress? Seriously adorable and festive, lightweight for dancing, bias cut for movement, matching belt and capelet, what more could a girl ask for in a holiday dress? :D

Korea Balboa Weekend Shoes

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Like all great Balboa events, it appears that Korea Balboa Weekend has a dance shoe vendor, Balboa Sin, with the added bonus that you can order these shoes from their event website. I’d love to hear from some of the Korean dancers how they like the shoes. It looks like you can custom order your heel height, which is my favorite customization, since I like my heels in the 2 inch range. I am pretty much in love with all of the offerings on the website, but here are some of my super faves:

Red Mary Janes!

Green suede t-straps *drool*

Love this cheerful blue – similar to Remix’s Emily blue, but in a different style

These glorious t-straps get their own photo spread

What Are You Wearing New Year’s Eve?

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

The question at the forefront of my mind today (after a trip to the mall where there is an overabundance of sequins and glitter) is what will I wear on New Year’s Eve at Lindy Focus? Something that twirls, something that sparkles, something like…this Striking Gold dress from ModCloth! But…it’s not available in my size. Still, it’s a good dress, someone should sparkle in it (in red or gold), no? ;) For me – the search continues!

Mint Julep Jazz Band Kickstarter

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

While I have your attention with yesterday’s post, I’ll make a shameless plug for my band, the Mint Julep Jazz Band, and the Kickstarter we are running through December 30 to fund our first CD! We’d love to have you as a backer in exchange for copies of the CD, dance shoe bags, and other fabulous rewards, but the best reason of of all – we make music you can swing out to!

You can get more information about the band in general at our website, or visit Swing DJ Resources for a post about the band, its relationship to the swing dance community, and the Kickstarter campaign.

We would also encourage you to talk to Kate Hedin, David Rehm, Chad Skeeters, Abigail Browning, Chelsea Lee, Breanna Perry, Corey Manke, Shana Worel, and Rob Moreland about why they backed our Kickstarter and ask anyone who attended EBC this year what they thought of the Friday night band. This disc is gonna swing, I promise! :D

Body Odor at Dance Events

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I am sad to report this, but the biggest offense at this year’s Eastern Balboa Championships was body odor. Numerous people made unsolicited comments about the ripe smell of mostly gentlemen, but also some ladies, who were taking classes (with the exception of the Masters class, but by then you have probably mastered many things, including your body odor at dance events).

This can be a very sensitive topic for people, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s important to be aware of your smell at dances because it can make for an unpleasant experience for others around you and, in turn, can make for an unpleasant night of dancing for you when others react or pretend not to react to your smell.

This all has little to do with shopping, but there are some things you can do, things that you can purchase, and things that you can wear that can make a difference in your odor throughout the night. We are all sweating out there on the dance floor, it’s inevitable that the room we dance in will end up smelling like a locker room when we are done; however, it’s when your personal smell overpowers the general musk of the room that there is a need to address the issue.

It is important to take both preventative and continuing measures to ensure that you remain a viable partner throughout the dance or dance event.

Ask yourself, do I smell?

As soon as I smell something I immediately assume it’s me. I’m the closest person to me, shouldn’t I be able to smell myself? Do an armpit check. DO IT. I have, on occasion, forgotten to wear deodorant. It happens. I always keep deodorant in my purse, so I run to the bathroom and apply/reapply liberally. I also sometimes ask a close friend to tell me if I smell. He/she will be honest about your odor because this is an important question.

This cat is making stink face because he senses your odor from across the dance floor.

Bathe

Yes, showering takes time away from workshops/hanging out/meals/dances/late night, but if you have sweated and are sitting in that sweat for a period of 24 hours at an event, chances are you probably smell a little. It’s natural. This is where you consider that others around you may not want to smell you. If you are at home with your BFF playing video games and eating Cheetos all weekend, you probably don’t have to bathe, but then that friend probably isn’t touching you or getting in your personal space. You are dancing with friends and strangers at an event in very close proximity, especially at Balboa events. Please be considerate, take a moment to check your funk level (sniff or ask a friend), and do try to take a bath at least once per 24 hour period. Even a bird bath can help.

Deodorant is your friend

Please wear deodorant. Reapply if necessary.

Change shirts/clothes

If you have worn the same pair of pants all weekend, that may be the source of the smell. Most dancers who have been doing this for a while know that they will need to bring at least one outfit per day, if not more, and most leads know that they will need several changes of shirts throughout the dance. It’s not just about the dampness, it’s also about the smell. You may also want to consider a bird bath for the armpits (and dry them afterwards) with paper towels in the bathroom between shirt changes to wipe away the bacteria, and/or perhaps check at that point to see if you should reapply deodorant.

Diet

You are what you eat and you may smell like what you ate for dinner – try to eat more fruits and veggies and try to eat less meats and greasy food. Avoid onions and garlic – they can affect your breath and your odor, a double whammy. Also, stay hydrated!

Perfumes

This goes to the other end of the spectrum – the overpowering smells aren’t always body odor, so please be mindful of how potent your perfume is at dance events. Most of the female complaints I heard at EBC were perfume-related. If you are using bath products that smell nice and are using deodorant, this is probably enough smelly goodness that you won’t need a perfume. If you are trying to mask the odor, perhaps it’s time to reapply the deo or take a bath.

Clothing Choices

Wear clothing that allows your skin to breathe, i.e. natural fibers (cotton, linen, silk, wool – yes, wool).

While I am certain this is not a comprehensive list, I am hopeful that it is a start – let’s do try to make an effort to keep our personal odor to a minimal level so that we can all enjoy the dance.