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Lindy Focus 2013 – Vendor Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Al and Leon, as illustrated by Ryan Calloway

Al and Leon, as illustrated by Ryan Calloway

I’ve waited long enough to post, but I have largely been in denial about Lindy Focus ending – watching the myriad videos posted daily and attending in my local dances with the tidal wave of positive energy remaining and commiserating about the days that we don’t get to dance now that Lindy Focus is over. I’m still on LF sleep schedule, which means I have started this blog post at 2:15 a.m., as if in anticipation of a 3:00 a.m. DJ shift. But I must move on, and I’ve got to get these vendors posted if I’m going to remember anything about them – on with the post!

I’ll start off with this year’s Lindy Focus feature artist, Ryan Calloway, who not only had fabulous jazz dance and jazz music prints available for purchase, but whose artwork was also featured in a limited edition Lindy Focus tee shirt. I particularly love his style and the way in which he depicts the movement in his prints – a feast for the eyes on the walls of any Lindy Hopper home.

A custom bridal piece by Creations by Crawford

A custom bridal piece by Creations by Crawford

Next, we have what I believe to be my most frequent topic on Lindy Shopper, which would be Miss Sharon Crawford and her Creations by Crawford – her prolific event attendance as a vendor is unparalleled in the Southeast and her custom creations a work of art inspired by each wearer who contracts for her creative services. She works during the entire event, often so that a purchaser can wear their custom pieces to the dance THAT NIGHT. Her women’s pieces are stellar, but I think she really shines with menswear and her use of feathers to create custom lapel pieces.

Sharon also vended jewelry pieces from Plain Jane, a local to Asheville designer, and shared a table with Zoe Lechucita, who was also making custom hair pieces during the event, with accents of sequins and jewels.

Glitter taps...so close, yet so far away...

Glitter taps…so close, yet so far away…

The Lindy Focus consignment shop was in full swing, with everything from madras plaid pants to beaded gowns to glitter tap shoes. I was dying for a pair of the glitter tap shoes, but the sizes were just out of reach. I made a little money consigning a few things, which is great, and I overheard several people on New Year’s Eve saying that they had purchased their dress at the consignment shop. What a great idea to recycle dancer clothing and, as far as I know, this is unique to Lindy Focus.

A Forties Forward display!

A Forties Forward display!

Forties Forward, another consistent southeast swing event vendor, was set up with their glorious blooms and has also added some feathered pieces to the lineup. Bejeweled centers decked the blossoms, as well as the feathers – the overall feeling from the booth was opulence. Right on, ladies!

Nestled in the consignment shop I saw a small display for JitterButtons, featuring a selection of 8 buttons with clever, swing dance-related designs and slogans, such as “Friends Don’t Let Friends Clap on One” and an anti-pretzel sign. You can purchase one of their stock buttons from their website and you can also order custom buttons for your own event, as well!

Seriously...about the clapping...

Seriously…about the clapping…

Last, but certainly not least, Nicole Lenzen dazzled us with another fashion show during one of the camp meetings, highlighting her new collection and using instructors to expertly show off the movement of her garments. I’m sad that I didn’t get a chance to look at the garments more closely due to schedule constraints, but I am sure, after speaking with her last year, that the fabrics are of excellent quality and texture, and there were some repeat details that I loved, such as the lovely belt on the Mariposa dress (now in more colors!). Take a look at the entire fashion show and collection on the Lindy Focus YouTube channel:

A selection of Ryan Calloway's jazz prints

A selection of Ryan Calloway’s jazz prints

Plain Jane's baubles

Plain Jane’s baubles

Zoe hard at work on a feathered piece.

Zoe hard at work on a feathered piece.

Sharon shows off a custom hair piece.

Sharon shows off a custom hair piece.

An array of men's footwear at the Lindy Focus consignment shop.

An array of men’s footwear at the Lindy Focus consignment shop.

The consignment shop comprised most of the vendor area square footage.

The consignment shop comprised most of the vendor area square footage.

All the feathers!  This lovely piece is by Forties Forward.

All the feathers! This lovely piece is by Forties Forward.

Nicole Lenzen's display served as a teaser for the fashion show earlier in the week.

Nicole Lenzen’s display served as a teaser for the fashion show earlier in the week.

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Assaulted by Breasts

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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As the trombone player stared into the distance, waiting for the next set to begin on New Year’s Eve at Lindy Focus XI, the trumpet player next to him prodded “Are you looking at what I’m looking at?” The trombone player followed the trumpet player’s gaze to the row of dancers lining the front of the stage and saw a girl who had come out of her dress on the top, exposing most or all of a breast.

While some guys would be delighted at this sight, and agree that this is awesome, in actuality it becomes an issue because something very private has become very public. And when something very private has a very public reaction that could be detected, that brings out even more issues. Yes, guys, I know you want to see attractive women at dances; however, the consensus has generally been that most guys don’t want to be a horn dog at dances, distracted by so much cleavage or full boobage that it becomes ogling and/or pushes them into creepy territory. Generally, guys who want to respect boundaries are going to be uncomfortable being pulled between instinct and decorum and are probably just less likely to dance with a potential wardrobe malfunction.

When the girls are in full display, or perhaps spilling out of one’s top or dress, the movement of Lindy Hop could turn pulse into a full trampoline bounce. I have seen this and been intimidated by watching someone dance like this. It is at that point that the dance becomes something else entirely for those within view – bystanders find themselves watching a car falling off the precipice of a cliff rather than watching an enjoyable aesthetic. It’s the apprehension that makes it so distracting for me – consider that the scope of the apprehension can go further than your dance partner.

For Lindy Focus, this was probably more of an issue on New Year’s Eve (as retailers notoriously only offer sparkle in cleavage-friendly shapes), but I did notice other things throughout the event, like sheer shirts over darkly contrasting bras (camisole, anyone?) and ill-fitting strapless dresses that looked as though the top were Hoover Dam about to burst from a flood of chest. Much of this goes back to buying clothes that fit you well (but not tightly – there is a distinction), but also shapes and necklines that are complimentary to your shape. If you have a smaller chest, you can get away with showing more skin – this is an inversely proportional relationship. Likewise, the larger your chest is, the less skin you can get away with showing, because there is more of it. I am all for cleavage, but proportion, fit, and security are certainly factors to consider.

Another consideration, for the burgeoning nudists among us, were the children present at Lindy Focus. I almost tripped over sleeping children near the stage on a couple of nights, but there were also children running around at the main dances. Let’s try not to scar these kids for life.

The trombone player in the story is my husband and I really don’t want to come home and hear stories like this. Thus, when you are dressing yourself for an event, consider the fit of your clothing, the risk of certain necklines, the athleticism of swing dancing in general, and the proportionate amount of cleavage that will be attractive without becoming a nuisance to you or to others.

EDITED: To add that this post has sparked an extensive discussion in our online Lindy Hop community – Dogpossum sets forth a timeline of the discussion (relevant blog responses and social media) mid-way through her blog post, if you’d like to follow and/or join the ensuing discussion as of February 8, 2013.

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!

Golfknickers.com

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

In honor of my trip to visit Knickerrocker this weekend and DJ at his and Bill Speidel‘s monthly dance event, The Southside Stomp, I decided to profile golfknickers.com, purveyors of men’s and women’s short pants, fancy socks and other classic golf attire. Arguably, if these knickers are made for a sport, wouldn’t they also be ideal for dancing? I’d like to think so.

Golfknickers.com has a clear purpose: “We specialize in our full line of men’s plus fours or golf knickers (knickers). To complement the knickers our company has a full line of matching socks, caps and shirts; allowing us to deliver the complete outfit to our customer. Our customers’ include Corporations, Golf Courses (outfitting Staff and Patrons), School Golf Teams, Tournaments and avid golfers around the world. We are committed to growing the game of golf by encouraging players to wear the game the way it was meant to be played.”

The way it was meant to be played. I’m already a fan – promoting dressing well and in a classic way is just what we do on this blog, as well. :)

Now for the goods! Just about everything on this site is vintage inspired and could be worn at a dance. Obviously the knickers are the highlight, with the men’s models in 20 colors of microfiber gabardine and cotton/linen, 6 plaids in cotton/linen, 4 plaids in a wool blend, and some models with matching caps. The microfiber knickers are a steal at $69.95. Ladies can choose from 6 colors and 3 plaids (although shouldn’t they be offering some lovely 1920’s-inspired golf dresses and cloches, a la Jordan Baker? *sigh*)

There are socks galore, argyle in just about every color combination you can think of. They also have a nice selection of caps, an inordinate amount of argyle sweater vests, and some nice cotton/linen blend regular length trousers in solids and plaids.

Having trouble deciding? Golfknickers.com anticipated that the unlimited combinations could be overwhelming, so they have collections of ready to go outfits, that include knickers, shirt, sweater vest, socks and cap already expertly matched – just pick a color. If you’d like to create your own look, but aren’t sure how the pieces will look together, the site offers a virtual model where you can try different color combinations.

Microfiber knickers

Argyle socks galore!

Oh, the sweater vests!

I would wear these green knickers in a hot minute

The only thing more awesome than playing golf in these knickers would be playing golf in a kilt