Tag Archives: Forties Forward

Lindy Focus 2014 – 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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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!

ILHC 2012 Vendors

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

It was another glorious weekend of competitions, inspirational figures (young and old), and a celebration of movement to some of the hottest jazz in the US – I’m talking about the 2012 International Lindy Hop Championships, held in Washington, D.C. this past weekend. The swanky Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel was the swanky backdrop for this event and the bright and shiny decor only added to the vibrancy of the event.

Were there vendors? You bet! I only wish there had been more vendors, as it appeared that they were fewer in number from last year. The most noticeable absence was Carol Fraser and her army of My Heinies, fabulous shoes, and accompanying Model J Vintage that filled up a prominent space in the vendor area at ILHC 2011. As a consolation, I did notice that every follow who showed her heiny in a comp had it securely covered. :)

Dancestore’s newest version of the trumpet skirt, available in black, brown, and red – as of ILHC, not available on the Dancestore website.

Dancestore was there with an entire inventory of their staple shoes, but of serious note was the introduction of a new (wait for it)…trumpet skirt! While it’s not the trumpet skirt we know and love, it’s still a nice variation on the theme, with beautiful Art Deco-inspired seaming on the front. The twirl factor is good! The only con, in my opinion, is the material – it is a very stretchy/drapey jersey instead of the more substantial stretch suiting-type material of the trumpet skirts of my crusade. The new skirts are great if you want something to ball up and throw in your suitcase, but are not so good if you have hip, bum, or belly bumps, or if you want to tuck in your shirt. I am still eagerly awaiting the return of the more substantial trumpet skirt. In the vein of more substantial fabrics, Dancestore also had a fantastic new red wiggle dress (also not available on the website yet).

Next door, Laurie Gilkenson (also known as Nina‘s Mom), set up a table that was a mix of fabulous and/or quirky Nina clothing castoffs, fabulous vintage shoes, Mobtown Ballroom tee shirts, various DVDs from instructors, and anything else anyone else happened to want to sell. My favorite item on this table was actually the Mobtown Ballroom tee, which not only embodied the rebellious spirit of Mobtown, but also managed to be patriotic and historic – highly appropriate for an event in our nation’s capital!

Photograph of the Savoy Ballroom

Mike Thibault set up a display of his wonderful swing and early jazz prints from his Vintage Jazz Art website. I noticed a couple of new prints, including a colorful print a flapper with a trombonist and saxophonist and (most notably) another print of a photograph of the Savoy Ballroom featuring a mob of dancers and Erskine Hawkins on the band stand. Mike said that he was working with the photographer’s son and that this relationship may yield some more choice photographic prints! We’ll definitely stay tuned, especially if there is more Savoy Ballroom and trombone player goodness to be had.

Forties Forward was on hand to make sure the dancers were appropriately and florally decorated. I have several of their flowers and they are some of my favorites. These gals know that the blooms need to stay relatively flat to be practical for dancing and for this Lindy Shopper salutes you.

Last, but most certainly not least, the adorable and incomparable Dawn Hampton was intermittently manning her own table of CDs and DVDs of “The Unforgettable Hampton Family.” Sadly, I did not get photographic evidence of this!

And that’s a wrap on the vendors, but stay tuned for two more ILHC-related posts. I hope events will continue to have vendors and promote Lindy Hop commerce amongst businesses and the participants who need/want these unique products. ILHC, see you next year!

Giant Hair Flower or Fascinator?

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

After seeing the giant white blossom Forties Forward had for sale at ILHC, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I certainly don’t have enough hair to wear it, but man, it was gorgeous! Following a flower mishap in the Balboa J&J finals, I went searching for a smaller white blossom that would be more secure than the orchid I wore and came across an even larger blossom from Etsy seller Now, Voyager – a gorgeous white orchid of epic proportions! I thought it interesting that the flower was listed as a fascinator and, indeed, it is as large as a hat.

Check out the rest of this quirky Etsy store – fascinators of entire birds, pinwheels, and even a pizza slice…

ILHC 2011 Vendors

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

ILHC swag

I had the pleasure of dancing and competing at this year’s International Lindy Hop Championships, held just outside of Washington, D.C. in Alexandria, Virginia. The event was a unique mix of swing dancers, in varying styles of dance, from around the globe. I think the event is best summed up by saying that ILHC is where you can see all those people you see dancing on YouTube – but there’s nothing better than seeing it live, as a video can’t quite capture the energy these couples and teams generate or the dynamic in the room.

(I apologize in advance for the quality of the photographs, as I forgot my real camera and had to use my phone)

Dancestore in the house!

Like most large swing dance events nowadays, ILHC had its own set of vendors, most of which I would categorize as the “essentials” providers – shoes, bloomers, hair flowers, and vintage/vintage-inspired clothing. Baltimore-based Dancestore.com was there with a lineup of Lindy and Bal-friendly shoes, including their new pair of white wingtips, which look gorgeous in person. Nina Gilkenson‘s mom, Laurie Gilkenson, was on hand, selling shoes for Dancestore, as well as vintage odds, ends, clothing, and shoes from Nina’s vintage shoe collection. If you wore a size 6.5, it was definitely your lucky day! More photos below of this and the other vendors.

Forties Forward had an array of new hair flowers, since I last saw these gals, Erica DeBlasio and Michelle Postles, at Lindy Focus. My new favorite bloom was a giant white bloom, possibly a magnolia blossom, that was so large it could almost be a hat!

My Heinies, in grand fashion, occupied the largest vendor space, with racks of colorful bloomers in all styles, as well as a beautiful collection of dance shoes for men and women. I noticed a particularly lovely pair of men’s two tone brown wingtips that garnered a lot of attention from the leaders in attendance, as well as some new to-die-for red heels in the collection. I noticed a number of followers in the competitions wearing My Heinies…and some who didn’t, but that’s another story…

A letterman's sweater from Model J Vintage

Working the booth with My Heinies was Model J Vintage, the Etsy store of New York dancer Joy Grad, which specializes in “a lifetime of collectibles directly to you from my personal closets and new adventures.” She turned up the volume for ILHC, offering a collection of both dance-ready and exquisite vintage and reproduction items from her collection and from Carol Fraser‘s closet. I swore I wasn’t going to buy anymore gowns, but I couldn’t pass up a 1940′s gown made of green silk, with a chevron bodice and velvet bow – it was a triple threat and I didn’t stand a chance. ;)

Last, but certainly not least, Mike Thibault of Vintage Jazz Art set up a gorgeous display of his framed prints, which are simply stunning in person. If you have an empty spot on a wall in your home, consider filling it with a daily reminder of your awesome dance hobby…

Thanks to everyone who organized the event and to those sold their wares at IHLC! I hope to return next year!

Gilkenson swag

A most exquisite pair of heels from the late 1800's/early 1900's, with jewels on the heels

My Heinies at ILHC

An array of Heinies

Some delicious new shoes, courtesy of My Heinies

An adorable blouse from Model J Vintage

Joy showing off a lovely vintage dress

The gown!

That glorious magnolia-like blossom I was telling you about, front and center, from Forties Forward

The coy ladies of Forties Forward

The Vintage Jazz Art display

Lindy Focus IX Vendors

A Forties Forward hair flower display at the Expo Center, Lindy Focus

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Lindy Focus continues to amaze me. This intimate regional event has turned into one of the largest Lindy Hop events, if not the largest, in the country. Michael and Jaya Gamble turn out a flawless event every year, with each passing Lindy Focus growing in attendance, quality, attention to detail, and sheer awesomeness. In spite of this year’s severe weather disasters and subsequent travel delays, attendees persevered, going by train, bus, delayed plane, or automobile, from far and wide, determined to make it to this Lindy Hop holiday Mecca or bust.

I was a bit disappointed when I walked into the lobby and saw that Dancestore was not selling their staple dance shoes. This left Lindy Focus with no anchor vendor and dancers without that valuable opportunity to try on dance shoes in person or replace any missing, forgotten, or destroyed shoes at the event. Dancestore, we miss you! Please come back next year!

Forties Forward table at Lindy Focus

My disappointment was quickly dispelled when Forties Forward began setting up a gorgeous display table at one of the dances. Forties Forward is the brainchild of dancers and designers Erica DeBlasio and Michelle Postles, offering vintage inspired hair flowers and pins, jewelry, hats, and handbags. It was all I could do not to hover and snatch up the goodies while they were setting out the hair flowers – just containers upon containers of colorful and beautiful blooms! The prices are great, at $5 or $7 a pop, and I can attest to the quality of the hair flowers, having purchased a white lily hair flower from Erica few years ago. Needless to say, I stocked up on flowers and anticipate clusters of flowers in my hair now that the supplies are plentiful.

Lindy Hop prints on display at Lindy Focus

In the lobby area I noticed that there were some very nicely framed prints of jazz dance and Lindy Hop illustrations and photographs. I didn’t figure out they were on sale until later in the event when I was standing next to them and the vendor, Mike Thibault, introduced himself and began telling me about the prints. Mike has set out to obtain the reproduction rights to these prints and others yet to be obtained and reprinted, researching their origins and the best way to reproduce these works. This is immensely important work in preserving Lindy Hop culture and I commend him for this great endeavor. Mike is currently offering two illustrations (“The Lindy Hop” and “The Big Apple”) and one photograph (“The Breakaway”). He is also working on locating a complete, original illustrated map of Harlem nightclubs from 1932, which I am most excited about purchasing. Best of luck to you, Mike – I’ll be waiting in line, cash in hand, when you find it and get it printed!

That’s all for today…still recovering from last night. Stay tuned for another Lindy Focus post on Asheville’s vintage clothing stores!