Tag Archives: repair

Swing Dance Event Clothing Survival Kit

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

And we can dress real neat from our hats to our feet - and surprise 'em with the victory cry...

And we can dress real neat from our hats to our feet – and surprise ‘em with the victory cry…

As we travel to events in different cities and dance the night away, sometimes our wardrobe fails us. Sometimes we don’t have backup clothing when our wardrobe fails us because we’ve sweated through all of our clean clothing or something else more catastrophic happens. If you’ve got the right things in your suitcase or dance bag, you may be able to make a quick repair or have a quick solution to keep yourself together and out on the dance floor for a few more dances. Here’s what I like to have in my bag:

SAFETY PINS

They are so essential I carry them around on my keychain. They can do just about anything – mend a seam, hem pants, keep a neckline in place, pin a stray bra strap, or even hold a tie in place. Start keeping the ones they give you to pin your number on in competitions, just put them on your keychain or in your dance bag until you need them. ;)

DOUBLE SIDED BODY TAPE

Also known as “fashion tape,” this stuff is great for many of the things safety pins can do, only with more finesse. If you don’t sweat too much when you dance, you can use it to secure fabrics to your skin to prevent them from moving, and it is also great for fabric on fabric dilemmas at dance events. I’ve used it to secure larger collars or other loose clothing appendages, hem pants, make bows perkier, and to secure gaps when I wear button-down shirts.

SEWING KIT

Yes, I know, this is obvious – but it does come in handy.

STAIN ERASER

Easy as one, two, three!

Easy as one, two, three!

I am a messy eater and I will inevitably spill something on myself during a meal. If you are like me, you dress up to go out to dinner with friends before the big Saturday night dance at an event and, in your finery, something saucy falls in your lap and you run to the bathroom to try to blot it out before it sets in. In times like this, it’s a good idea to have something on hand to eliminate the stain, like Tide To Go, so that you can go on to the dance without having to change clothes or wear something with your dinner on it.

SINK WASH

If you happen to be attending a longer dance event and/or have very little luggage space, you may want to consider doing laundry while you are gone and wearing some things twice. I’m thinking about those of you who make multiple shirt changes each night – who wants to sacrifice luggage space to pack all the tee shirts you actually need for a week-long dance event? If your housing situation does not have laundry facilities, you can always wash your clothing in the sink – Tide also makes travel sink packets with detergent for washing your clothes in the sink.

SHOE GLUE

Inevitably, at some point in your dance lifetime, you will be in the middle of an event and the suede on your shoes will start to come off, or maybe even the entire sole. If Dancestore.com isn’t there vending and you didn’t bring backup, you could be in trouble. Have some sort of adhesive handy in your luggage – people have differing opinions about what works best, but barge cement and contact cement seem to be the most popular.

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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. :)