Category Archives: 1950’s

Swing It – Dance Shoes and Apparel from Poland

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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A row of Swing It shoes

The newest contender in the swing dance shoes and apparel market is Swing It, based in Krakow, Poland.  A quote from their Facebook page caught my eye, so we’ll start with that: “We believe in slow fashion philosophy – natural materials, quality and comfort.”  If this quote had the word adorable in it, it might be directly targeted at me.  I’m seeing this term “slow fashion” come up more often and, as I become the old lady I was always destined to be, I find myself drawn to this idea that fashion should slow down a little – as a vintage clothing wearer, this seems innate, but in terms of buying new garments made now (but in the vintage style – we’re full circle), this is a new term that applies to a very old concept, of buying quality things you love to last you for a long time.  I think slow fashion is easier for people who have developed their own sense of personal style, but then you’re here, reading this blog post, so maybe you have that or maybe you aspire to that more permanent sense of style.  Perhaps you’re here to augment your current style.  If you’re comfortable in yourself, comfortable in your quality clothes, and are sweating it out on the dance floor in natural fibers, what more do you need from a garment?  Whatever the reason, I’ve digressed far afield, so let’s return to Poland where this new swing dancer-focused brand resides.

I always try to start on a company’s about page, to get a flavor for what the company goals are and what makes it tick.  Swing It produces reproduction clothing and shoes from the 1930’s through the 1960s, based on original patterns, with all of the clothing made in Poland.  Goals are quality, great appearance, and customer satisfaction, but also personal satisfaction, as the owners of this company, Basia and Greg, design things they want to wear.  I believe in this concept – if you like it and are excited about it, certainly there are others who will/are, too.

The men’s shoes are cap toes or classic brogues, with your basic brown tones as well as a more adventurous color/combination for each style (I see you, dark green cap toes!).

The women’s shoes are also oxfords, in lovely suede in two of my favorite colors – purple and green.  It’s almost like they called me…

The clothing offerings on the Swing It website are limited to women’s clothing at this time, but I definitely see vests on Facebook, so I’m assuming there is more in the works.  For women, Swing It is launching the basics in an array of colors – for their skirt, a 1950’s reproduction wrap skirt with four buttons, and for their trousers, a high waist/pleated front/tapered leg reproduction from 1952 in classic suiting plaids and in red.

Here is what I am loving from Swing It:

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Please do ask me to dance, any time…

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I love a multi-tonal shoe, makes a neutral even more versatile by coordinating with more brown tones

 

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Chic red trousers

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These look luscious and soft…

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I’ll leave you with this minty green – cheers!

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Camp Hollywood 2018 Vendor Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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This year was my first full Camp Hollywood experience, flying in before the event began and flying out after the event ended, and after I got my obligatory In-N-Out Burger fix, I headed to the vendor area to hover and watch the magic unfold in the vendor area.  The vendor area was comprised of an entire ballroom, a large adjacent conference room, and  a large Camp Hollywood merch table where you could purchase both camp swag and music from the bands and musicians performing over the course of the event.  This is definitely the largest vendor area at any event I have attended – I marveled at it last year, but this year I understood.  The traffic in Los Angeles is so bad that you almost don’t want to leave the hotel, or at least not to go somewhere outside of a 5 mile radius.  I looked into some sightseeing on Friday – maybe a vintage car museum or a Frank Lloyd Wright house – but the 12-15 miles to get there would take over an hour at 10:30 a.m., which I was neither willing to spend the time nor the money to accomplish at that point, especially with evening band obligations.  So, the shopping comes to you!

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Ladies and gentlemen, Jo Stafford

I did manage an excursion with fellow vintage enthusiast Brettie Page, who had a car at Camp Hollywood – through some careful planning on her part and a small window of time on Monday where the traffic would only take about a half-hour, we rushed over to Paper Moon Vintage.  I don’t have a full report because, when one has the challenge of an hour in a vintage store, one must be focused, particularly when said vintage store has a great selection of swing era items.  Brettie and I both left with garments – she an incredible 1940’s bathing suit in shimmering white with gold stars and me with a silk 1930’s garden party dress – which is just about all you can ask for in a successful run to a vintage shop.  I also left with this swell Jo Stafford pin – like, how often do you come across 1940’s band merch?  Like, never.  The cherry on this sundae was that everything in the store was 15% off.

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I. Love. Wedges.

Back at the LAX Marriott on the first day of the event, I hovered near the ballrooms and enough friends were volunteering at the Re-mix Vintage Shoes booth that I got pulled in with some lovely chatting and managed to be their first purchase of the weekend.  Some day I will visit the mothership, but it was still great to chat with owner Philip Heath about shoes, pick up the shoes I had reserved, and check out all the new gorgeous purple shoes and a selection of wedges (which he doesn’t usually bring to All Balboa Weekend, the only other dance event Re-mix attends as a vendor).  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Starlet shoe will actually fit my feet, even though I believe it’s on the same last as the Gabrielle, which my feet are entirely too fat to wear – another pair to go on the wishlist!

My second stop of the trip, in the brief window between sound check and downbeat, was to hit up the Vintage Blue Moon booth and I’m so glad I did!  Apparently, the vintage expo at the Queen Mary didn’t happen this year and Vintage Blue Moon was having a magnificent sale on jewelry, both vintage and some excellent reproduction “Bakelite” jewelry.  The first pass yielded a Bakelite scottie dog brooch, a 1930’s rhinestone ukulele brooch, and a matching repro necklace and earrings set in peppermint stripes.  I returned later to go through the clothing and there were some truly special pieces – in particular a 1930’s black satin (that heavy/heavenly indestructible kind) jumpsuit with appliqués (dying/gasping), really excellent 1920’s dresses, 20’s/30’s lingerie, and an impressive wall of menswear.

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The Venice Beach dress, with a rack of Venice Beach dresses beside it!

As I’m running through the vendor area, I notice a dress – CAN IT BE – it’s the Beach Clip dress!  As we’ve talked about on this blog, I knew the Beach Clip dress (originally owned and worn by Southern California dancer Genevieve Grazis) was being reproduced for sale by Loco Lindo and recently heard that it would be debuted at Camp Hollywood, but I almost couldn’t believe my eyes.  Having examined it up close and inside out, I was so excited to finally see this project come to fruition and to see an entire rack of these dresses in wonderful prints on comfortable and washable rayon crepe.  I made a beeline for the Loco Lindo booth after the main dance ended and was relieved to find several prints still available in my size, including a scottie dog print.  (Fate?  Fate.)  Loco Lindo owner Linda Marrone and her crew did an incredible job with the design, translating a fairly complicated late 1930’s dress into the garment I ultimately purchased, which will be comfortable and movable for dancing, with the same amazing twirl from that gored skirt.  You could also buy a Beach Clip skirt, and, of course, any of Linda’s other wonderful dresses, skirts, pants, and blouses in that wonderful crepe fabric.  The “Venice Beach” skirt is already on the website and I hear the dress will be posted for sale in short order.  Very special thanks to Jennifer Halsne, who essentially unearthed this dress, brought it to national attention, and then worked with Loco Lindo to make this reproduction happen!  For more on the story of the Venice Beach/Beach Clip dress, visit Jennifer’s blog, Swing Sleuths.

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Sharing the vendor area with Loco Linda was Bandini St., selling a variety of head bands, hair flowers, shoe bags, and ideally situated next to the door leading to the main ballroom across the hall.  Let’s say you’ve already picked up a pair of Re-mix shoes, snagged a dress from either Loco Lindo or vintage dress, then you can put the finishing touches on your ensemble and/or buy a nice shoe bag to protect your new shoe investment.  I had thoughts about WHAT IF THE AIRLINE LOSES MY LUGGAGE and then I realized that I’d be at Camp Hollywood where I could replace everything except my underwear.

All the Shiny Things!  Occupied the center of the main vendor ballroom with an intense amount of jewelry for just about anyone or anything.  I noted on the evening of the A Bug’s Life theme that it would be easy to stop by the ATST booth and instantly upgrade your outfit to tonight’s theme by purchasing one of many insect brooches or small pins to be worn on a dress or lapel or collar.  I particularly loved the rainbow display of bangles – lucite, bakelite, other plastic, who knows?  But if the color fits…

Need a hairstyle to get you through the weekend or maybe want to do something special for the Saturday night dance?  The stylists from Hush Hush Bang Bang had you covered, offering an array of services from blowout to a full updo or glam waves.

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A tropical oasis in the vendor ballroom at A Walk Thru Time Vintage

A Walk Thru Time Vintage is the last stop in the main vendor area ballroom, offering a mix of swing era vintage, later vintage, and costume pieces.  I particularly loved that they created a tiki/tropical vignette, as we were surrounded by palm trees poolside at the Marriott and it just seemed right that you might want to pick up something festive to wear by the pool or to the special poolside live music on Monday.

Across the hall in a conference room I found a Lip Sense booth, which was a collaboration among Iris Tarou (who was also vending at Lindy Focus this past year, Tawnie Gadd, and Lisa Cleveland.  I am a big fan of budge-proof lip color for dance events for obvious reasons (short = face sometimes accidentally grazing lead’s shirt during Bal, also having to be dressed before dinner because of time constraints) and I am not above forgetting cosmetics!  I also love the combined effort of these dancer/business women, which means the booth stays open more often for shoppers and they can alternate dance time!

The remainder of the conference room was a bit less defined, so I apologize if I credit a garment to the wrong vendor.  Both Pepperpie Vintage, who was at Camp Hollywood last year, and Rare Revival Vintage carried a mix of swing era vintage and dance/fab appropriate later vintage items, mostly women’s items.  In the very back was a men’s corner by Purple Peacock Vintage, with some truly fabulous menswear pieces, like a 4 piece suit (extra pants, y’all), other swing era three piece suits, and the cutest light blue and white polka dot braces (that I really considered buying even though I don’t own any pants that could accommodate them).

If I’ve missed anyone, please give me a shout!  There’s so much going on at Camp Hollywood and the vendor area is no exception – save your pennies to do some serious shopping at next year’s event!

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Double seams give the sleeve on the Venice Beach dress a bit of structure

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The Venice Beach skirt – gores and twirls for days…

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A cross-section of Venice Beach skirt fabrics at Loco Lindo

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Need a head band?  Bandini St. has them, even in coordinating Loco Lindo fabrics!

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Bandini St. also offered an array of classic blooms

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The wall of menswear courtesy of Vintage Blue Moon

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The main display at Vintage Blue Moon

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This satin jumpsuit, tho…I hope someone got this and takes a photo of them wearing it and sends it to me…

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The sweetest vintage lingerie at Vintage Blue Moon

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The weave on this straw hat…

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Fun and excellent reproduction Bakelite style jewelry at Vintage Blue Moon

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Services available at Hush Hush Bang Bang in-house salon

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Taste the rainbow of bangles at All The Shiny Things!

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The instant theme night outfit

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A little something to hold your necktie in place while dancing, at All the Shiny Things!

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Re-mix wedges, how do I love thee…

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Classic men’s oxfords at Re-mix

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*drools*

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Lucite handbags at A Walk Thru Time Vintage

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I love a houndstooth jacket – at A Walk Thru Time Vintage

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The entrance to the Pepperpie/Rare Revival/Purple Peacock area

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Super duper wished this had been in my size – at Pepperpie Vintage

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Gorgeous 40’s dress, at Pepperpie Vintage, I think???

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Lovely handbags and accessories at Rare Revival Vintage

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My favorite type of vintage men’s shoe – this mesh is so practical!  At Purple Peacock Vintage.

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One of many delicious vintage men’s suits at Purple Peacock Vintage

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Cowboy braces at Purple Peacock Vintage

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Ending with Lip Sense, to give you all a virtual kiss goodby without the residue. 😉

 

 

 

 

All Balboa Weekend 2018 Vendor Report

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My favorite purchase of the weekend, from Flower Child – HAZ DIPSY DOODLE

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I attended my 12th All Balboa Weekend this past weekend and, although I didn’t compete, DJ, run a fashion show, or run a band, I still managed to fill my weekend with so many good things and people even though I came there “just to sing.”  Of course, no trip to Cleveland would be complete without a bit of vintage shopping, both on-site and in town.  You can check out past blog posts for the scoop on Sweet Lorain and Chelsea’s Costumes, the former being my favorite vintage store of all time and the latter being a great place to score some inexpensive and awesome menswear.

At the Holiday Inn, the vendors did not disappoint this year.  There are always a few new items of ABW merchandise each year, including baseball tees with the phrase “I’d rather be doing Bal” and a cute silhouette of Bal dancers on a solid tee and a striped tee.  If you’ve looked at the ABW baby tees and thought you didn’t have a use for such things, have you considered that your dog may look adorable in just such a tee?  A sweet pup named Luna came to hang out at the event (who may be the most calm and tolerant dog I’ve ever seen) and did a little photo shoot for us and everyone’s heart melted just a little bit.

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Dog fashion at All Balboa Weekend

Re-mix Vintage Shoes was out in full force with an array of Bal-friendly footwear in colors to suit just about any outfit.  I didn’t see any new models, but that doesn’t particularly matter when you are dealing in the classics and when you want to replace that pair of gold Balboas that you’ve worn out that not even a gold Sharpie can salvage at this point to make them look like you didn’t put them through a meat grinder…it always makes me happy to walk by this table and see people excited about buying a pair of Re-mix shoes.

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Beauty in geometry from De Fils en Perles

De Fils en Perles returned with even more gorgeous beadwork and whimsy.  Classic Art Deco-inspired cuffs abound, a new series of rings were added, along with a number of butterfly designs (which were super popular and sold out last year), and (for funsies) some 8-bit characters from Super Mario Bros. and some Minions.  The detail here is scrumptious, with no two pieces alike.

Dancestore made an appearance, although I should really call it the Laurie Gilkenson (aka Nina’s mom) booth because it’s more than just Dancestore shoes, it’s also a collection of vintage and vintage-inspired items (such as castoffs from Nina’s incredible shoe collection), as well as hand-crafted items made by Laurie, such as knitted caps for newborns.

Victor Celania set up a booth for his successful custom menswear business, Established Sartorial – based in Austin, Texas, victor has clients both within and outside of the swing dance community and decided to try a vendor booth at ABW.  Victor is also the bandleader of the Waller Creek Vipers, whose debut album Bespoke Bounce is hot off the presses and you could pick up a copy at his booth while you drool over all the lovely menswear fabrics.

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Jamie Sturdevant of ChatterBlossom was busy every time I rolled by her booth and I think people are finally in the same place I have been for a while, bringing Jamie garments and getting her expert opinion on just the right color, texture, and scale to complete your look.  I say complete because I never quite feel right with just my plain hair at a dance event anymore, a flower just elevates an already special night of music and dancing.  I also spotted a number of men picking up her boutonnieres, which delights me to no end.

Holding it down at the end of the hallway were the ladies of Flower Child, who informed me that this is their favorite event to collect things for throughout the year, and you can tell that they know their audience well.  I find myself revisiting this area multiple times throughout the event, to look for myself and to marvel at how well-curated it is, to the point that I picked out a couple of things with specific people in mind and those people ended up buying those garments.  They get us.  I saw that they had more separates this year for women, gorgeous blouses, and my favorite piece of clothing was a light turquoise gabardine jacket that Victor picked up for himself.

That’s all for now – save your pennies for next year and join us at All Balboa Weekend for excellent dancing, music, and shopping!

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I love a baseball tee!

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New styles and new silhouette for the ABW merch.

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The namesake shoe in a bevy of colors – by Re-mix

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Glorious brogues, by Re-mix

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So many lovely things to put on your feet…

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Victor’s smiling face awaits to guide you to your bespoke dreams

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A little menswear, a little hot jazz and swing at the Established Sartorial table

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Gorgeous cuffs by De Files en Perles

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Maybe you need a little rainbow butterfly in your life?

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Rings, such tiny details!

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Some Dancestore shoe classics, including a tiny pair of women’s white oxfords in the back

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Sometimes shoes don’t have to be new to be fabulous – find yourself a pair at Laurie Gilkenson’s booth

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Any angle of ChatterBlossom’s table is gorgeous

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ChatterBlossom headbands of loveliness

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Men’s accessories display at Flower Child

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A flower child vignette

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Perhaps the original inspiration for Trashy Diva’s Hollywood style dress/gown – at Flower Child

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The queen of all the peasant blouses at Flower Child, with the tiniest, most detailed embroidery

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I died a little when this didn’t fit

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A perfect brown and white houndstooth jacket.

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Because everyone needs a white dinner jacket

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Gorgeous two tone late 30’s gown with everything I love – puffed sleeves, matching belt, and flowers that can be worn on the dress or in your hair

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A couple of those wonderful blouses I mentioned

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Until next year…

Loafers – Discussion on Men’s Swing Dance Shoes, Round 2

This post was written by Lindy Shopper and Bobby White of Swungover.

Every few years someone will post looking for men’s dance shoe recommendations, people who are serious about dancing and want to hear from their peers and instructors about what shoes work for them.  While women’s shoes are often specifically designated as dance shoes, as fewer and fewer women’s street shoes have leather soles, men have to navigate between classic men’s dress shoes and designated dance shoes to find their sole mate and this can get a bit tricky.

LOAFERS?!?

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Florsheim Dancer

The request du jour is about finding suitable dance loafers. “But why specifically loafers?” You might be asking. “Why is THAT a Bal thing?” To answer this, we’re going to go back to 1936 when Bass first released their “Weejun” loafer (Based on Norwegian fisherman’s shoes, which were themselves based on Native American moccasins.) They added a strap across the top of the simple slip-on, and it was the first time the loafer as we know it  came into being. They were soon nicknamed “penny loafers” because teenagers realized they could slip pennies in the holes of the loafer strap. Loafers became a huge fashion trend, becoming the casual shoe of many teenagers across America. (There are pictures of entire malt shops full of teenagers, all of them wearing loafers.) 

Many readers probably realize that 1936 coincides with when swing music was beginning to sweep the nation. So, in California, in those years when Balboa and Bal-Swing began being danced by casual teenagers, the loafer was one of their dance shoes. Gene Kelly himself wore loafers and danced in them all the time as part of showing his casual, down-to-earth persona.   

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Hopefully your interactions in loafers will be less awkward than Gene Kelly sitting on your floor in front of your couch while you read…note the women’s styling here with loafers, short socks, and a shirt dress.

Though many of the teenagers probably danced in loafers for practicing, or casually dancing at the beach-side pavilions, you don’t see many in the old films. This was probably for two reasons. Loafers, as a casual slip-on, were too informal for dances where teenagers liked to/were required to dress up (and the dance scenes in the movies tend to take place in those ballrooms). Secondly, they were not the best for when Lindy Hop came to the California scene in the late 30’s, which was more high-powered dancing where the feet needed a lot of support, and shoes needed to stay on in extreme circumstances.

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Kids these days…

However, when the original dancers were dancing at the restaurant and bar Bobby McGee’s in their older years (their twice-a-month get together), loafers were a common shoe on the floor — and we have footage of Maxie Dorf, Willie Desatoff, Hal Takier, and some of the pure bal dancers in them, so it seemed most of them owned a pair. (Imagine the stereotypical old man in loafers — the Bal Old Timers were that generation.) Nick Williams said loafers were also an easy way to get the flexible kind of leather-soled shoes that Old Timers like Willie Desatoff desired in his students— but we’ll have more on that below.

So, loafers weren’t a huge thing, but just enough of a thing. And when the new generation of Bal Dancers in the late ’90s learned from the Old Timers, loafers became a sort of Balboa slang, which grew in the scene and has been passed down ever since.  They’ve come to represent the casualness and smoothness of Balboa, as well as a tip of the hat to the old timers, even if the old timers were just old men who occasionally danced in their comfortable slip-ons. So that’s why loafers have a special place in the heart of the Bal scene. 

As an aside, loafers went on to become the shoe of choice for another coastal group of dancers, Carolina Shag dancers, who also appreciate a casual and smooth shoe.

Now then, back to the present.

After a good bit of discussion ensued on Jeff Liu-Leyco‘s Facebook wall for the request to find a good pair of dancing loafers, Bobby White offered to collaborate with Lindy Shopper on a post – so here, you get the benefit of the discussion and firsthand knowledge from one of swing dancing’s sartorial heroes.

THE THREAD

In the Facebook thread, swing dance instructorMickey Fortanasce recommended this classic pair of loafers, the Florsheim Dancer at $115. Given that Florsheim named these the “Dancer,” I think that bodes well. 

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This pair of Nordstrom loafers on eBay, referenced in Bobby’s post, is long gone

Allen Edmonds is always a name that pops up in these discussions, and their now discontinued (but still available sometimes on eBay)Bergamano loafer came up.  

But the holy grail of the loafers are the Nordstrom black tassel loafers and Bobby dropped the knowledge on everyone with the force of an eternal mic drop:

“Go to Ebay. Search for “Nordstrom Loafers Men Tassel [Black or Brown or Cream or just leave out a color] [your size].” Save this EBay search so that you will get notifications (possibly for the rest of your life — they can be hard to turn off). Eventually you will see loafers like this (below). There are many like them (some with netting/woven leather tops, likeDouglas Mathews rocks), some with pointy toes verses more square toes. Buy them. If you like tassels, keep them. If not, cut them off (like Nick Williams and I do). I present to you, the famous, the infamous, the eternal: the Nordstrom Loafer. The soles are one thin strip of leather, and minimal padding — which is why Willie liked shoes like these. You can really feel the floor in them (and, of course, your knees will too, if you pulse a lot). But that can easily be fixed with insoles, like Nick does (might need a half-size bigger in that case). They are tanks, and last a very long time. They are $200 shoes that will cost you $20-50 on eBay. They are seven-minute brownies in four minutes. Here endeth the lesson.”

THE TRUTH OF THE NORDSTROM LOAFER

In all honesty (Bobby speaking, here), the Nordstrom Loafers are fantastic, but they are not the only shoes out there like them. They just happen to fit the bill for the kind of loafer many of us Bal dancers like: Thin leather sole / classic loafer look / well-made so they will last a long time.

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A pair of Bobby’s well-worn loafers.

The Allen Edmond Bergamano is the same idea as the Nordstrom, and both Santiago and Johnston & Murphy have made leather-soled loafers that fit that bill that you might be able to grab on ebay. (The Johnson & Murphy ones are actually the ones Douglas Mathews rocks). If you get loafers like these and they don’t work well, you can almost always find a Bal dancer they will fit, so it’s not a big risk.

The other important take-away is that, if spending $100 + on a pair of new shoes is outside of your budget, thanks to Ebay, you can get an incredible pair of shoes for $15-$50 with a little bit of patience and an internet connection. 

ONE-PLY VS. TWO-PLY

Also, you don’t HAVE to get thin leather soles. You might have very good reasons for wanting otherwise. In fact, the biggest question every dancer looking for a pair of leather-soled shoes should probably answer for themselves (after fit, and probably alongside aesthestics) is one-ply leather or two-ply?

Here’s what we mean:

Single Ply or One-ply sole means the sole is made of one strip of leather. This is more formally called a “Single leather sole” — “One-ply” is Bobby slang. Technically the thickness of that leather sole van vary slightly, but rarely enough to make a big difference. The common Aris Allen men’s cap toe is an example of a single-ply dance shoe with lots of cushioning.

Two-ply, or formally “double leather sole” or “double sole,” means two pieces of leather stacked on top of each other for the sole. Two-Ply soles were made for walking around outside (like on cobblestones), daily work, and keeping your feet warm from the cold ground. Because of this and their bulkier look, they are considered less-casual, though by modern standards the general public doesn’t care about that anymore and you shouldn’t worry about it too much — it’s more important you have comfortable shoes for your dancing style. The men’s Saint Savoy is an example of a double sole, as well as the Stacy Adams Madison. (There’s even a triple leather sole, but there’s probably very little need for that in dancing.)

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Gene Kelly, casual mid-air.

Shoes like the Nordstorm loafer are one-ply and have minimal padding— you will feel the floor, and all the sensations of shuffling and sliding very clearly. The shoes will give you almost a barefoot sensation, cause the leather will move with the muscles of your feet on the floor.

However, because the swing dances are often athletic in nature, as well as involve some kind of pulsing, many of us choose to wear insoles with single-ply shoes, especially with the ones with minimalistic padding. You don’t have to, though — just know that you will have to dance very gently in them regarding your knees and feet. In single-ply shoes, you will smooth out your dancing (which is what the Old Timers wanted modern Bal dancers to do, anyway).

Shoes like the Florsheim Dancer Mickey prefers, or the now-defunct Bostonian leather-soled classic penny loafer (eBay!) are two-ply. You would choose these if you had a heavier pulse or more athletic dancing style in general (to cushion your knees and other joints), or, if you just liked the feeling of a heavier shoe and the weight it gives to your rhythmic experience, like swing dance instructorDavid Rehmenjoys.

There is no wrong answer, and you can plan your shoes based on the style of dancing you want to accentuate.  If you can’t decide on one ply or two ply, you can try both with a little patience and an eBay account.  You’ll be well on your way to being an old timer in no time and, as Bart Bartolo said, don’t forget to “keep it casual.”
Special thanks to Sylvia Sykes, Nick Williams, and David Rehm for their insight into the modern Bal history of the loafer!

Lindy Focus 2017 Vendor Report

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Lindy Shopper and Porg wish you a Happy New Year from Lindy Focus!

2017 was a great year at Lindy Focus – the swing dance community has been growing, learning, becoming better versions of ourselves, working toward becoming a more inclusive community, and Lindy Focus embraced that and gave us resources to explore and grow.  Needless to say, I had an amazing week, I’m filled with hope and joy, and hope that our 2018 continues to see new strides in making us an even better community of people being excellent to each other.

Part of this community is our micro-economy here at Lindy Focus, where vendors set up in the two lobby areas of the Crowne Plaza Resort Asheville and dancers can browse and partake in services and products that are either personal in nature or tailored to swing dancers.

Of course there is the Lindy Focus merchandise table, which is always heavily picked-over by the time I arrive on December 27 – the gear is good, I don’t necessarily know what it was, but I got a green sweatshirt with the LF logo on it and that’s about all this green-loving gal needs. 😉

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Add some Savoy Shop sparkle!

Next to the merchandise/check-in is the Savoy Shop, a consignment shop and shoe repair boutique that has become an essential part of the event to people who not only are looking to buy fun apparel for dancing or offload said apparel to make room in their closets, but also a fantastic on-site backup plan for several kinds of catastrophes that can occur when traveling to dance weekends over holidays – lost luggage, broken shoes, forgotten items, forgotten outfits, upgrades to outfits, and I’m sure there are other ways the Savoy Shop has saved people’s sanity over the course of the week.  Men’s and women’s clothing and shoes available, lots of good selections, tailored to our dancing needs!

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Lush blooms by ChatterBlossom

The main lobby is the main vendor area and the first person I laid eyes on when I got to the hotel was Jamie Sturdevant of ChatterBlossom, an Etsy shop specializing in hair flowers and headpieces made from vintage millinery flowers.  Jamie lives near me, so I am spoiled by being able to collaborate with her on a regular basis, but I am excited that people get to see Jamie’s pieces in person because I can not overstate the fact that vintage millinery flowers are superior in both detail of floral design and in color matching to vintage clothing.  Even if you don’t wear vintage, there are an array of blooms to match your modern attire and add a bit of vintage flair.

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For heads, necks, and lapels…

If Jamie didn’t have something for your head, Forties Forward perhaps had just the piece, offering their lovely blooms, as well as feathered and jeweled headpieces, which were great options for people seeking to add a bit of flair and sparkle to their New Year’s Eve attire.  In addition to hair accessories, Forties Forward also had a nice selection of menswear accessories – ties, hats, and some silky boutonniere flowers just in time for that New Year’s Eve lapel!

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Wear the Woopie rainbow…

A Woopie Bow was a new vendor to Lindy Focus, although I have seen these ties at ILHC in a previous year and I was happy to see them back again, as there are often fewer vendors offering menswear items and I’m sure we all like to have options.  Helena Verheyen, a dancer and theater costume designer based in Ghent, Belgium, is the designer and creator of said bow ties and she selects fantastic fabrics from second-hand clothing and sometimes repurposes neckties to make her bows (which is a great idea if you have a damaged necktie, to get some more wear out of it).  Her website offers custom work, as well!

 

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GET IN MY CLOSET

It took a couple of tries to even get close to the Saint Savoy table and I felt bad for Austrian dancer Maren Merian, who was being pulled in a thousand directions – I’ll start this off by suggesting that we all proceed like civilized humans, take a minute to be patient when there is clearly a line and a demand and one person working the booth, and be mindful of personal space and allowing people to have time to make a decision about footwear.  Once I did make it near the table, of course the shoes were glorious and, after waiting my turn, Maren was gracious and helpful and I purchased a pair of Saint Savoy’s brand new multicolored blues/greens Grace shoe, a perfect 1930’s style shoe in a shape I haven’t seen anyone else making and I certainly hadn’t seen in person until Lindy Focus.  It was love at first sight, a shoe that you don’t even care if you own anything to go with it, it must be owned, worn, and loved!  They also came in solid dark red and taupe, and I spotted Jo Hoffberg in the brown colourway.  The Edens and the Rivieras were also selling like hot cakes and I’m excited to see what Saint Savoy has up their sleeves next!

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I don’t know that we’ve had a makeup vendor in the past, outside of someone applying makeup, but dancer Iris Tarou brought us many shades of lip color with LipSense, a product she discovered last year before Lindy Focus and loved it so much she decided to start a business selling it.  There’s nothing better than believing in and loving what you are selling!  Per Iris’ post, LipSense is dance-proof, sweat-proof, kiss-proof, waterproof, and burrito-proof, which is basically what every dancer needs and what sounds like it would be an awesome New Year’s Eve to get your kiss at midnight after a long night of dancing and then go get burritos.  For more information, join the Indelible Look by Iris Facebook group.

We also had massage therapists on-site, which is undoubtedly an essential part of a week-long dance event – Bennie Vo and Erin Hennessy had the perfect setup, a table and chair next to the fireplace for warmth, with the awesome swing music from the music jam in the alcove just a few feet away.

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Charleston kicks for your walls!

Ryan Calloway returned to Lindy Focus with his fantastic jazz music and jazz dancing prints, with a book of samples you could flip through, and then a link to a new service he is using called Redbubble, which streamlined the ordering process a bit, because Ryan didn’t have to be present to take your order and you can see all the options on the website.  In addition to prints, you can also order tee shirts and hoodies with Ryan’s artwork!

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Mary Kay Williams was back offering caricature drawings on-site, on-demand, while you wait.  She had some great samples up, like a dancer/musician/world-famous doctor Dorry Segev in Superman scrubs and Admiral Holdo with her enviable purple fingerwaves.  If you’ve never had a portrait drawn of yourself, Lindy Focus is a great time to add one to your collection!

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Fats Walrus!

Our new visual artist this year is dance instructor Laura Glaess, who had been gradually revealing her line of anthropomorphic jazz musicians on her Facebook artist’s page in the months leading up to Lindy Focus, drawn with a bit of pun and a lot of whimsy.  It was so great to see these in person and see the full lineup of jazz musicians!  She also did the artwork for Brooks Prumo Orchestra‘s debut album which is the perfect segue into the next topic…

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This isn’t even all of it, just what was there when I dropped off the Mint Julep Jazz Band stuff – see how they were adding a second table in front – BANANAS!

…since our local artists also lend their talents to our swing musicians (Ryan Calloway did the artwork for Keenan McKenzie’s new album “Forged in Rhythm“).  The sheer volume of music available for purchase, recorded by musicians in attendance at Lindy Focus, was so large that they had to keep adding tables to hold all the music and merchandise for sale.  It made my heart sing to know that our community can support this much music, much of it recorded and/or composed specifically for dancers and dancing.  I challenge you to learn about these musicians, there’s a list of them here.  Google them, check out their websites, buy their music!

If any of this is incorrect or I have missed something/someone, please let me know and I will edit/add to this post!  It’s hard to keep track of everything going on at Lindy Focus, I’m sure you can agree!  Until next year, love and progress in 2018…

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Woopie Bows in warm tones

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Your Woopie Bow also comes with a how-to diagram

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Edens and Rivieras at your service, from Saint Savoy

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Saint Savoy for men, also with great color options

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The lilies from ChatterBlossom are the size of your face and they are wonderful

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These ChatterBlossom pansies are adorable and sweet (and not the size of your face)

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Lots of real vintage this year at the Savoy Shop, including this wonderful 40’s dress with soutache detailing

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One of several phases of women’s shoes at the Savoy Shop

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Solid men’s shoe offerings at the Savoy Shop

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Anyone know the story on this jacket?  Very interesting…

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Savoy Shop ties to brighten your day

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Just the tip of the iceberg on the Savoy Shop tie clips

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Ryan Calloway’s fabulous prints

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Laura Glaess gives us Lionel Hamster (and Lindy Focus will give us Lionel Hampton as the new bandleader for the 2018 transcription project!)

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Django Rhinohardt is as cool as they come, thanks to Laura Glaess

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Sample the LipSense!

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All the luscious LipSense colors

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Forties Forward gives us flights of fancy!

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Lots of fun blooms at the Forties Forward table, love the polka dots!

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Because because because because because!!!

Miss Candyfloss

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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The dress that spoke to me – I already have a coat like this, so the dress just completes the set, right?

I know, I know, another UK repro/retro clothing website, but as long as the UK keeps delivering the goods, I’m going to keep blogging about them.  Miss Candyfloss has been on my list to write about since earlier this fall, since they launched their “Femme Fatale” collection that, in my opinion, elevated them to the next level, with 40’s and 50’s-inspired pieces that were rich in color and style.

Do not let their terrible user interface deter you – there is good stuff here.  Start by following them on Facebook to see higher resolution photos of all the garments, particularly the aforementioned “Femme Fatale” collection, which looks both dance-friendly and work-friendly.  And while I don’t usually like polyester (some looks great, most looks not so great), these garments look so good that I took the plunge on one of their dresses over the weekend.  Also, plaid – there’s never enough plaid.  UK, you keep doing you and keep the plaid and tweeds coming…

Their attention to detail extends to the manufacturing process – from the website:

“Miss Candyfloss is manufactured within Europe under fair trade conditions, as we consider this as an important issue. Though sometimes hard to live up to for larger brands, Miss Candyfloss differ. The clothes aren’t mass produced in large factory lines, so things like working conditions, salaries and good item quality can be kept a closer watch upon. This also gives you, as a customer, a more long lasting quality where the products are made out of honest concern and care.”

Here are some of my favorites:

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Jumpsuits are so hot right now.  Green jumpsuits…

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The perfect fall plaid dress.

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Car coat with REMOVABLE CAPE

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Leonie-Rose red pencil dress

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Love love love the bow detail on this skirt.

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Gotta end on a beautiful green note…

Camp Hollywood XX Vendor Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I’m excited to bring you my first ever Lindy Shopper vendor report from my very first Camp Hollywood!  I have been wanting to attend this event for years and life always found a way to keep me away from dancing in California.  I was able to attend half of the event (Sunday and Monday), to sing with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders, and even attending half of the weekend was awesome, but I’m afraid my vendor report has some holes because not all vendors are at their tables all the time and our schedules didn’t always coincide.

Camp Hollywood has the largest dedicated space for vendors of any event I have attended, it’s an entire hotel ballroom, plus a side room with a clothing vendor and hair salon pop-up.  If the airline had lost my luggage, there were no worries about covering my needs for the weekend.

Let’s take the tour, shall we?

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Oh, hello…have we met?

My first stop was Vintage Blue Moon, which arguably held the largest vendor space and was a treasure trove of both men’s and women’s vintage – the men’s section was at least as large, if not larger, than the women’s section.  There was enough inventory that I felt transported, I’ve been in some brick and mortar shops with smaller inventory than what owners Robert and Kristi Alvarez brought to the LAX Marriott.  The selection was carefully curated for its swing era audience, and even had a good selection of 1920’s clothing and accessories, which they brought this year after getting requests last year.  I picked up a 1940’s suit for my day job that is reminiscent of something Tilda Swinton would have worn in her turn as gossip column twins in Hail, Caesar! and I couldn’t be more pleased.

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All the colored bangles at All the Shiny Things

All the Shiny Things occupied most of the vending space in the center of the ballroom and I’m afraid I didn’t get a chance to chat with the owner of this space, but the array of costume jewelry from so many decades past was vast and colorful – I get easily overwhelmed by jewelry counters and this was like the King Kong of jewelry selections.  I loved all the colored bangles, if you were looking for a match, you’d probably find it here.  Now looking at this photo and wishing I had more time to figure out what colors I need!

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A Loco Lindo dress in one of the most popular prints of the weekend

I was excited to see Loco Lindo again, who had come to All Balboa Weekend several years ago, and see what owner/designer Linda Marrone had been up to since then.  I’ve been following her line of clothing on Facebook, but it’s always nice to see things and chat in person.  Her washable and danceable crepe dresses (great for work, too!) were already selling well and she was out of several sizes in some prints, but I managed to snag a dress in my size in a tropical print that I’d seen on her website and liked from afar.  Her corner of the ballroom was cheerful and bustling, a credit to Linda’s designs and her personality as she chatted with the dancer/shoppers.  Like Trashy Diva, her prints come in limited runs, so don’t tarry when making your decisions about what to buy.

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Chloe’s signature shoe

The ever-classy Chloe Hong occupied a good portion of the vendor ballroom, with the largest selection of items I’ve seen at an event to date.  In addition to her custom tailoring and racks of samples, she carried two colors of the famous Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers logo tee, as well as a rainbow selection of her low-heeled t-strap shoes, which are fast becoming ubiquitous on dance floors all over the US (and I can say this, having seen them at dance events on the east coast and the west coast on the same weekend).  Gracious and kind, it’s always a joy to see her at events and see the beautiful custom work she does for dancers.

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Brittany in action

Occupying an end cap of the All the Shiny Things center island in the vendor ballroom was Electro Flapper – Get Dolled and Dapper, featuring vintage hairstyles, brow shaping, and lashes by owner Brittany Leavitt.  I didn’t get to spend time chatting with Brittany, but I do love seeing these services at dance events, whether its for a special updo or routine maintenance that you simply haven’t had time to get to until it’s right there in front of you at a dance weekend and you’ve got an hour of free time.  Check out the amazing and perfect vintage ‘dos on her Facebook page and get inspired to make an appointment for CHXI.

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Because there were so many vendors, two vendors had to set up in a conference room next door to the vendor ballroom.  The first of these is Pepperpie Vintage, which had a mix of swing era goodies and clothing from more recent decades.  Again, I just had enough time to run by and snap some photos, thankfully with the permission of owner Perrin Iacopino – but, alas, I couldn’t find a website or a Facebook page for this shop, so if anyone in the know can direct me I will be happy to link to where we can find Pepperpie Vintage information in the future.

Sharing the space with Pepperpie Vintage was a “Hair Bar” run by Kimmery Michelle Thompson of Shear Attitude Hair Salon, offering up-do’s, down-do’s, a mix of both, hair accessories, and color streaks.  The Hair Bar looked so inviting, with a lighted sign, vintage pink bonnet dryer, and a glorious Art Deco vanity that just begs for finger waves to be done in view of its glorious circular mirror.  I didn’t get to see Kimmery in action, but you can see her work on her lovely Instagram page, @_kimmerydoesmyhair.  Two great hair stylists at this event!

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Adorable and inviting!

We return to the vendor ballroom to visit Saint Savoy’s table – no one was at the table when I was in the ballroom, but it’s no secret that I love dancing in their shoes, having blogged about them several times before on this blog.  Since I didn’t acquire any new and interesting tidbits, I’ll share all my previous Saint Savoy posts so you can see the love.

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The lovely Vogue wedge

Also no secret is my love for Re-mix Vintage Shoes and, while I didn’t get to visit the mothership, owner Philip Heath had an extensive selection of footwear, including wedges, which are not usually a part of his All Balboa Weekend display (which is the only other time I have seen Re-mix shoes en masse at an event).  I got to chat with Philip for a bit about his recent travel to Italy to sell shoes at an event, his visit to the shoe factory that makes these glorious shoes in Spain, and about the construction of the reproduction 1940’s wedges.  Did you know that not just the leather outside of the shoes is modeled after vintage shoes, but also the inside construction of the wedge sole?  We talked about the flexibility and give of the leather for each style, particularly the two most popular styles, which right now are the pleated toe wedge and the Vogue wedge.  Philip noted that even the finishing touches are the same on these shoes, with a stitched edge on the pleated toe and a ribbon edge on the Vogue, both of which affect the structure of the shoe, how it fits, and how the leather stretches (or in the case of the Vogue, how it doesn’t stretch as much because of the ribbon).  This explains why my  bunioned/bone spurred feet gravitated toward the pleated toe wedge as my favorite pair of Re-mixes for dancing!  Close seconds in the most-popular-Re-mix-wedges-for-dancing category were the Picasso wedge, which I find has similar give to the the leather as the pleated toe, and the Greta wedge, which Philip noted that many people with difficult feet were surprised at how well this shoe worked for them and stretched with them.  I had been having some anxiety about another dance shoe company discontinuing all of their wedges (maybe hanging on to them past their smell-by date) since I mostly wear wedges to my local weekly dances, but I feel so much better after this conversation with Philip about selecting Re-mix wedges that are going to be right for my foot for dancing.

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Last, but certainly not least, instructor/dancer/visual artist Mickey Fortanasce has created a follow-up deck to his original Legends of Swing deck of playing cards (sold at Lindy Focus this past year), with the second edition featuring swing dance legends from the west coast, including Jean Veloz, Hal Takier, and Ray Hirsch.  Two important things to note: 1) “ALL profits from the sale of these cards will be donated to worthy organizations The LA Burrito Project doing outreach feeding and donating supplies to the Los Angeles homeless, and Black Lindy Hop Matters, an organization based in Baltimore, MD which works to build welcoming communities and advancement opportunities for black dancers and advocates for cultural integrity, recognition and respect for African American people and heritage” and 2) you can still purchase a deck from the Camp Hollywood website while supplies last!

I know I am missing at least one vendor, but I wasn’t in the ballroom when the vendor was there to get permission to take photos, so my apologies!  (EDITED to add that Jen Gomez of Bandini St. came forward to note the missing vendors, one of which was her table of accessories and shoe bags that was a part of the Loco Lindo booth and I had taken a picture of her shoe bags and not realized it was a separate vendor.  Check out her Etsy shop, full of lovely hair accessories.  The other vendor I missed was A Walk Thru Time Vintage and Costume Annex, selling vintage clothing and costumes.  Thanks, Jen!)

Much love to you, Camp Hollywood, for providing such ample space for vendors and for providing four days of shopping, social dancing, competitions, classes, and so much more. ❤

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Jewels at Vintage Blue Moon

 

 

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Enough menswear to line a wall of the ballroom…courtesy of Vintage Blue Moon

 

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Pearls to go with any flapper ensemble, at All the Shiny Things

 

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Far right, Re-mix’s pleated toe wedge, with the Greta wedge in the middle

 

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An adorable blouse by Loco Lindo

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Vintage sunglasses at Vintage Blue Moon

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A tropical dress for me, backed by a number of Loco Lindo’s fantastic crepe prints

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Shoe bags in fun prints by Bandini St.

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Wool caps in lush tweeds and colors by Chloe Hong

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That wonderful logo on tees thanks to Chloe Hong

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Chloe Hong’s custom work sample rack – check out those striped jackets!  Someone please buy the green stripes and come dance with me!

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Adorable vintage tunic at Pepperpie Vintage

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I love a capelet! At Pepperpie Vintage

All Balboa Weekend 2017 – Vendor Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I apologize for the tardiness, but, as we all know, life happens outside of the Internet – always better late than never is the All Balboa Weekend vendor post, because ABW has, in my opinion, the best vendor aggregate year after year.  This was my 10th ABW, if you can believe it, and the first one I couldn’t attend for the entire weekend, but I promise I crunched to maximize my time there and to give you this attempt at a comprehensive vendor post.

Before we get into the shopping, I have two things to note:

  1. I was given the incredible opportunity to examine Genevieve Grazis’ performance clothing, including the famous Beach Clip dress, and was invited to talk about the dress’ construction and details in front of the entire event as part of Kate Hedin and Bobby White‘s presentation and demonstration of the dress.  While everyone is gaga over the 11 godets that, combined with 1930’s satin, make this dress spin like a dream (and rightly so!), but my favorite part of this dress are the sleeves – a triple pleats, both front and back, along the arm hole seam with two piped seams straddling a panel in the middle of the sleeve.  The result is a puffed sleeve created by divine architecture.
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LindyShopper talks, Kate is radiant in Genevieve’s dress – photograph courtesy of McFreebird Photography

2.  Coif magicians Destinee Cushing and Francine Amendola combined forces to form the Hepcat Salon, delivering incredible and pristine vintage hairstyles all weekend long.  I know several people who will get their hair done and wear it for a couple of nights or most of the weekend so they don’t have to worry about doing it multiple nights and to keep it out of their faces, which I think is a great plan to maximize your ‘do and practical for a dance weekend with lots going on that you don’t want to miss.

The flagship booth at ABW is always Re-mix Vintage Shoes, who makes very rare appearances at any events outside of southern California.  I know people wait until ABW to buy their first (or second, or 10th) pair of Re-mix shoes so they can try them on and see how the styles fit their feet.  I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see them all in a row.

Next in the lineup was Sweet Lorain, which is my favorite vintage shop in Cleveland.  To call it a shop is really an understatement, it’s almost a warehouse, definitely a department store, and you can get lost in there for hours amongst the clothing, furniture, kitchen wares, records, Christmas decorations, and on.  Of course, for ABW, they pull a selection of garments with dancers in mind from the 1930’s through the 1950’s so that you don’t have to do the digging, it’s already been dug out for you and is sitting in the hallway of the event.  My story this year is that Andy Nishida and Rita Shiang (dancers and organizers of Richmond, VA’s Jammin on the James) had come to Cleveland a few weeks earlier for the World Congress on Art Deco and had scouted a 1920’s dress for me at Sweet Lorain.  1920’s dresses are hard for me because of my body type, so I was hesitant to phone in the purchase, even though Rita knows my size.  I show up at ABW with this texted photograph of a dress and the owner, Redwin Lewis, knew the dress immediately, still had it, knew it would be perfect for me – and it was!  Sometimes vintage shopping is easy and sometimes it takes a few steps to find a dress a home.

De Fils en Perles returned to ABW this year with even more intricate beadwork, much of it Art Deco-inspired.  I was particularly smitten with the earrings this year, which were often made of an exquisite central bead with smaller embellishments and looked perfect for certain 1920’s and 1930’s ensembles.  I am often overwhelmed by jewelry, so many beautiful small things at once, and I took some time to sit down and go through the earrings and really appreciate the detail that goes into each piece.

Retro Rosie made its ABW debut this year and before I even got to ABW, there was a buzz that a vendor was there selling Trashy Diva.  I spoke with Miranda Scott, the owner, who runs this brick and mortar shop and an online shop, that most of her sales are online.  I found this unsurprising, given the specialty nature of the garments (as much as I like to think we are the norm), and was glad she gave ABW a chance.  She had several Trashy Diva dresses that are discontinued in most sizes, so secondary stockists are essential for the dress you may have missed (since they TD lines are selling out within days of launch, nowadays) and the chance to try things on in person.  She also had a selection of Besame Cosmetics, another item that I can’t purchase locally to me, but that I see on the internet all the time on vintage blogs and it’s great to see the colors in person and be able to try them on, as well.

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Jamie in an ABW ensemble with giant lily

Jamie Sturdevant’s Chatterblossom booth is always a bright spot, with her cheery disposition, creative floral-inspired ensembles for each day, and a bevy of blooms for each possible scenario and outfit.  Indecision abounds at this booth, as there are so many to choose from, so many outfits to match, so many beautiful pieces that you just want to come home with you.  My favorite pieces this year are the giant lilies she acquired earlier in the year by chance, they are just so big and elegant, I want one in every color!  Message her about matching one to your favorite ensemble, her Etsy listings are only the tip of the floral iceberg.

Finally, at the end of the hallway are the Flower Child ladies, who also do an amazing job of curating just the kinds of vintage goods dancers and swing era enthusiasts want, and also go back to their warehouse to look for items to fill specific requests.  With new things brought back every day, it’s worth a gander multiple times during the event to keep up with what is in stock.  My favorite item this year, brought to my attention by Jamie and ultimately purchased by Destinee, was a chartreuse 1930’s gown studded with rhinestones, featuring braided straps and a bias cut guaranteed to flatter the figure.  Destinee wore it on Saturday night and, with her impeccable hair and makeup and a Chatterblossom bloom, looked like a legit silver screen movie star – or perhaps early technicolor, because no one should hide the color of this gown!

And here we are!  Enjoy the photo spread below!

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But for serious…this chartreuse gown from Flower Child is everything!  Thanks to Destinee Cushing for allowing me to use this photo.

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A sun-speckled display at the Flower Child booth.

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Ladies hats, ladies things…at Flower Child.

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A gorgeous 1940’s rayon print dress at Flower Child.

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Bathing suit…romper…whatever you want…at Flower Child.

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A waistcoat and some men’s accessories at Flower Child.

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Lilies, roses, and blooms about at ChatterBlossom.

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A purple and white orchid at ChatterBlossom.

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Oh, God, I’m terrible at botany – I don’t remember what these are, but they looked like they were dappled in frost, just so lovely – at ChatterBlossom.

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A sight for sore eyes – gorgeous Besame Cosmetics on display at Retro Rosie.

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Vintage hairstyling books and Trashy Diva at Retro Rosie.

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Trashy Diva, alive and in person – at Retro Rosie.

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Perfect summer cropped top at Sweet Lorain.

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What even is this magical woven trim detail on this dress?  At Sweet Lorain.

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A sweet 1940’s rayon print long sleeved dress at Sweet Lorain.

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Bakelite abounds at Sweet Lorain.

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1940’s neckties at Sweet Lorain.

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More delicious details at Sweet Lorain.

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Minty fresh color on this comfy men’s shirt at Sweet Lorain.

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One of many awesome sweater vests at the Sweet Lorain booth.

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A summer starched topper at Sweet Lorain.

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Re-mix, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways…

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Men’s selections at Re-Mix Vintage Shoes.

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Knots divine at Re-Mix Vintage Shoes.

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Beaded sets at De Fils en Perles.

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All this wonderful detail, handmade, just incredible – at De Fils en Perles.

 

 

 

 

Two New Re-mix Shoes: Saddle and Lectrice

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I’m a few days late with this news, particularly if you are already on Re-mix Vintage Shoes‘ email list, but I’m very excited about the new Lectrice and curious about the response to the saddle oxfords.  Lectrice is a no-brainer – built on the same last as the Anitas, which I already love, there is potential to love the Lectrice more because I don’t always feel stable dancing in my Anitas and I believe in the stability of oxfords.  Combined with the comfort of the Anitas and this lovely looped stitching detail, I’m cheering for this shoe to be the awesome I want it to be.

fullsizerender_5_1024x1024The saddle oxfords I am excited about in a smaller, more hesitant way.  There are not particularly good associations in the swing dance community at large for people who show up to dances wearing saddle shoes, and I wish that this could be different because saddle shoes are adorable and were popular decades before the 1950’s.  In popular culture they are so much associated with the 1950’s, part of a caricature involving poodle skirts and pony tails.  My hope is that people will be inspired by photographs of everyday people and dancers from the 1930’s and 40’s wearing saddle shoes and take their style cues from those outfits, or embrace 1950’s garb outside of the caricature.  I am probably most interested in seeing if Re-mix decides makes other colors, I would DIE for a green and white pair!

Domesticated Pinup on Etsy

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Domesticated Pinup’s Etsy profile pic, which I believe was the product of a photo shoot with Jerry Almonte at Lindy Focus.

There are a few people in the Lindy Hop community whose style I would describe as iconic and Anne Williams is one of them – I remember seeing her at dances when she was in college at William and Mary and even then she was that girl with the wonderful vintage dresses (I later learned that her history with vintage goes back even further into her youth), while everyone else was in tee shirts and jeans.  I learned via Facebook (thanks Brandi Ferrebee!) that Anne had opened an Etsy shop called the Domesticated Pinup and was selling part of her collection, which made for an immediate click-through because Anne has such excellent taste, even her castoffs would be golden.  And I was right, check out her shop full of golden goodies and I remain hopeful that she will continue to bless us with her good taste.  Here are some of my favorites:

 

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Lilac 1950’s day dress.

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Caramel 1940’s fascinator.

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Blue chiffon 1950’s dress.

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Brown 1940’s hat with chartreuse feathers.

Ains & Elke Style Haus on Etsy

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I still need this in my life.

I’ve been on the hunt for elusive vintage and reproduction knitwear and came across Alixis Lupien on the Oooh La La! Vintage Swap and Sell Facebook group, as she was selling the most adorable sweater with parrots on it.  At first glance it looked vintage, but then I looked again and she made it!  People who knit clothing are magical unicorns in my book, it looks like so much could go wrong, but here was this darling multi-colored knit sweater that I could see instantly enhancing my summer wardrobe.

I followed her progress on Facebook to her Ains & Elke Style Haus Facebook page and then to her Etsy shop, where she posts her incredible novelty knit sweaters and an array of sewn clothing options that you can order custom to your fabric, color, measurement, etc. specifications.

Here are some of my favorites from the shop:

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Fishy sweater!

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Heart and Dagger sweater

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Pastel rainbow 50’s style skirt

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Coretta 40’s style jacket

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Esther 40’s sarong dress

Field Trip: Vintage Shopping in St. Louis

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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St. Louis has legs!

A couple of weeks ago I had the wonderful opportunity to visit St. Louis, Missouri and perform at the Nevermore Jazz Ball with Michael Gamble and his Rhythm Serenaders.  I was particularly eager to visit St. Louis because there are some very dear dance friends in my life who moved there after living with or near me in North Carolina and I heard there was amazing vintage clothing there – knowing that St. Louis had a lot of money/industry during my sought-after clothing periods and seeing the amazing wardrobe of Miss Jubilee in photographs online, I was beyond excited to take my first trip to this Midwest city.

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I picked Saturday of Nevermore to embark on my shopping adventure, meeting up with Athena Moon and Lian Tarhay for a quick stop at The Vintage Haberdashery and then brunch at Rooster.  The Vintage Haberdashery is part vintage store, part costume shop and had a small, but respectable selection of pre-WWII clothing and some great 1920’s reproduction beaded gowns glistening from the rafters.  The store was well-organized with lots of quality items, and a particularly nice display of shoes and hats.  I spotted a bunch of great 40’s day and cocktail dresses, some 1940’s oxfords, and a nice selection of menswear, both dress and sportswear items.  Definitely worth a stop!

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After brunch, we went to Cherokee Street to take in the Cherokee Street Jazz Crawl, which happened to include a vintage shop as a venue and be down the street from another vintage shop – bliss!  Imagine shopping in a stacked vintage clothing store with a live hot jazz band playing just outside on the back patio, and you could take a break, dance, shop, dance, shop – that was my experience at Retro 101.  Seriously, a luxury!  Retro 101 had so many special pieces, I can’t even articulate everything, delicious sheer 1930’s dresses, beautiful rayon print 1940’s dresses, wonderful gowns, hats, gloves, leather, and a case of amazing bakelite!  Feathers!  Beading!  I didn’t even get to the menswear, but I spotted some usual suspects with great garments and accessories in hand, so I know there was good stuff!

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Finally, we visited Ruth’s Vintage Clothing, a little shop on the corner just a few blocks from Retro 101.  Almost as soon as we stepped into the store, we heard the second line start up outside and ran back out to see the parade.  At this point I’m thinking St. Louis and this event definitely have really unique offerings for the dance community – dancers joined in, people were drawn out of shops and restaurants to watch, adding to the magnetic and magical SOMETHING in the air that made this event distinctive, local, and inviting.  We went back into Ruth’s, which had a few 1940’s dresses and some great accessories, including an Art Deco belt buckle and brooch set that combined distinctive rhinestone angled shapes with early plastic (bakelite or celluloid, not sure) flowers blooming from the stones – VERY tempting, can we create a dress or gown around this?

We followed the second line back down to Retro 101, took another gander (so much to take in!), then ended up at Melt for a cider and to hear Mike Faltesek and Chloe Feoranzo play their last set of the day.  An all around very satisfying day of shopping in a wonderful city!

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1940’s heels with potential at The Vintage Haberdashery – those waves!

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Adorable!  All the details!  At The Vintage Haberdashery.

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This wonderful confection of a hat, at The Vintage Haberdashery.

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A menswear display at The Vintage Haberdashery.

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The serious goods hanging from the ceiling at Retro 101.

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The bakelite case in all its glory, at Retro 101.

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This purple plaid 1930’s dress at Retro 101 is EVERYTHING.

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Beaded detail on sleeve of 1930’s dress at Retro 101.

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A snapshot of the men’s section at Retro 101.

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A carousel of accessories at Retro 101.

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A lovely neckline on this 1940’s dress at Ruth’s Vintage Clothing.

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A wall of accessories at Ruth’s Vintage Clothing.

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A closeup of a 1940’s floral rayon dress with these interesting ruched scallops down the seam, at Ruth’s Vintage Clothing.

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Following the second line down Cherokee Street.

 

All Balboa Weekend 2015 – Shopping and Vendors

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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All Balboa Weekend celebrated its 15th Anniversary this year and I celebrated my 9th anniversary of attending ABW. This Balboa homecoming/family reunion is one that I look forward to every year for the friends, the amazing dancing, and the wonderful vintage shopping that is available in Cleveland. This year, my report will combine shopping inside and outside the hotel, since some brick and mortar stores set up booths at ABW and other remain in their brick edifices. All are worthy of mention and this year’s shops and vendors did not disappoint!

My partner in crime this year was Berkeley, California dancer Alisa Szatrowski – I’ll give an honorable mention to Jack Flaps, a wonderful brunchy place she discovered and where we fortified ourselves before a day of vintage shopping.

1940's rayon blouse at Sweet Lorain

1940’s rayon blouse at Sweet Lorain

Our first stop is my always first stop, Sweet Lorain, and the owner Redwin Lewis welcomed us with open arms and escorted us back to the 30’s and 40’s area, where he showed us they had pulled additional racks of 30’s and 40’s clothing out just for ABW. *squee!* Soon, Alisa and I were lost in a jungle of clothing, amongst the close and very full racks, calling out to each other as if we were playing Marco Polo to try to find each other to show off choice garments. Sweet Lorain did not disappoint and Alisa and I soon had a dressing room full of things to try on, with another helpful employee pulling additional garments based on our selections. Seriously, an A+ for customer service. We both left with some wonderful pieces and warm fuzzy feelings about everything at Sweet Lorain.

1940's dress with appliqués at Chelsea's Costumes

1940’s dress with appliqués at Chelsea’s Costumes

Next stop was Chelsea’s Vintage Clothing and Costumes, which is an impressive warehouse full of clothing, and particularly has a large selection of menswear, which I wrote about more in-depth last year. We ran into dancer and DJ Bill Speidel and we did a quick run through the menswear, as I’m always shopping for certain dudes and the hubs. I left Chelsea’s empty-handed, but Alisa had great luck with late 30’s/early 40’s dresses in velvet and faille – dreamy!

The vendor market at ABW opens at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday and we were there even a little before that, with anxious vintage lovers already hovering over the booths.

The Gabriele, Re-Mix Vintage Shoes

The Gabriele, Re-Mix Vintage Shoes

The first booth you come to is Re-Mix Vintage Shoes and this booth was abuzz all weekend, with ladies buying shoes, trying on many more, and ogling the beautiful wares. The big hit this year was a new style, Gabriele, which is a low heeled 1930’s shoe with a t-strap, an alternative to the Balboa Style, with a slightly different shape and different colors. I would love to hear some reviews from the ladies who bought them and wore them this weekend – I did see Valerie Salstrom try them on the first day and then didn’t take them off as she continued to set up for the event!

A wonderful display of hats from Flower Child

A wonderful display of hats from Flower Child

Next in the line of vendors was Flower Child, which is comprised of several individual vendors that make up part of the brick and mortar store, and which takes up most of the hallway. They are always good about bringing in new inventory every day, taking requests, and having a nice selection of clothing, accessories, and some novelty items and knickknacks from the swing era. My favorite ABW find for this year came from Flower Child’s booth, a fully functional scales brooch, perfect for me as both a Libra and a lawyer – for serious, the scales have tiny chains and you could actually put things in the bowls and the scales would tip, SO COOL.

Ready to shake it

Ready to shake it

New to the vendor list this year was Sugar Shakers, the handiwork of Joanna Kassoulides Thibault, who got her start stitching chorus girl costumes for a troupe of the same name in Toronto and decided, after accumulating a wardrobe of costumes, that she would sell some of these versatile pieces. I love a good trumpet skirt and Joanna had a nice sampler of trumpet skirts, polka dot wrap blouses, bakelite-inspired earrings, as well as sharing a table with her husband Mike Thibault‘s handmade earrings and Vintage Jazz Art prints.

Cherry blossoms abound!

Cherry blossoms abound!

Next in the vendor lineup is ChatterBlossom, aka Jamie Sturdevant, who is local to me, but for ABW everyone can see her amazing handiwork up close, with flowers and headpieces made from vintage millinery flowers and jewelry made from vintage buttons. Seeing in person is even better, as I noted people running to their rooms for garments, trying to match a bloom to a dress, and (I know I’m a broken record on this, but) the colors in the vintage flowers are just so right for vintage clothing, for obvious reasons, and they are so much more exquisitely detailed than most modern artificial flowers I have seen. Jamie does custom pieces, too, so you can find the perfect bloom for that one of a kind vintage dress.

1940's ties at The Cleveland shop

1940’s ties at The Cleveland shop

Holding down the end of the hallway was The Cleveland Shop, which had a nice selection of men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, and jewelry. The owner would also bring in new items daily, and even brought in some divine tropical rayon fabric one day, that was gone before it could hit the market (I can’t wait to see that blouse, Jamie!). Oh, to have a warehouse full of endless vintage things to sell!

Each year the vendors at ABW are one of the things I look forward to most about the event and I truly appreciate the effort the vendors put into setting up, displaying, being there to sell, breaking it all down, and sometimes traveling great distances – I think Philip Heath, the owner of Re-mix Vintage Shoes, wins this year by flying in and shipping shoes from California, though past ABWs venders have flown in from as far away as the UK and Australia. We love that you do it and we’ll keep buying all the beautiful things. 🙂

Here are some more photos of all the lovely things:

Who knew the Cotton Club had a soda?  At Jack Flaps.

Who knew the Cotton Club had a soda? At Jack Flaps.

1940's jumper with fringe and embroidered pockets at Sweet Lorain.

1940’s jumper with fringe and embroidered pockets at Sweet Lorain.

1940's rayon dress at Sweet Lorain.

1940’s rayon dress at Sweet Lorain.

Another 40's number in cotton from Sweet Lorain

Another 40’s number in cotton from Sweet Lorain

A cool summer jacket from Chelsea's Costumes

A cool summer jacket from Chelsea’s Costumes

Headbands in all the colors from ChatterBlossom

Headbands in all the colors from ChatterBlossom

Divine orchids from ChatterBlossom

Divine orchids from ChatterBlossom

A selection of goodies from The Cleveland Shop

A selection of goodies from The Cleveland Shop

A closeup of the detail on this 1940's dress from The Cleveland Shop

A closeup of the detail on this 1940’s dress from The Cleveland Shop

Trumpet skirt, Sugar Shaker style

Trumpet skirt, Sugar Shaker style

Vintage Jazz Art prints

Vintage Jazz Art prints

More options to grace your walls, from Vintage Jazz Art

More options to grace your walls, from Vintage Jazz Art

More of the man spread from Flower Child

More of the man spread from Flower Child

Gorgeous 1930's dress from Flower Child.

Gorgeous 1930’s dress from Flower Child.

Gold bathing suit and the biggest sun hat I've ever seen, at Flower Child.

Gold bathing suit and the biggest sun hat I’ve ever seen, at Flower Child.

ADSVA Gatsby Afternoon Picnic 2014 Vendors

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Swing dancers Brittany and Brian enjoy some gourmet popsicles at the Gatsby Picnic

Swing dancers Brittany Darst and Brian Fennessy enjoy some gourmet popsicles at the Gatsby Picnic

A few weeks ago I attended the third annual Art Deco Society of Virginia Gatsby Afternoon Picnic in Richmond, Virginia. I have seen this event grow from “let’s all meet in a park at the same time” to an organized event at the historic Wilton House Museum, with live music, vintage vendors, an on-site barber, food trucks, photo booth, contests, media coverage, shuttles, parking attendants, an MC, and even an alcohol sponsor. I was happy to see some familiar faces amongst the vendors and pleasantly surprised to find vintage vendors that were new to me.

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Let’s start on one end of the line and move to the other – first in the lineup was Chatterblossom, who has become my own personal vintage millinery Philip Treacy. The gorgeous millinery was on display, as well as lovely jewels, flapper headbands, and a nice selection of menswear accessories. If only women’s dress shirts didn’t button from the opposite side, a tie clip with vintage microphone would have certainly left with me!

Another standby for me, Raleigh Vintage, was present with a drool-worthy display of Art Deco era goods and jewels. This display was on the heels of another festival in Raleigh the previous day, but the busy bees at Raleigh Vintage persevered and were present in force. I am seriously in love with all of the jewelry in their display, can I just take the silver tray full of necklaces home with me? Also, lots of event-appropriate cotton frocks in lovely prints, embroidery, and all things just-so.

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Machine Dance Vintage and Brooksy shared a lovely space together, complimenting a rack of MDV vintage dresses and goods with Brooksy’s hand-crafted 1920’s hats and headbands. I have long been a fan of MDV’s Etsy shop and it was good to see some of these great vintage pieces in person. I have also been following and eagerly anticipating the soon-to-be-launched Brooksy line of hats, created by ADSVA president Olivia Lloyd. The construction of these hats and the attention to detail is as impeccable as Ms. Lloyd’s vintage wardrobe. I am holding out for Myrna Loy’s pixie hat!

My husband’s family lives in Virginia Beach, which has many great thrift stores, but I was unaware of VB Vintage – no brick and mortar shop, but certainly an impressive enough of a display that I was kicking myself for not knowing about them before now. Their Etsy shop doesn’t even come close to displaying the number of goods they had on hand at the Gatsby picnic, which means there’s even more to come – also, the benefit of being on location for these trunk shows! Lots of great accessories, knick knacks, and a few stellar pieces of clothing from the era.

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Monkey Shynes was up next, with a small selection of 78 rpm records and assorted vintage memorabilia and crafts.

Finally, on the other end of vendor’s row was MA’s Mad House of Adornment, another Etsy vendor with great feathered headpieces and eclectic jewelry. I am particularly fond of feathered headpieces made from feathers with curled ends – the effect is really stunning and the result is that they tend to lay so nicely in whatever configuration I have seen them in. I was also amused by the Scarlett O’Hara necklace – the movie came out in 1939, so we’ll humor the reference.

Check out the photos below – enjoy!

Assorted flapper headbands from Chatterblossom

Assorted flapper headbands from Chatterblossom

A selection of tie clips from Chatterblossom

A selection of tie clips from Chatterblossom

The lovely Jaye Ferrone shows off an adorable dress from Raleigh Vintage

The lovely Jaye Ferrone shows off an adorable dress from Raleigh Vintage

Art Deco jewels and things at Raleigh Vintage

Art Deco jewels and things at Raleigh Vintage

An adorable 1920's sailor top from Raleigh Vintage

An adorable 1920’s sailor top from Raleigh Vintage

A gorgeous green cape from Machine Dance Vintage

A gorgeous green cape from Machine Dance Vintage

An ice blue confection at Machine Dance Vintage

An ice blue confection at Machine Dance Vintage

I love a novelty print!  This rayon beauty is still available in the Machine Dance Vintage Etsy shop!

I love a novelty print! This rayon beauty is still available in the Machine Dance Vintage Etsy shop!

1920's goodness from Machine Dance Vintage, with Brooksy hats peeking out from behind

1920’s goodness from Machine Dance Vintage, with Brooksy hats peeking out from behind

Dual cloches from Brooksy

Dual cloches from Brooksy

Flapper headbands for your sporty 20's looks, at Brooksy

Flapper headbands for your sporty 20’s looks, at Brooksy

VB Vintage selection of bangles

VB Vintage selection of bangles

Pretty vintage accessories from VB Vintage

Pretty vintage accessories from VB Vintage

A lovely vintage robe from VB Vintage

A lovely vintage robe from VB Vintage

78s at Monkey Shynes

78s at Monkey Shynes

Feather curls at MA's Mad House of Adornment

Feather curls at MA’s Mad House of Adornment

Jewelry by MA's Mad House of Adornment - don't you want a Scarlett O'Hara pendant to smirk at everyone for you?

Jewelry by MA’s Mad House of Adornment – don’t you want a Scarlett O’Hara pendant to smirk at everyone for you?

ILHC 2014 – Vendor Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Get your ILHC tees here!

Get your ILHC tees here!

I was excited to see some new vendor faces and an old favorite return to the International Lindy Hop Championships this year. Particularly, with a focus on menswear – it is so easy for women to find good dance clothing, but most of our vendors (who are mostly women themselves) cater to women. This year, the men and women had some great vendors to choose from, from pieces you could take home to custom-made garments to order.

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Did I mention my love for Chloe Hong? After her stint at All Balboa Weekend, I was suprised (read: elated) to see her back in the U.S. after such a short time. Not only did she clean up on the dance floor, she set up shop at ILHC to take custom orders for her wonderful selection of women’s skirts and classic men’s suiting. Just going through her fabric swatches makes me happy! If you have never considered ordering something custom and you find yourself at an event with Chloe Hong, I would recommend at least looking into ordering a custom piece – she can get your measurements in person and has lots of experience dressing dancers for a range of movement (she counts Bobby White, Thomas Blacharz, Pontus Persson, Laura Keat, Jeremy Otth, and Juan Villafane as customers, and I could go on…)

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Returning for another year (have they been at ILHC every year?) is Forties Forward, with an array of lovely hair blooms, feathers, and accessories. One can never have too many hair accoutrements and I was also pleased to see that Forties Forward shared their table with A Woopie! Handmade Bowties (another menswear vendor!), which had a nice array of ties and even included some adorable instructions on how to tie the ties! I always need a little help when I tie my ties, so an adorable instruction card on my vanity beats, say, that YouTube tutorial I have to pull up every time I do this…

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Perhaps the most impressive display belonged to Brown & Williams Clothiers, who specialize in vintage British menswear – yes, they import and they curate a stellar collection, a portion of which was on display at ILHC. I wish could sport the amazing jackets, sweaters, and trousers I spotted in their booth (none of them small enough!) – a seriously delicious collection for anyone who digs British style, collegiate style, boating, and especially tweed. If you are interested in checking out some of their stock, it looks like the best way to purchase is through their Etsy site – that green and white crested blazer *drool*…

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Then there was this mysterious banner for Behind the Beat – Clothes that Match Your Rhythm and a link to a website that says it is launching July 7 (checks calendar…still no). Upon further inspection, a Facebook page yields evidence of graphic tee shirts and hoodies, so I guess we will stay tuned? Stay tuned.

And that’s all, folks, check out the goods below – happy shopping and happy dancing at ILHC!

Collar options - FROMChloeHong

Collar options – FROMChloeHong

Chloe does casual

Chloe does casual

An array of sample jackets at FROMChloeHong

An array of sample jackets at FROMChloeHong

The fabulous Chloe skirts - look at those colors!

The fabulous Chloe skirts – look at those colors!

Trouser detail at FROMChloeHong

Trouser detail at FROMChloeHong

Some softness from Forties Forward

Some softness from Forties Forward

Some signature blooms from Forties Forward

Some signature blooms from Forties Forward

What a cute name for ties!

What a cute name for ties!

A selection of A Whoopie! ties

A selection of A Woopie! ties

Adorable tie instructions

Adorable tie instructions

Belt back jacket spotted at Brown & Williams - definitely a good sign

Belt back jacket spotted at Brown & Williams – definitely a good sign

Red vest, for a more formal look - at Brown & Williams

Red vest, for a more formal look – at Brown & Williams

This striped jacket would be a great attention-grabber in a competition - at Brown & Williams

This striped jacket would be a great attention-grabber in a competition – at Brown & Williams

Lots of interesting details on this vest, especially the button lapels - at Brown & Williams

Lots of interesting details on this vest, especially the button lapels – at Brown & Williams