“Let your shoes live up to your dancing. Send me your shoes, and I’ll turn them into art that represents you. Send me a conversation, to get the ball rolling on your inspiration and preferences, then purchase through the Etsy shop.”
It’s just that simple! Blues instructor and DJ Mike “the Girl” Legenthal will take your plain, canvas dance shoes, or anything from “formal shoes to steampunk coats to home decor” and make it all about you after some design consult with you about who you are and what you’d like to see on your item. I love the idea of decorated canvas shoes – I have a pair of Vans slip-ons that a tattoo artist friend drew pin-ups on for me – and I was excited to see that Mike is offering to do this, with an obvious focus on the swing dance community. You can purchase through her Etsy shop, but the bulk of her work is on display on the Artsy Toes Facebook Page. Check it out and enjoy her wonderful, whimsical shoe designs!
I’ve waited long enough to post, but I have largely been in denial about Lindy Focus ending – watching the myriad videos posted daily and attending in my local dances with the tidal wave of positive energy remaining and commiserating about the days that we don’t get to dance now that Lindy Focus is over. I’m still on LF sleep schedule, which means I have started this blog post at 2:15 a.m., as if in anticipation of a 3:00 a.m. DJ shift. But I must move on, and I’ve got to get these vendors posted if I’m going to remember anything about them – on with the post!
I’ll start off with this year’s Lindy Focus feature artist, Ryan Calloway, who not only had fabulous jazz dance and jazz music prints available for purchase, but whose artwork was also featured in a limited edition Lindy Focus tee shirt. I particularly love his style and the way in which he depicts the movement in his prints – a feast for the eyes on the walls of any Lindy Hopper home.
Next, we have what I believe to be my most frequent topic on Lindy Shopper, which would be Miss Sharon Crawford and her Creations by Crawford – her prolific event attendance as a vendor is unparalleled in the Southeast and her custom creations a work of art inspired by each wearer who contracts for her creative services. She works during the entire event, often so that a purchaser can wear their custom pieces to the dance THAT NIGHT. Her women’s pieces are stellar, but I think she really shines with menswear and her use of feathers to create custom lapel pieces.
Sharon also vended jewelry pieces from Plain Jane, a local to Asheville designer, and shared a table with Zoe Lechucita, who was also making custom hair pieces during the event, with accents of sequins and jewels.
The Lindy Focus consignment shop was in full swing, with everything from madras plaid pants to beaded gowns to glitter tap shoes. I was dying for a pair of the glitter tap shoes, but the sizes were just out of reach. I made a little money consigning a few things, which is great, and I overheard several people on New Year’s Eve saying that they had purchased their dress at the consignment shop. What a great idea to recycle dancer clothing and, as far as I know, this is unique to Lindy Focus.
Forties Forward, another consistent southeast swing event vendor, was set up with their glorious blooms and has also added some feathered pieces to the lineup. Bejeweled centers decked the blossoms, as well as the feathers – the overall feeling from the booth was opulence. Right on, ladies!
Nestled in the consignment shop I saw a small display for JitterButtons, featuring a selection of 8 buttons with clever, swing dance-related designs and slogans, such as “Friends Don’t Let Friends Clap on One” and an anti-pretzel sign. You can purchase one of their stock buttons from their website and you can also order custom buttons for your own event, as well!
Last, but certainly not least, Nicole Lenzen dazzled us with another fashion show during one of the camp meetings, highlighting her new collection and using instructors to expertly show off the movement of her garments. I’m sad that I didn’t get a chance to look at the garments more closely due to schedule constraints, but I am sure, after speaking with her last year, that the fabrics are of excellent quality and texture, and there were some repeat details that I loved, such as the lovely belt on the Mariposa dress (now in more colors!). Take a look at the entire fashion show and collection on the Lindy Focus YouTube channel:
If there’s one thing I am thankful for in the Lindy Hop community on this day of giving thanks, it’s the humility of dancers, our willingness to make mistakes in pursuit of our craft, and that it’s all done in the spirit of fun. If we can’t make fun of ourselves, then everything just gets too serious.
I listened to Swing Nation on the drive to my grandmother’s house last night and heard them talking about the Lindy Hop Fail Awards, “merit badges in recognition of your uncoolest swing moments.” I had seen this before, but hadn’t noticed the affiliated shop (*gasp!* I know, I know). Now, you can celebrate every day with hilarious scout badge reminders, in the convenience of your own home. Merchandise is available through Roland the Illustrator’s Society 6 store – pick up a copy of the print as a poster, tote bag, throw pillow, hoodie, tank top, tee shirt, even a stretched canvas. I’m with Ann Mony, I would also love to see this in a shoe bag.
I have definitely been guilty of all of these at some point, with the exception of “Swing in Shorts” – I’m guessing that surprises no one. 🙂 I am still guilty, occasionally, of “Slip Slop” – if you don’t fall sometimes, you aren’t trying hard enough, right? (This is what I tell myself in a fit of giggles on the floor, after an epic fall.)
I’ve been helping Jason Sager pick out items* for his new studio space for The Lindy Lab and one of the decorative items is artwork for the walls. Studios tend to have large expanses of wall, so the question becomes how does one fill up that space in an interesting and inspiring way?
This was a bit of an interesting year for vendors at Lindy Focus, in that few of the usual suspects were present, so the vending was made up mostly of DIY lindy hoppers, including endeavors by Lindy Focus itself. Lindy Focus offered a consignment shop for those who had danceable clothes and shoes to get rid of and for those who needed/wanted such items. I did pretty well in the selling department, so some of you may have left Lindy Focus with a Lindy Shopper vintage garment. 🙂
Noticeably absent was Dancestore and their signature Aris Allen shoes, a serious business faux pas, in my opinion – 900+ attendees, many of which (including me) were looking to buy or replace dance shoes. To make up for the lack of being able to replace dancers’ worn out shoes, Lindy Focus offered a shoe sueding and repair service.
Marathon dance event vendor Sharon Crawford of Creations by Crawford was on hand creating custom hair pieces, boutonnieres, and other elegant accoutrement for ladies and gents at her table, positioned next to the ballroom off the registration lobby. Sharon’s table was always open and always had a bevy of guests – from hairdressers to nappers to chatters, all were welcome to hang out. I don’t know how she got any work done, but I’d wager to say she’s the longest working vendor at Lindy Focus (as evidenced by the sunrise/survivors photo on the last day, she was probably working the whole time).
Forties Forward, one of my favorite hair flower vendors, was right across the hallway from Sharon, making sure that the ladies of Lindy Focus had all the hair flowers they needed. With the customary gussying up for New Year’s Eve, I’m sure they did well. Added inventory this year: false eyelashes. Va-va-voom!
Also a regular, Mike Thibault’s jazz and lindy hop prints are always a welcome sight. I love his selection, especially the new-ish one of the interior of the Savoy ballroom packed to the gills with dancers. If you haven’t seen what he has, definitely check out his website – Vintage Jazz Art – and pick up something inspiring to put on your wall.
Next to Mike’s table was a curious little table of notecards with photograph images of dancers with a sign saying “Dance Cards by DJ Stone.” Perhaps a few campers picked one up to send a note saying “Wish you were here?”
Finally, New York designer Nicole Lenzen not only had a lovely rack of dresses at her vendor table, she debuted her first collection of dresses and rompers for dancers at Lindy Focus in a glorious fashion show during one of the camp meetings, featuring some of your favorite female instructors as models for her designs. The collection was movement-conscious, high in twirl factor, and rich in textiles. The designer loves to work with fine fabrics, produced ethically and created into garments in New York’s garment district. Nicole hopes to have her website ready to take orders soon – she does custom garments as well as those featured in her collection. Nicole is a delight and I look forward to seeing her business grow and flourish. Check out the fashion show in the video below for a full view of the collection and also Jessica Keener’s lovely photographs.
I think a fashion show and debut collection must be a swing dance event first, if not a Lindy Focus first, no? Clearly we are heading in the right direction.
I’ll close by saying I really enjoyed being on a panel discussing blogging and social media with Rebecca Brightly, Michael Seguin, and Jerry Almonte. Everyone had thoughtful commentary and different insights based on our different experiences. Special thanks to Abigail Browning for inviting us to participate and giving us questions so that we actually had something to say. 🙂
I had the pleasure of dancing and competing at this year’s International Lindy Hop Championships, held just outside of Washington, D.C. in Alexandria, Virginia. The event was a unique mix of swing dancers, in varying styles of dance, from around the globe. I think the event is best summed up by saying that ILHC is where you can see all those people you see dancing on YouTube – but there’s nothing better than seeing it live, as a video can’t quite capture the energy these couples and teams generate or the dynamic in the room.
(I apologize in advance for the quality of the photographs, as I forgot my real camera and had to use my phone)
Like most large swing dance events nowadays, ILHC had its own set of vendors, most of which I would categorize as the “essentials” providers – shoes, bloomers, hair flowers, and vintage/vintage-inspired clothing. Baltimore-based Dancestore.com was there with a lineup of Lindy and Bal-friendly shoes, including their new pair of white wingtips, which look gorgeous in person. Nina Gilkenson‘s mom, Laurie Gilkenson, was on hand, selling shoes for Dancestore, as well as vintage odds, ends, clothing, and shoes from Nina’s vintage shoe collection. If you wore a size 6.5, it was definitely your lucky day! More photos below of this and the other vendors.
My Heinies, in grand fashion, occupied the largest vendor space, with racks of colorful bloomers in all styles, as well as a beautiful collection of dance shoes for men and women. I noticed a particularly lovely pair of men’s two tone brown wingtips that garnered a lot of attention from the leaders in attendance, as well as some new to-die-for red heels in the collection. I noticed a number of followers in the competitions wearing My Heinies…and some who didn’t, but that’s another story…
Working the booth with My Heinies was Model J Vintage, the Etsy store of New York dancer Joy Grad, which specializes in “a lifetime of collectibles directly to you from my personal closets and new adventures.” She turned up the volume for ILHC, offering a collection of both dance-ready and exquisite vintage and reproduction items from her collection and from Carol Fraser‘s closet. I swore I wasn’t going to buy anymore gowns, but I couldn’t pass up a 1940’s gown made of green silk, with a chevron bodice and velvet bow – it was a triple threat and I didn’t stand a chance. 😉
Last, but certainly not least, Mike Thibault of Vintage Jazz Art set up a gorgeous display of his framed prints, which are simply stunning in person. If you have an empty spot on a wall in your home, consider filling it with a daily reminder of your awesome dance hobby…
Thanks to everyone who organized the event and to those sold their wares at IHLC! I hope to return next year!
Check out the rest of her Etsy store, as there are some really amazing cutouts in her jewelry, especially those of the human form. She even takes custom orders – perhaps your dance silhouette should be memorialized in a piece of jewelry!
ATTENTION: This post formerly advertised a sale where if you wear it out of the store, it’s yours for free. I went to Beggars and Choosers today and they were very embarrassed that their printer and local media had mis-advertised the sale – the free sale was only for Thursday and only for clearance items from the basement. So sorry for the confusion! That said, there were still tons of great vintage items on sale for 50% off – my friend George Knott left with a $7 sportcoat and I left with a $15 1930’s hat.
Here are the contents of the old post:
File this under local news for Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill: Beggars and Choosers in Pittsboro, NC is having a sale this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday where if you find an outfit at the store and wear it out of the store, you get the outfit for free! This is the only vintage store conceivably near the Triangle that has actual swing era vintage clothing and a great section of menswear as well – definitely worth the trip to come get a free outfit!
Lindy Focus continues to amaze me. This intimate regional event has turned into one of the largest Lindy Hop events, if not the largest, in the country. Michael and Jaya Gamble turn out a flawless event every year, with each passing Lindy Focus growing in attendance, quality, attention to detail, and sheer awesomeness. In spite of this year’s severe weather disasters and subsequent travel delays, attendees persevered, going by train, bus, delayed plane, or automobile, from far and wide, determined to make it to this Lindy Hop holiday Mecca or bust.
I was a bit disappointed when I walked into the lobby and saw that Dancestore was not selling their staple dance shoes. This left Lindy Focus with no anchor vendor and dancers without that valuable opportunity to try on dance shoes in person or replace any missing, forgotten, or destroyed shoes at the event. Dancestore, we miss you! Please come back next year!
My disappointment was quickly dispelled when Forties Forward began setting up a gorgeous display table at one of the dances. Forties Forward is the brainchild of dancers and designers Erica DeBlasio and Michelle Postles, offering vintage inspired hair flowers and pins, jewelry, hats, and handbags. It was all I could do not to hover and snatch up the goodies while they were setting out the hair flowers – just containers upon containers of colorful and beautiful blooms! The prices are great, at $5 or $7 a pop, and I can attest to the quality of the hair flowers, having purchased a white lily hair flower from Erica few years ago. Needless to say, I stocked up on flowers and anticipate clusters of flowers in my hair now that the supplies are plentiful.
In the lobby area I noticed that there were some very nicely framed prints of jazz dance and Lindy Hop illustrations and photographs. I didn’t figure out they were on sale until later in the event when I was standing next to them and the vendor, Mike Thibault, introduced himself and began telling me about the prints. Mike has set out to obtain the reproduction rights to these prints and others yet to be obtained and reprinted, researching their origins and the best way to reproduce these works. This is immensely important work in preserving Lindy Hop culture and I commend him for this great endeavor. Mike is currently offering two illustrations (“The Lindy Hop” and “The Big Apple”) and one photograph (“The Breakaway”). He is also working on locating a complete, original illustrated map of Harlem nightclubs from 1932, which I am most excited about purchasing. Best of luck to you, Mike – I’ll be waiting in line, cash in hand, when you find it and get it printed!
That’s all for today…still recovering from last night. Stay tuned for another Lindy Focus post on Asheville’s vintage clothing stores!
Lindy Hopper Jacqui Oakley is a dancer, instructor, and illustrator from Toronto, who has created several Lindy Hop-inspired illustrations and offers prints of her vivacious and colorful originals on her Etsy site. At $35.00 a pop, one of these prints would make a fantastic gift for your favorite Lindy Hopper, or treat yourself to one of these cheerful prints. The illustrations remind me of old comic book illustrations, the Dick and Jane books, a little bit of Disney circa All the Cat’s Join In, and photographs of Bobby White and Kate Hedin.