If you’re looking for a gift for the special swing dancer in your life (or really any super niche sub-culture), look no further than Etsy – here are some of my favorite swing dancer themed items that you may want to gift or that you may want under the tree for yourself:
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. 😉
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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…
…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…
I meant to post about this earlier, but swing dance instructors Jo Hoffberg and Kevin St. Laurent spent the entire month of April highlighting and interviewing artists all over the globe who belong to our wonderful swing dance community, featuring a different artist each day for the entire month. This is a great opportunity to see how people in our community can be creative in other ways and how you can support them – links to the artists’ websites are included for you to explore further and potentially purchase some great artwork, some of it swing dance-related, some of it not. Shop for your walls, or perhaps commission something special for yourself? Either way, you’re contributing to the dance world and treating yourself. 🙂 So great!
“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?
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.