Tag Archives: Cal Bal

California Balboa Classic 2020 Vendors

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

The Hyatt Regency Newport Beach greets you with full California spendor

I attended my very first California Balboa Classic – aka Cal Bal – last month and I’d say I don’t know what took me so long, but I have another hobby that managed to conflict with this event year after year.  I made the decision to choose Cal Bal this year and Cal Bal did such a great job welcoming me with open arms that I didn’t want to leave.  It’s also the first event I’ve attended in several years that I was not hired as a musician, so there was ample time for dancing between DJ shifts, which I have sorely missed and desperately needed.

To set the vendor scene, you need to understand the layout of the hotel – this is a hotel event, but this is not your typical hotel.  The Hyatt Regency Newport Beach is more of a complex, with lovely outdoor spaces connecting separate buildings, taking advantage of what are usually mild temperatures in southern California.  The ballroom was a separate building within the hotel complex and to enter the ballroom, one had to walk down a little path and through a large covered-but-open-to-the-air space.  It was a bit chilly at night, so the covered outdoor space had some temporary walls and heaters, as well as couches for sitting (basking) under said heaters, a snack station, a cash bar, and all the vendors for the event.  Had the temps at night been a little warmer, the vendor location would have been truly ideal – during the day it was lovely.

There are so many colors in this, it goes with so many things!

Cal Bal had some great merch this year – you’ve already seen my post about the Kendra Dandy designed scarves and pocket squares, and there were also pins, bags, and tee shirt designs (one even featuring the Rendezvous Ballroom).  I was elated to see a green tee shirt with musicians on it, so that came home with me!  If you aren’t sure how to style your large Kendra Dandy Cal Bal scarf, Cleveland dancer and instructor Alexis Davila posted an awesome/adorable/creative video on Facebook of several different ways to wear it on your head – I believe you can still order one, it looks they are up on the Cal Bal web store.

At this point, I’m blessed that Re-mix Vintage Shoes owner Philip Heath knows me by sight and always gives me a little tidbit to keep me coming back for more.  This year, the buzz was the production of a gold Opera model, which had previously been relegated to suede (which I don’t prefer to try to maintain) – since metallics are my go-to neutral, this was a delightful new development and I was excited that this particular model fit my particular feet, having never previously tried on any Opera model.

Racing Green Balboas + 1930’s dress + gig the weekend after Cal Bal 🙂

On a personal note, I finally thought to ask Philip if he had any lower heeled shoes in Pepper Green.  My Pepper Green Anitas seem to go with so many of my vintage dresses and are starting to get a little sad looking (I think I’ve had them for at least a decade), but also I’d like a lower heeled Pepper Green shoe.  To my delight, Re-mix had done a limited run of a Pepper Green/hunter green color combo Balboa shoe for a UK company, which called the combo Racing Green.  I was basically sold without even seeing it (green on greeeeeeeen!) – Philip brought a pair the next day from the Re-mix warehouse and the deal was done.  If you want a pair, he’s got maybe one of each size – get the phone, y’all, to get that order in…

I didn’t notice the new addition to the men’s shoes (maybe a Fairway or a variation thereof? I’m not seeing it on the website) until Nicholas Centino posted the photo below of their gloriousness, but there’s a new two tone brown oxford with perforations that is so subtle and lovely.  I’m also not seeing them on the Re-mix website, so pick up that phone…

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Subtle and sweet oxfords by Re-mix – photo courtesy of Nicholas Centino

Next stop in the circle of vendors was the new-to-me Swankys Vintage, who appeared to have mostly menswear and some women’s items, with a mix of Swankys reproductions and vintage clothing, with a very 1940’s/50’s California aesthetic in terms of styling and color palette.  The reproductions were almost seamless with the vintage at first glance, the textures, fabrics, and colors were so spot on.  Lots of clothing that evoked comfort, ease, and fun, as well as some really nice looking classics, like tweed trousers with a buckle back.  It was so nice to see more of a focus on menswear, which tends to be minimal to non-existent in terms of vending at events.

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California vintage and repro by Swankys Vintage – it’s hard to tell what in this photo is vintage and what is repro

I’ll also give an honorable mention to the gent who set up a mostly vintage men’s shop for Saturday night, who I asked for a business card and he said this was his last vending spot ever and that he was liquidating his collection and selling it to another vintage seller.  It is hard work running these vendor spots/booths at events, carting around inventory, being present to run the shop, paying vendor fees and for hotel rooms, so my hat’s off to all the vendors – whether you’re still in the game or getting out, this is an important part of events and I’m appreciative of everyone who shows up.

I’m always excited to see Jenna Applegarth‘s Applejacks shoes at events, as I’ve probably learned more from her than anyone about the extensive and often frustrating process of designing, producing, and shipping dance shoes – I’m completely invested in this storyline and here for all subsequent chapters.  Remember that this is a labor of love each time you buy a dance shoe made by swing dancers for swing dancers!  I know several of us are eagerly anticipating the new models (I swear I saw green on Instagram), but the models out right now are particularly well-suited to Balboa.  One of my friends noted that she didn’t necessarily know what she’d wear with the rose gold shoes, but that they felt so good on her feet that it didn’t matter.  Good thing metallics are neutrals!

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Applejacks’ army of Balboa-ready Seneca shoes

Next up in our tour of vendors was Swingbird Fashions, who I have previously blogged about in terms of an Etsy shop, but since that post this brand has expanded greatly and wonderfully.  I am terribly sad that I was not able to meet the creator of these garments, Leea Kuronen from Denver, Colorado (it’s hard to be at your booth at every minute of the day, I completely understand) because I was smitten with everything – the colors, the fabric selection, and all the lovely details.  There’s this one green dress with white soutache detail that is absolutely to-die-for – I saw both Teni Lopez-Cardenas and Heather Ballew had purchased one of these dresses and wore them in competitions that very weekend.  It’s an I NEED TO WEAR THIS NOW kind of dress!  Lovely trousers, skirts, blouses, and dresses all around – this corner of the room made me smile.

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Swingbird Fashions’ dress of the weekend – SOUTACHE, Y’ALL, BY HAND

Across the room Loco Lindo represented with their line of crepe printed dresses, blouses, skirts, pants, and, of utmost importance, their Venice Beach clip dress, recreated from the one worn by Genevieve Grazis in said clip, she of the many gored twirly skirt.  It’s honestly super gratifying to see a whole line of them on a rack, knowing the history behind the dress and the process of getting this dress reproduced – get your twirl on and your shuffle on, let’s do this!  On a related note, I’m sad I missed the crunchy sound of shuffling on sand the Monday of Cal Bal where everyone met on the beach near the site of the former Rendezvous Ballroom – living that beach clip dream…

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Beach Clip twirls as far as the eye can see…

Sharing the space with Loco Lindo was Jen Gomez of Bandini St., who typically also shares a space at Camp Hollywood.  It’s a great idea, to share space, share labor, and have that symbiotic relationship of pairing dresses with hair accoutrements immediately.  This is probably going to be super personal to my preferences, but I was particularly happy to see pairs of hair flowers that were an ideal size (Goldilocks here, not too big, not too small…), flat – but with enough texture to be interesting, and a color gradient so that it goes with various shades of whatever color it represents.  VERY SPECIFIC.  I need to go through my closet to see what I might need, as these are available on the Bandini St. Etsy shop in several colors.

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Basically my perfect size dance-friendly hair flower

Finally, we’ve reached the lovely Saint Savoy booth at Cal Bal, with a candy colored array of heels and flats.  While their Riviera model remains the most popular and is available in a wide array of colors, I heard lots of talk about their oxfords for women being particularly comfortable.  A few other notes: 1) I’m pretty sure their Grace shoe in Neptune is one of the most beautiful dance shoes ever made.  I own a pair and I only wear them for singing because I would Gollum-style freak out if anything ever happened to them; 2)  I’m having feelings about their The Whip oxford in Mulled Wine because I had a pair of Doc Martens in high school with a similar color gradient and broguing (a whole different level of nostalgia); and 3) it was nice to see their Grand Prix t-strap dance flat in person – loving all the variety in heel heights, thank you, more of this from dance shoe makers, please. 🙂

And that’s a wrap – I hope I haven’t missed anyone!  I loved all the vendors, thank you again for your time and energies in attending Cal Bal and creating products with the swing dance community in mind.

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Saint Savoy Riviera shoes in so many lovely colors

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Saint Savoy’s Grand Prix in neutrals – ready to be the work-horse of your dance shoe wardrobe.

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Bandini St.’s array of headbands

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Love this print on a peplum’ed Loco Lindo dress

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Cheerful yellow trousers from Swingbird Fashions

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Wrap dress goodness from Swingbird Fashions

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I love the little kiltie detail on Applejacks’ Newport shoe

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Excited to be here, got some loot!

Men’s trousers by Swankys Vintage, giving me pants envy…

Racks of candy colored shirts, by Swankys Vintage

The brand new gold Opera by Re-mix

The Minnie shoe just absolutely kills me with adorableness

 

 

 

A little geography on a PSDF bag

 

 

Wearing History Review: Smooth Sailing Trouser and Norma Jean Blouse

This is what 5:00 a.m. at RDU looks like.

This is what 5:00 a.m. at RDU looks like.

I see that Wearing History will be one of the vendors at Cal Bal (the California Balboa Classic) and thought this would be a good time to review the clothing I received from Wearing History as a result of backing their Kickstarter in August. It’s been fascinating following the manufacturing process after funding, with owner/designer Lauren Maringola giving frequent updates on the status of the fabric, printing, and the manufacturing timeline for each garment, among other details about working hands-on producing her made-in-the-USA line of 40’s-inspired clothing.

I backed Wearing History at the level where I would receive a pair of the Smooth Sailing trousers in denim (yes, I bought pants! Also available in plus sizes.) and the Norma Jean blouse in a must-own-or-perish musical note print. The package arrived in the mail and was waiting for me when I got home from the holidays and Lindy Focus. It was my intent to wear the outfit dancing, but the Lindy Focus plague (née the flu) and my cat getting sick prevented me from attending any local dance nights between then and now – but I wanted to make sure my Cal Bal ladies and all of you could know about this great line of clothing!

So instead of dancing, I decided to put my Wearing History outfit though another intense experience – a whirlwind trip to Hot Rhythm Holiday in Austin, Texas, where my band, the Mint Julep Jazz Band, would fly in, perform, and fly out in a period of 32 hours. 4 airports, 4 flights, shuttles, carrying baggage/equipment, eating my weight in Tex Mex food, and touring a bit of Austin before playing the Fed that night.

A close-up of this adorable print!

A close-up of this adorable print!

Just in case the glockenspiel case and traveling with 6 dudes carrying odd-shaped instrument cases wasn’t enough, the eighth-noted Norma Jean blouse would let everyone know that I was a musician and this was a band flying to a gig (and I was so excited, I’m sure I annoyed the crap out of everyone nearby). The blouse was actually a great travel piece and I imagine, for similar reasons, would be for dancing – it stayed tucked in with the darted waistline and high waisted trouser combo, the arm holes and slight dolman sleeve allowed for a wide range of movement, the tencel fabric was soft and durable, and the blouse could be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion.

Trousers and blouse dressed up a bit more

Trousers and blouse dressed up a bit more

The Smooth Sailing trousers got the double travel treatment – I only wore the blouse on the first day, but wore the trousers for both traveling days. The weight of the denim is just perfect – not too thick, not too thin, and soft without losing its denim qualities. The cut is flattering, and I love the way a high waisted trouser makes your bum look. After two days on airplanes and sleeping on planes and in the airport, the trousers managed to retain their shape really well, with no stretch bubbles at the knee, and the only noticeable change was perhaps a little loosening at the waist, which may have been a casualty of my Tex Mex food baby. Two days in these pants and they performed like champs. I even slept in them when I got home – after a 23 hour day and 3 hours of sleep (with intermittent airport/plane sleeping) there was really no need to get into pajamas when the trousers were just as comfortable.

And there you have it – Cal Bal ladies, do go by the Wearing History booth and check out this wonderful new collection of clothing and remember that Wearing History is just getting started! Everyone else, please visit the Wearing History website, where you can order these lovely garments, plus some other adorable garments from Wearing History’s first clothing line. I can’t wait to see what else Wearing History has up its sleeve and would back another Kickstarter in a second. Quality goods with great style!