I know, I know, but hear me out. I’m pretty sure my mom put me in saddle shoes at some point during my childhood and I ran around the playground wearing them with a dress in ultimate classic kid style. When presented in high school with very limited options for women’s golf shoes, I was delighted that a saddle shoe was one of my options and made my selection accordingly. Then swing dancing came into my life – when I started in 1998, retro culture was an amalgam of generic vintage pop culture, but as the smoke of the late 1990’s swing revival started to clear, it was became very clear to me that saddle shoes were associated with two things: 1) a caricature of the 1950’s and 2) newbie dancers. As a budding Lindy Hopper, all I wanted was everything 1930’s/early 40’s and NOT to be associated with anything that would brand me as a newbie. I wanted to be taken seriously as a dancer. But deep down I still loved saddle shoes because they are adorable.
Flash forward a decade or so and I thought about saddle shoes again. A green and white pair would be amazing and I found a retailer online that made them. Vintage Dancer wrote this great blog post about the history of the saddle shoe, detailing their popularity between 1910 and 1960, clearly marking this as a period-appropriate choice for my swing-era-not-1950’s-caricature dancing activities. And then I remembered how saddle shoes would be perceived and I abandoned that idea.
I don’t know when Gretchen Midgley and I were first talking about this, but saddle shoes came up in conversation and how I’d wanted a pair, but ALL OF THE ABOVE HESITATIONS. Then I got a PM from Gretchen saying I needed to make this happen because saddle shoes would be a versatile addition to her fall wardrobe and she’s right. Gretchen’s message was the kick in the pants I needed. I AM LINDY SHOPPER AND I SHALL WEAR WHAT I PLEASE.
I ordered the green and white saddle shoes from Muffy’s, made from a last from 1956, which feature leather uppers and a Goodyear welted rubber sole and am so excited to finally have them after so many years of being worried about what other people would think about my dancing. Silly, I know – but being perceived as a good dancer was and is so important to me. I got to wear them last night to our weekly dance and I think they will take a little time to break in, but otherwise I am very happy with this purchase.
Would you like a pair of your own? Vintage Dancer has a set of links to retailers at the bottom of the post and I’m also eyeballing a pair from Julia Bo customized to my specifications – has anyone ordered from this site?
If you’re worried about how to style the saddle shoe, Vintage Everyday has a great collection of photos of women doing everything from riding a motorcycle to sleeping in a barrel wearing saddle shoes, with photographs looking like they date from the early 1930’s through the 1950’s.
All this to say let’s be a little kinder, a little less judgmental about what we see on people’s feet. I remember getting into a discussion on a chat forum in the early 2000’s about Bleyers, as I was still wearing mine for dancing, but someone there had branded them a shoe for newbies. At that point, I didn’t consider myself a newbie, but I was embarrassed and mad because I had stuck up for this dance shoe that was servicing my feet and someone set out to belittle me. I was either in school or working 3 jobs between stints in school at that point and I didn’t have a lot of money for dance shoes – hell, there weren’t even that many options for swing dance shoes at that point. Perhaps this is also a lesson in humanity and humility – there’s a human attached to those shoes who just wants to dance.
The alternate title for this post is I Have Too Many Things To Write About and No Time To Do It – my hope is that you’d rather have the news as it comes, rather than a comprehensive post about everything, so I’m giving you the tip of the iceberg here and trust that you’ll enjoy all the things at your leisure:
Zoe Vine – glorious dresses (with sleeves!) in lovely colors, based in the UK (because the UK has everything I want right now, right?), machine washable – gimme!
Hepcat Corner – tees, sweatshirts, bags, phone cases, and more, all with the swing dancer in mind. Bonus points for graphic of shag dancing couple (labeled Charleston – could be either!).
August Three – I had hoped to cover this in a Lindy Focus vendor post that may never come to fruition, but I got to see the beauties from this new swing dance shoe company based in Thailand and the quality looks great and I loved the custom color options. Would love to hear from others who have tried them! Jenna Applegarth has endorsed these and she is essentially the international swing dance shoe expert at this point, I’m not sure there’s a swing dance shoe company she hasn’t tried!
Pretty Retro – In December I discovered that my new favorite go-to clothing website, The House of Foxy, has an offshoot brand called Pretty Retro. I’m not sure what the differences are, it all looks like more glorious, quality vintage-inspired reproduction clothing and I am here for it.
Green of Grey – I found another magical trumpet skirt in the wild (which has since sold out, but maybe custom order? That bow, AMIRITE?) and a number of other adorable swing-era-inspired items in this adorable Etsy shop.
Swingbird Fashions – a Denver-based Etsy shop, with trumpet skirts IN STOCK, adorable 30’s style shorts/skort, 30’s blouses, trousers (both wide leg and those pleated/tapered ones that everyone seems to compete in), some gorgeous dresses, really so many quality things!
Groovy Fox – what a fun name for this new swing dance shoe company! Bulgaria jumps in on the dance shoe game and the results are lovely – we so spoiled with all these new shoe companies with lovely colors and styles. Loving the lilac and mint and wanting to build a spring wardrobe around these colors…
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’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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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, andBlack 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. ❤
Fab Gabs has posted a fantastic pair of mint condition 1930’s collegiate style high waist pants on eBay, that I am sharing here in hopes that someone from our community will pick them up (and take them for a spin) or derive inspiration for your tailor, seamstress, or perhaps ask Chloe Hong to make you a pair. Interesting features include zipper pockets and fly, a 3 inch waistband with 8 exposed buttons, and are made from “fantastic woven wool suiting in deep teal with black and subtle accents of of pale blue and red in a fine stitch running up the herringbone section of the stripes.”
Perhaps the best quote of the auction: “Balboa and collegiate shag were made for pants such as these. The crotch is gusseted for ease of movement.”
Enjoy! I’d be bidding on them myself if they were my size – let me know if a dancer snags these trousers!