The Eastern Balboa Championships, in its final year, brought out the best in everyone who attended – there was so much positive energy at this event, plus the usual shenanigans, that it was radiant with awesome. Way to go out with a bang!
The vendors added to the shine, as the vendor area showcase several local businesses with a serious fan base. Creations by Crawford has become a staple of swing dance events in the southeast and beyond, known for her custom hair pieces, but perhaps most brilliantly for her lapel art, which elevates and distinguishes the lapels of men’s jackets, with metal, feathers, fabric, and touches that are elegant without being femme. Sharon had a truly delicious selection of jewels to choose from, as the basis for her designs.
Raleigh Vintage, whose online fan base has reached international proportions, returned, with a large vendor space filled with 1930’s and 40’s dresses, separates, menswear, accessories, shoes, and a 1933 World’s Fair tie clip for everyone. They always curate a superbly appropriate collection to bring to EBC, with an eye for durable vintage to withstand the tests of the dance floor. Of particular note was a collection of men’s socks with fantastic colors and details. This year’s display also featured a sale rack of items with minor flaws and majorly discounted prices. And there was much rejoicing.
Chatterblossom made its EBC debut this year, with a collection of hand crafted hair accessories and jewelry, with a vintage-inspired aesthetic. With a welcoming and eye-catching display, it was hard to resist the rings, necklaces, blooms, and flapper head bands in the collection. Already a successful blog and Etsy shop, I hope to see Chatterblossom at future swing dance events, well stocked with tons of goodies, especially red flowers (there are never enough in red!).
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. 🙂
The 9th annual Eastern Balboa Championships was another rousing success, with perhaps even more shenanigans, planned and unplanned, than usual. A highlight of the weekend was dressing in tweeds for the mock English hunt, led by Bobby White, where the tweeded and costumed EBC gentry gave organizer Chris Owens a sporting head start before we unleashed the Nerf guns on him. Perhaps the best part of the weekend for me was performing with my band, the Mint Julep Jazz Band, for the Friday night dance, receiving rave reviews for our performance, and launching a Kickstarter for our first CD. 🙂
The vendors were out again this year, but in spite of not having a shoe vendor, the vendor area certainly looked full. Raleigh Vintage was back with their fabulous trunk show of 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s clothing, as well as a full rack of tweed for some last-minute-pre-hunt shopping. Some of my favorite pieces from the collection are shown below, and I managed to do some Christmas shopping for my husband, as well. My favorite purchase for him was a 1933 World’s Fair tie clip and Raleigh Vintage had a set of three of them, in blue, white, and black. They also had some excellent ladies’ jewelry this time, bakelite, Art Deco necklaces, and clever pins. There was a hilarious pin with maracas and a plaque that said “Hasta Manana” that I loved – but what do you wear with this? I am pondering…
Following the success of their booth at All Balboa Weekend, The Cleveland Shop made the long journey to North Carolina with an impressive display of vintage dresses, separates, menswear, shoes, hats, and other vintage sundries. I especially appreciate that they brought books on vintage make-up and hair, which can be a chore to figure out without a tutorial. Favorites included the red shoes pictured at left, tons of wonderful rayon floral 30’s and 40’s dresses, and a plaid suit that I would wear loud and proud if I were a dude. I do hope their trip down here was fruitful and that they will return to us next year from the land of vintage with even more goodies.
Last, but certainly not least, Sharon Crawford of Creations by Crawford is the hardest working vendor at these events – most of her creations are custom made for you, during the weekend, and are sometimes being made for a dance that night. Sharon’s vendor table is also a social hub, so you can enjoy the warm, friendly conversation as she creates wonderful pieces made from vintage jewelry, feathers, ribbon, and other tiny pretty things. I’m willing to say that Sharon gets a lot of business from men, as well, and can create the perfect boutonniere to go with any jacket or ensemble.
Don’t miss out on the 10th anniversary party next year, the celebration is going to be huge and full of pranks, I’m sure!
This past weekend I attended a wonderful dance and workshop weekend in Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA called Be My Jazz Baby and blissed out on two nights of dancing to Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society. Be My Jazz Baby worked to bring in vendors, who set up their wares along the inside of the dance studio room where the Saturday night dance was held. This seemed to facilitate more interaction between the vendors and the dancers. Some of the vendors were old favorites and others were new to me.
First in the lineup, Sharon Crawford was there with her needle, thread, and supplies, whipping up custom Creations by Crawford for people on the fly, as well as vending some ready-to-wear items. Sharon prefers to create custom pieces for people, based on what they are wearing or something they own, which is entirely practical and takes the guesswork out of knowing what you’ll pair with one of her floral or feather pieces.
Next we had a new addition to our regional vendors, Norfolk-based Kelsie McNair and her collection of vintage dresses, shoes, ties, and other sundries from With Lavender and Lace. It’s always wonderful to welcome the vintage clothing community into the swing dance community and I think Kelsie was pleased with the response.
Dancestore.com, by way of Kara Fabina, was present to vend their quality dance shoes to anyone who needs or wants (or desperately needs because their shoes are falling apart) a new pair of swing dance shoes. I’m excited to see Aris Allen as a consistent vendor and events – after going through a patent leather oxford boy’s ballroom shoe nightmare this week, being able to try on the shoes is worth its weight in gold.
Also new-ish to the vendor squad (but not new to the Raleigh Durham dancers) is Hairzapoppin, the floral creations of Kristy Milliken. Kristy is probably her own best advertising, as she always has a bevy of blossoms tucked into her impeccable updo. Not to mention the Lite-Brite sign, acting as a beacon to draw you to her table…
Vintage Visage came next, which I first encountered at Jammin’ on the James in Richmond, VA this past fall. Wares include reproduction and vintage items, like hats, gloves, fans, hair accessories, ties, and purses, that little something extra you may need to complete your outfit. Kathryn Ann Meyer, the curator of the Vintage Visage collection, graciously let us use one of her hats to draw names for the competition – thanks again for that!
Finally, Be My Jazz Baby had a roving vendor – Caroline Langdon, dolled up in a gorgeous cigarette girl ensemble, peddled vintage ties and other vintage goodies from her tray instead of cigarettes on behalf of Moderlux, a vintage clothing and furniture store in Hampton, VA. Sadly, Caroline and I were both so busy that I didn’t catch sight of her wares, but she’s provided this information on the store: “Modernlux is a truly unique little store I operate with owner/founder Gary MacIntyre located in the heart of old Hampton at 47 East Queens Way (23669). We specialize in Mid-Century design including housewares, household gadgets, furniture, objets d’art, and, naturally, fashion – for both men and women!”
Thanks to Bill Speidel and Victor Celania for hosting a lovely weekend of dancing and shopping!
It’s already wonderful that the Eastern Balboa Championships is just a short drive away, but this year EBC really had the feel of a top notch swing dance event, brimming with a level of excitement and enthusiasm that is almost unrivaled. EBC already felt like a Balboa family reunion, bridging the gap between All Balboa Weekends, but this year it felt like EBC really came into its own as an event. The new hotel for this year’s EBC, the North Raleigh Hilton, provided a lovely ballroom space, a big hallway with chairs and tables for vendors, registration, and for hanging out, and there were no shortage of extra rooms for practice space. There were competitions for everyone and I am proud of the newer Raleigh/Durham Balboa dancers, some of them only dancing Balboa for a few weeks prior to the event, taking the challenge head on and entering their first amateur competitions.
This year, EBC grew from one vendor to four vendors. The solo repeat vendor, and one that is near and dear to my heart, is the Vintage Collective (Andi Shelton, Claire Villa, and Laura Churchill Pemberton), who paid attention to what was bought and who purchased it last year, then went out to their sources to find even more of these vintage goods that swing dancers wear. The result was four large racks of clothing from the 1920’s through the 1940’s, both men’s and women’s apparel, three tables of accessories, and a giant shoe rack. The Vintage Collective was only set up for one day, Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and I was there with my fellow vintage poachers at 9:00 sharp, freshly rolled out of bed and ready to commence with the hunt.
I intended to go grab the goodies I wanted, then go back to bed, but it was so exciting trying on clothes with my friends and choosing outfits for people that it was lunchtime before I knew it. I think Rita Shiang got my two favorite dresses of the day – a 1930’s sailor dress with red trim and a 1940’s brown floral rayon dress with amazing draping and a fishtail attachment in the back, you know, for sass. Again, I forgot to take photos of all this good stuff until the end of my shopping visit, I got so wrapped up in the experience…
Next, we have Dancestore, the anchor vendor of any major swing dance event and one that is continuously welcome, as they continue to provide reasonably priced, reproduction dance shoes that are essential to any swing dancer’s wardrobe. At one point, Frankie Hagan stopped dancing and came up to me to show me that his heel had come off his shoe. About 10 minutes later he came back up to me to show off his new pair of Aris Allen cap toes. THIS is only one of the great reasons to have a shoe vendor at your event. Another is to be able to actually try on the shoes to ensure a good fit. Then, at the dance on Sunday night, Kara Fabina announced that Dancestore would be selling their entire inventory at the event for 40% off for the next 15 minutes. YES!!! There was a rush to purchase the discounted shoes and even I decided to replace my pair of white mesh oxfords that I had danced a hole through the toe – at 40% off, how could you not?
Creations by Crawford is Sharon Crawford’s name for the hair flowers, fascinators, boutonnieres, and other clothing ornamentations she makes. I was a bit confused when I saw Sharon’s vendor space, as there were a few items for sale, but it mostly looked like a craft studio, with supplies everywhere. Then Bill Speidel showed me his boutonniere and explained that Sharon had made it custom to go with his outfit. I looked over and Sharon confirmed, as she furiously sewed together one of her creations for a customer. This is a new approach and one that can work at a weekend event – you have a bit of a captive audience if the shopper is there for the weekend, why not make something to go with what they are wearing if they have the time to wait? By the end of the dance you can have a custom piece that you know will work with something you have.
Finally, we have Vintage Visage, the brainchild of Kathryn Meyer, who had a fantastic display of vintage-inspired hats and accessories for sale, including hair flowers, fancy gloves, hats for ladies and gents, and the ever essential fan. Whoever has the foresight to sell fans at dances is always tops in my book. If you are looking for Kathryn and her wares after EBC, she is a regular vendor at Richmond’s Second Saturday dances.
And that about wraps it up for another great year at EBC! Here are some supplemental photos of the vendors: