This post may be premature, but I have been eagerly anticipating Jenna Applegarth’s line of swing dance shoes since I first saw her post about this business endeavor on Facebook. A lot of people ask me about shoes and visit this blog for information about dance shoes, but Jenna is THE source, the person I know who knows about all the brands popping up all over the globe because she is traveling to teach at these places and trying out the shoes, but also because she has excellent taste, she cares about the shoes, and gives detailed feedback about the fit, look, materials, and functionality shoes.
I say premature because the Applejacks website does not have any shoes listed for sale, but Jenna has slowly been releasing posts about her work and, this week on the Applejacks Facebook page, photos of some of the shoes she has designed. I couldn’t wait, you all need to know about this, and be sure to follow the Applejacks Facebook page for release updates.
From the Applejacks about page:
“Applejacks shoes are designed by dancers, for dancers. We want you to not only look good, but to feel good. To be able to stay on the dance floor all night and still walk back to your hotel. Our shoes are designed to help your body stay aligned and balanced. Room for your toes, secure on your ankles and happiness on your feet. We believe that Applejacks represents a fresh take on comfort and design.
We know feet are as unique as personalities, which is why we don’t believe in “one size (style) fits all.” That means we know our shoes may not work for everyone. But that is ok, because we founded this company to help fill in the gaps from the other companies already in business. Fit the feet that weren’t being fitted 🙂 Which means if our shoes don’t work for you, that is ok – they may fit your friends and family instead! And you can always check out some of the other great shoe companies out there with a different fit.
We have a goal to help reduce unnecessary waste, maintain high industry standards and choose sustainable durable materials. What that means for you:
Simple labels – It gets thrown away anyway, so we only label what we need to.
Minimal packaging – From the factory to you, we do our best to only use what is needed.
No shoe bags automatically – but 1 free for every pair on request!
Leatherwork follows German PCP Regulations
Fair working conditions
Non-gendered/Non-roled sizing and styles
We are still working on building our brand and identity. We appreciate your feedback, and we hope you travel along with us on our journey.”
I love this approach and I can’t wait to see more from Jenna’s company. I also have some nerdy glee about the company name being so perfect with Jenna’s last name and being one of my favorite jazz steps. Here are the three previews released this week, from L-R: the Greenwood in teal, the Seneca in rose gold/silver, and the Seneca in purple.
Since their launch a few years ago, I’ve been a supporter of Royal Vintage Shoes, an offshoot of American Duchess, creating reproduction vintage shoes from the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s. My one complaint was that these wonderfully crafted shoes with leather uppers did not have leather soles – until now! For Spring 2019, Royal Vintage has made the transition to leather soles and I’m so excited about the offerings, all of which can be added to your dance shoe wardrobe. The new leather soled collection will be available for pre-order on their website starting on April 25, 2019. I particularly love the wedges, the heeled oxfords, and I’m delighted they are re-issuing their two tone Lillian Mary Janes (although I’ve already purchased the rubber soled version from a previous collection, womp womp). Enjoy their “Foxtrot Summer” collection, aptly named to now cut a rug!
The shoe blessings runneth over and, while this vintage reproduction shoe company doesn’t appear to be directly marketing to the swing dance community, all signs point to it being a default winner – Memery, a UK-based company, is making reproduction shoes from the 1920’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s with leather soles (but also a vegan option) and they are lovely, in some classic colors and some unexpected colors. While it appears that they are getting a start on their shoe lines, it looks like they are off to a strong start, particularly with their 1940’s pump, which comes in six scrumptious suede colors and two heel heights (3 cm/1.18 inches and 6.7 cm/2.6 inches). This is definitely a shoe company to watch!
I attended my 12th All Balboa Weekend this past weekend and, although I didn’t compete, DJ, run a fashion show, or run a band, I still managed to fill my weekend with so many good things and people even though I came there “just to sing.” Of course, no trip to Cleveland would be complete without a bit of vintage shopping, both on-site and in town. You can check out past blog posts for the scoop on Sweet Lorain and Chelsea’s Costumes, the former being my favorite vintage store of all time and the latter being a great place to score some inexpensive and awesome menswear.
At the Holiday Inn, the vendors did not disappoint this year. There are always a few new items of ABW merchandise each year, including baseball tees with the phrase “I’d rather be doing Bal” and a cute silhouette of Bal dancers on a solid tee and a striped tee. If you’ve looked at the ABW baby tees and thought you didn’t have a use for such things, have you considered that your dog may look adorable in just such a tee? A sweet pup named Luna came to hang out at the event (who may be the most calm and tolerant dog I’ve ever seen) and did a little photo shoot for us and everyone’s heart melted just a little bit.
Re-mix Vintage Shoes was out in full force with an array of Bal-friendly footwear in colors to suit just about any outfit. I didn’t see any new models, but that doesn’t particularly matter when you are dealing in the classics and when you want to replace that pair of gold Balboas that you’ve worn out that not even a gold Sharpie can salvage at this point to make them look like you didn’t put them through a meat grinder…it always makes me happy to walk by this table and see people excited about buying a pair of Re-mix shoes.
De Fils en Perles returned with even more gorgeous beadwork and whimsy. Classic Art Deco-inspired cuffs abound, a new series of rings were added, along with a number of butterfly designs (which were super popular and sold out last year), and (for funsies) some 8-bit characters from Super Mario Bros. and some Minions. The detail here is scrumptious, with no two pieces alike.
Dancestore made an appearance, although I should really call it the Laurie Gilkenson (aka Nina’s mom) booth because it’s more than just Dancestore shoes, it’s also a collection of vintage and vintage-inspired items (such as castoffs from Nina’s incredible shoe collection), as well as hand-crafted items made by Laurie, such as knitted caps for newborns.
Victor Celania set up a booth for his successful custom menswear business, Established Sartorial – based in Austin, Texas, victor has clients both within and outside of the swing dance community and decided to try a vendor booth at ABW. Victor is also the bandleader of the Waller Creek Vipers, whose debut album Bespoke Bounce is hot off the presses and you could pick up a copy at his booth while you drool over all the lovely menswear fabrics.
Jamie Sturdevant of ChatterBlossom was busy every time I rolled by her booth and I think people are finally in the same place I have been for a while, bringing Jamie garments and getting her expert opinion on just the right color, texture, and scale to complete your look. I say complete because I never quite feel right with just my plain hair at a dance event anymore, a flower just elevates an already special night of music and dancing. I also spotted a number of men picking up her boutonnieres, which delights me to no end.
Holding it down at the end of the hallway were the ladies of Flower Child, who informed me that this is their favorite event to collect things for throughout the year, and you can tell that they know their audience well. I find myself revisiting this area multiple times throughout the event, to look for myself and to marvel at how well-curated it is, to the point that I picked out a couple of things with specific people in mind and those people ended up buying those garments. They get us. I saw that they had more separates this year for women, gorgeous blouses, and my favorite piece of clothing was a light turquoise gabardine jacket that Victor picked up for himself.
That’s all for now – save your pennies for next year and join us at All Balboa Weekend for excellent dancing, music, and shopping!
There is a lot of documented history about the creation and performance of The Big Apple line dance in the 1939 film “Keep Punching” – if you don’t know this story already, take a gander at Wikipedia, The Lindy Circle, and Savoy Style. It’s the story of a dance within a dance craze! I love this clip for its energy, the individual style (dancing and clothing) of each of the dancers, and also because they keep it simple and functional – this clothing is obviously their own normal street clothing, with the exception of the coordinating Whitey’s Savoy Lindy Hoppers tee shirts. I imagine this is a snapshot into what they might wear on any given night of the week out at a dance (compare to the more fancy street clothing/costumes in Hot Chocolate (Cottontail) or the outright dance costumes in The Harlem Congaroos clip). There is an array of interesting clothing in this clip – from the dancers to the more fancy daywear/cocktail attire of the actors/extras to the orchestra in tails.
There are so many pieces of clothing worn by the dancers in this clip that are accessible today, so let’s dig in:
First, those custom Whitey’s Savoy Lindy Hoppers tee shirts – we don’t have the light background with the darker graphics, but Chloe Hong has reproduced this graphic on dark blue and dark red tees that you can order from her website. Since none of us hold a candle to the original Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, we can view these shirts as aspirational/inspirational, a tribute to these original dancers and innovators. I love that some of the tee shirts in the clip are worn as-is and others are worn over another shirt, as layers. This makes me think of the ever present battle of sweat management – if that tee shirt has to last through a day of many film takes under hot lights, you might need that base layer to keep things fresh on the outside.
Since men’s reproduction knitwear is still a bit of an outlier, your best collared “undershirt” solution to get the look from the video is to pick up one of Simon James Cathcart’s short sleeved polos with that distinctive spearpoint collar – they are also made of wicking bamboo fabric, so extra helpful with sweat management. Available in nine colors and I wouldn’t be surprised if SJC was going to release some more in the future. Even though the men in this clip are wearing the spearpoint collars, these polos are also great for women, I have a few and I love them.
A few of the women in this clip looks like they may be wearing either some sort of collared or uncollared blouse underneath their tee shirt or they may be wearing a scarf tied loosely around their neck and tucked in a bit at the tee shirt collar. The House of Foxy’s 1940’s shirt in crepe would give a similar effect to the pointed collar blouses in the clip, with just the top points peeking out and the crepe being flexible enough to work around the tee shirt collar and lay right. One of the women is wearing a belt with her flared skirt and it looks awesome, but the video quality is such that I can’t tell if the belt is leather, fabric, or some other material.
While there is one woman in a flared skirt (and I say that relatively, as we’re not talking Dior “new look” volume, just a bit more twirl than the other women), rest of the women in this clip are in A-line skirts, something with a more streamlined profile, but with enough radius at the hemline to allow for kicks and movement. This skirt silhouette and just-below-the-knee hemline shows the fashion transition to the 1940’s silhouette, when you contrast with the calf-length skirts from the film A Day at the Races that came out just two years before Keep Punching.
UK brand Heyday has a nice A-line skirt, available in several prints and solid colors, I love the quality, wearability, and washability of their pieces. If you are going for the more full skirt, it looks like the House of Foxy’s Whirlaway Skirt fits the bill of being not to full, not too A-line, but just right in terms of fullness for the purposes of this clip. It’s also available in 7 colors and ditto on the quality coming out of this UK brand. Would wear both of these skirts for dancing and for work and for anything, really.
Men’s bottoms look like your standard fare for trousers, tucked in shirt or not tucked in – I mean, whatever’s comfortable for you after umpteen takes, right? If you are looking for something high waisted, I can’t say enough good things about SJC’s 1930’s chinos, which can handle belt or braces. Or just go and buy whatever lightweight, breathable trousers you can find and wear that shirt untucked! The exact right pants are usually hard to find, but for this look it’s not an absolute essential, the devil is in the other details. For the tucked-in crowd, note the dancer with the skinny belt – how skinny is up to you and your pants loops. Google was an absolute failure at looking for skinny belts (“no, Google, I mean REALLY skinny, 1.5 inches wide isn’t skinny!”), so dive deeper into your internet searches and/or go to the women’s section of a department store to buy one because nobody cares where it comes from.
The footwear is all over the map. I see white Keds-like sneakers with dark socks (that may color-coordinate with the collared shirt under the tee shirt) and in other colors (Gray? Black? Oh, wait, we’re not in Technicolor), or maybe even a shoe with a more substantial sole closer to Vans’ classic shoe (or their newly engineered more flexible/lightweight version).
I see a couple of pairs of saddle shoes thrown in the mix and, though most modern associations are with the 1950’s, the saddle shoe’s popularity boomed in the decades prior to the 1950’s, as well. Most saddle shoes I see today have a crepe sole, which isn’t my favorite for dancing, but Re-mix carries them with a leather sole. I’d consider giving this Restricted pair from ModCloth a whirl because they have leather interiors (for my sensitive feet), what appears to be a flat synthetic sole, and because the blue/brown color combo is awesome. Then I go and find this yellow and white Chelsea Crew pair…I need to stop while I’m ahead.
Finally, one dancer has some classic leather oxfords on, which previous discussions on my blog have covered everything from buying them used at thrift stores to getting your first pair of Aris Allens to splurging for a pair of Allen Edmonds (or finding them used on eBay).
To recap: classic dance shoes of your choosing, socks, comfy pants/skirt, signature tee shirt, optional undershirt/collar/scarf action. One might say this is not too far from what we are wearing on the dance floor today. Now, time to go practice the second half of the Big Apple that I never seem to remember….
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…
The shoe news just keeps coming, Re-mix Vintage Shoes has some new goodies for us – a limited edition teal/blue color combo in their popular Balboa style (but only 16 pairs total – don’t hesitate if you need these in your life) AND a brand new style called Starlet. I love love love the new Starlet shoe, anything with a wide low heel and cutouts is good in my book. It has the same heel as the Gabrielle shoe, I just hope it doesn’t share the same width issues for my fat feet…feel free to weigh in on fit/stretch in the comments after you’ve worn yours for a few months. 😉
The trend of swing dance-focused shoe companies continues and no one has their pulse on the dance shoes of now like dancer/instructor/organizer Jenna Applegarth – in my next installment of shoes Jenna has recommended to me and others in the Women’s Swing Dance Shoe Hunt! Facebook group, we have SuAli Swing Shoes based in Italy and owned by swing dancers.
You’ll have to pardon my complete ignorance of the Italian language – I’m using Google to translate the SuAli Swing Shoes website, but this is what I can tell from the rough transation (and really, we mostly need photos of these lovely shoes AMIRITE?):
I usually reserve my vendor report for after the event, but in an effort to be proactive in reporting and share the good news in advance so that we may all prepare ourselves (and perhaps put a bit of that holiday bonus or Christmas money aside, should you be so lucky), I am excited to share what many of you may already know from obsessively following the Lindy Focus Facebook group – nevertheless, here it is, the Lindy Focus vendor lineup:
– Jack n’ Jill Salon – https://www.facebook.com/JnJSalonLindyFocus
– Massage with Danielle Knight!
– Mary Kay Williams is returning again this year to draw $5-5 minute black and white caricatures of everyone, and is also taking commissions for some fabulous vintage pin-up style color caricatures!
For any event, this is a formidable lineup. It is particularly noteworthy because Chloe Hong will be coming from South Korea and Saint Savoy from Austria, making this a strong international presence in our vendor lineup, which is truly a rarity, a treat, and not something to be taken lightly – you can now try on all those wonderful skirts and shoes that you see online, talk to the vendors in person, and perhaps save on international shipping. Saint Savoy has already been posting information about new shoe colors that will be available in the Facebook group and, based on the comments, the people are READY FOR YOUR WARES.
I encourage you to become active in the Facebook group discussions if you have any questions. With Saint Savoy, specifically, as they are bringing try-ons only, unless you place your order by the end of November (see linked FB thread for information). The Jack n’ Jill Salon should start taking appointments soon and those appointments go fast. If you want something special/specific for your hair for NYE, reach out to Chatterblossom in advance for a custom piece, as she’ll only be able to bring limited stock of her seemingly endless inventory. Start compiling your best castoffs to consign at the Savoy Shop – I’ve already got a bag of goodies ready to go from my last closet purge. Are you ready for Lindy Focus? SOON.
I’m a few days late with this news, particularly if you are already on Re-mix Vintage Shoes‘ email list, but I’m very excited about the new Lectrice and curious about the response to the saddle oxfords. Lectrice is a no-brainer – built on the same last as the Anitas, which I already love, there is potential to love the Lectrice more because I don’t always feel stable dancing in my Anitas and I believe in the stability of oxfords. Combined with the comfort of the Anitas and this lovely looped stitching detail, I’m cheering for this shoe to be the awesome I want it to be.
The saddle oxfords I am excited about in a smaller, more hesitant way. There are not particularly good associations in the swing dance community at large for people who show up to dances wearing saddle shoes, and I wish that this could be different because saddle shoes are adorable and were popular decades before the 1950’s. In popular culture they are so much associated with the 1950’s, part of a caricature involving poodle skirts and pony tails. My hope is that people will be inspired by photographs of everyday people and dancers from the 1930’s and 40’s wearing saddle shoes and take their style cues from those outfits, or embrace 1950’s garb outside of the caricature. I am probably most interested in seeing if Re-mix decides makes other colors, I would DIE for a green and white pair!
I swear I’m not saying this because they are the juiciest shade of green this side of a Granny Smith apple, I’m saying this because they are all of the things I am looking for in a dance shoe. The new Saint Savoy Riviera, a gorgeous t-strap dance shoe, is all of these things and more: something low enough that I can Lindy Hop all night, but high enough that I can benefit from a heel for Balboa; something that I can dance in all night without hurting the balls of my feet or causing blisters (on the first night of dancing, no less! No blisters!); soft, flexible leather, yet with enough support to withstand the stress of the dance; did I mention the perfect heel height (3.5 cm, which is about 1.4 inches)? And the soft sueded sole? And the pristine finishing on the shoe? And the divine two tone color? And the cutouts allowing for even more movement? And the sweet vintage styling? I haven’t been this excited about a pair of dance shoes since my first pair of Remixes 8 years ago, I’m in love…
The Riviera is so new that it’s not even on the Saint Savoy website yet, but will be in late November, just in time for the gifting season. They are taking orders, though, so contact them about placing your order. The green Rivieras are almost sold out already (I’m looking at you, Castle Camp)! Also available in light blue, brown, and a sassy tan/red color combo.
Here’s a collection of photos of my love affair with this dance shoe: