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!).
The presence of vendors seems to be growing at larger Lindy Hop and Balboa events, presenting sellers with a unique opportunity to reach a targeted (and sometimes captive) audience. It can be difficult to fly into an event and not have the time to experience local vintage stores, or order online without trying something on, or maybe your dance shoes choose that weekend to fall apart. When the vendors come to you, the event becomes even more accommodating, convenient, and special.
As far as vendor lineups go, All Balboa Weekend this year has had the most vendors I have seen at any single event. Does this surprise the swing dance community at large, with Balboa dancers having a reputation for dressing up? Probably not. 🙂 There were three shoe vendors (four if you count the vintage store that brought some choice 1940’s pumps), a ton of dresses, hair accessories, bloomers, and a smattering of vintage goodies. Here’s a list of the vendors, in the order in which you would approach them entering the hallway of the event:
I’ve been singing Carol Fraser’s praises for months, but she has seriously outdone herself again. I don’t think I’ve seen that many bloomers in one place, with dozens of patterns in the My Heinies signature styles. Carol’s exclusive line of footwear from Worldtone, developed for swing dancers, is even more developed at this point and it was apparent that the styles available at ABW are targeted to be good colors and styles for dancers. I found the new shoes VERY appealing and was pleased to see that some of the focus group shoes had made the final cut. She also carried a number of one-of-a-kind styles – featuring more colors, patterns, and detailing – that were just breathtaking. I also noticed a number of follows sporting fancy hosiery from this vendor, both on the social dance floor and in competitions. Top it all off with one of the lovely hair flowers Carol sells and you’ve got a winner.
REMIX VINTAGE SHOES
What can I say? Remix Vintage Shoes makes the most drool-worthy reproduction shoes out there, with dance-friendly heel heights and soft leather galore. There are always a few new models and colors, as well as some shoes that may not be made anymore (i.e. Remix is looking for a new manufacturer for the Balboa t-strap, so if you’ve been on the fence get them NOW because we don’t know when they will be available again!). I had the high honor of having my vintage two-tone oxfords photographed by Philip Heath, the owner of Remix – perhaps there will be a reproduction made and named after Lindy Shopper? *swoon*
Shannon Sheldon is the mastermind behind both the execution of a flawless 1930’s fashion show and the line of adorable hair flowers known as Bombshell Baubles. Shannon personally tests each flower to make sure that, no matter how much your head shakes, the flower will not fall out. As someone who has abandoned flowers mid-dance because they simply could not stay in place, I salute you! Etsy store coming soon…
Flapperfly makes cute, crafty, and recycled items, such as earrings, hair accessories, fabric bags, charm necklaces, and has some vintage finds worthy of the cuteness of this vendor. I only wish I had seen Flapperfly’s wares out more often at the event, I feel that I am lacking in accurate commentary. Please check out her Etsy site for goodies, especially the sequin sparrow barrette, which is my favorite.
Loco Lindo saw some heavy traffic at ABW, and for good reason – their line of dresses and skirts are flirty and practical, made from an infinite number of crepe prints, both modern and vintage reminiscent. The best parts about this kind of crepe are the nod to vintage crepe fabrics (common in swing era clothing), the comfort and wearability of the fabric, and the washability – no dry cleaning necessary, just throw it in the washer and hang it up to dry. The crepe travels well, being somewhat wrinkle-resistant, which is good news for traveling swing dancers. I would also file these dresses under dance and work-appropriate, so there’s double duty potential. I picked up a lovely gray and white polka dot dress with smocking detail at the shoulders – it is so rare to find dresses with smocking – superb!
The staple of almost every swing dancer’s wardrobe, Dancestore‘s shoes are always well received at dance events and tend to be the anchor vendor with their vast inventory. I think I spent most of the weekend in their white mesh oxford. They were not at ABW the entire time, so I am afraid I am remiss of additional tidbits relating to the event or new products. I will use this opportunity to reiterate Teni Lopez-Cardenas‘ plea to make the trumpet skirt available in more colors (and sizes) – please! I’ve been waiting for years for the black trumpet skirt to be in stock in my size.
More hair accessory cuteness, this time from Follow Fashions‘ Ohio based designer, Lisa Curry. As you can see from the photo, there are wonderful flowers and feather fascinators, in lots of color options, shapes, and sizes. I am particularly grateful to see the smaller flower options, for short haired follows, for embellishing up-do’s, and perhaps for use as a boutonniere. Special thanks to Follow Fashions for outfitting some of our 1930’s fashion show participants with hair accessories!
The token actual vintage vendor at ABW was Flower Child, who looked like they had been hoarding swing era goodies for us for a while, as there were some really choice items available for purchase. Things that stuck out in my mind were some great 1940’s cocktail dresses, pumps and wedges, bakelite jewelry at not outrageous prices, vintage sewing notions, a fairly substantial menswear and accessories section, gorgeous hats, and the 6 yards of 1930’s printed cotton the ladies brought for me to look at after I told them about some of my dresses being handmade. These ladies were diligent and stuck it out all weekend, into the wee hours of the nightly dances. Special thanks also goes out to Flower Child for letting the 1930’s fashion show borrow some of their accessories – such lovely things!
And those are the vendors! Stayed tuned for more possible future ABW-related blog posts.