Tag Archives: jazz

Lindy Focus 2017 Vendor Report

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Lindy Shopper and Porg wish you a Happy New Year from Lindy Focus!

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. 😉

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Add some Savoy Shop sparkle!

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!

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Lush blooms by ChatterBlossom

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.

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For heads, necks, and lapels…

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!

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Wear the Woopie rainbow…

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!

 

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GET IN MY CLOSET

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!

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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.

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Charleston kicks for your walls!

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!

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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!

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Fats Walrus!

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…

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This isn’t even all of it, just what was there when I dropped off the Mint Julep Jazz Band stuff – see how they were adding a second table in front – BANANAS!

…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…

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Woopie Bows in warm tones

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Your Woopie Bow also comes with a how-to diagram

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Edens and Rivieras at your service, from Saint Savoy

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Saint Savoy for men, also with great color options

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The lilies from ChatterBlossom are the size of your face and they are wonderful

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These ChatterBlossom pansies are adorable and sweet (and not the size of your face)

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Lots of real vintage this year at the Savoy Shop, including this wonderful 40’s dress with soutache detailing

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One of several phases of women’s shoes at the Savoy Shop

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Solid men’s shoe offerings at the Savoy Shop

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Anyone know the story on this jacket?  Very interesting…

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Savoy Shop ties to brighten your day

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Just the tip of the iceberg on the Savoy Shop tie clips

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Ryan Calloway’s fabulous prints

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Laura Glaess gives us Lionel Hamster (and Lindy Focus will give us Lionel Hampton as the new bandleader for the 2018 transcription project!)

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Django Rhinohardt is as cool as they come, thanks to Laura Glaess

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Sample the LipSense!

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All the luscious LipSense colors

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Forties Forward gives us flights of fancy!

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Lots of fun blooms at the Forties Forward table, love the polka dots!

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Because because because because because!!!

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Lindy Focus 2015 Vendors

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Get your LF merch on day 1 or they will sell out on day 2!

In many ways I am still recovering from Lindy Focus 2015, the swing village that camps out at the Crowne Plaza in Asheville, with all manner of dancing and services that pop up to cater to a population that would prefer not to leave the hotel, lest they miss too much dancing, live music, performances, and classes.  To help with our self-containment of joy, 2015 saw service providers such as massage therapists, shoe repair, tailors, the Jack and Jill Salon for hair cuts and styles, a caricature artist in the lobby, and two hotel room pop-up restaurants (Midnight Di-Noshery and Taco Focus) to serve food after the main dance that were, after two nights, axed by the hotel administration and replaced with food trucks, arranged by Lindy Focus to fill the void and the empty bellies of the masses.

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I love the smell of retail in the morning….errr, afternoon.

There were retail vendors, as well!  Let’s start with the Savoy Shop, a mix of consigned clothing from campers, vintage and thrifted duds with dancers in mind, and the home of the shoe repair service at Lindy Focus.  Michelle Morrison has run the shop for the past several years and has this down to a science.  I love seeing things in the Savoy Shop one day, then seeing them on the dance floor the next!  I even spotted one of my own consigned dresses in the crowd one night and it made my heart soar to know it had found a wonderful new home.  Of particular note this year, the Savoy Shop offered the largest selection of tie clips I have ever seen in one place – surely something for everyone!

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Artist in residence Ryan Calloway.

Dance instructor and artist Ryan Calloway was on hand this year, not only throwing down in the Superheroes of Swing finals, but also selling his wonderful jazz dance and music prints, offering giant, colorful books of his prints to flip through while you chat with the artist himself.  Rather than having to worry about crushing your brand new artwork on the flight home, Ryan offered to ship the prints you purchase for free to your home starting on December 28 and ran the special through January 4 in case you decided you wanted a print after all.  If you missed out on decorating your walls with his signature style, you can order his glorious prints online from his Etsy page.

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A gorgeous feathered headpiece from Forties Forward

I’m going to give a shoutout to Forties Forward, making another appearance on this blog as my most prolific vendor – perhaps it’s because we are both from the Southeast and travel to the same events, or perhaps it’s because they have a great product and the get-up-and-go to make it to some of the best events in the USA.  I imagine they do a great business at Lindy Focus, particularly around New Year’s Eve, for the perfect fishing touch to an ensemble.  This year feathers were a trend at Lindy Focus and they offered some great feather options with sparkly jewels as the attachment piece, in addition to their signature blooms.

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Zoe’s hands at work.

Revive Fashions made, I believe, its debut this year at Lindy Focus, with the crafty Zoe Lechucita creating “custom made hair pieces, feather corsages, and tie pins” on site, while you wait or while you dance and come back to check on it later. 🙂  It was so great to see Zoe picking up the custom torch from Sharon Crawford, ensuring that you can have something custom made to match your ensemble for New Year’s Eve.

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This is the cutest, right?

Another newcomer to the vendor program this year was Juniper Jewelry Designs, the work of Maddie FitzGerald, who was interviewed this year for the Lindy Focus blog about her jewelry designs, so I’ll direct you to the blog post for everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Maddie and her jewelry.  Maddie’s sense of humor is evident in her notes left on the vendor table (see photo at left) and her collection is serious, with an extensive line of bracelets, necklaces, earrings, small and large, simple and intricate, a little something for everyone (as I like  it!). You can check out her work on her Etsy page, which is really only a small sampling of the large display she had at Lindy Focus.

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Mary Jane wingtip in a new color combo!

Last, but certainly not least, I was so happy to see Dancestore.com return to Lindy Focus, thanks to the efforts of Laurie Gilkenson (aka Nina’s mom).  At any event there are shoe casualties, and Lindy Focus is, perhaps, well-equipped to deal with some repairs, but sometimes there are catastrophic shoe failures that only a new pair will fix and you only have so much room in your suitcase.  At an event with 1,000+ dancers, it is critical to have a vendor like Dancestore.com present and on site, not just to fulfill wishlists and fill out shoe basics, but to turn a tragedy into a happy ending!

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I’m also going to insert a shameless plug for Beastly Beauties, who was not a vendor this year at Lindy Focus, but who made my feathered headdress that I wore on Ellington night – I am in awe of and eternally grateful for the efforts of this wonderful Raleigh-based designer.

And there you have it!  I hope I have not missed anyone, as I didn’t have as much time this year to shop and hobnob with all the sellers.  If I have missed anything, please let me know and I will amend this post.  Happy hopping and shopping, everyone!

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The mannequin display never held anything for long before it was snatched up from the Savoy Shop!

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A tailcoat and trousers ready for New Year’s Eve, at the Savoy Shop.

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This isn’t even all of them!  SO MANY TIE CLIPS

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Vintage and gently used shoes as the Savoy Shop.

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A color print for the burgeoning clarinetist in your life?  Artwork by Ryan Calloway.

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Who can resist a good Billie Holiday print?   Artwork by Ryan Calloway.

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Dancestore maximized their space!

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A luscious bloom from Forties Forward.

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Ties, hats, and blooms at Forties Forward.

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Feathers, fans, lights, and a screen at Revive Fashions.

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Ready-made blooms with sparkle at Revive Fashions.

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A necklace fit for a New Year’s Eve ensemble, at Juniper Jewelry Designs.

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Tree of Life pendants and clusters of beads and pearls, at Juniper Jewelry Designs.

DCLX 2012

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I don’t know how DCLX is going to top last year’s battle of the bands between Glenn Crytzer’s Blue Rhythm Band and the Jonathan Stout Orchestra, but I’m excited to find out! I’ve been attending DCLX on and off for the past 9 years and it’s one of my favorite events. This year there is the added excitement of a new vintage store that opened in the DC area that is rumored to have swing era clothing – definitely going to find out if the rumors are true!

Field Trip: Hunting for Vintage in Iowa City, Iowa

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Death by milkshake - the chocolate bourbon pecan pie shake

This past weekend, I attended the Hawkeye Swing Festival in Iowa City, Iowa. As far as dance events go, the University of Iowa has an ideal setup to run a weekend of dances and workshops, with a student union that has both a giant ballroom with a stage and an attached student-run hotel, where the event attendees can stay. Everything you need is within walking distance of the venue/hotel – shops, restaurants, bars, fro-yo, pie shakes…mmmmm, pie shakes. Ahem. Needless to say, I had a fantastic time dancing, meeting new people, and listening to some sweet music over the weekend provided by the all-star bands headed up by Bria Skonberg, Solomon Douglas, Chase Garrett, and those Seattle darlings, The Careless Lovers.

But what about the vintage? While Iowa City did not turn out to be the vintage Mecca I had hoped, it was certainly a lesson in vintage hunting, which is that vintage can be found just about anywhere, you just have to look for it. I photographed just about every swing-era item I could find, and some 1950’s dresses – my partner in crime, Beccy Aldrich, and I had a fun time scouring these stores and I am proud of our efforts. What is waiting to be unearthed in your corner of the world?

Waiting outside for a table because all the people waiting for shakes took up the waiting area inside

Our first stop, after sleeping in, was for brunch at the Hamburg Inn No. 2, which was recommended to my by Andy Nishida (foodie, dancer, alum). On the outside and inside it looks benign, a typical local, greasy spoon, but then you look closer at the menu and see tons of good eats, then there’s a chalkboard listing 20 different delicious pies, THEN you see in the menu that any pie on that delicious list can become a shake! The line at Hamburg Inn No. 2 was not to dine in, it was full of college students waiting for their shakes. And rightly so, it’s a fantastic way to have two desserts in one and, with it only available in size large, is an ample meal replacement. Beccy, my husband Lucian Cobb, and I split a chocolate bourbon pecan pie milkshake and it was divine.

We sent Lucian to the hotel for a nap and headed to our first stop, the White Rabbit, a wonderful little eclectic boutique with a selection of gifts, handcrafted items, and new and vintage clothing. In the back of the store were a few racks of vintage clothing and Beccy and I each found wonderful plaid 1950’s dresses (both of which were too small for our respective waists, meh). That was the extent of danceable vintage, so we ventured out to locate the next shop…

…which was a consignment shop called Revival. As far as consignment shops go, Revival is very hip and was packed with shoppers. They carry consignment and new clothing, as well as a couple of racks of vintage clothing, new and old accessories, gifts, and some other lovelies, knick knacks, and a cake plate of cupcakes for sale. Beccy found the only pre-1960’s item, which was a cheerful yellow 1950’s dress, which also ended up being tiny. They had some fantastic sunglasses, reminiscent of 1930’s sunglasses, and a lovely umbrella, but little else that would interest Lindy Shopper. Onward!

Our next stop was Ragstock, which I was warned is a chain store and we were not likely to find anything early 20th century here. They were right, however, Ragstock had a huge selection of generic Keds in every color and the sales clerk gave us a great tip on another place to try, so we ventured…

…to Artifacts, which was an antique store with some vintage clothing and a lot of cool other stuff. If I had larger luggage I would have come home with two Art Deco era cake carriers. This is the only store where we found swing era garments, one gorgeous 1930’s velvet suit/dress and a faille late 30’s/early 40’s dress in crimson with rhinestones. Deflated that the red dress was too small, I consoled myself with cheap bakelite bangles, which I purchased at a fraction of the cost of bakelite at other vintage/antique stores. They even had a collection of bakelite scottie dog pencil sharpeners which were, oddly, more expensive than the bangles. Rare? I have no idea, but the bangles were more useful to me anyway.

And that, my friends, is a wrap! Thanks so much to Beccy for being a wonderful companion for the afternoon’s adventures and to Joe Smith and the rest of the Hawkeye Swing Festival organizers for putting together such a wonderful event!

Love the color on this plaid dress at White Rabbit

The adorable plaid dress Beccy found at White Rabbit

Cheeky ties - Victrola tie for the DJs and cat-with-laser-beam-eyes tie for...?

The cheerful yellow dress Beccy discovered at Revival

LOVE these sunglasses at Revival

A rainbow wall of faux Keds at Ragstock

Gorgeous 1930's velvet dress/suit, but so fragile - at Artifacts

Gorgeous red faille dress at Artifacts *sigh*

Hi, bakelite!

Adorable bakelite scottie dog pencil sharpeners at Artifacts

Electric Gypsy

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

While searching for 1930’s reproduction clothing, I stumbled across Electric Gypsy, a UK-based retailer of handmade reproduction clothing from the 1930’s through the 1980’s. For each decade, there are a few choice garments made with a selection of fabric options, and I was excited to see that they went as far back as the 1930’s. Don’t let the psychedelic graphics on the website fool you, there is good swing era-inspired stuff here.

From the website: “At Electric Gypsy we also have our own label of handmade vintage and retro inspired clothing. We use a mixture of original vintage fabrics and kitsch cool new fabrics. Many pieces are one-off or short runs, so you are guaranteed to find something that is unique and original, whether it be a 1960’s inspired shift dress or a 1950’s Rockabilly skirt with a modern twist. Each item is individually handmade by us in the UK. We create our designs by modernising vintage patterns, designing our own patterns from scratch and customising old vintage clothing.”

Here’s what I’m loving:

OMG this kick-pleat 1940's skirt

1940's sweetheart dress

1932 Midnight in Paris dress

1930's cape collar dress

1940's tea dress

1950's diner dress

Black Cap Toe Aris Allens on eBay

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Men tend to wear their dance shoes out, so I was pleasantly surprised to see this eBay listing for a pair of black cap toe Aris Allens, size 11.5, gently used. They look to be in great condition and, with a $24.99 starting bid, much cheaper than a new pair. Anyone looking for a replacement or an inexpensive addition to your dance shoe collection?

1930’s Dotted Swiss Dress

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

The weather is freezing here, so of course I want to be in a sundress or something like this 1930’s dotted swiss dress, with adorable double piping, Peter Pan collar, and fauxlero detail! Someone buy this and whisk me away to a warmer destination…with a $14.00 starting bid this could be a steal. 😉

Jitterbuggin $100 Facebook Giveaway

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Portland-based repro maven Jitterbuggin is running a Facebook promotion where YOU could win $100 in Jitterbuggin merchandise. You want this $100. How can you enter to win?

From the Jitterbuggin website: “This is a very special gift certificate! It will be given away FOR FREE when the Jitterbuggin Facebook Page reaches 1,000 likes! Once the page is at 1,000 we will publish a post that you can comment on to enter to win. We will number the comments in the order they were received and enter them into a random number generator to declare a winner.”

As I’m writing this post, the Jitterbuggin Facebook group sits at 786 fans – an impressive feat! But to get 1,000 fans we’ll need you to “Like” the Jitterbuggin Facebook page, maybe get your friends to “Like” it as well. Once the 1,000 mark has been reached, then (and only then) will it trigger the post for the giveaway. Now that you have your homework…go forth and Facebook “Like,” and check out the goods at jitterbuggin.com!

Trashy Diva Bridal Collection

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

In another stroke of genius, the New Orleans-based Trashy Diva has launched a bridal collection, featuring some of their most popular dress styles in white stretch cotton blend satin. This collection is perfect for so many things, but especially for dancers who may want to change from their fairytale wedding gown into something more danceable for the reception, or maybe you just want something simple, beautiful, and comfortable to wear throughout your wedding. The choice of fabric here appears ideal, as well, with a lovely satin sheen for a slightly more formal look, but enough stretch to be able to move and dance comfortably.

Gah! Where were these dresses when I was getting married? There is a real need for these knee-length white dresses…just brilliant!

Of course, you aren’t limited to weddings in wearing this – anyone could wear one of these lovely white dresses alone, or accessorize with a pop of color. Here’s the collection:

Honey Dress

Cage Dress

Audrey Bow Dress

Courtney Coat Dress

1940's Dress

Dottie Dress

Mini Ballerina Dress

Loop Dress

Be My Jazz Baby 2012 Vendors

Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society, dapper in tuxedos

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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!

Some samples of Creations by Crawford - what you don't see is all the custom pieces she made on-site over the weekend!

Kelsie McNair and her goods from With Lavender and Lace

The spread of shoes from Dancestore.com

Kristy delivers the goods at Hairzapoppin'

Vintage Visage's table runneth over... 🙂

Being Well Vested: Chat with Dancing Clothier David Lochner

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Vests don't have to be formal - see how great this tweedy vest looks with denim.

Unless you’ve been dancing under a rock, you’ve probably noticed an increase in the number of leads wearing vests at swing dances. The phenomenon is so prevalent in the Balboa community that Eastern Balboa Championships organizer and MC Chris Owens noted during one of the Balboa competitions at EBC 2011 that 10 out of 16 male competitors were wearing vests.

What makes a vest so great? Having worn a few myself, including a vintage one of Black Watch plaid wool my mother made in the 1970’s, I can tell you that a vest can really pull an outfit together; where something was just a shirt and pants (or skirt in my case), it becomes an ensemble with that one addition. It’s an upgrade without being too formal; it pulls things in at the torso without inhibiting movement; it leaves your arms free to do work, while the rest of you remains business. If fitted properly, it can make you appear more trim and elongate your silhouette. It looks great with or without a tie.

David Lochner in a vest on Governor's Island, NY

Since my experience with vests is limited, I asked one of the most dapper gents I know, dancer and clothier David Lochner of Philadelphia, PA, to weigh in on the topic:

“I wear vests for many reasons. They help keep you warm, they add a flair to one’s outfits, they help keep sweat off of a follow while dancing, and they help keep your tie in place. They also add a cleaner line by covering the bulk created by shirts becoming untucked, belt loops, and belts.

Social dancing is an art form and line and proportion are essential in art. But the line only comes when pants are worn properly at one’s natural waist. If the trousers aren’t worn at a proper height then the vest hinders this effort by allowing the shirt tail to peek out the back and destroy the look. Dancing is not only about the communication between partners but communication of beauty through movement and line to the audience watching.

I purchase vests where I find ones that fit. Being a long, they can be hard to come by, but I look at major retail stores, online, thrift shops, vintage stores, and eBay. Knowing one’s measurements can help ensure a proper fit. Also, taking along a man who knows menswear never hurts. Most women don’t know menswear so they can’t be reliably counted upon. (No offense!)* You don’t want something in style since style is constantly changing. It is important to take someone with you if you are not seeing a tailor since most salespersons will “Yes” you to death. Nothing is worse than buying a piece of clothing, then realizing it doesn’t fit properly while wearing it out for an extended period of time.

I hope this helped. I know my views are looked on as a bit harsh by some. But I say them because I take what I do, selling vintage menswear and swing dancing, very seriously.”

We believe you, David, and we salute you.

I think David has some great advice here, particularly about fit and style. I hadn’t considered that, with menswear, buying something fashionable now would limit wearability down the road, since menswear changes so little overall. However, the subtle details make a difference in menswear (skinny 50’s neckties, narrow 60’s suits, wide 70’s collars), so going with a classic, nondescript thrift store find may be a better choice in the long run than the trendy vest you may find at the mall.

Vest in action - Jaredan Braal with Gabriella Cook

There really is no go-to source for vests. In many cases, they come as part of a suit. In vintage and thrift stores, they are often orphaned pieces. In my area, the vintage store with the most vests is the least likely place to find something from the swing era. I also hear the mid-west has a great selection of vests, based on Jaredan Braal’s extensive vest wardrobe acquired during a single shopping trip in a mid-western city…

I find that if you are looking for a particular something, you will start to notice these things as you are out and about, so keep your eyes open and you may come across the vest you desire where you least expect it. If you see someone in a vest, ask them where they got it – you may get some ideas of your own about where to look in your area.

Incidentally, if you are in Philadelphia, you should make plans to visit Briar Vintage, a vintage store devoted entirely to menswear and manly “collectibles and oddities.” David is the manager of the store and I’m sure would be happy to help you “invest” in some great pieces for your wardrobe.

*None taken, David. You are the man. 😉

Tuxedo Junction

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Comic strip of unknown origins, featured in Town and Country Magazine, January 2012

While reading my mom’s copy of the January 2012 issue of Town and Country, I ran across a comic strip detailing the history of the tuxedo – not normal comic book fare, so I was intrigued. Here’s your history lesson for the week: according to the strip and Wikipedia, the word tuxedo comes from the Lenni-Lenape Native American tribe (also known as the Delaware Indians), who were allegedly called Tuxedo (meaning “he has a round foot” (which may be in reference to the wolf), “place of the bear” or “clear flowing water”) by their enemies the Algonquins. The Lenni-Lenape lived near a lake which they named “Tucseto,” which later became known as Tuxedo Lake, and the area where they lived was called Tuxedo.

How does a tribe of Native Americans and a lake relate to the modern formal suit? In 1885, Pierre Lorillard IV developed a piece of land his grandfather owned in Tuxedo for a summer resort for the wealthy and well-to-do, naming it Tuxedo Park. He then “organized the Tuxedo Club and the Tuxedo Park Association, as hunting and fishing preserve (and society), and surrounded the property with a high game fence. In 1886, he built a club house, which saw the debut of the short dinner jacket, which soon became known as the Tuxedo jacket. Eventually, the Tuxedo ensemble, featuring the short dinner jacket, became the accepted dress for formal affairs. To give you some perspective on the class of people who frequented the Tuxedo Club, the “Blue Book of Etiquette,” written by Emily Post, was “based on what she observed inside the great stone gates of Tuxedo.”

I am amazed that the basis for modern formal menswear originated as far back as the 1880’s, but this demonstrates how the tuxedo has withstood the test of time.

As the modern Lindy Hop community matures, I see more dancers donning a tuxedo (or part of a tuxedo) for New Year’s Eve, specifically at Lindy Focus (alas, I will miss my first Lindy Focus in six years!). Just adding a bow tie to a black suit can elevate your look, or wear a vest/bow tie combo for maximum mobility.

Tuxedos are more attainable, thanks to the advent of eBay, but even thrift stores have tuxedos, sometimes castoffs from formal wear stores or a donation that simply doesn’t fit or isn’t used (and is usually rarely worn, so it good condition). You can often acquire a vintage tuxedo for less than the cost of a vintage suit because they are the garment that was worn least and survived the decades. It amazes me that people spend money to rent tuxedos when for the same price or less you could buy one.

Here are some lovelies on eBay and Etsy to make your New Year’s Eve classic and well-dressed:

1930's tuxedo with a faille shawl collor, size 42, buy it now $65.00

1930's tuxedo with tails, white vest, and white tie, size 38, $75.00 starting bid - paging Fred Astaire...

1940's tuxedo, button fly, size 40, buy it now $30.00

1950's shawl collar tuxedo on Etsy, $98.00

1940's tuxedo, size 44, $65.00

Deck the Halls with Vintage Shoes

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Fa la la la la, la la LA LAAAAAA! *ahem*

I’m in a spirited mood this week and perhaps some more lovely shoes will get you feeling merry and bright. Here’s a bevy of vintage beauties from Etsy. Enjoy!

Burgundy 1930's shoes with crazy cutout details

Plum 1930's peep-toe shoes with lovely cutout/zig-zag design

Brown 1930's Mary Janes with embossed detail and tone on tone textures

Bone leather heels with cutouts in a wide (EE) width!

1930's/40's cornflower blue/salmon pink peep toe heels

1940's two tone black/tan platforms

Red 1940's perforated oxfords

Oh, love the detail on this shoe, like eyelet lace...

1940's lace up, sling back heels

EBC 2011 Vendors

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

EBC beach clip swag

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.

Some of the Vintage Collective spread

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…

So many shoes!

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:

My favorite Dancestore wedge in brown

Nelle Cherry models a Dancestore limited edition two tone mesh and leather heeled oxford

Sharon shows off her handiwork

Kathryn and Meghan with the Vintage Visage spread

Hats and purses - even a 1920's cloche! From the Vintage Collective

Adorable socks and ties from the Vintage Collective

The Vintage Collective's shoe rack

Elizabeth getting ready to hit the dressing room

Lovely fabrics from the Vintage Collective dresses

Happy shoppers!

1930’s Athletic Shoes

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

File this under curious goods, as I’m not sure these shoes are in a condition to be worn. First we have two pairs of Keds, but these Keds are not your everyday canvas dance shoe – the first pair looks a bit like a pair of Chuck Taylors, made with leather accents and some traction on the rubber soles. The second pair is a pretty straightforward pair of canvas high tops, but with a dress heel instead of a flat rubber sole. Interesting…

Finally, this same seller, who found these old athletic shoes at an auction for a shoe store that had closed in the 1930’s and was finally liquidating its inventory, has a pair of “Ball-Band” rubber soled sneakers, which look like an elegant hybrid between a pair of Chuck Taylors and a pair of two tone cap toed oxfords – very cool! I’d like to see this style in reproduction.

The "Ball Band" athletic shoes

Dead stock 1930's Keds

Keds with heels!