So many people love fall – while I dislike the idea of temperatures plummeting toward winter, I do love the sights and flavors of fall, particularly those involving Halloween – you may have noticed that I love to dress up and a costume is, for me, dressing up to the fullest! I happened upon Kitschy Witch Designs earlier this year and essentially everything on this website is what I imagine as lovely and fun imagery around the Halloween season, taking inspiration from literature (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the Wizard of Oz), pop culture (Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride), and vintage notions of magic (fortune tellers, magicians, and the hallows eve itself).
Kitschy Witch Designs features the fabric, clothing, bag, and jewelry designs of artist and entrepreneur Stephanie Buscema, whose designs are fun, whimsical, and vintage-inspired. From the website:
“My mission is to create unique collections of items you won’t be able to find anywhere else. Items are made in small limited edition batches, with our custom fabrics and clothing being printed and sewn here in the USA.
All art, textiles and designs are created by me in my home studio with real paints, paper and pencils, using traditional image making methods to create just about everything you’ll find here. Carefully curated and of course, made with the utmost love and care, KWD is most definitely my passion project. My hopes are you’ll find a few things here that will make you smile and bring a little magic into your life!”
I am absolutely smitten with the latest collection inspired by the Wizard of Oz – once you’ve been Dorothy in a community theater production of the musical, you basically never need to let that go (is what I am telling myself). If 1950’s silhouettes are not your bag, there are plenty of other items on the website with more universal appeal – totes, clutches, makeup bags, scarves, jewelry, and sunglasses – which can be used year-round. I know for some people Halloween is a state of mind and I think Kitschy Witch expands upon that to glorious effect.
If you’re looking for a gift for the special swing dancer in your life (or really any super niche sub-culture), look no further than Etsy – here are some of my favorite swing dancer themed items that you may want to gift or that you may want under the tree for yourself:
This year was my first full Camp Hollywood experience, flying in before the event began and flying out after the event ended, and after I got my obligatory In-N-Out Burger fix, I headed to the vendor area to hover and watch the magic unfold in the vendor area. The vendor area was comprised of an entire ballroom, a large adjacent conference room, and a large Camp Hollywood merch table where you could purchase both camp swag and music from the bands and musicians performing over the course of the event. This is definitely the largest vendor area at any event I have attended – I marveled at it last year, but this year I understood. The traffic in Los Angeles is so bad that you almost don’t want to leave the hotel, or at least not to go somewhere outside of a 5 mile radius. I looked into some sightseeing on Friday – maybe a vintage car museum or a Frank Lloyd Wright house – but the 12-15 miles to get there would take over an hour at 10:30 a.m., which I was neither willing to spend the time nor the money to accomplish at that point, especially with evening band obligations. So, the shopping comes to you!
I did manage an excursion with fellow vintage enthusiast Brettie Page, who had a car at Camp Hollywood – through some careful planning on her part and a small window of time on Monday where the traffic would only take about a half-hour, we rushed over to Paper Moon Vintage. I don’t have a full report because, when one has the challenge of an hour in a vintage store, one must be focused, particularly when said vintage store has a great selection of swing era items. Brettie and I both left with garments – she an incredible 1940’s bathing suit in shimmering white with gold stars and me with a silk 1930’s garden party dress – which is just about all you can ask for in a successful run to a vintage shop. I also left with this swell Jo Stafford pin – like, how often do you come across 1940’s band merch? Like, never. The cherry on this sundae was that everything in the store was 15% off.
Back at the LAX Marriott on the first day of the event, I hovered near the ballrooms and enough friends were volunteering at the Re-mix Vintage Shoes booth that I got pulled in with some lovely chatting and managed to be their first purchase of the weekend. Some day I will visit the mothership, but it was still great to chat with owner Philip Heath about shoes, pick up the shoes I had reserved, and check out all the new gorgeous purple shoes and a selection of wedges (which he doesn’t usually bring to All Balboa Weekend, the only other dance event Re-mix attends as a vendor). I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Starlet shoe will actually fit my feet, even though I believe it’s on the same last as the Gabrielle, which my feet are entirely too fat to wear – another pair to go on the wishlist!
My second stop of the trip, in the brief window between sound check and downbeat, was to hit up the Vintage Blue Moon booth and I’m so glad I did! Apparently, the vintage expo at the Queen Mary didn’t happen this year and Vintage Blue Moon was having a magnificent sale on jewelry, both vintage and some excellent reproduction “Bakelite” jewelry. The first pass yielded a Bakelite scottie dog brooch, a 1930’s rhinestone ukulele brooch, and a matching repro necklace and earrings set in peppermint stripes. I returned later to go through the clothing and there were some truly special pieces – in particular a 1930’s black satin (that heavy/heavenly indestructible kind) jumpsuit with appliqués (dying/gasping), really excellent 1920’s dresses, 20’s/30’s lingerie, and an impressive wall of menswear.
As I’m running through the vendor area, I notice a dress – CAN IT BE – it’s the Beach Clip dress! As we’ve talked about on this blog, I knew the Beach Clip dress (originally owned and worn by Southern California dancer Genevieve Grazis) was being reproduced for sale by Loco Lindo and recently heard that it would be debuted at Camp Hollywood, but I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. Having examined it up close and inside out, I was so excited to finally see this project come to fruition and to see an entire rack of these dresses in wonderful prints on comfortable and washable rayon crepe. I made a beeline for the Loco Lindo booth after the main dance ended and was relieved to find several prints still available in my size, including a scottie dog print. (Fate? Fate.) Loco Lindo owner Linda Marrone and her crew did an incredible job with the design, translating a fairly complicated late 1930’s dress into the garment I ultimately purchased, which will be comfortable and movable for dancing, with the same amazing twirl from that gored skirt. You could also buy a Beach Clip skirt, and, of course, any of Linda’s other wonderful dresses, skirts, pants, and blouses in that wonderful crepe fabric. The “Venice Beach” skirt is already on the website and I hear the dress will be posted for sale in short order. Very special thanks to Jennifer Halsne, who essentially unearthed this dress, brought it to national attention, and then worked with Loco Lindo to make this reproduction happen! For more on the story of the Venice Beach/Beach Clip dress, visit Jennifer’s blog, Swing Sleuths.
Sharing the vendor area with Loco Linda was Bandini St., selling a variety of head bands, hair flowers, shoe bags, and ideally situated next to the door leading to the main ballroom across the hall. Let’s say you’ve already picked up a pair of Re-mix shoes, snagged a dress from either Loco Lindo or vintage dress, then you can put the finishing touches on your ensemble and/or buy a nice shoe bag to protect your new shoe investment. I had thoughts about WHAT IF THE AIRLINE LOSES MY LUGGAGE and then I realized that I’d be at Camp Hollywood where I could replace everything except my underwear.
All the Shiny Things! Occupied the center of the main vendor ballroom with an intense amount of jewelry for just about anyone or anything. I noted on the evening of the A Bug’s Life theme that it would be easy to stop by the ATST booth and instantly upgrade your outfit to tonight’s theme by purchasing one of many insect brooches or small pins to be worn on a dress or lapel or collar. I particularly loved the rainbow display of bangles – lucite, bakelite, other plastic, who knows? But if the color fits…
Need a hairstyle to get you through the weekend or maybe want to do something special for the Saturday night dance? The stylists from Hush Hush Bang Bang had you covered, offering an array of services from blowout to a full updo or glam waves.
A Walk Thru Time Vintage is the last stop in the main vendor area ballroom, offering a mix of swing era vintage, later vintage, and costume pieces. I particularly loved that they created a tiki/tropical vignette, as we were surrounded by palm trees poolside at the Marriott and it just seemed right that you might want to pick up something festive to wear by the pool or to the special poolside live music on Monday.
Across the hall in a conference room I found a Lip Sense booth, which was a collaboration among Iris Tarou (who was also vending at Lindy Focus this past year, Tawnie Gadd, and Lisa Cleveland. I am a big fan of budge-proof lip color for dance events for obvious reasons (short = face sometimes accidentally grazing lead’s shirt during Bal, also having to be dressed before dinner because of time constraints) and I am not above forgetting cosmetics! I also love the combined effort of these dancer/business women, which means the booth stays open more often for shoppers and they can alternate dance time!
The remainder of the conference room was a bit less defined, so I apologize if I credit a garment to the wrong vendor. Both Pepperpie Vintage, who was at Camp Hollywood last year, and Rare Revival Vintage carried a mix of swing era vintage and dance/fab appropriate later vintage items, mostly women’s items. In the very back was a men’s corner by Purple Peacock Vintage, with some truly fabulous menswear pieces, like a 4 piece suit (extra pants, y’all), other swing era three piece suits, and the cutest light blue and white polka dot braces (that I really considered buying even though I don’t own any pants that could accommodate them).
If I’ve missed anyone, please give me a shout! There’s so much going on at Camp Hollywood and the vendor area is no exception – save your pennies to do some serious shopping at next year’s event!
Every once in a while I’ll happen upon Lindy Hop-themed jewelry, so it was no surprise that retro-leaning Australian jewelry company Erstwilder created a brooch of a dancing couple mid-aerial called Jack Rabbit Slims, which looks like it was based on a classic photo of Hal Takier and Betty Takier. While I don’t recall Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega doing this move, I get the sentiment and perhaps another dance contest winner in that fictional universe won the dance contest with this move? It looks like this also came in a pink colorway at some point, maybe some digging on eBay will yield one if the brown colorway isn’t your bag. Cheers!
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!
Craftspeople offering wonderful reproduction Bakelite/Lucite-esque reproductions in modern plastics have been popping up with shops on Etsy in the past few years and the offerings are fantastic. MerriWeather is another of these shops, honing in on some signature WWII costume jewelry items, such as the V for Victory and the MacArthur heart design.
From the shop’s About page: “Specifically with the MacArthur Heart Brooch, with prices continuing to climb it became harder and harder to collect bakelite. So, one day I thought – I should try to make one myself, I can’t be the only one that would like to have a MacArthur heart. So I started to carve from clay the original pieces that would be the foundation of my collection.
I carve all of my pieces from scratch, and then create my own molds of my original parts. This is the only way to have a truly unique piece. Each piece is poured and cast by hand. Each piece is then sanded for hours to get a polished finish. Then each is assembled with great care to give them an original and authentic vintage look. My first MacArthur Heart was finished in September 2013.”
MerriWeather is based in Austin, Texas, which begs the question as to whether MerriWeather is a swing dancer. If anyone knows, please chime in! In the meantime, here are some of my favorites from the shop.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
I realized tonight that I haven’t written about the Downton Abbey Jewelry Collection, even after purchasing a pair of earrings, but it took me wearing them last night to realize that you might also want to know, with Lindy Focus and other New Year’s Eve swing dance events coming up! So here it is, in all of its ornate Edwardian-moving-toward-Art-Deco glory. As far as costume jewelry goes, the pieces are intricate and are at a reasonable price point, in my opinion, for what you are getting. The earrings I purchased mix very well with the vintage Art Deco costume jewelry I own and I only wish I needed more excuses to buy all this fancy jewelry. There are bracelets, earrings, necklaces, barrettes, brooches, and the line is EXTENSIVE, almost overwhelming how many lovely pieces there are. Begin the drooling in 5, 4, 3…
A few weeks ago I attended the third annual Art Deco Society of Virginia Gatsby Afternoon Picnic in Richmond, Virginia. I have seen this event grow from “let’s all meet in a park at the same time” to an organized event at the historic Wilton House Museum, with live music, vintage vendors, an on-site barber, food trucks, photo booth, contests, media coverage, shuttles, parking attendants, an MC, and even an alcohol sponsor. I was happy to see some familiar faces amongst the vendors and pleasantly surprised to find vintage vendors that were new to me.
Let’s start on one end of the line and move to the other – first in the lineup was Chatterblossom, who has become my own personal vintage millinery Philip Treacy. The gorgeous millinery was on display, as well as lovely jewels, flapper headbands, and a nice selection of menswear accessories. If only women’s dress shirts didn’t button from the opposite side, a tie clip with vintage microphone would have certainly left with me!
Another standby for me, Raleigh Vintage, was present with a drool-worthy display of Art Deco era goods and jewels. This display was on the heels of another festival in Raleigh the previous day, but the busy bees at Raleigh Vintage persevered and were present in force. I am seriously in love with all of the jewelry in their display, can I just take the silver tray full of necklaces home with me? Also, lots of event-appropriate cotton frocks in lovely prints, embroidery, and all things just-so.
Machine Dance Vintage and Brooksy shared a lovely space together, complimenting a rack of MDV vintage dresses and goods with Brooksy’s hand-crafted 1920’s hats and headbands. I have long been a fan of MDV’s Etsy shop and it was good to see some of these great vintage pieces in person. I have also been following and eagerly anticipating the soon-to-be-launched Brooksy line of hats, created by ADSVA president Olivia Lloyd. The construction of these hats and the attention to detail is as impeccable as Ms. Lloyd’s vintage wardrobe. I am holding out for Myrna Loy’s pixie hat!
My husband’s family lives in Virginia Beach, which has many great thrift stores, but I was unaware of VB Vintage – no brick and mortar shop, but certainly an impressive enough of a display that I was kicking myself for not knowing about them before now. Their Etsy shop doesn’t even come close to displaying the number of goods they had on hand at the Gatsby picnic, which means there’s even more to come – also, the benefit of being on location for these trunk shows! Lots of great accessories, knick knacks, and a few stellar pieces of clothing from the era.
Monkey Shynes was up next, with a small selection of 78 rpm records and assorted vintage memorabilia and crafts.
Finally, on the other end of vendor’s row was MA’s Mad House of Adornment, another Etsy vendor with great feathered headpieces and eclectic jewelry. I am particularly fond of feathered headpieces made from feathers with curled ends – the effect is really stunning and the result is that they tend to lay so nicely in whatever configuration I have seen them in. I was also amused by the Scarlett O’Hara necklace – the movie came out in 1939, so we’ll humor the reference.
I’ve waited long enough to post, but I have largely been in denial about Lindy Focus ending – watching the myriad videos posted daily and attending in my local dances with the tidal wave of positive energy remaining and commiserating about the days that we don’t get to dance now that Lindy Focus is over. I’m still on LF sleep schedule, which means I have started this blog post at 2:15 a.m., as if in anticipation of a 3:00 a.m. DJ shift. But I must move on, and I’ve got to get these vendors posted if I’m going to remember anything about them – on with the post!
I’ll start off with this year’s Lindy Focus feature artist, Ryan Calloway, who not only had fabulous jazz dance and jazz music prints available for purchase, but whose artwork was also featured in a limited edition Lindy Focus tee shirt. I particularly love his style and the way in which he depicts the movement in his prints – a feast for the eyes on the walls of any Lindy Hopper home.
Next, we have what I believe to be my most frequent topic on Lindy Shopper, which would be Miss Sharon Crawford and her Creations by Crawford – her prolific event attendance as a vendor is unparalleled in the Southeast and her custom creations a work of art inspired by each wearer who contracts for her creative services. She works during the entire event, often so that a purchaser can wear their custom pieces to the dance THAT NIGHT. Her women’s pieces are stellar, but I think she really shines with menswear and her use of feathers to create custom lapel pieces.
Sharon also vended jewelry pieces from Plain Jane, a local to Asheville designer, and shared a table with Zoe Lechucita, who was also making custom hair pieces during the event, with accents of sequins and jewels.
The Lindy Focus consignment shop was in full swing, with everything from madras plaid pants to beaded gowns to glitter tap shoes. I was dying for a pair of the glitter tap shoes, but the sizes were just out of reach. I made a little money consigning a few things, which is great, and I overheard several people on New Year’s Eve saying that they had purchased their dress at the consignment shop. What a great idea to recycle dancer clothing and, as far as I know, this is unique to Lindy Focus.
Forties Forward, another consistent southeast swing event vendor, was set up with their glorious blooms and has also added some feathered pieces to the lineup. Bejeweled centers decked the blossoms, as well as the feathers – the overall feeling from the booth was opulence. Right on, ladies!
Nestled in the consignment shop I saw a small display for JitterButtons, featuring a selection of 8 buttons with clever, swing dance-related designs and slogans, such as “Friends Don’t Let Friends Clap on One” and an anti-pretzel sign. You can purchase one of their stock buttons from their website and you can also order custom buttons for your own event, as well!
Last, but certainly not least, Nicole Lenzen dazzled us with another fashion show during one of the camp meetings, highlighting her new collection and using instructors to expertly show off the movement of her garments. I’m sad that I didn’t get a chance to look at the garments more closely due to schedule constraints, but I am sure, after speaking with her last year, that the fabrics are of excellent quality and texture, and there were some repeat details that I loved, such as the lovely belt on the Mariposa dress (now in more colors!). Take a look at the entire fashion show and collection on the Lindy Focus YouTube channel:
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 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!
Ah, bakelite…beads, bangles, earrings and many other items made from “the world’s first synthetic plastic” are a hallmark of the swing era, and rose to popularity during the 1930’s because of bakelite’s affordability (as compared to fine jewelry). If only this were the case today – when I encounter bakelite in most antique or vintage stores, the price is usually heavily inflated, with bangles selling for over $100 each. Why do these sellers think they’ve found a gold mine? I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t pay that much for any piece of plastic. It’s not THAT rare.
I began to grow frustrated with the prices in these stores, wanting some bakelite pieces to complete certain outfits, then I remembered my old friend eBay. eBay has sellers offering bakelite in abundance, at all price points, including some really great and affordable bakelite pieces. Here’s a sampling of what you may find in bakelite for under $15.00 on eBay:
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:
The Jazz Age Lawn Party never ceases to amaze me, with its charm, beauty, number of well-dressed people, and even its power over mother nature. It is such a rare opportunity to dance entirely to 1920’s music and the quality of music was superb, thanks to Michael Arenella’s Dreamland Orchestra, the Gelber and Manning Band, and the twin Victrola turntables operated by DJ MAC. It was a beautiful weekend under the trees on Governor’s Island – the storms that threatened New York were held at bay until Sunday afternoon, when Michael Arenella commented from the bandstand that the rain couldn’t stop the festivities and called a tune with “rain” in the title to mock the threatening weather; it was then that the sky opened up, with only a few warning drops before the downpour sent everyone scurrying for cover.
This event has grown every year and this year it seemed to double in size from last year’s impressive turnout. I also noticed that the event organizers take note of how they can improve the event from year to year; for example, in an attempt to combat bystanders loitering on the dance floor and eventually taking it over, they roped off the dance floor area (which was someone effective, but there will always be chattel who don’t understand that a dance floor is for DANCING, not for standing or ogling). There were also more vendors this year, so let’s get to the list!
There simply couldn’t be a JALP without the classic and delicious cocktails made with St. Germain Liqueur, a cocktail confection made from elderflowers picked in the Alps. There was a rush on the cocktails, primarily due to an online coupon deal that offered all you can drink St. Germain for the day, and by the end of day one they were sold out of liqueur. Never fear, they replenished the supply for day two and the delicious festivities continued.
Kreamland Ice Cream was on hand with scoops of ice cream in classic flavors, the perfect treat on a hot August day. In the photograph at right you can see an example of the signs the JALP crew added to distinguish the different administrative and vendor tables, which were especially helpful with the throngs of people in attendance.
Another improvement I noticed was a table set up with helpful items to get you through the day. Forgot your parasol? Need sunscreen or a tissue? Wishing you had a fan to escape the heat? Making these items available for purchase was a great idea! And isn’t the display lovely?
It was interesting to see a modern vendor, such as Yelp, have a table at JALP, but then Yelp is a very useful resource. Yelp sponsored a vintage photo booth at the event, with photographs taken by Tsirkus Fotografika, “an ongoing non-profit, public arts project based in Philadelphia, PA, designed to bring the creative process directly to communities and document populations at their most lively. Employing a mobile portrait studio and trailing-edge technologies such as analog film, old-fashioned “hot” lighting, and large format equipment, Tsirkus follows in the footsteps of itinerant photographers who would travel from town to town making portraits on-the-spot.” I now wish I had waited in line to get my photograph taken – perhaps next year.
Next in the line of vendors was Odd Twin, a Brooklyn-based vintage store with wares available from the jazz age and beyond. I will display more photographs below of the vendors’ wares, but I will note that I was particularly smitten with a two tone brown 1940’s suit that was displayed on the end of their hanging rack. Drool…
Sharing a vendor table were Necks Tuesday and hyc Creative letterpress. Necks Tuesday might be the most creative name for a bow tie company I’ve ever encountered. This Brooklyn-based company asserts that bow ties are a “facet of traditional menswear,” but are now “often an element of a forward, contemporary look.” What’s old is new again, eh? I can get behind this philosophy. Their ties are available in a number of wonderful muted tones and patterns that are sure to go with much of a man’s wardrobe and make a stylish statement without being too loud.
hyc Creative letterpress displayed an endearing collection of thoughtful printed cards, stationery, bookmarks and prints. From their website: “hyc Creative is the creation of Dawn Hylon Lucas-Carlson. A small private press founded in 2006. We print Letterpress greeting cards, bookmarks, coasters, prints, and invitations using a mix of found vintage blocks and fonts, hand carved linoleum blocks and newly created designs. Everything is hand-printed on a Kelsey 6 x 10 Excelsior Press.”
Next in the lineup is The Original Prohibition Clothing Company, a company specializing in custom menswear. What I like about TOPCC is the wear-ability of the garments and the attention to detail. These clothes could be in a fine menswear store just about anywhere, you could wear the clothes anywhere, but they would be that piece that stands out as superb amongst the modern suits, with just enough nod to vintage to appear authentic. Details like fan pleating out of a belt back Norfolk jacket or a black and white Bette Davis printed on the inside of a newsboy cap make these items truly stand out against the competition. Their website is still under development, but I look forward to this company making their products available to the masses. Until then, you can browse some of their accessories available in TOPCC eBay store.
The Fine and Dandy Shop.com had a wonderful showing of men’s accessories – ties, pocket squares, handkerchiefs, cufflinks and other man jewelry, flasks, pocket watches, and even a vintage Boy Scout’s guide. Fine and Dandy has a fairly comprehensive website and I’d recommend that you gents check out their fantastic selection, including their ties, which are made in New York. See photographs below.
After all this menswear, I arrived at my favorite vendor of the weekend, Noble Savage Vintage, who displayed exclusively pre-1940’s clothing and accessories for women. This table and rack were a dream come true, with beautiful beading, gauzy dresses, satin 1920’s shoes, and vintage lace galore. My friend Elizabeth picked up a wonderful 1930’s dress in a gauzy chiffon floral that was perfect for Day 2 of the lawn party.
I’ll end this tour-de-vendors with The Village Scandal, one of last year’s wonderful vendors who had amazing cloches and the must-have fascinator of the event. This year, their entire inventory must have been must-have because, by the time I made it out to their table, it had been ransacked. Their positioning near the entrance may have helped add to the chaos of what happened to their table, but I am pleased to see that they did so much business.
There were other vendors, but they did not have signs and I was unable to speak with the vendor representative (so many people!). I hope to return to this event next year and make it a priority to get to the event earlier to scope out the vendors’ wares. Until then, I leave you with these photos: