As we embark on this rather abbreviated holiday season, we have even less time to get our act together and buy thoughtful gifts for the swing dancers in our lives. Here are some tidbits and links that may help you out, but also, gift cards for retailers that sell dance shoes are always at the top of my want list! I’m highlighting visual artists this year because there is so much fun art being created, inspired by our dance art.
The International Lindy Hop Championships is one of those events where, even if you go into it feeling like you don’t have a lot to do, there are so many excellent people around and things to see that this feeling dissipates very quickly. While the vendor area was not as robust as in years past, there were still some new surprises as well as staple vendors to get you some things you may need and some things you may want.
I usually do a trend report, but I’m sad to say that I did not see many of the competitions this year due to both work obligations and time spent with friends outside of the dance. I WILL note that I did see the invitational strictly and, if this is any indicator of trends, white was absolutely a trend this year – white skirts, pants, and even a jumpsuit. White is one of those attention-grabbing colors for competitors and we usually point to shoes as a prime example, i.e. highlighting a dancer’s footwork, so here, let’s say we’re highlighting all those amazing swivels. I also want to give a shoutout to Remy Kouakou Kouame, along those same lines, for wearing a stellar pink suit in a sea of neutrals and for being such a great menswear inspiration to up and coming dancers – I noticed one of the Cleveland Junior Jitterbugs, Jermaine Trevon Donald, competing in pink trousers and one of the sweetest sport coats I’ve seen in a long time (it’s hard to tell from the video, but the fabric is awesome), and coach Valerie Salstrom told me that Remy is a big inspiration to him. Here’s to inspiring dancing and inspiring and eye-catching competition apparel!
Now, on to the vendors!
Victor Celania has been working in custom menswear for years and serving dancers in the Austin, Texas swing dance community, but has only recently started setting up shop at swing dance events under the name of his business, Established Sartorial (which may have the cutest logo ever). I love visiting Victor’s table and seeing and feeling all the wonderful fabric samples. I also love hearing people talk about the kids of garments they want and how they want things to fit – we all have such different bodies, different needs, and different ways that off-the-rack clothing doesn’t work for us. I’ve known Victor for a long time, he has such excellent taste and I’m glad he’s sharing this skill with the rest of the dance community.
Speaking of excellent taste and custom clothing, Chloe Hong was on site and focused on selling her not-quite-flats-not-quite-heels t-strap dance shoes that have become so popular due to their comfort and the array of colors offered – an actual rainbow of options appeared on her table, which I love and adore. This goes without saying, but being able to try on the shoes is so important for us as dancers, so having Chloe at ILHC with shoes in all available sizes to try on was fantastic. I ordered a pair in light gold and I’m so excited to try them out (following a recent purge of 10+-year-old dance shoes that were well past their prime)! She also had a selection of men’s oxfords in more subdued colors with a contrast sole, I would be interested to hear from people how they like dancing in them.
New this year to me was Lucky Lindys NYC, a brand of bloomers made in New York and created by New York dancer Julia Loving. I did not get to speak to Julia in person, but there were no less than three people at her booth, either helping or shopping, who sang the praises of these bloomers as to their comfort and construction, particularly that there is no center seam in the crotch area, eliminating THAT kind of discomfort. If you missed out at ILHC, you can pick up a pair from the Lucky Lindys NYC Etsy shop.
Finally, also new to me, was Dee’s Tees, tee shirt customization and design by Darlene Davis, who would craft, create, and cut your tees on site in any number of ways to effectuate the desired result. Maybe you want a larger neck hole or something off the shoulder, then maybe the shirt becomes an over layer for something interesting underneath. She was using ILHC tees as examples, so you could pick up a tee and walk 10 feet over to Darlene’s table for instant gratification and leave with a one-of-kind shirt. I don’t have a website, but if you are interested in this kind of service at your event, email Darlene at email@example.com.
Finally, Richmond dancers Dave Barry and Cate Rauschenberger set up their Jazz Garden, an array of gently used jazz CDs which they have scavenged in thrift shops and beyond to give this music the second life it deserves in the hands of new owners. I love this idea, very much akin to scavenging/thrifting vintage clothing, and taking it to the next level by collecting a critical mass to sell at an event. Like a good vintage clothing store, Dave and Cate have curated dance-friendly jazz artists and saved you the effort of intense and time-consuming digging. I salute y’all, as I also enjoy the hunt!
I know there was also a massage vendor, but I was never in the area when they were around – I’m happy to update if someone wants to message me with their name and information!