We are living in historic times and I want to make it clear that black lives matter – I have been posting on my other platforms, but then I remembered that I also have this blog, so I would be remiss if I did not make it abundantly clear that I support racial justice and dismantling systematic racism, across all of my platforms of speech. A blog about swing dance clothing, shoes, and other things swing dancers may be interested in purchasing doesn’t seem like a likely candidate for addressing any sort of critical issues, but many people have written about how important what we wear is (historically and now) and how we spend our money affects perceptions and economics.
I was reminded this week of the Harlem Candle Company by dancer Lindsay Kelly, who posted her cocktail in a glass imprinted with E. Simms Campbell’s iconic 1932 nightclub map of Harlem (as some of you may know about #quarantini consumption throughout the pandemic). I thought, how lovely, because you can enjoy the candle, then you can enjoy the glass, so you’ve doubled your enjoyment of this lovely gold embossed vessel featuring the Home of Happy Feet and so many other iconic locations within this map that were integral to this dance and this music that we love.
The company, owned by Teri Johnson, a woman with a resume that makes you want to pack your bags and go on a travel adventure with her, is based in New York and the candles are “inspired by the richness of Harlem…like music, the top, middle, and base notes of each Harlem candle tells a story while taking you on an olfactory journey through time and place. Drawing on inspiration from legends like Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday, the subtle scents and soft glows from Harlem candles instantly enhance your space while creating a sense of comfort and luxury.” I love that Teri draws inspiration for the scents from the very things that inspire us to dance.
I can’t help but think of one of Dawn Hampton’s signatures quotes – “the light is on” – and all sorts of things that came to mind when writing about candles involving light, the black lives matter movement, and supporting black artists and businesses. I’ll spare you my soup of thoughts at the moment, but take inspiration where you may right now – we have a lot of work to do.
Last month I attended the Jazz Age Lawn Party in New York and the first day of the event reached some of the hottest temperatures I have experienced in my life, with a heat index of 107 degrees Fahrenheit. My already blister-prone feet were properly welted with blisters by the end of the day, after extreme sweating, ample dancing, and walking and metro-ing to get to wherever I was going. My hosts, well-versed in foot ails after years of walking around NY and DC, presented me with a Band-Aid Friction Block Stick, which looks like a deodorant stick put through a shrink ray and the substance itself looks a bit like Crisco (but not greasy). This wasn’t going to help my existing blisters, but was told it would help prevent the next day’s rub on fresh skin from a different pair of shoes. I was willing to try anything at that point.
After a slightly lesser heat index the following day and with more dancing (Peabody!), I was happy to report that the friction stick appeared to have made a difference on my unblistered skin, keeping it blister-free throughout the day and preventing irritation with a different pair of shoes that had a different profile (oxfords I’ve worn a number of times –> never worn before by me secondhand Mary Janes). I’ve since acquired my own stick and used it on shoes that I know rub, on occasion, certain areas of my feet and also with a new pair of shoes, with great success. I’m curious to know if others have discovered this stick – if so, do share your review in the comments.
This year’s Jazz Age Lawn Party in August was one of my favorites for several reasons – 1) I have the routine down for this event in terms of logistics and getting around NYC, 2) I know a lot of the regular attendees after attending for several years and some new friends made an appearance at the lawn party, making for a very lovely social event, and 3) I freakin’ won the Charleston contest! Always a favorite are the vendors who set up their wares on Governor’s Island – this year, the lawn party vendors really outdid themselves. There were old favorites, as well as some new vendors – here we go!
I was excited to see a booth for Gretchen Fenston, Milliner, because Gretchen is one of the stars of the Jazz Age Lawn Party – as long as I’ve been attending the lawn party, Gretchen has taught the beginner Charleston and Peabody lessons with Roddy Caravella and, aside from that, she herself is a main attraction of style, elegance, and superbly coordinated and whimsically crafted millinery. Seriously, her hats are just impeccable, matching her ensemble with period aplomb and her own take on the Art Deco era. Her booth had several hats and headpieces for sale, along with a lookbook of her designs. *drool* If you are interested in a custom piece, I hear she takes orders…
Just down the line the Goorin Bros. had their impeccable line of hats, for ladies and gents, set up, with even more lids for sale. I have always been impressed with their hats and friends who own said hats speak highly of this company. They had a fantastic selection of summer hats, perfect for the lawn party, from straw fedoras to linen caps to summer cloches. Goorin Bros. has a great retail website, so if you missed the lawn party you can always place your order online!
Next up was Wildfell Hall Vintage, which had an exquisite collection of Art Deco era clothing and accessories, and some other choice vintage pieces. My partner in lawn party crime, Raleigh dancer Elizabeth Tietgen found an amazing purple floral early 30’s dress that had already been restored, seam by seam, and new snaps put in the side with reinforcement. It looked incredible and she’ll save at least what she paid for the dress having it repaired or reinforced – what a find! I saw at least 3 things I couldn’t live without, but were not in my size…*sigh* Gorgeous, gorgeous things.
One difficult thing to come by for the lawn party are vintage sunglasses, because you can’t always dance with your parasol and maybe your cloche brim just isn’t deep enough – Belle Pagaille came to the rescue with some of the most kick-ass sunglasses I have ever seen, all with a vintage bent, though some of them verged on ultra-modern, or even steam punk. The company designs the glasses themselves, which I thought was great, so you are getting these lenses from the design source, not a reseller.
Outfitter of Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra, the Prohibition Clothing Company is certainly a staple of the lawn party, offering some of the best looking reproduction menswear I have seen. I was particularly excited this year because they have launched their women’s line of clothing, which includes a trumpet skirt with killer seaming and a pair of tweed knickers that were whispering to me to bring them home. The tailoring on everything was killing me, just impeccable. After seeing this display, I’m ready for OcTieBer!
Next to the general admission tent is, perhaps, the largest lawn party vendor, Dora Marra, which had so many blooming and feathered headpieces in every imaginable color and configuration it was almost overwhelming. This was definitely the go-to place for a bit of whimsy to stick on your head to augment your lawn party outfit. They were simply swamped, so I didn’t get a really good look at everything, but thankfully they have an Etsy store where you can take your time and browse the vast collection.
Noble Savage Vintage had another lovely display and some real Art Deco era garments that were selling like hot cakes. I glanced at some black 1920’s Mary Janes and a lovely bejeweled Art Deco pin, but then my eyes met a pair of woven mesh 1930’s heels and it was all over. “What size are these?” “7.” MY SIZE. I tried not to hyperventilate while I tried them on, but I held it together for the most part and squee’d a little bit during the check out. As you can tell, Noble Savage was my favorite of the day, LOL.
Check out more of the lawn party vendor goodies below! Ciao!
In case you missed it in person or on the live stream, Frankie 100 in New York played host to a fashion show during the Sunday night festivities! Take a gander at some of your favorite swing dancers modeling some truly spectacular vintage fashions from the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s, both ladies and gents, starting at 46:20 mark on the video – a really gorgeous collection of everything from swimwear to eveningwear, Mutsumi Gee’s lovely reproductions, the vintage-inspired designs of Nicole Lenzen, the tailored menswear of Chloe Hong, even a segment devoted to the 1939 World’s Fair in New York! Special thanks to Voon Chew and Lainey Silver for their efforts in putting this together!
While I’m helping organize/run Frankie 100 NC this weekend, I’ll definitely have one eye on New York to see what amazing videos and news come out of the main Frankie 100 celebration. Already, I see friends posting photos and experiences, including shopping – I think the most eagerly anticipated Frankie 100 merch is the reproduction Whitey’s Lindy Hopper jacket, which FROMChloehong took preorders for several weeks ago.
It was no surprise to me that the master of vintage collegiate style, Bobby White, posted a photo of his acquisition of the jacket (I would do the same thing – it’s exciting, it’s here, it’s real!), but there was more! Chloe also had custom bags made just for the jacket with the Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers logo, as well as tee shirts. I was ecstatic to see the tees, not only because they would be available at a much lower price point than the detailed wool jacket, but also because the tees themselves are reproductions of sorts from the Keep Punching Big Apple routine! I say of sorts because it looks like the tees in the video are a lighter color with a darker graphic – Bobby says there is also a yellow tee available with a darker graphic, so you can get that Keep Punching look. 🙂
Thanks to Bobby for sharing his loot and to Chloe for keeping the surprises coming!
I saved the dress so I could wear it this past weekend at Jammin on the James, a Lindy Hop workshop weekend in Richmond, Virginia, so that I could give it the full dance treatment of wearing it to dinner, social dancing, competing, and singing with the Blue Crescent Syncopators. It survived all of these activities without incident and remained fresh, from late afternoon through the late night dance with Naomi and her Handsome Devils.
The fabric is rayon, which has that wonderful “cold,” silky feel, with a bit of a textured sheen. The color is rich and the dot pattern on the fabric provides just enough decoration that it doesn’t compete with the little details in this dress that make it pop, like the wide collar and the pleating on the bodice. The dress zips up the side with a metal zipper (bonus vintage points!) and the skirt is cut on the bias, so it will lay nicely on the hips without hugging or bagging. My only complaint would be that the arm holes were a little low on me, but this is a common problem I have with garments – someone taller than my 5’2.5″ will be fine – and it didn’t noticeably inhibit my movement while dancing. I finished the look with Re-mix wedges and a fakelite rose pin to complete the repro ensemble.
I hope this Ithaca-based shop will continue to create reproductions, in addition to tending their vintage clothing shop – years of being around vintage clothing will make you want to re-create it and Petrunia has done so with all the right details.
This was a bit of an interesting year for vendors at Lindy Focus, in that few of the usual suspects were present, so the vending was made up mostly of DIY lindy hoppers, including endeavors by Lindy Focus itself. Lindy Focus offered a consignment shop for those who had danceable clothes and shoes to get rid of and for those who needed/wanted such items. I did pretty well in the selling department, so some of you may have left Lindy Focus with a Lindy Shopper vintage garment. 🙂
Noticeably absent was Dancestore and their signature Aris Allen shoes, a serious business faux pas, in my opinion – 900+ attendees, many of which (including me) were looking to buy or replace dance shoes. To make up for the lack of being able to replace dancers’ worn out shoes, Lindy Focus offered a shoe sueding and repair service.
Marathon dance event vendor Sharon Crawford of Creations by Crawford was on hand creating custom hair pieces, boutonnieres, and other elegant accoutrement for ladies and gents at her table, positioned next to the ballroom off the registration lobby. Sharon’s table was always open and always had a bevy of guests – from hairdressers to nappers to chatters, all were welcome to hang out. I don’t know how she got any work done, but I’d wager to say she’s the longest working vendor at Lindy Focus (as evidenced by the sunrise/survivors photo on the last day, she was probably working the whole time).
Forties Forward, one of my favorite hair flower vendors, was right across the hallway from Sharon, making sure that the ladies of Lindy Focus had all the hair flowers they needed. With the customary gussying up for New Year’s Eve, I’m sure they did well. Added inventory this year: false eyelashes. Va-va-voom!
Also a regular, Mike Thibault’s jazz and lindy hop prints are always a welcome sight. I love his selection, especially the new-ish one of the interior of the Savoy ballroom packed to the gills with dancers. If you haven’t seen what he has, definitely check out his website – Vintage Jazz Art – and pick up something inspiring to put on your wall.
Next to Mike’s table was a curious little table of notecards with photograph images of dancers with a sign saying “Dance Cards by DJ Stone.” Perhaps a few campers picked one up to send a note saying “Wish you were here?”
Finally, New York designer Nicole Lenzen not only had a lovely rack of dresses at her vendor table, she debuted her first collection of dresses and rompers for dancers at Lindy Focus in a glorious fashion show during one of the camp meetings, featuring some of your favorite female instructors as models for her designs. The collection was movement-conscious, high in twirl factor, and rich in textiles. The designer loves to work with fine fabrics, produced ethically and created into garments in New York’s garment district. Nicole hopes to have her website ready to take orders soon – she does custom garments as well as those featured in her collection. Nicole is a delight and I look forward to seeing her business grow and flourish. Check out the fashion show in the video below for a full view of the collection and also Jessica Keener’s lovely photographs.
I think a fashion show and debut collection must be a swing dance event first, if not a Lindy Focus first, no? Clearly we are heading in the right direction.
I’ll close by saying I really enjoyed being on a panel discussing blogging and social media with Rebecca Brightly, Michael Seguin, and Jerry Almonte. Everyone had thoughtful commentary and different insights based on our different experiences. Special thanks to Abigail Browning for inviting us to participate and giving us questions so that we actually had something to say. 🙂
1) Tziporah Salamon is truly inspiring – her carefully selected outfits of vintage pieces from so many decades are, in whole and in part, works of art. I love that the article not only chronicles her outfits today, but also some of the outfits she put together over the years.
2) Her philosophy on putting garments together to create an ensemble is unparalleled and I think everyone, including me, could benefit from adopting some of her ideas.
3) Her philosophy on collecting vintage and antique garments and accessories is spot on, definitely something we share – these items should be worn, reworked, mended, and cared for, but not stored in a museum. We also share a similar start to our collections – inheriting clothing from a benefactor (hoarder, whatever you want to call it).
4) I actually think that the title of this article is highly inaccurate and that this wonderful excerpt sums up what Ms. Salamon is all about: “My friends will say, ‘I feel terrible because next to you, because you’re all dressed.’ I’ll say, ‘That’s not a requirement of mine that you be dressed. It’s a requirement of mine that I be dressed.'” This is pretty much how I feel about what I am doing with Lindy Shopper, I’m just sharing with you things that inspire me. 🙂
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:
I am overjoyed to be returning to the Jazz Age Lawn Party this year! Held twice during the summer on Governor’s Island, off the tip of Manhattan, this event is a beautiful celebration of the Jazz Age, the Roaring Twenties, and the music, dancing, and clothing of that era. The people-watching at this event is unparalleled, as are the opportunities for photographers to capture images of the past in the present.
I went to the JALP last year in August for the first time and was delighted to discover some great vendors of vintage, reproduction, and vintage-inspired items. I am hopeful that some of the vendors from last year will return and that there may be a few new vendors to blog about when I get back. Until then, au revior!
I’m still looking for the perfect compact and keep coming across ones I like from the swing era World’s Fairs. The World’s Fair is a series of large expos held in different countries, the highlight of which were the national pavilions, created by participating countries. According to Wikipedia, the early expos, starting in the early 1800’s and, until the late 1930’s, were focused on trade and “were the platform where the state of the art in science and technology from around the world was brought together.” After that, the World’s Fair focused more on cultural exchange. Key expos of the swing era held in the United States were Chicago in 1933 and New York in 1939 (the 1939 World’s Fair also featured performances from Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers). The merchandising opportunities for these expos were in abundance and you saw everything stamped with a world’s fair logo, from silk scarves to money clips to parasols.
This dress is impeccable and stunning, just like that gorgeous Art Deco skyscraper in New York. I love everything about this dress – the color combination, the contrast, the points that go down the front and back, the buttons down the back, the pockets, the belt buckle, oh, I could go on! There’s drama in this dress, but not so much that it would be too formal for dancing.
This dress is offered for sale on eBay by Mill Street Vintage, a store that has caught my eye on numerous occasions, with outstanding pieces of clothing from the swing era. Definitely keep your eye on this eBay seller.
This past weekend I was transported to a parallel universe, where the Jazz Age met modern day New York under the boughs of ancient trees on an island that felt so far away from the city it could have been a country estate in the middle of…somewhere fabulous. The weather was perfect, the dance floor shaded, and the eye and ear candy plentiful. While the champagne sorbet and Saint Germaine cocktails flowed, strollers could pick out a cloche or fedora to wear that day, just in case they hadn’t brought their own. Need a parasol? No problem, just pick one up the way to your picnic blanket. While the shopping, eating, and drinking were all delightful, the centerpiece of this event was the people – Michael Arenella’s Dreamland Orchestra serenaded the crowd with 1920’s dance favorites, while the raucous Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society egged the dancers on with their high energy tunes and antics. Dancers were on hand for 1920’s-inspired performances, bathing beauties and hat wearers paraded, and all kinds of people joined in for the tug of war.
I only hope I can come back to one of the Jazz Age Lawn Parties next year. I better get started shopping for my outfits now, as the vintage clothing collectors who attended obviously spent a lot of time scouring vintage sources for the perfect ensemble, from shoes to hat to accessories to picnic blankets.
As promised, I scouted out the vendors at the lawn party and managed to take a few pictures of their wares. While you can’t wear anything from the food vendors, two of them are definitely worth mentioning: first, Wine Cellar Sorbet out of Brooklyn, N.Y. had a delicious assortment of flavors, such as sangria, mimosa, pinot noir, and other varietals; second, a cocktail made with St. Germain Elderflower liqueur kept everyone refreshed on a warm summer’s day. I picked up a little cocktail book from the St. Germain table and hope to make use of it soon, as I did not get to try one of these cocktails (but certainly heard a lot about them from others).
My favorite vendor of the weekend was The Village Scandal, which had a delightful array of jazz era millinery for men and women. Boaters and straw fedora style hats were popular, and I saw a number of gals sporting their straw cloches and a beautiful fascinator made of lightweight straw material and feathers curled into a divine confection. My friend Rachel Hundley models her fascinator, pictured to the right. The Village Scandal has a retail location in New York at 19 E. 7th Street, but I understand from the shopkeepers that the website is being revamped and will be more friendly to shoppers soon. These were truly wonderful hats and the cloches are to die for.
There were some odds and ends vendors, selling less expensive goods like these parasols. If you weren’t in the shade, you definitely needed one of these!
Finally, Odd Twin out of Brooklyn, NY was on hand with vintage clothing and accessories. While most of the clothing at their tent was not of the Jazz Age, they had tables spread out with some solid older accessories, like purses and ties, and some fun bloomers on the racks.
In all a wonderful weekend – if you’ve been on the fence about going, I’m here to say solidly that the grass is greener on Governor’s Island!