Tag Archives: swing dance shoes

Swing It – Dance Shoes and Apparel from Poland

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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A row of Swing It shoes

The newest contender in the swing dance shoes and apparel market is Swing It, based in Krakow, Poland.  A quote from their Facebook page caught my eye, so we’ll start with that: “We believe in slow fashion philosophy – natural materials, quality and comfort.”  If this quote had the word adorable in it, it might be directly targeted at me.  I’m seeing this term “slow fashion” come up more often and, as I become the old lady I was always destined to be, I find myself drawn to this idea that fashion should slow down a little – as a vintage clothing wearer, this seems innate, but in terms of buying new garments made now (but in the vintage style – we’re full circle), this is a new term that applies to a very old concept, of buying quality things you love to last you for a long time.  I think slow fashion is easier for people who have developed their own sense of personal style, but then you’re here, reading this blog post, so maybe you have that or maybe you aspire to that more permanent sense of style.  Perhaps you’re here to augment your current style.  If you’re comfortable in yourself, comfortable in your quality clothes, and are sweating it out on the dance floor in natural fibers, what more do you need from a garment?  Whatever the reason, I’ve digressed far afield, so let’s return to Poland where this new swing dancer-focused brand resides.

I always try to start on a company’s about page, to get a flavor for what the company goals are and what makes it tick.  Swing It produces reproduction clothing and shoes from the 1930’s through the 1960s, based on original patterns, with all of the clothing made in Poland.  Goals are quality, great appearance, and customer satisfaction, but also personal satisfaction, as the owners of this company, Basia and Greg, design things they want to wear.  I believe in this concept – if you like it and are excited about it, certainly there are others who will/are, too.

The men’s shoes are cap toes or classic brogues, with your basic brown tones as well as a more adventurous color/combination for each style (I see you, dark green cap toes!).

The women’s shoes are also oxfords, in lovely suede in two of my favorite colors – purple and green.  It’s almost like they called me…

The clothing offerings on the Swing It website are limited to women’s clothing at this time, but I definitely see vests on Facebook, so I’m assuming there is more in the works.  For women, Swing It is launching the basics in an array of colors – for their skirt, a 1950’s reproduction wrap skirt with four buttons, and for their trousers, a high waist/pleated front/tapered leg reproduction from 1952 in classic suiting plaids and in red.

Here is what I am loving from Swing It:

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Please do ask me to dance, any time…

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I love a multi-tonal shoe, makes a neutral even more versatile by coordinating with more brown tones

 

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Chic red trousers

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These look luscious and soft…

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I’ll leave you with this minty green – cheers!

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ILHC 2018 Vendor Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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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!

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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.

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Dance the rainbow

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.

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Sparkle butts assemble for swing outs…

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 darlenetedford@gmail.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!

Cheers!

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Darlene in action, getting started on a custom tee

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Samples of Dee’s Tees finished products

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An array of bloomer options from Lucky Lindys NYC

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Cate and Dave know good jazz music

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The men’s shoe offerings from Chloe Hong

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Gorgeous suiting fabrics from Established Sartorial

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“Buttons, buttons, we’ve got the buttons…buttons for the swingeroo…”

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Toms Vintage Disney Princesses

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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I have probably been remiss (and definitely very late to the game) in mentioning Toms as dance shoes, I see them often on dance floors – not quite as often as classic Keds, but enough that my curiosity was piqued.  I usually dance in heels or wedges, so it took Toms producing a pair of their signature alpargatas in chambray with embroidered music notes for me to break down and decide to give them a chance.  I was worried that my foot shape would not work with the alpargatas style, since loafers and similar slip-ons are the death knell for my feet, but these shoes are soft and don’t hit me at those same problematic loafer areas.  So now I’m hooked – give me your soft canvas shoes, Toms!

Today Toms launched their Snow White collection (and if you know me, you know that I was Snow White in the kindergarten play, but also bring me all the 1937 style, please) and so I have yet another excuse to buy a pair of Toms.  This is in addition to the previously released Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty collections already in circulation.  I love the soft, muted colors on all of these – a little interest, but generally reading as neutrals.  Maybe you need a princess pair, or maybe you need some fairies, scurrying mice, and helpful dwarves in your life…

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Love the colors on these dwarves!

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A little fairy dust…

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Sewing, slipper, slipper, sewing…

All Balboa Weekend 2018 Vendor Report

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My favorite purchase of the weekend, from Flower Child – HAZ DIPSY DOODLE

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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.

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Dog fashion at All Balboa Weekend

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.

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Beauty in geometry from De Fils en Perles

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.

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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!

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I love a baseball tee!

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New styles and new silhouette for the ABW merch.

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The namesake shoe in a bevy of colors – by Re-mix

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Glorious brogues, by Re-mix

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So many lovely things to put on your feet…

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Victor’s smiling face awaits to guide you to your bespoke dreams

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A little menswear, a little hot jazz and swing at the Established Sartorial table

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Gorgeous cuffs by De Files en Perles

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Maybe you need a little rainbow butterfly in your life?

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Rings, such tiny details!

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Some Dancestore shoe classics, including a tiny pair of women’s white oxfords in the back

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Sometimes shoes don’t have to be new to be fabulous – find yourself a pair at Laurie Gilkenson’s booth

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Any angle of ChatterBlossom’s table is gorgeous

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ChatterBlossom headbands of loveliness

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Men’s accessories display at Flower Child

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A flower child vignette

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Perhaps the original inspiration for Trashy Diva’s Hollywood style dress/gown – at Flower Child

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The queen of all the peasant blouses at Flower Child, with the tiniest, most detailed embroidery

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I died a little when this didn’t fit

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A perfect brown and white houndstooth jacket.

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Because everyone needs a white dinner jacket

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Gorgeous two tone late 30’s gown with everything I love – puffed sleeves, matching belt, and flowers that can be worn on the dress or in your hair

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A couple of those wonderful blouses I mentioned

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Until next year…

Re-mix Goes Purple

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

5-year-old Lindy Shopper is squeeing right now, because Re-mix Vintage shoes has added a number of purple shoes to its lineup – my favorite color as a child, second favorite to green now.  I remember looking for purple shoes to wear with vintage for a long time and I did manage to pick up a couple of pairs, but nothing I could wear dancing, and Re-mix always had a couple of pairs (mostly multi-tone or eggplant), but nothing that really spoke to me until now, particularly seeing them all in a row.  Let us take a moment and bask in the purple options in various heel heights and styles…

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From left to right: pleated toe wedge (my favorite wedge), Minnie, Emily 2.0, Tivoli, and Uptown.

The Gentleman’s Corner Shoe Exchange: Buy and Sell Shoes for Swing Dancing

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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The group is named for the notch some shoemakers make to prevent your heel from getting caught on or snagging your pants’ cuffs…

The Women’s Swing Dance Shoes Hunt Facebook group has been active for a few years now, but I’ve seen an uptick in men looking for shoes as of late.  In the case of Nashville, Tennessee dancer Nick D’Amico, he was also looking to sell some of his dance shoes that never quite worked out for him with sizing, so just last week Nick took the plunge and created The Gentleman’s Corner Shoe Exchange: Buy and Sell Shoes for Swing Dancing.   Nick also wants to cultivate discussion about shoes and shoe care, so come join and let’s get this group off the ground – you’ve got a place to sell your not-quite-right shoes and you never know when something you need might pop up!

Loafers – Discussion on Men’s Swing Dance Shoes, Round 2

This post was written by Lindy Shopper and Bobby White of Swungover.

Every few years someone will post looking for men’s dance shoe recommendations, people who are serious about dancing and want to hear from their peers and instructors about what shoes work for them.  While women’s shoes are often specifically designated as dance shoes, as fewer and fewer women’s street shoes have leather soles, men have to navigate between classic men’s dress shoes and designated dance shoes to find their sole mate and this can get a bit tricky.

LOAFERS?!?

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Florsheim Dancer

The request du jour is about finding suitable dance loafers. “But why specifically loafers?” You might be asking. “Why is THAT a Bal thing?” To answer this, we’re going to go back to 1936 when Bass first released their “Weejun” loafer (Based on Norwegian fisherman’s shoes, which were themselves based on Native American moccasins.) They added a strap across the top of the simple slip-on, and it was the first time the loafer as we know it  came into being. They were soon nicknamed “penny loafers” because teenagers realized they could slip pennies in the holes of the loafer strap. Loafers became a huge fashion trend, becoming the casual shoe of many teenagers across America. (There are pictures of entire malt shops full of teenagers, all of them wearing loafers.) 

Many readers probably realize that 1936 coincides with when swing music was beginning to sweep the nation. So, in California, in those years when Balboa and Bal-Swing began being danced by casual teenagers, the loafer was one of their dance shoes. Gene Kelly himself wore loafers and danced in them all the time as part of showing his casual, down-to-earth persona.   

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Hopefully your interactions in loafers will be less awkward than Gene Kelly sitting on your floor in front of your couch while you read…note the women’s styling here with loafers, short socks, and a shirt dress.

Though many of the teenagers probably danced in loafers for practicing, or casually dancing at the beach-side pavilions, you don’t see many in the old films. This was probably for two reasons. Loafers, as a casual slip-on, were too informal for dances where teenagers liked to/were required to dress up (and the dance scenes in the movies tend to take place in those ballrooms). Secondly, they were not the best for when Lindy Hop came to the California scene in the late 30’s, which was more high-powered dancing where the feet needed a lot of support, and shoes needed to stay on in extreme circumstances.

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Kids these days…

However, when the original dancers were dancing at the restaurant and bar Bobby McGee’s in their older years (their twice-a-month get together), loafers were a common shoe on the floor — and we have footage of Maxie Dorf, Willie Desatoff, Hal Takier, and some of the pure bal dancers in them, so it seemed most of them owned a pair. (Imagine the stereotypical old man in loafers — the Bal Old Timers were that generation.) Nick Williams said loafers were also an easy way to get the flexible kind of leather-soled shoes that Old Timers like Willie Desatoff desired in his students— but we’ll have more on that below.

So, loafers weren’t a huge thing, but just enough of a thing. And when the new generation of Bal Dancers in the late ’90s learned from the Old Timers, loafers became a sort of Balboa slang, which grew in the scene and has been passed down ever since.  They’ve come to represent the casualness and smoothness of Balboa, as well as a tip of the hat to the old timers, even if the old timers were just old men who occasionally danced in their comfortable slip-ons. So that’s why loafers have a special place in the heart of the Bal scene. 

As an aside, loafers went on to become the shoe of choice for another coastal group of dancers, Carolina Shag dancers, who also appreciate a casual and smooth shoe.

Now then, back to the present.

After a good bit of discussion ensued on Jeff Liu-Leyco‘s Facebook wall for the request to find a good pair of dancing loafers, Bobby White offered to collaborate with Lindy Shopper on a post – so here, you get the benefit of the discussion and firsthand knowledge from one of swing dancing’s sartorial heroes.

THE THREAD

In the Facebook thread, swing dance instructorMickey Fortanasce recommended this classic pair of loafers, the Florsheim Dancer at $115. Given that Florsheim named these the “Dancer,” I think that bodes well. 

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This pair of Nordstrom loafers on eBay, referenced in Bobby’s post, is long gone

Allen Edmonds is always a name that pops up in these discussions, and their now discontinued (but still available sometimes on eBay)Bergamano loafer came up.  

But the holy grail of the loafers are the Nordstrom black tassel loafers and Bobby dropped the knowledge on everyone with the force of an eternal mic drop:

“Go to Ebay. Search for “Nordstrom Loafers Men Tassel [Black or Brown or Cream or just leave out a color] [your size].” Save this EBay search so that you will get notifications (possibly for the rest of your life — they can be hard to turn off). Eventually you will see loafers like this (below). There are many like them (some with netting/woven leather tops, likeDouglas Mathews rocks), some with pointy toes verses more square toes. Buy them. If you like tassels, keep them. If not, cut them off (like Nick Williams and I do). I present to you, the famous, the infamous, the eternal: the Nordstrom Loafer. The soles are one thin strip of leather, and minimal padding — which is why Willie liked shoes like these. You can really feel the floor in them (and, of course, your knees will too, if you pulse a lot). But that can easily be fixed with insoles, like Nick does (might need a half-size bigger in that case). They are tanks, and last a very long time. They are $200 shoes that will cost you $20-50 on eBay. They are seven-minute brownies in four minutes. Here endeth the lesson.”

THE TRUTH OF THE NORDSTROM LOAFER

In all honesty (Bobby speaking, here), the Nordstrom Loafers are fantastic, but they are not the only shoes out there like them. They just happen to fit the bill for the kind of loafer many of us Bal dancers like: Thin leather sole / classic loafer look / well-made so they will last a long time.

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A pair of Bobby’s well-worn loafers.

The Allen Edmond Bergamano is the same idea as the Nordstrom, and both Santiago and Johnston & Murphy have made leather-soled loafers that fit that bill that you might be able to grab on ebay. (The Johnson & Murphy ones are actually the ones Douglas Mathews rocks). If you get loafers like these and they don’t work well, you can almost always find a Bal dancer they will fit, so it’s not a big risk.

The other important take-away is that, if spending $100 + on a pair of new shoes is outside of your budget, thanks to Ebay, you can get an incredible pair of shoes for $15-$50 with a little bit of patience and an internet connection. 

ONE-PLY VS. TWO-PLY

Also, you don’t HAVE to get thin leather soles. You might have very good reasons for wanting otherwise. In fact, the biggest question every dancer looking for a pair of leather-soled shoes should probably answer for themselves (after fit, and probably alongside aesthestics) is one-ply leather or two-ply?

Here’s what we mean:

Single Ply or One-ply sole means the sole is made of one strip of leather. This is more formally called a “Single leather sole” — “One-ply” is Bobby slang. Technically the thickness of that leather sole van vary slightly, but rarely enough to make a big difference. The common Aris Allen men’s cap toe is an example of a single-ply dance shoe with lots of cushioning.

Two-ply, or formally “double leather sole” or “double sole,” means two pieces of leather stacked on top of each other for the sole. Two-Ply soles were made for walking around outside (like on cobblestones), daily work, and keeping your feet warm from the cold ground. Because of this and their bulkier look, they are considered less-casual, though by modern standards the general public doesn’t care about that anymore and you shouldn’t worry about it too much — it’s more important you have comfortable shoes for your dancing style. The men’s Saint Savoy is an example of a double sole, as well as the Stacy Adams Madison. (There’s even a triple leather sole, but there’s probably very little need for that in dancing.)

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Gene Kelly, casual mid-air.

Shoes like the Nordstorm loafer are one-ply and have minimal padding— you will feel the floor, and all the sensations of shuffling and sliding very clearly. The shoes will give you almost a barefoot sensation, cause the leather will move with the muscles of your feet on the floor.

However, because the swing dances are often athletic in nature, as well as involve some kind of pulsing, many of us choose to wear insoles with single-ply shoes, especially with the ones with minimalistic padding. You don’t have to, though — just know that you will have to dance very gently in them regarding your knees and feet. In single-ply shoes, you will smooth out your dancing (which is what the Old Timers wanted modern Bal dancers to do, anyway).

Shoes like the Florsheim Dancer Mickey prefers, or the now-defunct Bostonian leather-soled classic penny loafer (eBay!) are two-ply. You would choose these if you had a heavier pulse or more athletic dancing style in general (to cushion your knees and other joints), or, if you just liked the feeling of a heavier shoe and the weight it gives to your rhythmic experience, like swing dance instructorDavid Rehmenjoys.

There is no wrong answer, and you can plan your shoes based on the style of dancing you want to accentuate.  If you can’t decide on one ply or two ply, you can try both with a little patience and an eBay account.  You’ll be well on your way to being an old timer in no time and, as Bart Bartolo said, don’t forget to “keep it casual.”
Special thanks to Sylvia Sykes, Nick Williams, and David Rehm for their insight into the modern Bal history of the loafer!

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!!!

Saint Savoy Eden

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Saint Savoy just released a new shoe design, the Eden, and I was virtually stopped in my tracks on Facebook because I need a pair and need to know everything about it.  Of course they have a green pair I’m dying to own, but it’s black with a deep, almost iridescent, green detail, as if to say “I’m Evil” in the best possible Una-Mae-Carlisle-kind-of-way.  Also available with two tone matte/shiny combos of tan/bronze and white/silver and a double shiny pair with bronze/silver, here’s the post from this morning:

“A classic peep toe, eye-catching asymmetry, sturdy 4-cm heel, and fitted ankle strap.

With padding softer at the heel than the toe, this shoe allows the balls of your feet impeccable control of the floor while firmly supporting your ankles and heels .

A comparison between the heels of the RIVIERA and the EDEN will show the difference in cut. The sole is softer and the toe box wider than the RIVIERAs.

Enjoy this classy shoe on and off the dance floor! We deliver free of charge worldwide and include a shoe bag with every purchase.”

Best possible additional news?  Saint Savoy will be at Lindy Focus!

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Re-Mix Update – New Color Balboa and New Style

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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The shoe news just keeps coming, Re-mix Vintage Shoes has some new goodies for us – a limited edition teal/blue color combo in their popular Balboa style (but only 16 pairs total – don’t hesitate if you need these in your life) AND a brand new style called Starlet.  I love love love the new Starlet shoe, anything with a wide low heel and cutouts is good in my book.  It has the same heel as the Gabrielle shoe, I just hope it doesn’t share the same width issues for my fat feet…feel free to weigh in on fit/stretch in the comments after you’ve worn yours for a few months. 😉

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GET ON MY FEET

Swivells – Swing Dance Oxford Flats

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

In the next installment of shoes Jenna Applegarth has recommended, a new company named Swivells appears to have their sights set on cornering the market on women’s oxford dance flats.  I could not find a website for this company (which appears to be based in France), but the few photos and posts on their Facebook page were intriguing enough that I wanted to bring Swivells to everyone’s attention (particularly in light of Charlie Stone’s transition away from leather soles – we need more flats options!).  Check out their Facebook page, like it, and stay tuned for updates on these candy colored oxfords.

Update (12/14/17): the website is live, get thee to shopping!

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SuAli Swing Shoes

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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The trend of swing dance-focused shoe companies continues and no one has their pulse on the dance shoes of now like dancer/instructor/organizer Jenna Applegarth – in my next installment of shoes Jenna has recommended to me and others in the Women’s Swing Dance Shoe Hunt! Facebook group, we have SuAli Swing Shoes based in Italy and owned by swing dancers.

You’ll have to pardon my complete ignorance of the Italian language – I’m using Google to translate the SuAli Swing Shoes website, but this is what I can tell from the rough transation (and really, we mostly need photos of these lovely shoes AMIRITE?):

Anyone else with more information is free to share more in the comments section.  Ciao!

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The Jean shoe – the sides of the heel have cutouts, too!

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The Frankie cap toes, also available in black/brown combo.

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Love the Big Bea in this plummy color – also available in royal blue.

Tranky Shoes

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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GET IN MY CLOSET

So I basically can’t keep up with all the swing dancer-focused shoe companies popping up right now – the latest company to grab my attention is Tranky Shoes, which Jessica Bullock mentioned in response to a shoe question Gaby Cook posted on Facebook.  Their Facbook page is in Italian, Google translate has failed miserably to translate the text, and Facebook translate fared only slightly better, so I’m interested in hearing more about this shoe company.  Here’s what I can surmise from their Facebook page:

  • Based in Italy
  • There are green double strap Mary Janes that need to come home with me (sans the velvet bootie – can that happen?)
  • They are being sold at a bunch of European events
  • Handmade, leather upper, leather soles
  • For more information email trankyshoes@gmail.com

Tell me more, peeps!  Have you tried these shoes?  I want to hear all about them. 🙂

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An array of styles and colors.

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Some Tranky Shoes men’s footwear designs.

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Swingz Begoña Cervera – Lindy Shoes

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Follow the yellow brick road…

By now you probably think I am a broken record posting about new  swing dance shoe companies, but take a second to consider the history of our options over the past 20 years and how bananas this is right now that within the past year so many new shoe companies have emerged focusing on shoes for swing dancers and who made their presence known all over the world via social media.  It’s awesome!  I have another company I’ve yet to blog about after this post, as well.

I first heard about Swingz Begoña Cervera from swing dance instructor Jenna Applegarth, who posted a photo of her feet on Facebook in a most delicious pair of red glitter dance heels from this company.  The company appears to be based in Spain and owned by Lindy Hop enthusiasts, whose  “aim is to express the beauty and feminity through hand-made shoe-manufacturing, achieving a perfect mix of music and dance, and allowing you to personally and uniquely choose the shoes you most like to wear in your performances.”

More from the website about what makes their shoes special:

“Our shoes have a wide toe box for your greater comfort, providing the space you need to stretch and flex your feet easily. They are also reinforced with both, a protective heel and toecap to prevent being hurt while you are dancing. Swingz are firm-looking and well-fitting to help you keep balance when you dance, but also soft and comfortable inside to carefully protect your feet at all times.

From the minute you order your shoes until you receive them, we commit to a creative manufacturing process which involves the selection of details, such as the choice of materials, colour, style and heel height. Always supported by our personalised advice, we want your shoe to be unique and able to fit you as you deserve.”

The 2016 collection is online for you to view and customize, but Swingz also has a selection of in-stock items if you need some shoes ASAP.  US buyers, the exchange rate is looking good right now…

Here’s what I’m loving from their 2016 collection:

Plisado

Plisado, in a gorgeous gold leather

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Calado in black patent leather – sharp!

Estrella

Estrella – this is a luxe combo and imagine how good this would look in many other combos…

 

 

New Shoes from Charlie Stone

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Peta by Charlie Stone.

Since the launch of their not-quite-flat-not-quite-heeled wedge over a year ago, I’ve seen Charlie Stone’s signature t-strap pop up at dances in the U.S., with solid reviews and a supply of dancers looking for that shoe that’s dressier than Keds, but still as comfortable as their flats.  For their second collection, they polled Facebook for feedback and votes on the new shoe designs (I love a Facebook poll) and the results are not only in, they are ready to launch two new shoes, the Peta and the Marisa.  The Marisa is a white ankle strap shoe with adorable cutouts, while the Peta is closer in design to their sigature shoe, with some modifications to design and a two-tone color scheme.  They are offering a presale with 10% off starting this Sunday, February 14, 2016, here are the details from their Facebook page: “From 14.02.16 to 29.02.16, use the discount code PRESALE at checkout to get 10% off Peta or Marisa.” Enjoy!

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Marisa by Charlie Stone.