BJ Dance Towels – By Dancers for Dancers, for Sweating in Style

I saw BJ Dance Towels at some point in the past year on social media and added it to my blog topic list, thinking, “Is a towel just a towel or something more? I’ll check this out later, this looks interesting.” As I was working my way down the list I got the kindest email from BJ Dance Towels creator Benedikt Jockenhöfer about reviewing his dance towels, then a follow-up offering to send me a towel to review. Subsequent communications were also humble and lovely and it can’t be stated enough how nice it is to receive this kind of correspondence, particularly where someone is trying to promote a product. He believes in these dance towels and now I believe in them, too.

To answer my question above, the towel is something more – it’s both a functional, sweat-wiping, absorbant microfiber towel that is incredibly soft and smooth, as well as a lovely fabric statement of style. Benedikt drew inspiration from classic menswear, the silk scarves that were often seen around necks and draped over lapels of the past and present. For his inaugural towel offerings, he chose shades of red, white, and blue, which coordinate with a lot of clothing, and drew his themes from two popular swing era topics – aviation and Art Deco design.

Let’s walk through the receipt of my Savoy dance towel. I opened the package from Germany to find a well-crafted box with the BJ Dance Towels logo and some lovely design work. I am immediately smitten and thinking that this box will be great for traveling, either to carry jewelry or flat hair flowers.

I open it up to find an inspirational quote from Dave Brubeck – am I bombastic? To your average non-dancer, I probably am the most bombastic, fearless, dancy-dancer and where did I learn to dance like this? How I forget sometimes that what we do seems like magic to others, but is actually a skill and we devote countless ours of our lives and all of ourselves to it because we love the music and the movement. But I digress – is there a towel in there?

Of course there is! The microfiber Savoy towel feels incredibly soft and substantial, something that will not shirk away from a thorough swiping of your face and neck. Once out of the box the wrinkling was minimal – this is definitely not something you need to iron or baby. I am recovering from hip surgery, so at the time I received this towel I wasn’t cleared to dance, but I did go for a brisk walk to break a sweat and patted myself down afterwards. Sweat was absorbed, with great softness and ease. The fabric seemed neutral in terms of response to my body temperature. I could see it being cool when I need it to be cool and warm if I needed to wrap it around my neck and run out into the winter night after a dance. I washed and dried it and it came out beautifully, looking as good as it did when I pulled it out of the box, even after leaving it in the dryer with bath towels for three days.

Also in the package with the box, quote, and towel was an invoice with a handwritten letter on the back from Benedikt, sharing his joy for these scarf/towels, a note about the label on the scarf with washing instructions (which is mandatory in the US and the tag comes off easily), and notes about the fabric. Let’s do talk about the fabric, which is really what makes this special. A lot of thought went into this and the BJ Dance Towels crew decided to go with microfiber for a number of reasons, quoted from the website:

  • Better for the environment – They are made from recycled plastics so they actually reduce the plastic in the world.
  • Better for absorbtion – 1/3rd more absorption than a kitchen towel
  • Antibacterial
  • Lighter
  • Dries 1000% faster (Yes, it’s three 0’s)
  • The towel absorbs about 300% of its own weight in water. That is about 170-180ml of water, or almost a full glass of wine. And it does that super quickly and dries impressively fast. We tested it all in this video for you: https://fb.watch/2Zi5LKuDnJ/

In researching microfibers, they discovered that the best microfiber is produced in China and, through a friend who works at Porsche, discovered the company Porsche uses to produce its high quality microfiber. This is definitely the closest I will ever come to owning a Porsche.

Pulling again from the BJ Dance Towels FAQ page, to answer in summary the question of why these particular dimensions (30 x 120) of fabric for a dance towel:

  • Style!
  • More surface area than a hand towel.
  • A smaller towel may get lost more easily or fall off the back of a chair. This towel was designed to hang on the back of most chairs and not touch the ground.
  • The German Swing Kids would wear elaborate opera scarves and this is made in that tradition – YES!
  • Can actually be used as a scarf for warmth.

You may be thinking, “OK, this sounds great, but how will I tell my dance towel apart from others at a dance event if everyone jumps on this train?” I recommend a few avenues to claim your dance towel – one involves a permanent marker and the other involves taking your towel to a local embroidery shop to personalize it with your initials or name. If you’re particularly adventurous, add fringe. Maybe sew a particular button on one end of it. Get creative!

Since you may not be 100% back to dancing in your part of the world, consider that summer is coming in the northern hemisphere and you may find yourself attending more outdoor COVID-safe events that would necessitate nicer attire than stretchy pants and a tee shirt. Rather than sweat it out, you could blot yourself with a BJ Dance Towel in one hand and fan yourself with the other hand.

Speaking of sweat, not only does the BJ Dance Towels offer beautiful sweat moppers, they also have a page devoted to troubleshooting sweating and dancing – definitely a helpful “But wait! There’s more!”

I’ll close with a quote from the BJ Dance Towels vision summary: “We want to honor…those who know that carrying a towel is a favor they do to everyone around them.” This is about caring for yourself and others. As someone who has left a dance covered in more of other people’s sweat than my own, I salute you.

EDITED 6/24/21 to add that BJ Dance Towels now has an embroidery machine so you can have your name/initials/special word added to the dance towel to make sure other dancers know it’s yours.

Dance hugs soon? Fingers crossed…

ILHC 2020 Virtual Fashion Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

It didn’t occur to me that I might be able to write an International Lindy Hop Championships fashion report this year, but there was enough chatter about wardrobe in the chat that I couldn’t help myself and I started taking notes on a post-it as I watched the competition unfold on my laptop. Two things that I believe have had an obvious impact on what people wear at ILHC – obviously the pandemic, as evidenced by some participants wearing masks in their routines and dancing on a variety of surfaces (grass, concrete, tile, carpet), and the move from August to November, which notes changes like sleeve length, fabrics, and color palette. I particularly loved Ukraine’s Curly Girly Trio for their cozy outfits and fall colors.

Tap dancer Cora La Redd’s sleeves are the GOAT, here with
Noble Sissle’s Orchestra in 1933

Speaking of sleeves, the star of ILHC this year was sleeves – specifically long sleeves, flowing and billowing, drawing attention to and highlighting movement, while simultaneously practically facilitating movement with their shape that allows a wider range of movement than, say, a standard modern woman’s dress shirt. This is a beautiful choice for all of these reasons and it’s a period-appropriate choice for the swing era, also for all of these reasons – we see performers from the 1930s and 1940s wearing these shirts for reasons beyond style…but also style.

Another trend involves drawing the attention of the eye – white. Wearing white, particularly against a darker backdrop, tends to draw the eye toward the white, which is advantageous, say, when you are wearing white shoes and doing some incredible footwork. We saw a number of dancers sporting white Adidas sneakers, which can be credited to Skye Humphries’ influence, but also saw a number of white suits. An entire team of them, in fact – Italy’s Milano Swing Team showing us all how it’s done with incredible tailoring and double breasted jackets, perhaps a nod to Remy Kouakou Kouame and Vincenzo Fesi’s routine from 2014. See also, followers’ sleeves…

Along those lines, I saw a few dancers drawing attention with a pop of yellow or chartreuse on a shoe, shirt, or skirt, which has a similar effect. Who doesn’t need a little pop of sunshine and joyful color as we head into a fairly quarantined winter? I loved Yuyu Yeonjeong You’s yellow blouse (also with the signature sleeves, in the Advanced Solo Jazz and Charleston finals) against a plain white backdrop and also loved that several Lithuanian dancers used a room with a yellow/chatreuse backdrop, which reverse highlighted the neutral tones worn by Pamela Gaizutyte and Tadas Vasiliauskas in the Invitational Classic Lindy Hop division.

Building on all of the above – sleeves, white, and yellow – we’re going to add a skater punk aesthetic to the mix. As many of us came to swing through the punk/ska scene and also lived through the baggy pants of the groove era, seeing Sakarias Larsson come onto the screen with Frida Segerdahl and then completely throw down in the Invitational Classic Lindy Hop division was a cheer-inducing moment. Note that his choice of attire isn’t haphazard just-rolled-out-of-bed skater punk, it’s Lindy Hop because of his choices – white Converse All-Stars to draw your eye; loose light colored trousers rolled up for efficiency of movement; a loose, but not ill-fitting yellow shirt (again, drawing attention), and a black knit cap that coordinates with with his socks and keeps his hair out of his face. This is how you do it, folks. I’m calling it a trend because we also saw Barcelona dancer Aurelien Darbellay sporting a similar aesthetic and, also, throwing down. Note Frida in the signature blouse, with a ruffle detail – all the shirts are slightly different and these details prevent this trend from becoming repetitive.

I’ll end with a note about the medium – i.e. video, which has essentially thrust many of us into the role of amateur filmmakers, with considerations like lighting, backdrop, angles, everything that goes into creating a cinematic experience all an added challenge in presenting the competition videos. You don’t need a drone or a crew to get good results, but you do need to be thoughtful in some of your choices. One of my favorite videos from ILHC was from Argentina, with dancers Eugenia Diaco and Santiago Arana creating a single visual backdrop that was geometric and dynamic, with contrasting and abstract clothing (a nod to Groovie Movie?), a checkerboard floor, a band of black highlighting upper leg/lower torso movement, and a skyline in the far background. They didn’t make the cut for the screen cap of the video for the Open Classic Lindy Hop Finals (Grace Babbes and Kevin Nguyen ARE adorable), but you can find them at the 16:32 mark.

Dynamic Duo: Golden Levee Vintage and Crescent Pennant Co.

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

It cannot be overstated the impact COVID-19 has had on all aspects of our swing dance community and, while our old way of life seems distant at the moment, I see friends and colleagues finding new ways to both support themselves and endear them to us.  New Orleans based swing dance instructor Mia Goldsmith Halloran and jazz trombonist Charlie Halloran are two of my favorite people – I have been an ardent admirer of Mia’s dancing for so many years and Charlie is an incredible and versatile musician with whom both my husband and I have enjoyed sharing the stage – and I watched them on social media as they, like so many friends, figured out their next steps.

They did an adorable series of YouTube music videos (Quarantunes) and Charlie’s trombone duet with his neighbor from their respective porches went viral.  Then I saw Charlie had gotten a sewing machine, which has become one of the central pieces of my pandemic activities, and cheered him on.  Then Mia messaged me that she was starting an online vintage clothing business and we discussed logistics.

As is common with people with excellent taste, both of them have already excelled in their offerings.

Mia launched Golden Levee Vintage last month as an Instagram-based shop at @goldenleveevintage – I know Mia has collected vintage clothing for a long time and, like anyone who has, you likely have enough vintage to open up a de facto shop.  Beyond that, it looks that she may have been collecting in earnest to start a vintage shop, which has been a dream of hers.  Mia’s initial offerings in the past two months have been an excellent mix of 1940s through 1990s vintage, with a distinctly wonderful Mia viewpoint – even the later vintage has the nod to a prior era (hello, 90s tropical rayon does 40s dress I missed out on because I am SLOW) and everything is cheerful, embracing color.  If Mia’s shop was a mood board, it would evoke words like tropical, comfort, dance-friendly, lounge, elegant, fun, light, color, whimsical, basically an aspirational wardrobe for my fantasy life in New Orleans.  Follow her and watch for more goodness!

Charlie and his new sewing machine created Crescent Pennant Co. (@crescentpennantco), with handmade pennants in classic style featuring mostly New Orleans locations.  This might seem like a hyper-local focus to some, but since New Orleans is the cradle of jazz, the locations have meaning to a wider audience – particularly if you know what it means to miss New Orleans.  My absolute favorite pennant he’s created thus far is for Armstrong’s Secret 9, Louis Armstrong’s baseball team.  Within weeks of launch, local boutiques were already buzzing and he’s been working hard to fill orders and create new custom designs.

Follow these two Instagram accounts for more goodness in the future – cheers!

 

Vecona Vintage Reproduction 1940’s Loop Collar Shirt

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

We’re back to the written posts, because – even as the pandemic rolls on – clothing companies who have been planning for months, perhaps even years, on certain garments can continue to release those garments for consumption.  While we may not return to dancing for a while, summer approaches, style beckons as the world slowly begins to open up, and there’s no reason to know throw on something easy AND stylish.  I’m still investing in quality pieces made by small companies producing clothing I want to wear for dancing that I also can wear to work – dancing may be a further down the road dream, but my essential job is now.  I am also feeling less sad when I dress up, even a little.

I’ve written about Vecona Vintage before and I’m happy to see them continuing to produce lovely reproduction garments, particularly in the menswear department.  Their 1940’s Loop Collar Shirt caught my eye because it’s one of those pieces that works for so many occasions – translates well to vintage and modern casual, can be worn alone with trousers or with a suit to dress it up, and the vintage shirts are usually made in wonderful, buttery materials.

Vecona knows its audience and has designed this shirt with heat in mind.  Their description cites racing in Utah and recommends pairing with linen trousers, then they start describing the fabric: “Made from botanic cellulose Tencel is a sustainable and breathable material. It provides a very good moisture transport and thermal regulation. The material has a smooth hand with a nice drape. The fabric is crease resistant and soft to the skin, it prevents bacteria growth and thus offers a completely natural and anti-allergenic hygiene. A life cycle analysis proves Tencel’s environmental friendliness compared to cotton. Learn more about the material at https://www.tencel.com/sustainability.”

These are more than just words – Vecona has put together a dream of a shirt, designed with sweat (re: dancers) in mind.  Crease resistant, even!  Available in green, blue, and sand, I’m loving this new shirt.

You don’t even have to tuck it in, if you don’t want to

Lindy Shopper’s Closet YouTube Series

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

With the pandemic in full effect along with the accompanying isolation and cancellation of all activities, I was thinking of ways to use my time away from dancing and singing and stay connected.  Thinking about how we are all essentially broadcasting communications via the Internet from our homes – our personal and intimate spaces – and how these are our reference and existence points for the time being, I thought about sharing more of my personal space with all of you.  I am often asked by visitors to my home to see my closet, so it seemed that was the natural place to go for a first episode and for the title of this web series.

I have other ideas for episodes, but I want to see how this first episode is received, so we shall see.  I am also open to suggestions for episode topics and garments/shoes you might like to discuss, feel free to post them in the video comments on YouTube.

Also, please click SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel for episode updates and to help with monetization of my YouTube account – please and thank you!

Cheers and stay safe!

Kendra Dandy Teams Up with Cal Bal

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Maybe you haven’t met Kendra Dandy at a swing dance event, maybe you’ve seen her – she likes to dance near the band and has mad solo jazz skills, is usually carrying a fan emblazoned with the word SHADE and has loads of style to match.  I watched her from the stage at a few events and figured that she must be the coolest person in the room.  When she accepted my friend request and I began seeing her posts in my feed, that suspicion was confirmed – she’s got the sharpest memes, excellent taste in cocktails, and is an incredible graphic designer who has teamed up with companies like Vans, Anthropologie, Estee Lauder, Coach, and companies selling products in Australia and South Korea that my grabby little American hands can’t reach.

This week the California Balboa Classic made the announcement that is has teamed up with Kendra for a very special project – from Cal Bal’s Facebook post:

“The community of dancers who come to CalBal represent an incredible range of talents from fiction authors, to medical professionals, to mechanical engineers. One of those people is Kendra Dandy . Even if you don’t know her name, you’ve probably seen her at a swing dance event, and it turns out that Kendra is a successful illustrator and designer with a career designing surfaces for international brands and her own shop at https://theebouffants.com/.

We want CalBal to be a showcase for talent in the Balboa community, and we love her work, so we asked Kendra if she would be willing to design something for CalBal2020. And she agreed!

The result is a limited edition scarf inspired by Kendra’s experience of CalBal. It comes in two sizes, is 100% silk satin, and is available to order now at https://calbalclassic.com/product-category/merch/

We will have other merchandise, too, but the CalBal2020 scarf is an opportunity to take home a unique work of art to remind you of your time at CalBal2020.”

I was excited to see this partnership, as I love supporting visual artists in our community, and I also love the addition of this luxe merchandise item that is still practical within our community.  A silk kerchief could be tied around the neck, worn in the hair, or worn as a pocket square; that 32 inch scarf opens up even more options, perhaps a belt or head wrap (to cover a wet set or not).  Maybe you blot your sweat with silk kerchiefs, no judgment here!

This product release coincides with my very first Cal Bal, I’ll be attending as a DJ  in 2020 – looking forward to that California vibe Kendra depicted in her scarf design, warmth, sun, palm trees, dancing shoes, and some cocktails!

2019 Holiday Gift Guide

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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.

First things first – did you even know Lindy Hop wrapping paper was available?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amado Peña;s Etsy shop is full of art inspired by the Austin, Texas swing dance community and, of course, Frankie 🙂

After years and years of seeking, through various sources, a complete copy of that incredible Harlem nightclub map from 1933, it can now be yours – available in three sizes.

If you need a gift for a Dean and Jewel fan, look no further.

Melissa from the UK makes lovely, dynamic black and white dancer prints (if anyone knows Melissa’s last name, I’m happy to edit this, it wasn’t available on her seller profile)

Show some love with a pair of Lucky Lindys NYC bloomers.

Amy Hood Illustration updates the classic Leon James and Willa Mae Ricker photo shoot from 1943 to a take on 2019.

Really cute swing dance fabric from Cleolovescolor, via Spoonflower

 

Emily Ensign’s “Swing Follow Pink Dress” oil painting pays tribute to the roots of Lindy Hop with a nod to Degas’ ballerinas

This guy made me smile – JAZZ DO IT + glitter phone case

Emiliano Puddu captures this Charleston pair in oil

I really want this hand-knitted 1940’s style sweater vest for myself…

I love a card set, artwork by Tamisha Anthony

I’ll leave you with this painting, featuring yours truly on the mic, by Conan Zhao – you can pick up his dancer/jazz-inspired paintings in their original form or on prints, bags, phone cases, and more. 😉

 

 

 

Groovy Fox’s Chic Foxes: The Cute Dance Flats You’ve Been Waiting For

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Hello, love…

One of the common complaints I hear about women’s swing dance shoes offerings is that they can’t find something flat and cute to wear with dresses.  For a variety of reasons, heels won’t work for certain dancers and, depending on the day/circumstances/conditions, a pair of cute flats may be the only cure for what ails.  Charlie Stone burst onto the scene a few years ago with their flats catering to dancers, but subsequently changed their business model and the soles of their shoes to rubber to accommodate a larger, less niche market.  Other companies have offered oxfords and boots, but I know that I am not alone in preferring something that pairs traditionally well with dresses and skirts and doesn’t necessitate socks (I’ll deal with the foot funk fallout later!).

We’re starting to get somewhere – in March I reported about Slide and Swing’s Nora Art Deco dancing flats and then in April Remix joined the fray with a flat, leather soled sandal.  Over the summer, Groovy Fox reached out to me about a review of their shoes and when the offering was a dance flat, Chic Foxes, I was excited and greatly anticipating the pair of shoes that would make its way in the mail to me from Bulgaria to North Carolina.

I reassembled the contents after a night of dancing in Chic Foxes – look at all these goodies!

It’s always exciting to receive international packages in the mail and, from start to finish, Groovy Fox has delivered the goods.  I opened my package and discovered a sealed envelope, with a thank you note (very classy, thank YOU), a welcoming solicitation for feedback and the means to do so, and a polite request for tags on social media; another card in the envelope talks about their goal of providing comfort and quality footwear and gives a list of aspects of the shoe they have focused on, such as insole cushioning, flexibility, softness, the strength and slide of the leather soles, and ends with a note that you are encouraged to wear them on and off the dance floor.  The flip side of this card details and diagrams the layer of viscoelastic gel throughout and foam layer at mid-sole in the insole of the shoe.

The next layer of my package included a burgundy shoe bag with the Groovy Fox logo on it, made from a quality material with a grosgrain ribbon tie.  I travel a lot and go through a lot of shoe bags to protect my shoes, so I was very grateful to receive a quality shoe bag that looks like it will wash well.

Finally, the shoes!  On the heels of discussing my Dorothy complex in September’s post on Kitschy Witch, I was delighted to see that the red shoes I was anticipating were actually a delicious, shimmery ruby color.  I may have died a small death of joy in receiving these shoes, the reveal was everything.  The leather is soft, but not so soft that it doesn’t hold its shape.  I can see these molding to my feet in good ways after several wears, and with the placement of the stitching and perforations I also anticipate that they will give in the right places and also hold up in those places.

The soles are smooth leather – I don’t have preferences on suede or smooth leather soles, so I can’t give you much feedback either way, but I did solo jazz, Lindy Hop, and Balboa in these shoes and did not feel compromised with any of these dances.  I found the cushioning to not be overt – I could still feel the floor a great bit, so I feel like this would be a good transition to make from Remix os Saint Savoy shoes if you are needing a flat that is lightly cushioned, but you still want to feel the floor.  If you need additional cushioning, I can see ways that you could easily add ball of foot cushioning with the closed toe box.  If you need a lot of arch support, which I do not, this shoe does not have that arch support feature, although the gel in the insole continues through the length of the sole.  The heel is rubber, but not a sticky rubber, so it did not inhibit my movement in any noticeable way.

Excited about shoes, with a cameo from Kimberly 🙂

I found these shoes to be streamlined and comfortable, a classic t-strap with great proportions and lovely details.  They immediately got a lot of attention at my local weekly dance, both because of the wonderful color, the styling, and the fact that they are flat, leather soled dance shoes.  The price point of $132 is a great value for the quality of dance shoe you receive.   I have also had excellent communication with Groovy Fox’s executive director, Georgi Evgeniev.  10/10 would recommend!

But also, the colors – I’m pretty sure I want all of the Chic Foxes color options in my life, in addition to the radiant red: a pearl Nile green, a deep gold/almost bronze, and a two tone light gold and black pair.  HERE FOR ALL OF THIS CLASSINESS.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions about the shoes and post them in the comments section below!  Happy dancing!

In the Mood for Fall: Kitschy Witch Designs

collarpinsoz

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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.

What a glorious (green!) and colorful print (green!)!

Definitely one of my favorite rides…

A Sleepy Hollow scarf seems appropriate.

IMG_1728--NEW.jpg
A festive Halloween print skirt

Vintage Shopping at Bull City Swingout

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

The Triangle dancers are in a flurry preparing for the inaugural Bull City Swingout (July 12-14, 2019) and we are so excited to share with you all the lovely things our area has to offer – doing my part here and sharing all of my local vintage clothing and jewelry haunts.  While the event is walkable within downtown Durham, North Carolina, if you want the full vintage shopping experience, you will need to venture out in a car – however, there are two vintage stores in the downtown area, so even if you don’t have a car you won’t miss out.  I’ll start with the stores closest to the event and work our way (distance-wise) out from there.

DOLLY’S VINTAGE
213 W. Main St. (2 blocks from the Durham Armory)
Durham, NC
Tuesday – Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Dolly’s is a vintage clothing store and gift shop, offering both men’s and women’s clothing in addition to some fun Durham merch, cute gifts, and some downtown necessities (i.e. umbrellas in case you forgot yours, socks for jurors who get cold at the courthouse).  Most of the clothing will be 1950’s-1980’s, but there are a few Art Deco gems hanging around – there’s a brown crepe and sequin evening gown and matching bolero from the 1930’s in there right now that better go home with someone!  Dolly’s is only two blocks away from my office and is my haven when I need a cheerful place to be during a lunch break – say hi to Larisa Harrison, the owner, or maybe local artist Anna Wallace will be working that day.  This is also where I take most of my vintage clothing that no longer fits.

GIBSON GIRL VINTAGE
1001 W. Chapel Hill St.
Durham, NC
Open 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. (closed on Mondays, open ’til 8 p.m. on Thursdays)

Owner Sara Spissu opened Gibson Girl Vintage a few months ago and she’s already got a full shop with more inventory coming in all the time – every time I go in, there’s new things to see, which is all very exciting.  Gibson Girl has both men’s and women’s clothing, as well as a good bit of furniture and housewares.  Like Dolly’s, it will mostly be 1950’s-1980’s clothing, with a sprinkling of earlier clothing – there’s a lovely yellow lace 1930’s dress and some hawt black 1940’s pumps (size 7.5) in there right now that I wish fit me!  It’s about a 20 minute walk from the Durham Armory – if you decide to take that hike, there are some other great things within this block of the city, like the Durham Co-op Market, Grub (a yummy restaurant), and a Joe Van Gogh coffee shop.

CARLISLE & LINNY VINTAGE JEWELRY
112 S. Churton St.
Hillsborough, NC
Tuesday – Friday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday – 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday – Monday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

If you like vintage jewelry, Carlisle & Linny is the stuff dreams are made of, stocking Victorian through 1970’s jewelry, and not in a token way – there are so many Art Deco pieces that I spent about two hours in the store the first time I went, mulling over the pieces I should buy.  I am fairly indecisive, particularly when there are so many lovely things…regardless, this tiny shop is packed to the gills and there’s even more in the back. If you are looking for something specific, reach out to owner Lindsley Bown ahead of time to see if she might have something – her inventory is deep, jewelry is small, so it takes some effort to find things.  This shop is about a 17 minute drive from the Durham Armory and downtown Hillsborough is adorable – there are several good restaurants and a wonderful chocolate shop, Matthew’s Chocolates, within a couple of blocks of the shop.

RALEIGH VINTAGE
18 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC
Thursday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

If you attended the Eastern Balboa Championships, you may already be familiar with Raleigh Vintage, as they were our wonderful lobby vintage vendors who saved all their good swing era stuff all year for our selection. You can also get a nice selection of their inventory on their website, but obviously nothing beats going in person and being able to try things on.  This shop is a 30-35 minute drive from the Armory and can be a little hard to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for – the entrance is down a ramp, between a shop and a parking lot, look for a door and a Raleigh Vintage sign at the bottom of the ramp. Once you’re inside, it doesn’t even feel like you are in a basement, the space is a light and airy salon with a selection of Victorian through 1970’s clothing and accessories that reflects the excellent taste of the owners, Andi Shelton and Isaac Panzarella.  It’s also a few doors down from my favorite Triangle bakery, The Cupcake Shoppe.

FATHER & SON ANTIQUES
302 S. West St.
Raleigh, NC
Monday – Saturday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Father & Son is a Raleigh institution, predating any of the aforementioned shops and was one of those places before the downtown area started revitalizing that was an admirable and crowded mix of excellent junk, vintage clothing, and awesome furniture. They have moved to a location that is less crowded and less dank and it is just not the same and my heart will always belong at that old location. Father & Son tends to be better for menswear than women’s clothing, but it’s still worth a trip, particularly if you love mid-century furniture – they always have a beautiful selection and furniture makes up about half the store. This shop is also about a 30-35 minute drive from the Durham Armory.

Jenna Applegarth’s Applejacks Shoes

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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The Greenwood

This post may be premature, but I have been eagerly anticipating Jenna Applegarth’s line of swing dance shoes since I first saw her post about this business endeavor on Facebook.  A lot of people ask me about shoes and visit this blog for information about dance shoes, but Jenna is THE source, the person I know who knows about all the brands popping up all over the globe because she is traveling to teach at these places and trying out the shoes, but also because she has excellent taste, she cares about the shoes, and gives detailed feedback about the fit, look, materials, and functionality shoes.

I say premature because the Applejacks website does not have any shoes listed for sale, but Jenna has slowly been releasing posts about her work and, this week on the Applejacks Facebook page, photos of some of the shoes she has designed.  I couldn’t wait, you all need to know about this, and be sure to follow the Applejacks Facebook page for release updates.

From the Applejacks about page:

“Applejacks shoes are designed by dancers, for dancers. We want you to not only look good, but to feel good. To be able to stay on the dance floor all night and still walk back to your hotel. Our shoes are designed to help your body stay aligned and balanced. Room for your toes, secure on your ankles and happiness on your feet. We believe that Applejacks represents a fresh take on comfort and design.

We know feet are as unique as personalities, which is why we don’t believe in “one size (style) fits all.” That means we know our shoes may not work for everyone. But that is ok, because we founded this company to help fill in the gaps from the other companies already in business. Fit the feet that weren’t being fitted 🙂 Which means if our shoes don’t work for you, that is ok – they may fit your friends and family instead! And you can always check out some of the other great shoe companies out there with a different fit.

We have a goal to help reduce unnecessary waste, maintain high industry standards and choose sustainable durable materials.  What that means for you:

  • Simple labels – It gets thrown away anyway, so we only label what we need to.
  • Minimal packaging – From the factory to you, we do our best to only use what is needed.
  • No shoe bags automatically – but 1 free for every pair on request!
  • Leatherwork follows German PCP Regulations
  • Fair working conditions
  • Non-gendered/Non-roled sizing and styles

We are still working on building our brand and identity. We appreciate your feedback, and we hope you travel along with us on our journey.”

I love this approach and I can’t wait to see more from Jenna’s company.  I also have some nerdy glee about the company name being so perfect with Jenna’s last name and being one of my favorite jazz steps.   Here are the three previews released this week, from L-R: the Greenwood in teal, the Seneca in rose gold/silver, and the Seneca in purple.

Made in Lindy – Swing Dance Shoe Review

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I can’t find a record of previously blogging about this company, but I was aware of Made in Lindy shoes through several Texas swing dancer acquaintances, who purchased Made in Lindy shoes and recommended them on Facebook a few years ago.  Fast forward to 2019 and former Texas/now North Carolina dancer Allison Lemley was wearing a pair of her Made in Lindy shoes at the weekly Lindy Lab dance, so of course we started talking about her shoes.  I took a gander at the offerings on the Made in Lindy Facebook page and fell in love with a red pair of Mary Jane heels with a heart cutout – I mean, just look at this cuteness!

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Made in Lindy is based in China and the orders are placed via Facebook page chat and payment through PayPal.  I had a very helpful exchange with Made in Lindy, where I began by inquiring about a shoe and pricing – the shoes I ordered were $99.00 (including shipping) and the turnaround for an order is about 3.5 weeks for production and delivery.  I was offered an array of color options and, even though I wanted the red shoe from the photo, I was even offered two different reds to choose from.  I could specify 3cm, 4cm, or 5cm heel height.  Customer service asked about my sizing and offered advice.  I received a confirmation message when they received my payment and another message when the shoes were shipped with tracking information.

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2 a.m. in the lobby at Lindyfest

While I still find it a little odd to place orders through Facebook (even though I have done it many times now through Chloe Hong’s Facebook page) it helped to have the recommendation of a friend and that the customer service was so well-done.

Now for the shoes!  They arrived a couple of days before Lindyfest (along with an adorable orange satin shoe bag with pink lettering), so of course I packed my brand new pair and a backup pair in case of new shoe blisters.  I don’t often get to dance at events anymore because I’m singing, but Lindyfest was a mix of DJ’ing and singing for me, so I got ample dancing in on the two nights I was DJ’ing and not singing.  The Made in Lindy shoes were wonderful for mostly Lindy/some Bal and, for the first time in a long time with any pair of shoes, I did not get blisters (which was extra great, since I had forgotten to pack my friction stick).  I found the foot bed to be slightly wider than some of my other pairs of dance shoes and the 4 cm heel was comfortable and stable (photo of heel and sole after one night of dancing below).  Excited to have a new pair of dance shoes I love in my selection, I may even get over the loss of my beloved Aris Allen wedges (RIP).  Would buy again!

Bobby McGee’s Pin on eBay

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This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Props to dancer and instructor Corey Manke, who regularly pays tribute to the style of the original Balboa dancers in those Bobby McGee’s videos from the 70’s, for digging up this little bit of nostalgia on eBay.  Having a pin that says “Bobby McGee’s Loves You” is almost like saying “Balboa Loves You” in its own special way – just remember that whatever move you’re about to do, the old timers have already seen it.  😉