I can’t imagine how much work goes into starting a dance shoe company, but add a pandemic layer of difficulty and it goes into the realm of incomprehensible. Applejacks‘ proprietor Jenna Applegarth and her regular teaching partner Jon Tigert have been having weekly live Facebook chats and, luckily, the day I was able to tune in Jenna had an update on her line of shoes. Two important updates:
1) The Greenwood is finally here! The prototype has been photographed and passed around, salivated over, and loved in advance as Jenna worked on launching this shoe for what seemed like an eternity, but quality is paramount and I trusted that Jenna would bring us this shoe when it was ready for dancer consumption. It’s one of those shoes that has wide appeal – low heel for comfort, t-straps for security, darling cutouts, and cheerful two-tone colors (pink/burgundy, teal/hot pink,yellow/royal blue). Note that the Greenwood is named for the thriving black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma that was the epicenter of the Tulsa race riots (made known to contemporary pop culture in the incredible Watchmen series on HBO – highly recommended).
2) The Eldorado is a dance boot based on a pair of boots Jon owns (owned? danced to extinction?) – how incredible to fall in love with a shoe and be able to replicate it after it is no longer available? It really is a dream and I’m eager to hear reviews of the Eldorado, as it looks solid, comfortable, a shoe you can really live in. Available in brown, burgundy, and dark blue.
I believe Jenna discussed this in the Facebook live session, but all of these shoes are intended to double as street shoes, which is what the original Lindy Hoppers and Balboa dancers did – they wore their street shoes for dancing. Obviously, you can save your shoes and they will last longer, but if you really love the comfort and look, what are you saving them for? I’ve been wearing my Re-mix shoes as street shoes for years and, unless you’re coming out of the rain, it all works out in the end. With dancing pretty far on the horizon for those of us who don’t have a dance partner in our household/safe circle, it helps to know that you can enjoy these shoes now and not be sad about saving them for a future dance event. Missing all of you terribly!
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.
I’m excited to bring you my first ever Lindy Shopper vendor report from my very first Camp Hollywood! I have been wanting to attend this event for years and life always found a way to keep me away from dancing in California. I was able to attend half of the event (Sunday and Monday), to sing with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders, and even attending half of the weekend was awesome, but I’m afraid my vendor report has some holes because not all vendors are at their tables all the time and our schedules didn’t always coincide.
Camp Hollywood has the largest dedicated space for vendors of any event I have attended, it’s an entire hotel ballroom, plus a side room with a clothing vendor and hair salon pop-up. If the airline had lost my luggage, there were no worries about covering my needs for the weekend.
Let’s take the tour, shall we?
My first stop was Vintage Blue Moon, which arguably held the largest vendor space and was a treasure trove of both men’s and women’s vintage – the men’s section was at least as large, if not larger, than the women’s section. There was enough inventory that I felt transported, I’ve been in some brick and mortar shops with smaller inventory than what owners Robert and Kristi Alvarez brought to the LAX Marriott. The selection was carefully curated for its swing era audience, and even had a good selection of 1920’s clothing and accessories, which they brought this year after getting requests last year. I picked up a 1940’s suit for my day job that is reminiscent of something Tilda Swinton would have worn in her turn as gossip column twins in Hail, Caesar! and I couldn’t be more pleased.
All the Shiny Things occupied most of the vending space in the center of the ballroom and I’m afraid I didn’t get a chance to chat with the owner of this space, but the array of costume jewelry from so many decades past was vast and colorful – I get easily overwhelmed by jewelry counters and this was like the King Kong of jewelry selections. I loved all the colored bangles, if you were looking for a match, you’d probably find it here. Now looking at this photo and wishing I had more time to figure out what colors I need!
I was excited to see Loco Lindo again, who had come to All Balboa Weekend several years ago, and see what owner/designer Linda Marrone had been up to since then. I’ve been following her line of clothing on Facebook, but it’s always nice to see things and chat in person. Her washable and danceable crepe dresses (great for work, too!) were already selling well and she was out of several sizes in some prints, but I managed to snag a dress in my size in a tropical print that I’d seen on her website and liked from afar. Her corner of the ballroom was cheerful and bustling, a credit to Linda’s designs and her personality as she chatted with the dancer/shoppers. Like Trashy Diva, her prints come in limited runs, so don’t tarry when making your decisions about what to buy.
The ever-classy Chloe Hong occupied a good portion of the vendor ballroom, with the largest selection of items I’ve seen at an event to date. In addition to her custom tailoring and racks of samples, she carried two colors of the famous Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers logo tee, as well as a rainbow selection of her low-heeled t-strap shoes, which are fast becoming ubiquitous on dance floors all over the US (and I can say this, having seen them at dance events on the east coast and the west coast on the same weekend). Gracious and kind, it’s always a joy to see her at events and see the beautiful custom work she does for dancers.
Occupying an end cap of the All the Shiny Things center island in the vendor ballroom was Electro Flapper – Get Dolled and Dapper, featuring vintage hairstyles, brow shaping, and lashes by owner Brittany Leavitt. I didn’t get to spend time chatting with Brittany, but I do love seeing these services at dance events, whether its for a special updo or routine maintenance that you simply haven’t had time to get to until it’s right there in front of you at a dance weekend and you’ve got an hour of free time. Check out the amazing and perfect vintage ‘dos on her Facebook page and get inspired to make an appointment for CHXI.
Because there were so many vendors, two vendors had to set up in a conference room next door to the vendor ballroom. The first of these is Pepperpie Vintage, which had a mix of swing era goodies and clothing from more recent decades. Again, I just had enough time to run by and snap some photos, thankfully with the permission of owner Perrin Iacopino – but, alas, I couldn’t find a website or a Facebook page for this shop, so if anyone in the know can direct me I will be happy to link to where we can find Pepperpie Vintage information in the future.
Sharing the space with Pepperpie Vintage was a “Hair Bar” run by Kimmery Michelle Thompson of Shear Attitude Hair Salon, offering up-do’s, down-do’s, a mix of both, hair accessories, and color streaks. The Hair Bar looked so inviting, with a lighted sign, vintage pink bonnet dryer, and a glorious Art Deco vanity that just begs for finger waves to be done in view of its glorious circular mirror. I didn’t get to see Kimmery in action, but you can see her work on her lovely Instagram page, @_kimmerydoesmyhair. Two great hair stylists at this event!
We return to the vendor ballroom to visit Saint Savoy’s table – no one was at the table when I was in the ballroom, but it’s no secret that I love dancing in their shoes, having blogged about them several times before on this blog. Since I didn’t acquire any new and interesting tidbits, I’ll share all my previous Saint Savoy posts so you can see the love.
Also no secret is my love for Re-mix Vintage Shoes and, while I didn’t get to visit the mothership, owner Philip Heath had an extensive selection of footwear, including wedges, which are not usually a part of his All Balboa Weekend display (which is the only other time I have seen Re-mix shoes en masse at an event). I got to chat with Philip for a bit about his recent travel to Italy to sell shoes at an event, his visit to the shoe factory that makes these glorious shoes in Spain, and about the construction of the reproduction 1940’s wedges. Did you know that not just the leather outside of the shoes is modeled after vintage shoes, but also the inside construction of the wedge sole? We talked about the flexibility and give of the leather for each style, particularly the two most popular styles, which right now are the pleated toe wedge and the Vogue wedge. Philip noted that even the finishing touches are the same on these shoes, with a stitched edge on the pleated toe and a ribbon edge on the Vogue, both of which affect the structure of the shoe, how it fits, and how the leather stretches (or in the case of the Vogue, how it doesn’t stretch as much because of the ribbon). This explains why my bunioned/bone spurred feet gravitated toward the pleated toe wedge as my favorite pair of Re-mixes for dancing! Close seconds in the most-popular-Re-mix-wedges-for-dancing category were the Picasso wedge, which I find has similar give to the the leather as the pleated toe, and the Greta wedge, which Philip noted that many people with difficult feet were surprised at how well this shoe worked for them and stretched with them. I had been having some anxiety about another dance shoe company discontinuing all of their wedges (maybe hanging on to them past their smell-by date) since I mostly wear wedges to my local weekly dances, but I feel so much better after this conversation with Philip about selecting Re-mix wedges that are going to be right for my foot for dancing.
Last, but certainly not least, instructor/dancer/visual artist Mickey Fortanasce has created a follow-up deck to his original Legends of Swing deck of playing cards (sold at Lindy Focus this past year), with the second edition featuring swing dance legends from the west coast, including Jean Veloz, Hal Takier, and Ray Hirsch. Two important things to note: 1) “ALL profits from the sale of these cards will be donated to worthy organizations The LA Burrito Project doing outreach feeding and donating supplies to the Los Angeles homeless, andBlack Lindy Hop Matters, an organization based in Baltimore, MD which works to build welcoming communities and advancement opportunities for black dancers and advocates for cultural integrity, recognition and respect for African American people and heritage” and 2) you can still purchase a deck from the Camp Hollywood website while supplies last!
I know I am missing at least one vendor, but I wasn’t in the ballroom when the vendor was there to get permission to take photos, so my apologies! (EDITED to add that Jen Gomez of Bandini St. came forward to note the missing vendors, one of which was her table of accessories and shoe bags that was a part of the Loco Lindo booth and I had taken a picture of her shoe bags and not realized it was a separate vendor. Check out her Etsy shop, full of lovely hair accessories. The other vendor I missed was A Walk Thru Time Vintage and Costume Annex, selling vintage clothing and costumes. Thanks, Jen!)
Much love to you, Camp Hollywood, for providing such ample space for vendors and for providing four days of shopping, social dancing, competitions, classes, and so much more. ❤
I swear I’m not saying this because they are the juiciest shade of green this side of a Granny Smith apple, I’m saying this because they are all of the things I am looking for in a dance shoe. The new Saint Savoy Riviera, a gorgeous t-strap dance shoe, is all of these things and more: something low enough that I can Lindy Hop all night, but high enough that I can benefit from a heel for Balboa; something that I can dance in all night without hurting the balls of my feet or causing blisters (on the first night of dancing, no less! No blisters!); soft, flexible leather, yet with enough support to withstand the stress of the dance; did I mention the perfect heel height (3.5 cm, which is about 1.4 inches)? And the soft sueded sole? And the pristine finishing on the shoe? And the divine two tone color? And the cutouts allowing for even more movement? And the sweet vintage styling? I haven’t been this excited about a pair of dance shoes since my first pair of Remixes 8 years ago, I’m in love…
The Riviera is so new that it’s not even on the Saint Savoy website yet, but will be in late November, just in time for the gifting season. They are taking orders, though, so contact them about placing your order. The green Rivieras are almost sold out already (I’m looking at you, Castle Camp)! Also available in light blue, brown, and a sassy tan/red color combo.
Here’s a collection of photos of my love affair with this dance shoe:
I love a sale and I love it when I find new products tailored for swing dancers – here, we have Saint Savoy Dancewear, a swing dance company founded by Rani-Patricia Dirnhofer, a Vienna-based dancer who grew up in Spain and uses her connections there to collaborate with Alicante shoe manufacturers to create this line of men’s and women’s dance shoes – from oxfords to t-straps, flats to heels, brogueing to cutouts…there’s a lot of variety here! Additionally, Saint Savoy is running a sale until November 30, 10 Euros off any pair of dance shoes…
…but what about these shoes, you say? Let’s take a closer look:
It seems all dancers struggle with finding that perfect pair of shoes – Rani-Patricia shared this struggle: “While hunting for stylish dance shoes, we searched through countless websites from all over the world. The meagre array, several bad buys, and a lot of research brought us to the idea of starting our very own company.” What is remarkable is that people are actually doing this, starting companies and making these shoes – clearly there is a demand!
So if you could come up with a dance shoe company, what specs would you include? Saint Savoy touts the following:
– Sustainable production: “We hold the manufacturing methods of our products to high ethical standards, and select the materials used according to durability and sustainability. We proudly ensure that our shoeboxes are made from recycled paper, plastic packaging is minimized, leatherwork follows German PCP Regulations, and working conditions for our shoemakers are fair – more ways in which we join traditional and contemporary.”
Here are some favorites from the Saint Savoy line of shoes for men and women (ladies, note that there are flats and low heel options) – don’t forget to place your orders before November 30 to get the discount!
I can thank Raleigh dancer Tiffany Linquist for the tip about Charlie Stone Shoes, which is presently a placeholder “coming soon” website, but the corresponding Facebook page for this business indicates that this is a swing dance shoe company – “Swing dance shoes designed for comfort, support and good old fashioned style. Online store coming soon!” Further inspection of the Facebook page shows a single style of footwear – a flat t-strap shoe with cutouts/overlays at the toe, in either black or red/cream. A new dance shoe company for swing dancing that makes flats is very promising news, indeed!
Via Tumblr, I find that the company is is based in Australia and Singapore and run by a dancer named Samantha Szetu, who also has an adorable blog called Style and Swingouts. Charlie Stone is set to launch in September/October 2014, with the signature t-strap style – check out the specs on this sweet dance shoe:
– Free shipping worldwide (what what!)
– Handmade with 100% quality leather
– Hidden heel elevation
– Wide bottom sole for maximum traction
– Soft leather bottom sole
– Supportive insole
One of the most common shoe questions I get is where to find dance flats that are dressier than Keds – I think Samantha had a similar issue, based on this statement from the FB page: “I love lindy hop and adore fashion, but often the two don’t get along, particularly when the songs are fast and the night is long. So I decided to make a shoe that worked for me, so whatever the floor type, my fashion choice, song speed or time of night, I would always feel confident and comfortable.”
Check out this video of some of the Singapore dancers giving the shoes a test-run (or test-swingouts!). Looking forward to the launch! If you’ve already tried a pair of these kicks, please leave us a review in the comments section. 🙂
I can’t resist a silver dance shoe and this 1930’s pair listed by FabGabs on Etsy is just perfect (except for the size – too narrow for me!) If you are a size 7 or 7.5 narrow you can pick up these gorgeous low-heeled beauties!
Like all great Balboa events, it appears that Korea Balboa Weekend has a dance shoe vendor, Balboa Sin, with the added bonus that you can order these shoes from their event website. I’d love to hear from some of the Korean dancers how they like the shoes. It looks like you can custom order your heel height, which is my favorite customization, since I like my heels in the 2 inch range. I am pretty much in love with all of the offerings on the website, but here are some of my super faves:
There are a few really good deals on eBay right now for Re-mix Vintage Shoes and Aris Allen dance shoes. For starters, there is a pair of worn-once Remix Deco shoes in the gray suede/black leather combo, size 9, with a starting bid of $10.00. These shoes retail at $194.00, so $10.00 just seems crazy. My guess is that the bidding will go higher than this, but any Remix shoe to be had under $50.00 is a major win.
The next Remix deal isn’t as good, comparatively, but it’s still a pretty awesome deal – $89.99 starting bid for a pair of silver pleated toe wedges, size 11. I love Re-Mix wedges and silver seems to go with everything. 🙂
Finally, the best deal of the week as a pair of lovely Aris Allen white satin 1930’s heels, size 10, with a starting price of $0.99. That’s right, 99 cents! The shipping is more than the cost of the item, but even then, it still puts you in a pair of dance shoes for less than $15. Winning!
News flash! Emily, the adorable brogued t-strap heel launched by Re-mix Vintage Shoes earlier this year, has expanded color offerings, adding brown and black as more practical/seasonal options to the lovely cream and ultramar blue. In light of the possible phasing out of the Balboa shoe, these are welcome t-strap additions to the Remix line! I can’t seem to pull the photographs on my email and they aren’t up on the website yet…but I promise there’s a pair in black.
I’m jumping out of my chair with excitement because the Balboas are back! At least for a limited run, that is – the Balboas in the ivory/parchment combo are available, along with the brown combo and black. If you’ve been on the fence about one of these pairs of shoes, get off the fence right now, sell an organ, take out a loan, and get them while they are in stock because LS has on good information that these shoes will no longer run in their current design.
In other glorious Remix news, the men’s captoe oxford is also available in a new color, a soft brown leather. The popular Anita shoe will be made in metallics – muted gold and silver – which I love because metallics go with so many things and make your footwork shine! Also available in a new color is the Strider, a 1930’s/40’s oxford, which breaks away from muted tones and now comes in a cheerful purple.
I don’t know if I had time to mention this style when they launched, but Remix’s Emily shoe is a lovely brogued t-strap shoe that is simply a knockout. Available in ivory and a bright blue they are calling “Ultramar Blue.” Using my Google skills (rather, looking for a photograph to post), I also found this shoe available in brown at Shoostore.com.
I noticed yesterday that the My Heinies website has officially expanded their line of dancewear to include the shoes, hosiery, and hair flowers I mentioned in my previous post on My Heinies and their creator, New York dancer and instructor Carol Fraser. This certainly calls for another post highlighting these goodies, because now we have pictures. 🙂
Before we get to the goods, I want to point out that Carol does her homework. At week one of the Balboa Experiment, Carol brought in samples of everything and held a focus group to talk about what Balboa dancers look for in a shoe – heel shape, heel height, colors, styles, straps, where the shoe falls on the top of your foot, suede v. hard leather, and everything in between. The shoes now available on the My Heinies website represent the results of this group discussion, most of which Carol had overnighted to the Experiment house so that we could try them on in person, give further feedback, and have the option to purchase. The sample shoes remained at the Experiment house for weeks 2 and 3 to try out as well, and I’m sure she’s solicited feedback from a number of other dancers. Another great thing about using the Experiment as a testing ground was that it gave Carol an international perspective on what dancers would want to wear, not just dancers in the U.S.
Here’s what I love from My Heinies’ new selections of shoes, hosiery, and hair flowers (and don’t forget to check out the bloomers, I think Carol’s ordering a new batch very soon):
I came across Tic-Tac-Toes dance shoes in the early 2000’s when I decided that I wanted a pair of bronze Mary Janes to dance in. Finding cute dance flats was already a giant chore, but somewhere in my internet searches I stumbled on the Tic-Tac-Toes website. I ended up with a pair of their “Shag” shoes (presumably Carolina Shag) in bronze and was a very happy camper – the shoes are lightweight, with leather soles, and come in 38 colors. That’s right – THIRTY-EIGHT COLORS.
Thus, if you are looking for a very specific color of dance shoe, Tic-Tac-Toes may be the very place to look. They have a number of styles they have designated for Lindy Hop, such as saddle shoes, two-tone t-strap wingtips, and t-strap heels, but really any of their dance shoes could work. If you are worried about heels, all of the Tic-Tac-Toes shoes have a wide heel and there’s nothing on this website over 2 inches.
The shoes are made in Gloversville, New York for men and women, and come in narrow, regular, and wide widths. The soles and upper parts of the shoes are leather. According to the Tic-Tac-Toes website, “We proudly use only domestic finished leather in our dance shoes. Because we do not use backers between our leather upper and our soft foam and tricot linings, our leather will stretch and mold to the shape of your foot thereby adding to the comfort of the shoe. In addition, our leather has a durable top coating of urethane which allows for easy cleaning and less scuffing.”
It’s that time of year where some of us (myself included) feel compelled to rid ourselves of the trappings of winter, of items that don’t fit anymore, or items that are simply not being worn. In that vein, my pal and swing dance Wonder Woman Kristy Milliken (seller ID rhythm.is.my.business – indeed!) is selling some stylish castoffs from her closet on eBay, all with free shipping so you don’t have to do that extra calculation in your head. Here’s what she’s listed: