Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Return of Lindy Dandy

It seems I’ve merely blinked my eyes and it’s already been a month since my last post. It’s true, ILHC (and Andrew and Karen’s Showcase) was the last big thing that had the swing dance world’s attention. It seems to me we’ve all been catching a breather since then.

The next headline event is the New Orleans Swing Dance Festival & The Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown. Showdown has held some legendary competitions. I still show non-dancer friends the ULHS 2006 Fast “Liberation” Finals when I’m trying to explain what Lindy Hop is all about. Last year, the organizers took a chance by changing the main strictly competition into a tournament-configured set of head-to-head battles. It’s an awesome idea that no doubt pushes dancers’ boundaries for showmanship and performance. I’d love to attend someday, but alas, this just isn’t my year. (The videos I caught from last year’s comps are awesome. Be sure to check out the Solo Blues and the Slow Dance Finals).

In the blues realm, Blues Blaze in NYC is the next big dance weekend. It’s a weekend workshop featuring some big names in the Blues instructor circuit plus several fierce competitions, including a Champions (Invitational) Jack and Jill. Go Annabel!

It’s so neat to me that the swing dance ecosystem has grown large enough to support many high quality events in the same season, sometimes even on the same weekend. It’s hard not to feel like I’m constantly missing out if I can’t make it to every event. It’s been especially difficult for me, because I’ve been deployed since the end of April. That’s 5 months away from dancing. I’m going crazy without it!

There are so many events going on all around the world and there’s (currently) no way for me to attend all of them. Thankfully, blogs, YouTube, Facebook, friends and in general, the Internet, have provided ways to keep me connected to the dance scene. I get to live vicariously through video posts, live updates, tweets and first-hand accounts of all of the action. I’ve even been able to stay involved by blogging and contributing to discussions on other blogs (and Yehoodi).

Best of all: I’m coming home! Deployment is wrapping up and I’ll be back on the dance floor by the end of the week.

This will bring several, new types of posts to this blog. I’ll be traveling as much as possible, so I’ll be posting event reviews as I get the chance. I’ll be interested to see how my dancing has changed (read: atrophied) in the last 5 months, so I’ll probably write about that as well. Additionally, I’ll also be posting on the “dandy” side of things. I’ve mostly written about dancers, dancing and dance events so far but I do intend to write about style too. I have a couple ideas floating around in this noggin of mine, so maybe some of them will see the light of day.

My first, big, dance weekend back is Jammin’ on the James in Richmond, VA with Casey Schneider & Mike Faltesek and Carla Heiney & Nick Williams. Jammin’ was one of my first workshop weekends back in 2007 and it was a great experience. I’m looking forward to another high quality event. I haven’t done a full weekend workshop with any of these instructors, so I’m really excited about that too. I’m sure they’ll be able to get my dancing back in gear. Maybe I should sign up for some private instruction. (yikes!)

As of right now, I’m signed up for Blues Muse, EBC, PittStop and Lindy Focus. If you see me on the dance floor, ask me for a dance, because we haven’t danced in ages!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Andrew and Karen's ILHC 2010 Showcase

The International Lindy Hop Championships 2010 is not even over and there’s already “best event ever” buzz flying around the blogosphere.
I had an amazing time at it’s first two iterations and was really sad to miss out this year. There’s an undeniable energy in the air when so many talented competitors get together and show off their best stuff.

Patrick and Natasha have graciously shared many of the videos already. As of Sunday afternoon, they’ve posted all of the Classic Lindy routines, all of the showcases, and the Pro Strictly Finals. I love that they post videos during the event, providing us with instant nostalgia.

Robert E. White III, err, I mean Bobby White, mentioned Andrew and Karen’s Surprise Showcase piece as a Saturday late-night update.

It’s based on the “evolution of dance” video that was posted online years ago except with lindy hop (they even wear the same shirt). It references several vintage dance clips, “classic” songs and moves from the revival, and memorable choreography from the past 5 years. I’ll try to provide links to these videos as well. Some of the best digital copies of vintage clips can be found on Daniel Newsome’s website:

There are at least 25 snippets of clips and music. Here’s what I noticed. (please help me figure out the rest in the comments section).

(ok, I don’t currently have the bandwidth to look up all the clips; I’ll update if I get the chance)
  1. “Shorty” George Snowden in After Seben.
  2. (not sure)
  3. Big Apple Routine from Keep Punchin’
  4. Helzapoppin’ If you recognize anything from this collection, this should be the one.
  5. Dean and Jewel in Buck Privates dancing to the Andrews Sisters singing “Bounce Me Brother with a Solid Four”
  6. Groovie Movie (such a hilarious reference)
  7. (not sure)
  8. The Shim Sham Song - Bill Elliot Swing Orchestra
  9. Jitterbug Stroll - Steven Mitchell (Ryan Francois choreography)
  10. Rhythm Hot Shots dancing to Jumpin’ at the Woodside (not sure which clip)
  11. (not sure)
  12. They do a pretzel to Go Daddy O! - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
  13. Candlestick to Jump, Jive and Wail - Louis Prima
  14. They do Savoy Kicks to Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat. (Not sure if this is from a clip)
  15. The highly influential Minnie’s Moochers choreography to “Love Me or Leave Me” (reprised at Frankie95)
  16. (not sure)
  17. (not sure)
  18. I think this is from another Max and Annie routine, but I don’t remember/can’t find it.
  19. Skye and Frida’s Iconic “Twenty Four Robbers” routine first performed at ULHS 2007 (as far as I know)
  20. Max and Annie’s Lotus with a hat switch from their 1st place ILHC 2008 showcase routine
  21. One2Swing The California Rolls Team Routine from Camp Hollywood 2009
  22. The Silver Shadows’ Frankie Manning Tribute to the song “Shiny Stockings” at Frankie95
  23. (not sure)
  24. (not sure)
  25. Self-reference to the ending to their Lindy Focus 7 (NYE2008) routine to “Bugle Call Rag”
I really enjoyed watching this routine and it was even more fun recognizing most of the references. The beauty of the internet is that we immediately get to watch videos of dancing very soon after they are performed. Andrew and Karen are clearly very aware of the dance world around them; you can see clever nods to other’s routines in their choreography (like Mike and Laura’s Blues Apache number from Lindy Focus reference in their “Everybody Loves My Baby” routine [among several others]).

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Camp Hollywood XIII: Full of Win

(It looks like Andrew beat me to the punch).

I know it’s not Thanksgiving, but I am thankful for a lot of things. Right now, while I’m on deployment, there are two things that I’m thankful for in particular.
  1. Dancers that take clear, HD videos of dance competitions at events all around the world.
  2. High-speed internet access.
This forced hiatus from social dance is only bearable because I have so many beautiful videos to watch. (Plus, I have some time to work on jazz routines).

This past weekend was Camp Hollywood XIII. Now in its 14th year, Camp Hollywood is one of the largest and longest running dance camps in the world. CH is also home to some incredible competitions.
It’s only been a few days since the event, so I expect more videos to pop up (the social dance comps in particular), but here’s what I have found so far.

Beautiful HD videos by PatrickandNatasha. They have videos of several of the Showcase routines, a couple team routines, Balboa Finals and the Pro Lindy finals.

More HD videos by irishbrat4u. Different angles of a couple of the showcases, videos of most of the team routines, and a video of the Underground Finals.

MTJokerProductions has the Underground Finals, half the Pro Lindy Finals (up to Nick & Laura’s second run) and the best version of the 1st place Team Routine.

Pro Lindy Finals

These competitors are pushing the boundaries with clever aerials and innovative combinations. This isn’t so much a social dance competition as it is a raw, high-flying, air step showcase, so pre-planned sequences are the norm. There are so many little things going on, but here are some things I would like to point out:

During the second round of spotlights, Ceth and Tiffany recover beautifully after a slip up by the previous couple. Excellent focus here. They also have this neat snatch variation.

7:05, Kevin dries off the floor with his knees after Shesha rolls off. Well done.

7:27 Marty and Delilah do the very showy, impressive airplane move that they used in their showcase routine (and later reprise the move in the final all skate). That move is a feat of strength and trust. Nice bloomers, BTW.

For their second spotlight, Nick and Laura pull off an awesome sequence of linked together air steps after a couple bars of fancy syncopated footwork. The entire thing is breathtaking.

For their second spotlight, Kevin and Angel do what I’m going to call the “Mancake to Bridge.” The Bridge part is slow and at first looks like he’s about to crush her. I love the other competitors’ reactions, especially Mikey’s and Marty’s.

I really enjoyed watching the reactions of the competitors in the background; there was a lot of interaction. You can tell they were just excited to watch as to compete: jumping up and down with the aerials; and interacting in other ways.

Then, the final all skate. Two words: Legs. Everywhere.

By my count, I think there were at least 19 air steps, sweeps, big kicks or jumps during the last 2 phrases of the all skate. I was hooting and hollering watching this at the beach bar last night.

Two of my favorite showcase routines:

I love this polished routine by Kevin and Jo, especially the staggered Tacky Annie sequence. Jo has mastered flirty, sexy, girly styling and clever footwork; the ladies (and leads) attending Southern Belle Swing Bash are in for a treat. I hear Kevin will be there too.

Finally, now I know what song they’ve been using to intro their instructional videos: “Lookin’ Good but Feelin’ Bad.”

More importantly: Double Cartwheels. (Cue the Double Rainbow song).

Team Division Champions

This is a very well choreographed routine. It has lots of neat elements: circle formations, moving line formations, impressive air steps, and yelling, lots of yelling. Also, I have a big crush on all of the follows on that team. Just sayin’.

Results for all of the competitions are on the Camp Hollywood website.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Style Inspiration from Vintage Vogue

Putting together looks is much easier when you’ve got great examples from which to draw. I follow a couple photographers, blogs and Tumblrs that I look at most days, saving the photos that make a big impression on me.


Try to tell me that Humphrey Bogart doesn’t make an impression on you; I won’t believe you. (Photo by Ned Scott).


It’s always interesting (to me at least) to notice the subtle cycles in men’s style through the years. There is rarely anything “new” when it comes to men’s style, only variations in proportion. Notice the true 3-button stance, wider lapels (compared to today), and nice hats.


Some cool (in multiple senses of the word) Spring/Summer shoes.

These photos are from My Vintage Vogue, a website with scans from pages of (you guessed it) vintage Vogue magazines. The website focuses on scans of women’s fashion, organized by decade and model/movie star, but there is a page dedicated to men.

You can also see the scans on the My Vintage Vogue Flickr.

A huge thanks to the always-brilliant Swing Patrol blog for sharing their post about My Vintage Vogue. This is a great blog that posts dance clips and gems like this website very regularly.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Billy Reid Sale - Up to 75% Off

(Originally posted on Lindy Shopper. This sale is so good that I had to post it here too).

It’s about the time of year when designers begin to clear out their Spring/Summer inventory to make room for their Fall/Winter line, which means this is a great time to look for sales. These sales make it possible to get deals on clothing that might normally be out of reach.

Billy Reid is having a huge sale; up to 75% off.

Gentlemen, have you heard of Billy Reid? Billy Reid is a “Southern-bred luxury” brand whose designer has been referred to as the “Ralph Lauren of the South.” Named Best New Men’s Designer in America 2010 by GQ, Billy Reid mixes refined and classic style with a bit of Southern ruggedness. The brand is based in Florence, Alabama, but has stores in Dallas, Nashville, Houston, Charleston and New York. The clothing is trim, well-made and will last for years (physically and style-wise).

I first “discovered” Billy Reid for myself a couple years ago during a trip to Dallas to visit my parents. I was wandering through NorthPark mall while my little sister was doing some shopping and stumbled onto what looked like a well-decorated saloon. The walls were adorned with oil paintings, faded photos, gilded-frame mirrors, and assorted taxidermy. The clothing was impressive: hand-made suits and jackets, slim shirts in an impressive assortment of fabric, drawers filled with bow ties and -the best touch- bowls filled with vintage handkerchiefs and pocket squares . Unfortunately, it was all a bit out of my price range (except for a few of those pocket squares and bow ties).

This sale puts it all into reach (relatively… the best deals are in the jackets and suits). (The sale also includes the ladies Spring/Summer line. I like the dresses, but they’re mostly mid-thigh length, which don’t really work for dancing unless you like to show off your bloomers. If you do, then by all means…) Here are a few of my favorites.


"Charleston" Short Sleeved Shirt - White with Stripes - $83 from $165

It’s like a classic tennis sweater in short-sleeve shirt form.


Scout - Light Blue and White Linen - $88 from $175

The pleated front pockets and button-able rolled sleeves makes this very casual.


Pride - Aqua Linen - $42 from $165

A very sharp sport shirt.


Charleston - Purple and White Check - $78 from $155


Jonathon - Double Faced Khaki Linen - $169 from $675

The big patch pockets make this a very casual jacket.


Windbreaker - Black and White Stripe -$74 from $295


Martin - Grey Plaid - $298 from $595

It’s got a ticket pocket that you can’t really see in this photo.


Ruston - Patch Pocket Blue Pincord - $238 from $595


Jonathon - Blue Seersucker - $149 from $595

What’s up with this guy’s posture? Sweet jacket, though.


Savannah Bubble-toe Wingtip - $210 from $350

These are shoes that you could beat to hell and they’d still look great (maybe even better).


Indianola - Suede Chukka Boot - $99 from $395

Please remember that the fit (especially in some of the jacket models) is cut trim, so size accordingly. I really like that blue pincord jacket. Hmmm.

Happy Hunting.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Breathable Leather Shoes: Allen-Edmonds Strawfut

If this blog from Slevehead is true, then heritage American shoe brand Allen-Edmonds is bringing back a version of the Strawfut design back for Spring 2011.

According to the Sleevehead post, the Strawfut will be a “combination linen (or mesh) and leather” shoe. In the original shoe, the upper was partially constructed out of nylon mesh.

Information on this shoe is scarce and what can be found is only on blogs and men’s style forums. So, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that these could be my ideal Spring/Summer dress shoe and possibly my ideal dance shoe. The soles are constructed out of leather, which are hard wearing, repairable and will conform to shape of your foot. The upper is partially constructed out of a highly breathable nylon mesh, which is a godsend of a design feature in warm months (and especially on the dance floor). I would really appreciate the breathability, my feet get really hot when I dance.

This is a correspondent wingtip, also known as a spectator, where mesh has replaced the part of the upper that would normally be leather, linen, suede or canvas. I think these would look killer under a seersucker, cotton or linen suit, but I’d even wear them with rolled chinos or jeans (sans socks, of course).


This photo is from the blog of Allen-Edmonds' CEO.

The shoes in the image above were repaired by Allen-Edmonds for blogger, Fedora Lounge moderator and menswear designer, Matt Deckard.

Matt recounts the repair of his shoes in this post. It’s a neat story that highlights great customer service and the importance of leadership that has personal interest in their products. (According to the story, AE’s CEO frequented the forum where Matt first posted about these shoes, where were in dire need of repair at the time).

My friend, Bradley, has a pair of nylon mesh dress shoes that I’ve always found interesting and I’ve been looking for a pair ever since. If these are really coming out next Spring, count me in for multiple pairs in whatever colors they’re providing.

You see vintage pieces on eBaby, occasionally, but they’re never in my size. Actually, there’s a black pair of 8E’s on sale at the moment.

Well, if anybody ever wants to give me a pair to review, I wear an 8.5E.


This is an image of an 8E pair in black on sale on eBay.

Here’s a link to the most recent forum thread on the A-E Strawfut on the Fedora Lounge.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Jazz Age Lawn Party 2010 (first look)

It’s one of my favorite moments of the summer; The Sartorialist’s photos of the Govenors Island Jazz Age Lawn Party have started to come out.

This is a jazz age themed dance party on Govenors Island in New York. You may remember that I mentioned it earlier this summer.

Best of all, there are two dates for this party this summer. You can find more details on this thread on Yehoodi.


Behold the power of a well-fitted white dress shirt. I’m digging the panama hat and the cuffed seersucker shorts. The jury’s still out on that neckerchief. (ok, he pulls it off, but I don’t think I could). Lose the cigarette!


I would definitely ask her to dance. I love their hats.


Dang. That’s a beautiful, slightly rumpled, white, four-on-two double breasted linen suit. The pleated patch pockets make it slightly more casual. The collar pin, cane and cocked boater are just icing on the cake. I probably would have gone with a different colored pocket square, for a little pop of color (not that you can really tell in this monochrome shot). You should also notice that his jacket and shirt sleeves are tailored so that an inch or so of cuff is visible.


It’s Voon! Seriously, this guy is one of the best dressed dancers you will ever meet; always vintage or vintage inspired.

You can find more photos from this event here: