Sunday, September 26, 2010
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
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: Danceonline.tv
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)
- “Shorty” George Snowden in After Seben.
- (not sure)
- Big Apple Routine from Keep Punchin’
- Helzapoppin’ If you recognize anything from this collection, this should be the one.
- Dean and Jewel in Buck Privates dancing to the Andrews Sisters singing “Bounce Me Brother with a Solid Four”
- Groovie Movie (such a hilarious reference)
- (not sure)
- The Shim Sham Song - Bill Elliot Swing Orchestra
- Jitterbug Stroll - Steven Mitchell (Ryan Francois choreography)
- Rhythm Hot Shots dancing to Jumpin’ at the Woodside (not sure which clip)
- (not sure)
- They do a pretzel to Go Daddy O! - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
- Candlestick to Jump, Jive and Wail - Louis Prima
- They do Savoy Kicks to Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat. (Not sure if this is from a clip)
- The highly influential Minnie’s Moochers choreography to “Love Me or Leave Me” (reprised at Frankie95)
- (not sure)
- (not sure)
- I think this is from another Max and Annie routine, but I don’t remember/can’t find it.
- Skye and Frida’s Iconic “Twenty Four Robbers” routine first performed at ULHS 2007 (as far as I know)
- Max and Annie’s Lotus with a hat switch from their 1st place ILHC 2008 showcase routine
- One2Swing The California Rolls Team Routine from Camp Hollywood 2009
- The Silver Shadows’ Frankie Manning Tribute to the song “Shiny Stockings” at Frankie95
- (not sure)
- (not sure)
- Self-reference to the ending to their Lindy Focus 7 (NYE2008) routine to “Bugle Call Rag”
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
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.
- Dancers that take clear, HD videos of dance competitions at events all around the world.
- High-speed internet access.
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
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.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
(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.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
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.
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
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.
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: http://newyork.metromix.com/events/essay_photo_gallery/the-2010-jazz-age/2073146/photo/2073165
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Anyone who knows me knows that I love lindy hop and other swing dancing. I would dance every day if I could. So now and then, I wonder what it would be like to be an instructor who travels around the world to teach lindy hop. Would I do it? Actually, this boils down to a more basic question: Would I pursue any of my passions as a profession?
I found his second point on mistakes to be the best insight of the article. Basically, one must be professional. It sounds very simple and obvious because it is simple and obvious. If you want to turn your passion into a career, you must treat it like a job, not a hobby. This means working hard and pursuing success. As Dax answer later in the interview, “Never stop developing your craft and your business will never die.”
I don’t think I’ll ever be a professional international swing instructor, but I think it’s fascinating to see what takes to get there. It’s good advice either way.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
It’s a video of Max, Annie, and Thomas of the Ninjammerz plus Natasha performing at the Montreal International Jazz Festival with the band Caravan Palace for tens of thousands of people.
I’m not at all familiar with Caravan Palace, but I’m intrigued. (Think of a cross between Django Reinhardt and Daft Punk, complete with gypsy jazz instruments and turntables).
The choreography is entertaining and hits all the right breaks, highlighted by well-timed lighting effects. My favorite part is when Thomas and Max “scribble” a break after sailor walks. Hilarious.
I'm so excited that such a huge audience was able to enjoy a fun Lindy Hop performance. (Could you imagine this at ILHC? How would people respond?)
Monday, July 5, 2010
Camel walks are a jazz step that I used to look at and wonder “how the heck do they make their legs do that?”
Here is the video that first inspired me to learn them. It’s from the 2009 Old School dance battle in Sweden pitting jazz dancers (the Harlem Hot Shots) versus hip hop dancers (Streets R us). One of the gals from the Harlem Hot Shots enters the arena by doing some very slick camel walks at :53 seconds into the clip, then breaks into some mean squat charleston (which is next on my list to learn).
I recommend watching the rest of the series too. It’s a great battle.
It’s that “how the heck?” feeling that inspired me to watch this video over and over (and over) until I could do it myself.
The problem with this video (besides the music) is that you don’t get too much instruction; you have to figure it out by watching him. (Just remember that no matter what it looks like, you step one foot after the other. right, left, right, left... ).
Here’s the video that had me camel walking around the room for an hour this time. It’s Stefan and Bethany’s routine from the Jump Session Show at Camp Jitterbug 2010. I’ve always loved their choreography. They have such a loose, relaxed quality to their movements.
I had to watch it over and over (and in slo-mo to be honest) to figure out what they were doing. The camel walks start at 1:38.
Here’s what I figured out: they did 8 counts to the right, then 8 counts to the left. They shuffle and shift their feet a bit differently than I’m used to, which is what took me so long to figure out.
Now that I think about it, it’s that “how the heck?” curiosity that keeps me on the dance floor and keeps me motivated to continue learning. I love to watch videos of great dancers in order to steal fancy footwork, odd figures and swingout variations. I’m constantly inspired by (read: steal from) all the dancers on the floor around me at dances.
The best part about stealing (and learning in general) is “owning” the material and then varying it to make it your own. I’ve spent entire dances with friends coming up with different (and often silly) camel walk variations. In fact, I spent the entire evening before this year’s DCLX figuring out how to do them backwards, just so I could one-up my friends during our camel walk showdown. I think I was beat by KF, who showed us all up by doing an opposing shoulder isolation with her camel walks. (It looks as weird as it sounds).
Now I have to figure out something new by the next time I see them!
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
A couple friends have told me about the fun exchanges they’ve been attending but same complaint keeps coming up: some venues are ludicrously hot.
I remember the Wednesday before Frankie 95 in NYC in 2009. I was a little late because I had trouble finding the venue, but I was in a rush to get there. The Loose Marbles were playing, after all; who wouldn’t rush? Well, I finally got to the building and took the elevator up to the 7th floor or so. The doors slide open and BAM! -- I felt like I walked into a sauna (too bad it didn’t smell like one). The windows were fogged up and walls were slick with condensation. It only took one dance before I felt gross, but I ended up dancing for the rest of the night anyway. There wasn’t a single fan to cool us down. We just dealt with it and kept dancing.
Most dances aren’t that bad, but you can overheat anywhere if you dance hard enough. It’s best to come prepared.
Most of these ideas are fairly obvious, but this what I do:
- drink plenty of water (I always bring my own water bottle; it’s just more convenient)
- wear clothes made of light, breathable fabrics (like cotton and linen)
- dress in layers (because taking off your jacket and hat help a ton)
- I carry a small microfiber (super-absorbent) hand towel (mockingly referred to as my “Sham-pow” by a friend).
- take frequent breaks, if necessary
- I dance in front of fans if they’re available.
- I pack a large black fan. (you can laugh, but it works extremely well)
- You can cool off as much as you like, but sweating is inevitable so I ALWAYS bring a few extra shirts.
What do you do to beat the heat?
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
A “Big Apple” is a “called” solo jazz and solo Charleston dance. The caller is in the middle and calls out different moves that the group surrounding him follows.
Big Apples like this happen on occasion, but if you say “Big Apple” most people will assume you’re referring to the choreography based on the performance by Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers in the movie Keep Punchin’.
My absolute favorite Big Apple moment was at the Lindy Focus VIII New Year’s party. The biggest Big Apple I had ever seen broke out when the band (sorry, I can’t remember. Any help?) started playing a spirited rendition of “Flying Home” (or was it “Big Apple Contest?”). Well, there were so many people that they had to form multiple concentric circles of dancers! It was amazing. I never want to miss out on that fun again.
So, I need to get off my butt and learn this routine. Fortunately for me and maybe for you, Patrick and Natasha have released a 14-part series of HD instructional videos teaching the routine.
So, why is it important to learn routines like this? Jazz routines are a great way to pick up jazz movement and vocabulary. Once you have a routine down, you'll find yourself incorporating the moves into your regular dancing. Plus, if you're socially awkward, you don't have to worry about asking anyone to dance.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Bobby strikes gold again with his interview of All Balboa Weekend founder and organizer, Valerie Salstrom.
It’s a nice interview that explains the founding of All Balboa Weekend, a bit about history of the revival of Balboa, and some stories about working with Maxie Dorf.
In the interview, she describes Balboa as “a dreamy 3 minute hug.” Isn’t that lovely?
Hmm, yet another post about Balboa. It seems like I’m inevitably fated to love this dance, even though it scares the heck out of me.
ABW starts tomorrow, folks. I can’t wait to hear all about it (and see all the videos)!
Monday, June 7, 2010
Ok, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. Lindy bombing.
I’ve certainly been guilty of being a being a cheapskate (in my senseless younger days, scouts honor), but I now I try to support the businesses that allow us to dance in their establishments by buying food & drinks and by tipping generously.
I’m just going to repost Mary’s facebook note because it is awesome. Heed her words! (also, check out the original note for the colorful and humorous responses).
So, what do you think?
Lindy Bombing: in which we learn how to stop being a douche and support businesses.
Disclaimer: This is a mild rant, but also meant as a primer on how to conduct yourself outside of your regular dance events. If you're tagged, it's not cause you do this, but cause ONLY YOU... can prevent forest fires. Share it if you want.
So, I've been dancing Lindy Hop a while. Many... er, well, MOST of my friends dance as well. We all know Lindy has amazing history, has historical significance, has affected Many Many dances that are currently popular.... etc, etc, etc.
We all love to dance to live music. The feeling you get when dancing to an amazing jazz band that is watching the dancers and playing with them musically is like nothing else on earth. The "Dancer's High" is an incredible experience. The social aspect of dancing is, I feel, something that helps shape your personality and leads to friendships and lasting relationships.
Sometimes a group of dancers will get together and go out to a Non dance establishment to hear great live music and dance. This is known as a "Lindy Bomb". Sometimes it's in a bar, sometimes a restaurant, sometimes in the middle of a mall!
This, my friends, is where it can get tricky.
You see, most dancers are used to going to their weekly dances, paying the entrance, and dancing to our little heart’s content. Lots of dances have free water, some even have snacks. The events are run by dancers, for dancers. We know what to expect, what is socially acceptable, how to behave in that situation. Dancers tend to have a sense of entitlement.
I love you, dancers, I really do, but we are notoriously cheap. We’re used to paying 4 bucks, $7, maybe 10 bucks to get into a weekly dance ( that is usually run by a non profit organization) and that’s it.
A lindy bomb is a different animal. When you go to hear a live band, you’re usually hearing them at a bar. A bar is..... drumroll... A BUSINESS. They have operating costs WAY higher than a weekly dance. They really can’t afford to lose money when they bring a band in. They pay to bring the band in to attract more clients, who in turn spend more money.
Here’s the thing.
When you go to a bar to dance you can affect it in two ways. Positively, or negatively.
Here’s some telltale signs of things that can affect it negatively that you might not even realize you’re doing.
- You come to the bar and order water after water, but never actually spend money on a drink. SODA IS NOT A DRINK. If you DO order water, tip what would be a normal tip amount for a real drink. ($2-3 or so)
- You don’t tip the band or show your appreciation. They are professionals, and honestly, everyone is there to see them NOT you. They’re the reason YOU are there. If there is a jar up there, TIP THEM. If they finish a song, APPLAUD.
- No one else can get on the floor because you’re dancing “too large”, or worse, you start to run into actual paying customers. In the same vein, don’t try to be flashy or throw aerials. Bars don't have normal dancefloors, this is a litigious society, and you're in a room full of drunk people. Be generous, and share the limited dance space by dancing a little bit smaller.
- Complaining! If you're complaining about the floor/footing, or the room temperature, or the dancefloor space..... SUCK.IT.UP. This is a BAR, not one of the local dance events. Bars don't usually have dancers in mind. They have a profit in mind. The average bargoer is not dancing at 150+ BPM, nor are they dancing song after song. What's hot for you, is comfy for the people who keep the bar in business.
- You and your friends take up a bunch of tables on a busy night but spend most of the time dancing, leaving empty tables that could have been filled with paying customers. Try to consolidate as much as you can. Order stuff!!!!! Food, drinks, a bottle of wine or two, something!! Rule of thumb: if you can't afford to be there, maybe re-think going.
You will get people that come up to you and tell you how fabulous your dancing is, where did you learn, Ohmylordyouresoamazingholycowblablabla etc, etc.. But the bottom line is, if you’re doing any of the above, You ( yes, you!) are giving dancers a bad name.
That behavior is a really great way to make bar owners hate dancers. You’ve come in, used their space and resources, taken attention AWAY from the band, and not given anything back in return. It’s actually one of the reasons the Swing clubs that were so popular in the early 90’s died... because you can’t run a bar when all you sell is water.
What I’m saying here, is that if you’re going to go hear a band at a bar, plan on spending money, MORE money than you’d spend going to a dance, and work around the establishment. Don’t expect them to work around you. Plan to tip (and APPLAUD) the band. Plan to order drinks. You don’t have to get sh*tfaced drunk, but order bottled water instead of tap. Plan to GET OFF THE DANCE FLOOR if it seems like civilians want to get up and shake their thang.
Plan to make the management love you. When you lindy bomb, it’s not just about you. It’s about how everyone in that club is going to perceive you. For the time you’re in the bar, YOU represent the dance. Give the dance, and the establishment, the respect it deserves.
It seems there’s been an increasing awareness of the connection between dressing and dancing, at least in the lindy hop community. (Balboa dancers are nearly ALWAYS well turned out). I think dancers have always seen the connection, but it’s gotten to such a high level.
The easiest way to see this increasing awareness is to look at dancers. Vintage dance troupe, The Killer Dillers, are always looking dapper. By the way, have you seen the Killer Diller fellas do their “Tribute to the Legendary Berry Brothers” routine? It’s acrobatic, wild and to top it all is performed in tails. They’re not only some of the most talented, in demand group of instructors in the world; they’ve also got great style. (and uh, have you SEEN Sharon, Jo and Evita? Um, yeah).
Photos are from the Killer Dillers Flickr photostream
I’ve had the pleasure of taking different workshops taught by all the members of The Killer Dillers. Sharon and Evita (with Nathan) at Southern Belle Swing Bash 2009. Sharon, Juan, Kevin and Jo all taught at Lindy Focus 8. Awe-inspiring, the lot of them.
It’s not just the rockstars, either. I see great style from dancers at every event I attend (and I try my hand at snazzy dressing whenever I get the chance).
So, what’s the connection between dancing and dressing? Besides the letter “D?”
Swing dance is very visual, both when performed as entertainment and when danced socially. Dancers performing or in competitions dress up to draw attention to themselves and to highlight their dancing. Social dancers dress up for similar reasons.
As fans of a dance that was born in the past, it’s only natural that we might be attracted to other aesthetic and artistic forms born in the same era. We usually go crazy for bands that can bring back the sounds of the time. It’s just as fascinating and just as immersive to wear the styles of that time.
This is not to say that you have to wear vintage clothing. The goal, whether wearing vintage or something more modern, is to wear clothing that is flattering: clothes that fit, complement your color and fit your style.
Besides, dance is a celebration; a party. Shouldn’t you dress up for a party?
More importantly (and this is something that goes beyond dance), clothing is a way we represent ourselves to others. What you wear sends a message to those around you. It is not the only message you send (nor should it be), but it is one (and often the first) that many notice. You are solely responsible for that message, so it is worth your attention.
So, get out there and put a little effort into your look. It will pay off.
If you’re going to be dancing, you might as well look good doing it.
For swing and vintage inspirations, look to Swing Fashionista, founded by the beautiful and stylish Sharon Davis. There’s also (ok, shameless plug time) Lindy Shopper, which attempts to answer the perennial question “What should I wear to the dance tonight?” scouring the internet for beautiful clothes and fantastic deals.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
That’s Jo. She’s trying to reach something on the other side of the couch, apparently. Photo is from the Killer Dillers Flickr photostream.
If you’d like a realistic look into the life of a lindy hop rockstar, her blog is the place to go. You don’t just get posts about travel to exotic locales for workshops and festivals, but insights into her personal interests and work ethic. It’s also interesting to get her impressions of the events she works on. I especially enjoy reading the “fun facts” she posts after events reviews.
She puts a lot of work into her blog and website. It shows.
I’ll tell you what, this gal works hard! (Take a look at her schedule for the past two weeks). You get to see a little bit of what is like to travel the world to instruct and also be a part of a world-class troupe of dancers. i.e. The Killer Dillers.
She’s also funny. In that same post about her travels, she recommends taking advantage of full dress rehearsals because “you’d want to know if your who-ha was going to be showing before you got on stage.” Good advice!
I’m trying to figure out what it is I had against her. I think it's because a friend of mine (cough*CS*cough) prejudiced me against her.
Did I mistake her confidence for smugness? She is a bit of a ham, but I think that’s an intentional part she’s playing as a performer. You can watch this video and judge for yourself.
She and Peter Strom are both hams, which I think made this pairing especially entertaining. They play off each other so well, which is only possible through great connection.
Either way, it’s easy to see that she’s a fantastic dancer. She’s also a great instructor. I took several of her and Kevin’s workshops at Lindy Focus last year (including a really solid one on spins/turns) and walked (or should I say danced) away very impressed. The classes were informative, entertaining and well paced for the level. I have an acquaintance that swears by their private lessons.
Jo also contributes to Swing Fashionista, a swing/vintage fashion lookbook.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
I love it when my interests in dapper dressing and lindy hop coincide.
I read this post from the Fine and Dandy Blog and found a link to Wit’s End in NYC. Wit’s End is "a monthly celebration of the Jazz Age" at Flute Bar, a former speakeasy. It’s a cocktail bar and live music/dance venue with a strict dress code (ruffians in casual attire will be denied admission). As the name and theme suggest, they encourage 20s, 30s and 40s era attire. How refreshing! Now, you might think that such a strict dress code would feel... well, restrictive, but I think that these constraints foster creativity and inspiration.
I’ll definitely have to check out this venue someday, as if I needed another excuse to visit New York again. Let’s not forget the Governor’s Island Jazz Age Dance Party every summer. There are some beautiful photos linked here. (Scroll midway down the page or search for instances of “Governor’s” ). Here’s one:
I’m pretty sure that’s Michael Arenella, leader of the band. Photo by The Sartorialist
I fell in love with New York City after spending a week dancing and exploring the city during the Frankie Manning’s 95th Birthday Celebration. There was a formal night; I wore a tuxedo and tied my own bow tie for the first time, beginning my moderately unhealthy obsession with vintage bow ties. (Thanks a lot, Victor)!
At Frankie 95 with Rita and Andy. They’ve both got great style (and taste in food).
Monday, May 24, 2010
You did know that there are other versions besides the Frankie Manning version, right? (If not, that’s ok, really).
I really want to learn a slip slop version of the Shim Sham. The Ninjammerz did a really neat one, but I’ll have to find it.
Posts like this always remind me that our little swing world is actually quite big. I’m referring to the different versions AND that there’s a lindy hop blog from the scene in London. I’ve only danced in the U.S. (primarily on the East coast) and I would love to dance all over the world. I studied abroad for a semester when I was in college, but alas, I hadn’t discovered dancing yet. Well, not swing dancing at least. (I did do a bit of booty shaking at Notting Hill Arts Club and -I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it - Walkabout).
For now, I’ll just dream about attending Herräng for a full month.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
“What’s Balboa?” you say. Ok, according to Bobby:
“we classify Bal-Swing as a swing dance that mainly uses the ‘out and in’ [and] rotational torque... to accomplish its moves and figures” (edited to prevent confusion. The original reference is funny.)
It’s a social (partnered) swing dance danced chest-to-chest. Enough of my inadequate explanations! Watch these clips.
I’m extremely intimidated by Balboa. Really, I am. As “small” as the dance looks to my eyes (maybe “concentrated” would be a better word), there’s so much room for flashiness and creativity; creativity that’s only possible through solid, subtle connection. It’s overwhelming!
I know the basic and I have enough of a vocabulary to get by, but I’m far from fluent enough to get creative and really have fun with the dance. Basically, I know enough to be dangerous. The prospect of attending a Balboa focused event like All Balboa Weekend or the Eastern Balboa Championships scares the pants off of me.
When I get asked to Bal, I usually give this excuse: “Yeah, I can Bal, but I warn you that I’ve only taken a couple basic classes.” *weak, awkward smile* This is clearly a defense mechanism designed to protect my fragile ego from judgment.
I’m finally in a place where I’m slightly comfortable with my Lindy. Dancing Lindy is a joy and I often feel free enough to play around and express myself. It doesn’t always look good, but it usually feels good. My Bal, though, is a couple years behind.
I have several friends who love the dance *cough Annabel&John cough* and I’m always slack-jawed after watching great dancers & videos, so I really do want to learn. It looks like so much fun and I know that it will make me a better dancer overall. Well, I don’t just want to learn; I want to be good!
I’m intimidated by the journey it will take to get there. Well, that’s not quite accurate.
OK, truth time: I’m intimidated about being a beginner again. Being a beginner/intermediate dancer is a lot like being an awkward pre-teen/teenager. You look awkward, you feel awkward, and it takes a few years (and private therapy) to get past it. Worse, sometimes you think you’re past it, but that’s when you’re just too immature to notice.
I’m just glad I’ve gone through the process before. (Ha! almost caught me. I’m still in the midst of it). I know that time and dedication pay off; I just have to take baby steps and celebrate the little accomplishments.
Monday, May 17, 2010
From the “about this blog” section:
“You’re never fully dressed for a swing dance without a smile and a fantastic outfit. Putting together such an ensemble may require some effort, much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. I am already shopping on the internet for items to wear to swing dances and to gigs with the Atomic Rhythm All-Stars, so I don’t mind doing the legwork and sharing it with you. No, really – it’s my pleasure.
It should be noted that both shopping and Lindy Hop are addictive.”
I’ve been following Lindy Shopper since it started in April and I’ve been impressed with her recommendations & ability to find deals. She’s got great vintage style, considerable ebay/shopping/thrifting skills, and is not afraid to share her knowledge. (I know, I’ve observed those skills firsthand. She’s already taught me a lot). I’m really excited to be a regular contributor to this blog, so I hope you check it out.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
photo taken from evitaarce.blogspot.com
Found this lovely little post in my google reader this morning. http://evitaarce.blogspot.com/2010/05/free-agent.html
It's comforting to know that even a dancer at the upper echelons of dance has these same thoughts and discussions. I often think, "I wish I danced like 'so-and-so'" too, but I'm (very, very) slowly learning to assimilate (read: steal) and imitate concepts and moves from the dancers that inspire me. The idea is that I'll take real ownership of these movements by expressing them the way my body best expresses them. In the end, they won't be “so”-and-so’s” moves or style, but "mine."
Evita was one of the instructors at the Southern Belle Swing Bash 2009 in Atlanta, so I had the chance to observe her in person. (Southern Belle is the longest running follow-focused workshop. It’s run by the organizers of Lindy Focus, Michael and Jaya. I’ve attended twice as a lead (leads are free!) and I got just as much out of them as “regular” workshops. It’s a wonderful workshop; I highly recommend it. One of my favorite pastimes is to steal swingout variations from follows and these events are the perfect opportunity.) Evita taught a class about being an inspiring dancer. There were some silly exercises, like acting out the different ways to ask someone to dance, but in the end they all demonstrated the difference that a positive attitude brings to the dance.
If there's anything I want to "steal" from Evita, it's her vitality and energy. (see above) Dancing with her (or just watching her dance) never fails to bring a smile to my face. She's completely approachable and very friendly; she has a way of finding inspiration from every other dancer she encounters. She's clearly in love with dance and it shows.
Why dandy? I never want to be underdressed (again) and honestly, I’ve discovered that it’s a lot of fun to “dress up” for dances. It’s one small part of the social dancing experience, but I’ve found it to be another way to express myself on the dance floor. If I’m going to be dancing, I might as well (try to) look good doing it.