Saturday, May 29, 2010

Yet Another Reason I'd Love to Live in NYC

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

Shim Sham Variations

Here’s a nice post by the folks at Swing Patrol showcasing other versions of the Shim Sham.

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

I'm Afraid of This Dance! ...Balboa

Here's a great blog on the history of Balboa by the ever-entertaining Bobby White.

“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.

Awesome, yes?

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

Check it out! Now contributing to

This blog is still my forum to discuss dancing and dressing, but my buying recommendations will be located at

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

Personal Identity in Dance

photo taken from

Found this lovely little post in my google reader this morning.

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.

Hello world

I love to swing dance. I love the music, the people, and the opportunity to create and express myself on the dance floor. This blog is a place to muse about dancing, my travels, and anything else that comes to mind.

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.