I’ve spent a bunch of time looking at winter coats these past few weeks because I’m headed to Russia after I go to Lindy Focus for New Years. While I was browsing, I wonderfully stumbled upon these fabulous images!
What a delightful afternoon I had prancing around the Historic Dunsmuir Helman Estate at the The 27th Annual Gatsby Summer Afternoon! There was hardly enough time to take everything in. All the guests were dressed to the nines in their best 1920-1940s daywear and they even brought red wagons filled with picnic baskets, lemonade, all the fixing for Mint Juleps, pie, scones, and scotch. And to make sure they were comfortable while dining, many people brought their picnic blankets and chairs. One group even brought a rug, six wicker chairs, a tea set, punch bowl, a well stocked bar, and an enormous umbrella. Needless to say, they were the picnic champs of the afternoon.
Pictures from my phone, Kevin St. Laurent, Walter Nelson, and Kim Yasuda
I had not attended this party before so I prepared for the live music to be mediocre, but instead it was marvelous! The Don Neely’s Royal Society Jazz Orchestra was killin’ it all afternoon, and so much so that within moments of arriving, Kevin and I hit the dance floor to bal. Yup, that’s right, we did Balboa and we were cutting sick (for us)! Hehe, ok, perhaps not the ideal choice of words when describing one’s (1) balboa dance at (2) a vintage garden party, but eh….it’s my post. DISCLAIMER: Kevin and I do not claim to be balboa dancers. We can do it to some degree, but we are no means as skilled as someone like Mickey and Kelly, nor do we claim to be.
So anyways…had a sweet dance with Kevin and then my hair managed to undo itself. I redid my hair, introduced myself to a number of people, and saw some familiar faces from the past like Michael (of Michael and Persephone), Jane Barnes, Jason Hesse, Chris Lee, and Rusty Frank. I ate, I drank, I chased Kevin around with a camera and took various photos of him, and I danced twice more. The shim sham came on and I think every lindy hopper there hit the floor. Shortly after that, there was a partnered Charleston Contest which Kevin and I won. We are now the 2011, Art Deco Society, Great Gatsby Picnic, Partnered Charleston Champions! What a mouthful. *smile To be perfectly honest, our Balboa dance at the beginning of the afternoon was MUCH more spectacular than what we did on the competition floor, but regardless, we graciously accepted first…..and then I had to redo my hair again.
There was more drinking and mingling….and then the party was done. As the sun sat lower in the sky, people packed up their picnic baskets, folded up their blankets, loaded up their wagons, and the vintage cars rumbled away. The afternoon was reminiscent of a dream. It all happened so quickly and then it was done. As I type about it now, sitting in front of my trusty Mac in my modern pajamas, it doesn’t quite feel real. Thank goodness for photos….and a first place ribbon.
I ran into Glenn a few months ago while hanging out in Seattle and he’s a super interesting guy. He knows his music backwards, forwards, and upside down and he speaks passionately and eloquently about it.
When I first started dancing, I could dance long enough or hard enough. I would dance to anything just so I could keep moving and practice this new “thing” I found and needed. It was like I was starving constantly and it didn’t matter what nourished me. Now years later, I have been well feed and have developed a better palate for music. I’ve become more of a music snob and will no longer dance lindy hop to just anything. In fact, I really only want to lindy hop to swing music, not rock & roll, boogie woogie, soul, r&b, bluegrass, hip hop, etc. I will dance other forms of movement to them, but I won’t lindy hop to them.
When I wanted to progress past being an intermediate level dancer, I realized that the next step in dancing was to understand the music, and through this process I started to discover why it was that the really good dancers didn’t dance to certain songs or go out to hear certain bands. There’s a certain feeling in swing music that doesn’t exist in bop or jump blues or 50’s Basie or groovy jazz. It’s really hard to describe in a sentence, but when you discover it, you’ve got it forever and it’s one of the most exciting revelations that life has to offer (IMHO anyway).
Whenever I dance to or listen to a live band, I judge it with a critical ear – I pick apart what I’m hearing and judge what each player’s style is doing to add to or take away from the swing of the band. Over the next several days, I’m going to write about some of the things that I listen for in dance music. If you’re just learning to dance or are looking to step up to the next level, I hope this will help you in your quest as you search for the holy grail of “swing;” if you’re reading this and you’ve already discovered swing, I hope this will help you understand more about what you’re hearing so that when you do or don’t like a band, you’ll have a better idea of why.
#1 Rhythm of the Train
It’s really hard to find good rhythm players and I’ve been blessed to play with guys who really get the style. The goal of the rhythm section should be to form a really tight unit that, in a way, emulates the rhythm of a train. Here are a couple great examples. The first is Duke Ellington’s Orchestra from 1930 playing Old Man Blues:
Now THAT sounds like a train! Here’s a another example, this time from Count Basie’s Orchestra in 1938. Listen to how the Rhythm Section creates the drive and energy of a locomotive, even though they are less expressly trying to copy the exact sound of a train in this one.
Now let’s listen to Count Basie from 1959 to hear how the music changed away from being dance music.
The drums in this tune focus on the back beats like one TWO three FOUR, instead of that nice even chug-chug-chug-chug from the 1930’s, and the extended drum solo at the end just doesn’t swing at all, and there are many other places where the whole band syncopates together, breaking the steady 4 rhythm. The focuses of this tune are the crazy ensemble riffs and Lockjaw Davis’s solo. The ensemble riffs now float overtop of the rhythm instead of being a PART of the rhythm like in the last Basie tune.
Now let’s try some more Ellington and we’ll hear that even the infamous “Take the A-Train” didn’t sound much like a train anymore by the 1960’s.
You can hear that the 1930’s music has that chugga chugga sound like a train, while the later music is more about the horns. This is, in my opinion, due to the fact that American culture changed from a railroad driven culture in the 1930’s to an automobile driven culture after WW2.
Let’s listen to a couple modern examples.
First, something that doesn’t swing!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling it bad music – I think Diana Krall and her musicians are fantastic players. I am however calling it indisputably NOT swing music.
Let’s close out with something that DOES swing. Here’s my buddy Jonathan Stout’s big band from LA. Note how Jon on guitar and Josh on drums create that locomotive rhythm. (check out Jonathan’s blog here: HERE)
I hope this gets you started thinking about what makes music swing!!
Maggy Rouff purple and gold silk gown worn with a large purple velvet scarf.
Chanel gold lamé evening gown. The bodice is embroidered with gold metallic threads.
Callot Soeurs silk faille gown in dove gray with pink pleated frills at the back.
Jacques Heim black silk satin mermaid hem gown worn with a white fox fur stole.
Marcel Rochas black silk stripe gown with ruffles down the sides. The gown is adorned with a bird made of black feathers that has a diamante beak.
I found these dresses on Couture Allure Vintage Fashion, which is “a blog for lovers of vintage clothing and fashion, where you can learn about vintage styles, designers, and design concepts through photos from the past. [It] also feature vintage garments available for sale [on her] website.” You should subscribe to this site like I do and enjoy all of her fabulous posts! Speaking of which, here are some of her popular posts: The Issue of Dry Cleaning
I want short hair. I want long hair. I want short hair. I want long hair. It seems easier to do things with short hair, but you’re limited by your length. It’s easy to work with long hair because you have more options, but then you have to deal with the extra length. Gahhh!!! I need more wigs, or weaves and personal assistants.
Hahha….I laugh at myself after reading what I’ve just written. I’ll keep it up there anyways.
Bob Revisited. Luckily I found a lovely lady with long hair who bobbed herself out! I love it! Back to wanting longer hair!
Here was my attempt at a bob.
Wish I had better shots of my hair from this, but you can kinda see it. I think had I used product, it would have stayed in for the entire show. Oh well, you live and you learn!
So here’s something for the girls with short hair. I’m so jealous…..my hair just doesn’t hold a curl like this; it’s too heavy. As it says below, this look was inspired by the ‘Vintage Hairstyling’ by Lauren Rennells. If you’d like your own copy of the book, click here! My mum gave this book to me for Christmas last year. How sweet!!
I think this would be so lovely with a long dress. I want to say Nikki had her hair something like this for New Years. Perhaps someone will find a photo. Or maybe Claire? Or perhaps with was Sara? Hmm….I’ll start my digging….
Aren’t these fabulous!! I think my friend Nikki Marvin needs them. Who else has small feet in the lindy community?
Customer service is outstanding. If you have any questions, email them and they’ll get back to you in a jiff! I was hoping to buy these, but sigh, they aren’t in my size.
These are a find – 1930s leather faux oxfords in mint condition. They have a elastic gussets on each side to allow the wearer to slip them on. Love the perforated decoration on the vamp and the decorative leather ‘ties’.
Lace-up navy blue deco punched leather vintage 1930’s shoes UK 5.5
Amazing rare vintage late 1930’s leather heeled shoes by Lightfoot, in beautiful quality dark navy blue leather with punched oval shaped cut-outs and waved art deco stitched lines across the toes and sides.
Lace-up shoes with their original shoe laces which have navy blue plastic acorn beads at the ends.
These fantastic and rare but very wearable vintage shoes have almond toes, leather soles and wooden stacked heels at a manageable 2.5″ height.
Stamped inside in gold lettering “Lightfoot styled”. Marked as a size 5.5 D on the soles.
Very hard to find in this condition, fantastic quality and a truly beautiful, elegant design.
£95.00 | SKU:1974
UK 5.5 – EUR 38.5 – US 8
approx 9 3/4″ long heel to toe on the inside
Over all in fanastic wearable condition for their age. No notable flaws. Please note vintage shoes can come up on the small side, so need to be tried on – you may need to go up a size or a half size!
Truly as the name promises, these dresses are timeless and lovely beyond words. Timeless Vixen has amassed an exquisite collection and offers unique pieces to add to your wardrobe. From cocktail-attire and vintage-bridal, to burlesque and boudoir, they range to satisfy any vintage collector.