Category Archives: lindy wardrobe

Croquet and Dancing

This past weekend was insanely busy for us, packed full of dancing. Saturday, we went to the annual croquet match between St. Johns College and the Naval Academy. Everyone was all dandied up in their finest vintage inspired threads. There was some croquet there, but to be honest the game seemed secondary to hanging out, dancing, eating, drinking, and general all around merriment. We had an amazing time. Continue reading

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Shoe Wardrobe Tour: For Him

And now, for a tour of Craig’s dancing shoe wardrobe. He has the same casual and dressy dance shoe categories that I do. In addition, he tries to find everyday shoes with leather soles that can double as dancing shoes.

First up, his casual dance shoes. We found these Pumas at a DSW. When we go to look for dance shoes, we keep two questions in mind: 1) Is the sole flat enough to be sueded? and 2) Is there room in the shoe for athletic insoles? The Pumas were a “yes” to both with the added bonus of a sweet black racing stripe down the side. When Craig’s dancing, the white shoes draw your eye to his feet, especially if he’s wearing darker colors. The cobbler attached the chrome leather to the bottom and tinted the leather black on the edges so it blends perfectly.

Here’s another picture of Pumas from the side, so you can get the full racing strip effect. Continue reading

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Shoe Wardrobe Tour: For Her

Yesterday we talked about the major factors to consider when purchasing shoes: comfort, smoothness and grip, and style. Now for the fun part: a tour of our shoe wardrobe. I’ll start off with my dance shoes, and then talk about Craig’s. Initially I thought I could discuss all of our shoes at once but we simply have too many! Come back tomorrow for a tour of his shoes.

These Keds with a chrome leather sole are my go-to shoes. I purchased them for under $20 at Rack Room, swapped the factory insoles for a more supportive option, and then took them to my cobbler, Eugene. He glued chrome leather to the soles and neatly trimmed the edges. I’ve had these for about two years and they’re starting to show it, especially with the hole in the toe.

When it comes to choosing a cobbler, I prefer to take my shoes to a shop where they perform the work on site. I’m suspicious of places that send the work out. Eugene’s shop looks like it’s been there for a couple decades and smells exactly like how you think a cobbler’s shop should smell. He charges about $50 for the service. Pricey, but for two years worth of wear I feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth. It is possible to

buy chrome leather on your own and glue it to the sole. I plan on trying this in the future on some shoes I don’t care as much about and don’t plan to wear regularly.

I love red shoes and accessories. These red mary janes are from Dancestore.com. Again, I put in supportive insoles. I purchased them for my wedding reception three years ago and wore them fairly consistently for a while. They’re super cute but I don’t wear them all the time anymore because the felt on the soles is beginning to separate from the shoe. Now, I only wear them for special events and often pair them with a red flower pin/hair accessory I made. I’ll show you how I did it in a future post. Continue reading

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Put on Your Dancin’ Shoes

One of the most frequently recurring questions we get as teachers and promoters is about shoes. My answer depends on if the person is just starting out in lindy hop or is already committed.

For beginners, I encourage them to wait until they’ve completed the eight week beginner class series before buying shoes specifically for dancing. This is for two reasons. First, shoes can be expensive and I don’t want students to feel like lindy hop is a pricey hobby. Secondly, and more importantly, many of the personal preferences that go into shoe selection won’t be solidified until a dancer has been dancing a while. Until then, I encourage ladies to wear a shoe with minimal tread, like a loafer, and gentlemen to wear a dress shoe with a leather sole or boat shoes.

Word to the wise: Do not do what Craig did when he was starting out, which was dance in bedroom slippers. Yes, he really did this. In his words,”I was young and didn’t know better.” At this point, his 32 year old self would have some strong words for his 24 year old self. Select shoes that support your foot and take care of your body, as we’ve mentioned before.

For everyone bitten by the lindy bug, there’s no simple answer to dance shoes. Most of it is personal preference, but here are some factors we consider when shoe shopping:

  1. Comfort. Will you be comfortable dancing for three hours? Removing the inserts that come in a shoe and replacing them with an athletic or support insole can increase comfort dramatically. Running insoles provide shock absorption but I’ve also purchased Dr. Scholl’s knockoffs at Target that work just fine. Don’t forget that insoles are replaceable. The length of use before replacing varies depending upon who you ask.
  2. Smoothness and grip. Traction depends both on the type of floor you’re dancing on and the soles of your shoes. A high level of grip eliminates slides and makes one footed turns slower. A level of smoothness might feel like your feet are slipping out from under you. Dancers often refer to this feeling as the floor or shoes being “fast.” Usually the fastest shoe is one with an unscuffed hard leather sole. Soft leather, chrome leather, and suede tend to be good materials for shoe soles because those materials provide a medium level of smoothness and grip.
  3. Style. Dressy or casual? Heels or flats? Wingtips or loafers? Style is where things start to get fun.

Tomorrow I’ll take you on a tour of our shoes to discuss the tradeoffs between fashion and function.

Update: You might also be interested in a tour of Susanne’s dancing shoes or a tour of Craig’s dancing shoes.

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When Did You Know You Were Serious About Lindy Hop?

Like a lot of people, I had a pretty visceral reaction to lindy hop. A deep feeling of, “Yes, this is exactly how I want to dance.” After that, lindy hop and everything attendant to it–the people, the music, the attire–has been an ever growing obsession. I don’t have the best memory, so it is hard to recall all the of moments when I fell a little bit deeper in love with the dance. I do have a few that come to mind.

Once, a couple months into my lindy hop experience, I saw a couple dancing balboa. I was such a newbie and had zero frame of reference for what they were doing. I could only put it in my box of “Things that Are Not Lindy Hop.” It took a couple of false starts, but now I love balboa. I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to the leads that stuck with me as I was learning. Without them, I doubt I would have learned the dance because being a tall girl in a beginner group class wasn’t ideal for me. Continue reading

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It’s Not Like a Bacon Dress

In honor of Millinery and Chapeau night tomorrow, our yearly tribute to hats and hair pieces, I’ve decided to share my latest obsession: Pork Pie hats! I’m sorry if this post is a little more rambling than normal, but I’m too excited to formulate a structure for all of the amazing pork pie-ed-ness in my head right now.

Over winter break, I started reading the Norma Miller memoir, Swingin’ at the Savoy. In the preface by jazz historian, Ernie Smith, Smith delves into fashion, mentioning how pork pie hats were in vogue among jazz and blues musicians, and how dancers adopted the style for themselves. Continue reading

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Lindy Wardrobe: Julia at Catherine Russell

Meet Julia. I first met Julia…geez, I don’t even know when. I think it was one of those things where we kept seeing each other out dancing and got to talking. Probably about hair accouterments. She has an enviable collection. Where I have a towel on my towel rack, Julia has a row of headbands. But Julia’s hair clip collection pales in comparison to her fantastic calves. Continue reading

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