Thursday, April 21, 2011

We're In The Money - Vintage Lifestyle Playlist

Friends, I'll admit it. I almost forgot that I owed you a musical selection today! Theme weeks are going to be my downfall, I see that now. But my corsets are underway - as for patterns, I'm starting with the Mantua-Maker Regency Stays and the 1901 corset from Hunnisett's Period Costume for Stage and Screen (yes, I know I said 1912 and now I'm doing 1901. Phhbt.) Anyhoo, I'll post pics of the mockups when they're mocked!

I'm afraid that I have a disappointment for you - I wanted to post "Hooray for Hollywood" from Hollywood Hotel, featuring Johnny Scat Davis and the Benny Goodman Orchestra (as a marching band!), among others. But no one has thought this clip important enough to post on YouTube yet, so I'm afraid you'll have to haunt TCM for the movie. Perhaps my mom will help - back in the days of VHS, she haunted TCM for probably 6 months once, to record this movie for me! Ahh, the past was so much harder than life is today. Love that DVR.

Instead, here's another clip from my playlist that's straight from the soundtrack of a 30's musical. Ginger Rogers lights up the screen in the opening number of The Gold Diggers of 1933 (I believe this was her first big movie role?) - cute and sassy right from the start. And how fabulous is that mini fashion show sequence in the middle? I'll admit that I skip this track sometimes while driving, but the visuals improve the vocals considerably, don't you agree?

I think I may have found inspiration for next year's Halloween costume!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You're The Top - Vintage Lifestyle Playlist

Here's a gem - a rare recording of the Great Cole Porter singing his own song, accompanied by himself. There's a true sense of zeitgeist in this tune - not only are the lyrics practically plucked from the newspaper headlines of the 30's, but his voice and tempo and staccato delivery simply can't be from any other era. 

I was thinking about doing a whole encyclopedic entry to explain the lyrics, but then I found this clip on YouTube that does the job far more elegantly than I would have.

"You're The Top" written and performed by Cole Porter (1934)

Wikipedia lists some of the alternate lyrics from over the years.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ain't She Sweet - Vintage Lifestyle Playlist

Jimmie Lunceford is one of my favorite bandleaders - he's the guy responsible for barnburners like "White Heat" and "Lunceford Special". There's a playful quality to his music, and this song is no exception.

"Ain't She Sweet" recorded by Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra (1939)

I wasn't joking when I said I like when the band sings, right? In case you weren't sure, according to the record label you should fox-trot to this song.

And just for fun, here's a couple other versions of this song.

"Ain't She Sweet" recorded by Gene Austin (1927)

"Ain't She Sweet" recorded by The Beatles (1961)

Which version is your favorite?

Great Stays Project of '12

Things have been very scattered around here on the sewing front lately. I've got so many project and ideas swimming around in my head and I've had trouble focusing on anything. 30's blouse? Hats? Regency stays? A shiny shirt for Chris? I'm also thinking about outfits for Camp Hollywood and Costume College. (--My first time attending, because it doesn't conflict with CH for once! Whee!) All these were on the list, and then suddenly I was bit by the Edwardian bug.

More specifically, by this jacket in Downton Abbey:

I've never been a big fan of Edwardian fashion, but I'm starting to get it. I usually like tailored fashions more than fluff, but I've been branching out and finding a lot to like lately in the Edwardian world. And there are Edwardian events nearby (and as huge and crowded and frustrating as Los Angeles is, there are so many great events and fun things to do that I can't imagine ever leaving...) So I'm going to branch out and sew an Edwardian.

I spent a lot of last week surfing around, looking for project inspiration (instead of actually sewing!). If I were more fun and less precise, I would just grab a Simplicity costume pattern and make a dress. But that's not how I work. I try to be accurate and efficient, even in my "relaxing" hobbies. (I know, I bore myself even.) And everyone knows that undies make or break a period outfit.

So I'm going to take on the Great Stays Project of '12. I'm going to sew Regency stays (1812) and an Edwardian corset (1912) simultaneously. Using my hands and feet at the same time? Something like that. But I think I can get these projects done a little faster and quicker if I do them both at once.  This also fits in with the Double Period Project on Your Wardrobe Unlock'd, so if I keep my membership I suppose I'll enter.

Unfortunately, if I work from the inside out, I'll have about 37 garments to sew before I can make that coat. Edwardian undies are seriously complicated. Someone talk me out of this, quick!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Blue Skies - Vintage Lifestyle Playlist

When I'm in the mood for music, the playlist that I reach for most often is my Vintage Lifestyle playlist. These are the songs that, to me, most strongly evoke another era and take me back in time. The tracks tend to be a little scratchy, kind of heavy on the vocals, and are frequently slower than the tempos I like to dance to. But then, most tempos are slower that the ones I like to dance to.

This week I'm going to share a few of my favorite tunes with you - I hope you enjoy them!

"Blue Skies", performed by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra, with Frank Sinatra on vocals

Frank is great and all, but my favorite part is the band singing behind him. It's just enough Novelty. And the horns swing HARD after the vocal chorus, even though it's fairly slow. I'm gonna listen to it again. :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

6 A.M. Swing Party - Rendezvous Ballroom

In honor of last week's post about the Balboa Rendezvous, I thought I'd share a 1938 Look Magazine article with you about some of the incredible dancing that used to take place there! The Rendezvous Ballroom was huge, roughly 1 city block wide and 1 city block long - but I think 5,000 kids in there would still have been crowded! No wonder they could only dance chest to chest. :)

5,000 Young Californians Rise at Dawn for a... 

On June 18 in Balboa, Cal., the amazing swing music fad in the U.S. hit a new high. On that day some 5,000 "cats" and "alligators" rose at dawn to "cut rugs" and "kick out" at 6 o'clock in the morning. The occasion was a "jam session" or "swingaree" staged by radio station KEHE to celebrate the end of the school year.
The night before the party, "ickies" and "jitterbugs" started arriving. Many came in parties composed of members of local swing clubs. Most of them came by car, some by foot. One young man drove 396 miles from Tonopah, Nev. One came on crutches.
From 6 to 8 in the morning, the ballroom of the Balboa Rendezvous shook with their dancing of the Big Apple, the Varsity, the Suzie-Q while the orchestra and a phonograph "gave out" with "licks" and "solid senders."

Those shirts! Those ties! So terrible, and so AWESOME!

Dancing in a hat and gloves...but no stockings. Those wild jitterbugs!

This photo has been one of my personal favorites since I was 16 years old - 
I wanted to be her SO badly.
Still do. :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Balboa Rendezvous 2011

Last weekend Chris and I headed down to San Diego for Balboa Rendezvous - the last time we attended this event was 5 years ago, on our honeymoon (sightseeing during the day and dancing at night? Yes, please!), so it was nice to go back. We squeezed a lot in this weekend - some shopping, sightseeing, and lots of dancing!

For any of you who read my blog for vintage fashion and get all confused when I talk about different dances, here's the 30-second explanation: Lindy Hop was invented in New York in the late 20's/early 30's, and is the most popular swing dance with large movements and death-defying stunts. But as swing music was sweeping the airwaves in the 30's, people all over the country wanted to jitterbug so they invented different dances - Balboa was invented in the crowded ballrooms of Southern California and is characterized by a close body position and fast footwork. The two dances are contemporaries and are often danced to the same music.

Anoinetta and me hamming it up at the Loco Lindo booth
- I've got my J&J ribbon
The main thing that makes this event different from other weekend Balboa events is that everyone caravans up to Newport Beach on Sunday, and the dance is held near the location of the Rendezvous Ballroom on Balboa Island, which was ground zero for Balboa. We're also joined by many of the original Balboa dancers for a panel discussion and dancing. Their numbers are becoming smaller and smaller, and Chris and I treasure every opportunity we get to spend time with them!

We also competed this weekend in the International Balboa Championships and the pro Jack & Jill. (I still find it funny that I'm a "pro" in my hobby! ;)  The dancers in the finals of the IBC were a really good group, and everyone had a distinctive style. We all walked in thinking that anyone could take it, and they would deserve it! Chris and I earned second place in the IBC - Huge congrats to Jacob and Valerie for their first place win!

The video from this weekend is already up - here's a peek of what happened at the finals! I'm in the B&W polka dot dress, and Chris is wearing white pants. I love that the video goes into slo-mo at :45 so that us mere mortals can see Chris's footwork - he blows me away! (I'm allowed to be proud of him, right?)

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