Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Arthur Murray: How to Shag

As a follow up to yesterday's Arthur Murray post, here's a clip of the man himself teaching and demonstrating shag. Boy, do those kiddos learn fast or what?

If you want to see more fun how-to instruction (or stripey socks!), check out - on the Photos page, Morgan has Arthur Murray's Shag and Big Apple instructions from the 1938 edition. Totally bummed that this info was removed by 1942!

(And since I mentioned Morgan, did you all see his AWESOME Super Mario dance routine that went viral this summer? He danced with one of my besties, Emily, and I lost my voice for a week from cheering for them!)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Arthur Murray: How to Become a Good Dancer

Here are some scans from Arthur Murray's book "How to Become a Good Dancer". Originally published in 1938, Arthur Murray's book illustrates the popular ballroom dance steps using the footprint diagrams he developed for his mail order dance instruction booklets in the 20's.

My edition is from 1942, and the 200+ page book covers general dance technique, Fox Trot, Waltz, Tango, Rumba, La Conga, Samba, and finally, on four piddly little pages at the end, has the Jitterbug and Lindy Hop.

Interestingly, the steps as illustrated are not what you'd learn today in a jitterbug/swing dance class. There are some similarities, but the names of the dances/moves and even where to place beat 1 are different! This is a good reminder that we often view the past through our own experiences, or oversimplify it by thinking that one person's experiences represents everyone. But this way of thinking about "how things used to be" isn't usually accurate. If you danced at the Savoy Ballroom you would have one idea of Lindy Hop, but if you took a class from Arthur Murray you'd have a completely different understanding of the dance - both things you could have done in New York in 1938. Is one right and the other one wrong?

All swing dances used to be called the Jitterbug - 
today we distinguish and separate the various forms much more. 
Here, Shag is called a variation on the Jitterbug.

The photograph referenced in the above instructions.

This version of the Lindy Hop starts on the triple step (our modern beat 3) and 
removes the rotation of the partners. 

This version replaces the triple steps with a tap-step, but it's still an 8-count basic.

"Sugars" are what we call swivels today.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pinterest, and a Blog Award!

It's time to deal with a couple housekeeping items around here!

First of all, if you click through to my blog here you may have noticed a new little red button on my sidebar - Follow Me on Pinterest. Have you heard about Pinterest yet? It's like a virtual bulletin board where you can "pin" images you find on the internet, and categorize them however you want. It's fabulous for collecting and sharing inspiration! You can selectively follow people too - so if you want, you can easily follow my Balboa board but not my Edwardian fashion board, for example. And yes, you can pin YouTube videos!

Secondly, Mr. Tiny over at wacky tacky awarded me the Irresistably Sweet Blog Award! I'm honored to receive the award from someone so talented - not only does he have one of the funniest blogs around, but he also has some amazing creations over at his SouthSideMarket. He also listed me first in his awards, which I like to think means he likes me best. (a girl can dream, right?)

I guess now I'm supposed to tell you 7 little-known facts about myself. Though I feel as if we're all intimate friends already, I guess I can dig way back and find something new to share.

1) I first started playing dress up in Jr. High, going to Renaissance Faires. By high school I was much cooler and found swing dancing. Ha.

2) I marched in the Pasadena New Year's Day Rose Parade 5 times, playing trumpet in a marching band. See above RE: how cool I am.

3) My favorite day of the year is October 1st - to me it represents the start of Harvest and Holiday time. This year we'll be in wine country for a wedding on October 1st, which should be lovely.

4) I love Jack Benny, but I ADORE Gracie Allen.

5) When we go out all dressed up, I play a Look-Alike game: Do I get more "You look like Judy Garland!" comments or does Chris get more "Fred Astaires".  I *always* lose.

6) I hate pepper on eggs. Blech.

7) Doing laundry is my favorite household chore. It's like shopping without the expense, and you know that everything already fits.

And now the best part - I get to give this award to other bloggers! Here are just a few of my favorites - go check them out!

By Gum, By Golly! - Tasha is one of the cutest gals around! Check out her wedding this summer and the amazing knit-along she recently led. This girl has serious vintage crafting skills.
Fashionable Forties - Inspired by a 40's wardrobe planning book, Isis shows us how to build a vintage wardrobe.
Lindy Shopper - Laura trolls the internet looking for vintage and retro clothes for swing dancers. Props to her for helping to bring fashion back to the dance floor.
Blitz Diary - Charlotte, the mastermind at Tuppence Ha'penny Vintage, posts the daily daily diary entry from a 19-year-old girl living in London during the Blitz. I'm fascinated by homefront life during the war!
Jazz It Up With Jo - If you only read one Lindy Hop blog, Jo's is the one to pick. She travels the world teaching and performing, and shares her thoughts on local dance scenes and her own dancing.
This Old Life - Nabby does amazing knitwear and hat revamps. Truly inspiring!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Queen Mary Art Deco Festival 2011

Has it really been 3 weeks since my last post? As much as I enjoyed my little blogging break, I'm glad to be back! As I mentioned in my last post, this past weekend we attended the 7th Annual Queen Mary Art Deco Festival, hosted by the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles. In addition to being an incredible time, the Festival is a fundraiser for restoration projects on the Queen Mary. It's amazing that we have this treasure here available to the public, and the recent work done on the ship has been great - I think she looks better and better every time I go! 
With Lauren of Wearing History

The Festival runs from Friday through Sunday, and there are package options for the whole weekend or a la cart - very neat if you can only go on one day or want to try out the experience without making a big commitment. We attended the whole weekend, but as we live locally we drove back and forth from home. Someday we'll have to get a catsitter and stay on the ship. :)

Friday Night Reception at the Veranda Grill, with Chris and Sharlene, a member of the ASDLA board.
Music provided by Jim Ziegler and the Swingsations.

One of the highlights of the weekend was getting to meet Jill from Tea with the Vintage Baroness. Her Schiaparelli-inspired bow dress was one of my favorites from the whole weekend - it sparkled like crazy with rhinestones on black velvet. My dress is my first actual vintage evening gown ever, only just acquired this summer. It's wool crepe, so it's sturdy enough for dancing - and that long skirt made me feel like Ginger Rogers!

After the cocktail reception was the Pajama Party - we didn't have pj's, but we went for tea and cookies anyway. Based on a Horse Racing game played on the Queen Mary when she sailed, we played a (fundraiser) betting game where 6 wooden horses race to the finish, fueled by the roll of a die. I got to jockey horse #3 in the first race. I didn't win, but it was a photo finish!

(This is my personal favorite photo from the weekend! :)
On Saturday we went back to the ship during the day and after doing some damage at the Marketplace Bazaar, we met up with friends and walked around the boat. There were also tours and art deco lectures during the day, open to the public.

With Lauren and Jill

You've seen this outfit before, but I made a 30's fedora-style hat to go with it for this event (pattern available from Wearing History). I'm not much of a hat-wearer so I was nervous about it, but when a couple of dealers in the marketplace asked me where I found the matching ensemble, I decided it must have turned out okay!

Art Deco Ball - Saturday Night

We ran home, and after slapping on some fresh lipstick and fluffing my hair, we headed back in the evening for the Ball. It was a formal dinner in the Grand Salon, with music by Dean Mora and His Modern Rhythmists. We stayed there until our toes gave out, but if you wanted more dancing you could head up to the Observation Bar for Jonathan Stout and His Campus Five.

With Sharlene and Dean Mora, the bandleader of Mora's Modern Rhythmists

With Lauren and Jill - aren't they stunning? Everyone looked exquisite!

On Sunday we took it easy, and just relaxed and only attended the Tea Dance. I had big plans to make a 30's chiffon gown, but obviously that didn't happen. ;) So I pulled out a favorite Loco Lindo dress, and realized that this white nautical jacket went with it - perfect for a day on a boat! Chris loaned me a pocket square, and we were off! There were loads of amazing chiffon gowns at the tea dance, so I got my fix anyway.

Chris wore a striking 3-piece beltback suit, I thought he looked fantastic! It had a couple little moth bites, so he did some darning and repair work on it himself. Made me proud. :)

Obligatory dance shots. Can't resist. :)


Big thanks to the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles and the Queen Mary for hosting this event, 
and to Lauren and Sharlene for sharing their photos with me.
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