Saturday, August 28, 2010

Gibson Girls in Vogue

This is super neat. I found this picture which appeared in Vogue in 1948 (Horst P. Horst, The Gibson Girls). Does it look familiar? It should if you are at all familiar with this Charles Dana Gibson drawing of "The Weaker Sex" from 1903. I love it!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Seaside Tea Dance at the Rotunda

I should have posted this back when I was doing all the Newport stuff, but I misplaced the pictures. Here they are! This was another afternoon event at the Newport Vintage Dance Week, and it was quite lovely. The Rotunda ballroom had beautiful views of the sea, we danced, and then we rode on the carousel and danced some more!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The First Cloud by Sir William Quiller-Orchardson

A pretty painting, with a pretty trained bustle. The year is 1887, so this makes sense. Bustles are so not my thing, but I still kind of like this one - the train probably saves it for me. I think I like the name of the painter even better than the dress in the painting (Quiller-Orchardson? Somehow that is so neat!).

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thomas Dolby Blinded Me with Science

I recently posted about Rockula, a fantastically silly movie from the 80s about a vampire who becomes a rock star. But did you figure out the really cool thing I didn't point out? Stanley, the ex-boyfriend of the most recently incarnated Mona, the owner of a discount coffin shop (Come to Stanley's, Stan's the man! Come to Stanley's Death Park!), and the "egotistical, psuedo-intellectual, money grubbing slut"... yes, that Stanley. That Stanley was played by none other than Thomas Dolby. Do you recognize him?
Isn't that fantastic? What's that you say? Who's Thomas Dolby? You don't know him? Of course you do know him! Or are you truly unfamiliar with "She Blinded Me with Science!" Anyway, run over to youtube and watch the lovely remasterd music video for it, because embedding has been disabled for that video. Boo. But enjoy some pictures!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Are You Ready to Rockula?

I love ridiculous things. I love vampires. I have a particular soft spot for ridiculous things involving vampires. Brace yourself for this one... I am about to summarize the plot of Rockula.

About 200 years ago, Ralph (the vampire) was in love with a girl named Mona. Then her jealous rhinestone-peg-legged pirate ex-boyfriend beat her to death with a ham-bone. Since then, she has been reincarnated every 22 years. Every 22 years, Ralph meets her just in time to fall in love and see her killed by a pirate wielding a ham-bone.

I challenge you to come up with a more fantastically ridiculous premise than that.
Other highlights include Ralph's scary vintage vampire mother, Ralph's semi-autonomous playboy reflection, and Stanley the sleazy wholesale coffin salesman and music producer. And did I mention that Ralph becomes a rock star in the process of wooing the most recent Mona incarnation? Yes, that is why the title is "Rockula." Better than the horrific example of comic rap called "Rapula." A small excerpt, for you:

"Gina, I mean Mina came too my crib."
"Gee, Mr. Rapula, you're awfully glib."
"She made me a dish called huevos dracula with garlic and eggs and a gold-plated spatula. You can read the commentary by William Saffire."
"Are you the DJ?"
"No, I am the vampire."
Of course, the dialogue is even more ridiculous than the lyrics. A couple of my favorite bits:

"Just forget you ever saw me, cause the next thing you know, we're gonna go out on a date, we're gonna fall in love, and then some crazy pirate's gonna peg you with a hambone!"

"You're such a dork, Stanley."
"Take that back."
"OK. You're an egotistical, psuedo-intellectual, money-grubbing slut."
"... I'll buy that."

So, I suggest you go watch it. Now.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Morgan and Destiny's Eleventeenth Date: The Zeppelin Zoo

I once posted about Morgan M. Morganson's date with Destiny. Since then, they have made a sequel. Check it out for some bizarrely narrated but entirely charming and vaguely Steampunky loveliness. Good for Joseph Gordon-Levitt - I'm glad to see him doing well with Inception, but I'm glad he also has time for adorable projects like this.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

CVD on the Vintage Girl Studios Blog

I've already show pictures of the Glenn Manor ragtime ball at the Newport Vintage Dance Week, but here is a picture taken of me by the talented Krzystyna Harber of Vintage Girl Studios. She is a much better photographer than I am, obviously, and I think her pictures turned out to be very lovely. It was exciting to be photographed by her, and I hope that we'll get her out to more CVD events in the future! Check out her blog (she wrote about taking pictures of the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers), website, and even facebook. There are a few more pictures from this session on CVD's facebook page as well.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Return to Klockwerq

Last night was another Steampunk event, Klockwerq, at its new venue (TT the Bears). It was a perfectly nice event, which gave me much reason to ponder the philosophical implications of dancing to modern music. Because that may not interest most people, I will separate out those ponderings - read them below. As for the important things in life, I threw together another random Steampunky ensemble. I started with some ruffly and bustled underwear, added a last minute overskirt, and topped it off with either a vest or a jacket. So last time I did the exposed corset, and this time I did the vest. I'm going for all the steampunk cliches! Apologies for not having brighter/clearer/less-silly-faced pictures, but it is what it is and you can see the outfit.

Ok, and now for some theory. Modern music is not, for the most part, intended for the social dances I know and teach. Mostly, I think it looks funny to do historical dances to modern music, and it strikes me as a matter of "just because you can doesn't mean you should." This is even more true if you can't (it takes a lot of experience and musical awareness to judge when something is "close enough" to a waltz or polka or one-step that you can get away with doing that dance - most of the time it is not at all close enough, and kind of excruciating to watch). Unless you're terribly experienced, I would advise sticking to the waltz (because it is much easier to recognize when a waltz is a waltz. Even if it is painfully slow or irregular at least you will look like you have a clue), and the Charleston (because who cares? The song is very unlikely to have that particular Charleston sound, but it is a particularly flexible dance in my opinion). Better yet, stick to modern club style dancing in a modern club style setting (of course, that makes me a bit of a hypocrite).

Another issue is that teaching on the dance floor is very rude. Frankly, if you are not a good enough leader to lead your partner into a step they do not know, you should not do it. Better to stick with what makes your partner comfortable than to turn a social dance occasion into a lesson. I did a couple of really entertaining dances with a friend at this event, but only because we were being silly and she knew all the dances already. It is more difficult to learn dances to inappropriate music - where an experienced dancer will fake things to make it work, a learning dancer won't know what is a fake and what is correct, so they will develop bad habits. They are also more likely to get flustered, but that is why I really feel that it is bad form to teach entire dance forms at any sort of event that isn't a class. Leading someone into a variation is one thing, briefly showing them or explaining the variation is less good but still acceptable if it is brief and unobtrusive, but trying to get someone to polka when they've never seen the dance before is really pushing it. Classes are for teaching, events are for being sociable, and if you try to teach at people in a social setting they are allowed to resent you. Fair warning.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pirates at Pioneer Village

This afternoon I went to Pioneer Village to visit some pirates! There are not always pirates in this absolutely lovely 1930s recreation village, but this weekend was a special pirate weekend. Don't worry - I think that it was so good that there will be more pirates in the future of the village! I certainly hope so - I now aspire to hang out with pirates more often. Anyway, check out some cool pirate pictures.Look! Bee stockings! The height of piratey fashion, you know.
I believe this is Mr. Peaches and Mr. Worms, though we were never formally introduced. I hope I have the names right. They were really entertaining, and don't they look great?
A picture of Mr. Worms out in the light. Very cool pirate duds indeed.Check out this pirate family, looking spiffy.
We are silly! But don't you think this image has some advertising potential, somehow? "Shake hands with the past!" or "Get hooked on the past!" Oh, we did have a good time coming up with captions for this one.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bill Cunningham goes to the Newport Vintage Dance Week

This year at the Newport Vintage Dance Week, Bill Cunningham (a famous fashion photographer) came to several of our events and took pictures. So check out the New York Times on Sunday to see pictures of us! Or if that is too much work for you, the article is already up on the New York Times website here. There is also a short video of pictures of our daytime events narrated by Mr. Cunningham here. Take the text with a grain of salt (not all of the facts are correct - oh well), but enjoy the lovely pictures. Now that you're very familiar with what I wore to the different events, how many times can you spot me? Haha!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ragtime Ball at Glen Manor

I was making a dress for this event (and it is still going to be a shockingly cool dress, I promise... I really will finish it at some point!), but then I bought a dress, so I wore that instead. It is meant to be a 1908 dress, and it is lovely. The beads are especially neat and sparkly, and it has these delightfully ridiculous wing-like sleeve things. A very dramatic and beautiful dress, which inspired me to stand in front of the electric fans on the floor so that my drippy wings floated. I felt very ancient-Greek-as-interpreted-by-Ragtime-people. I am very silly. Julia's silly too - that's why our bears danced together for the Teddy Bear's Picnic.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

1860s Ball at Ochre Court

This was a beautiful ball at a beautiful hall. I will always have a particular fondness for the 1860s. My dress is far from finished, but I got it wearable (sensing a theme, here? Most of my clothes were only almost ready for Newport... on the bright side, most of them were new!). As you may have guessed, it draws some heavy inspiration from Sisi and Mrs. C W Stoughton (check out this old post for pictures). This is mostly because I found the super neat gauze fabric with gold stars and couldn't resist. Also, I've been wanting a white silk ballgown for a while. In the modern world (where 90% of women wear black to parties... isn't that strange?), white is so strongly associated with weddings that a white silk ballgown screams "wedding dress" to most modern people. But in the nineteenth century, white silk ballgowns were very much a thing for young ladies.

Julia wore a lovely plaid silk ballgown (and do you recognize the drippy hair wreath I made?), and mother wore her mustard silk with the amazing embroidery. It is really incredible fabric. So we were all looking very spiffy indeed. At the end of the ball, mother and I were getting a bit experimental with the photography, so that explains the "Antonia looking ghostly in the mist" and "Barbara in the terrible evening shadows" pictures at the end.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Formal Tea at Linden Place

For a spiffy afternoon event, check out these pictures of Wednesday's Formal Tea at Linden Place. Also, we had a trolley drive us from the school to the place. Neat. I wore my (newly completely ruffled!) lavender and white striped trained skirt, and a new hat. Julia wore a matching hat, and mother made her a brand new and super amazing pink eyelet skirt, all coated in tucks and pleats and lovely details. It is really super spiffy. While you look at the pictures, be sure to note my strange hobby of jumping into low trees while wearing trained skirts (Look! It's me in a tree!), and the cute boar statue. I liked him.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

1890s Ball at Belcourt Castle

Phew! Finally home from Newport, and feeling rested/conscious/competent enough to go through the photos. I meant to do this during the week, but it ended up being far too packed with events for there to be blogging time. Lucky for you, that means more stuff now! I'm going to do one event a day so as not to overwhelm you with pictures.

The first fancy costumed event (although there were tons of other events and classes, which I will not talk about in detail, and there was a Seaside tea dance, pictures from which I have unfortunately lost) was an 1890s ball at Belcourt Castle. For this ball, I finished (or got into a wearable state) my brand new pink 1890s dress. It is super exciting, and made from fabric that would have made Worth himself drool. The full extent of the lavish sparkliness can't really be captured, I'm afraid. I also did ridiculous Gibson Girl-ish hair, which was interesting. Also, while looking at the pictures showcasing my dress, also note the amazing setting. It is a very strange and beautiful place.

Julia wore a new medium blue (a dark blue embroidered overlay, but it is on white) 1890s dress. It will probably get trimmed with dusty pink velvet or something cool, but we weren't quite at that point yet. Two new dresses, even unfinished, are pretty exciting.