One of the challenges faced in the Rochester swing dance scene (and probably many others) is getting people to dance with new people. This includes getting beginners to ask more experienced dancers and vice versa. Well, we’ve found one solution: dance cards.

The use of dance cards date back to the 18th and 19th centuries as a way to keep track of who you are going to dance with during the night. Women carried dance cards, probably around their wrist, and penciled in the names of their male dance partners on a numbered list.

My good friend Mike Hibarger from Boston gave me a vintage dance card from 1933 several years ago and I still appreciate this gift very much. The card is from a Valentine’s dance and includes advertisements, lists of officers, members and boosters, and of course, the program. Oxana, the gal who used this card, sure liked dancing with Chuck! He’s listed for six out of her 12 partners. How cute.

For Groove Juice Swing‘s Sweetheart Ball on Feb. 11, Mike Thibault printed re-creations of this dance card for all attendees.

“Oh how cute!,” “What a great idea!,” people said upon receiving their card. One new dancer even said, “This is the main reason I came!” However, not everyone was enthused initially. For some reason a few passed up the chance to use and possess one of these lovely souvenirs.

Seventy-eight years after the date on the original card (to the day), our cards worked a little differently.

Boys as well as girls would carry them, and the name of your partner was written down after you finished a dance with them. Once the 10 names were filled in, you were entered to win one of the following prizes:

  • First prize: $50 to Chocolate and Vines (a local wine/beer and chocolate pairing restaurant)
  • Second prize: a four-week class session
  • Third prize: one month free admission to Lindy Jam (our weekly social dance).
  • Also, the first 15 boys and 15 girls to fill their cards received an extra prize (handmade hair-flower pins for the ladies and valentine’s candy for the fellas).

The dance floor was packed all night. People who usually only dance with the person they brought were dancing with people they have never spoken to before. Beginners and advanced dancers alike were excited to be dancing, meeting new people and filling up their dance cards at the same time.

Oh, and the people who initially turned away the dance cards? They came back to the desk and joined in on the fun. Since everybody was using them, you seemed like an outsider if you weren’t.

While the dance cards were a lot of work to design and assemble, they were totally worth it. I wish we could use them for all our dances, but fear they might lose their magic. This is becoming a Valentine’s tradition for us, and I hope it will for other dance scenes too.

Filed in Dance | 3 Comments

During my lifetime I have crafted a mental list of items that I must obtain at some time or another. They are all very feminine things that I feel my life would just be incomplete without.

These items float in and out of my mind, especially when I’m antiquing or vintage shopping, and I’m finally putting them into a concrete list.

I’m sure this list will grow, and some items I actually already own, but making this list now will help push me to complete this goal and maybe even inspire you to make your own.

Folding Screen

I dream of getting dressed behind one while a man lingers on the other side. I’ll hang my beautiful gown and underthings over it (read below). It will be wooden and have an intricate design laced across the front.


I will sit on the vanity stool brushing out my pin curls, and then apply my bright red lipstick. Last summer my wonderful boyfriend Mike Thibault surprised me by purchasing a vintage vanity on his way home from Swing Out New Hampshire. It needs a little bit of work to securely attach the mirror, but it is gorgeous. I also need to find a little wooden stool for it. Here is my friend Laurel testing it out at the store:

Silk Robe

This will be for lazy summer mornings or evenings. It fits loosely with a tie belt and the hem hits mid-thigh. The pattern is floral, probably with a lot of red.

Vintage slip

I found this on Etsy two summers ago. It’s a pale yellow and perfect for summer nights. I used it to dress as damsel in distress Fay Wray in our 2009 Lindy Compound Christmas Card.

Birdcage Hat

I’m thinking a black pillbox hat with a short birdcage net. I’ll wear it with a perfectly form fitting little black dress, black pumps and clutch, and seamed stockings.

Emerald Green Gown

I will descend a grand staircase and drink lots of champagne while wearing this gorgeous gown. I’m almost positive that a replica of the dress Keira Knightly wore in the movie Atonement will do the trick. I’ve found people offering this on Etsy for $250-$300. Now I just need an occasion.

My only rule is that I will not purchase the item unless it is exactly what I have been dreaming about. No compromises here.

Hmm… anybody else getting an urge to go thrifting?

Filed in Fashion, Life Happenings | 5 Comments

A few weeks ago I went shopping with one mission in mind: obtain party shirts. I brought three accomplices along with me and after several hours in the mall we walked out with some new clothes and a strong desire to go clubbing.

I realized the need for party shirts when I attended Swing and Soul in December, a dance event focused on dancing to soul music. Many of my lady friends were rocking out in their party shirts and I was in my usual swing dance attire, feeling like I missed the memo.

Sure, I have t-shirts, tank tops, blouses, and even fancy tops, but nothing appropriate for the rare night I might want to hit the town and dance to Justin Timberlake.

Before leaving on our mission, we decided it was important to define the term “party shirt.” After discussing, we decided that a party shirt can be any or all of the following:

  • Flowy
  • Skimpy
  • Low-cut
  • Black or rich in color (think jewel tones, not pastels).
  • Sequined
  • Jeweled
  • Ruffled
  • Look good with dark-wash jeans (the ultimate party shirt pairing).
  • Make you look good when you hold your arms above your head and shake your hips.
  • NOT strapless. I will continue to defend the fact that I cannot party in a strapless top.

Some examples found on

I deem party shirts as an essential part of any girl’s wardrobe. Even if you never go clubbing, these work well tucked into high-waisted pants, or paired with a cardigan. Now go forth, don your party shirt proudly, and dance like everyone is watching.

Filed in Fashion | 1 Comment