Tag: swing dancing

Behind the Scenes Interview with ‘The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress’

A while back, I received a lovely email from Tam Francis of the website ‘The Girl in the Jitterbug dress’, introducing herself and her new book. After several emails back and forth we started to realize that we were clearly kindred spirits, with many of the same hobbies and likes (Lindy Hop, 1940s, Vintage Fashion, Husbands who Lindy Hop, Love of Scottie Dogs and the list goes on and on.). I have really enjoyed getting to know Tam these last few weeks and I know you will too.

The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress

So without further adieu lets begin my Behind the Scenes interview with Tam of the ‘The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress’.

What was your inspiration behind your latest novel the ‘The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress’? How long did it take to write?

(Liz Note about the Book: I really enjoyed reading this book and found it quite delightful, interesting and a fun read and recommend you pick up the book).

The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress

My husband was deployed, and I was home with two children and no family. I had been blogging my dance adventures, and a friend suggested I write a book. Sure, why not. I wanted to write about all the things I loved: swing dancing, vintage fashion, classic cocktails, retro music and lifestyle. It took about a year to write my first draft, but I didn’t really start re-writes until we moved to Texas and I joined a local writer’s group.

If you only have one sentence to describe why someone should read the book (and they really should), what would that sentence be?

If you love anything vintage, (specifically fashion and swing dance) this book is for you, and I haven’t found another that highlights all those things we love about vintage lifestyle—plus it’s an emotional roller-coaster with enough depth to carry you through, but not too heavy that you can’t read it in a weekend.

The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress

Beyond writing really cool books you are also a poet. Does your poetry carry a vintage theme to it as well, or do you write about other topics?

I’ve written a half-dozen poems about dancing and music which will appear in my upcoming short story collection in 2017, “Swing Shorts,” but my poetry chick phase was in my college days when I wrote about everything and anything—social issues to existential contemplation.

How long have you been blogging and what made you start (my reason was to share my love of vintage with like-minded readers)? Could you supply one piece of advice for newbie bloggers?

I started my blog years ago on MySpace. I would be so wound up from dancing, I couldn’t sleep, and I had all these wonderful feelings and ideas about the people and places—I had to write them down. It eventually morphed in a swing dance magazine, Swivel: Vintage Living Magazine.

My advice to bloggers or any writers is to read books on the craft of writing or follow other writing advice bloggers. My early blogs are embarrassing. There’s a difference between good story-telling and good writing. Those of us who gravitate to writing, whether it be novels, short story, blogs or poems, are natural story-tellers. It’s the learning the craft of writing that is hard. I am always on a quest to learn how to be a better writer.

And learn about SEO. Unless you want your blog to be an online diary that few read, you’ve got to understand some basic SEO stuff and basic marketing.

What was your journey into the vintage world like?

As a young girl, I had always had a fascination with the past, and was drawn to the fashions of the 1920s-1950s. I watched old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies and my heart filled with the beauty and glamour of the era. I started seriously buying vintage in the 9th grade from thrift shops and yard sales. I loved the hunt as much as the find. In my early days, I mostly gravitated toward either 1950s or 1920s. I hadn’t yet developed an eye for the other eras.

The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress

The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress
Tam and her husband have passed on their style to their kids

I see that the 1940s is represented pretty well on your blog, is this your favorite vintage era? And why (and if not, then tell us about your fav era)?

If I had to pick only one, I would say, yes, the 1940s is my favorite. I NEVER get tired of listening to the music, and set against the backdrop of the war, there is always this heightened sense of tension and immediacy to life. But there are specific things I love about the 1920s, 30s and 50s. It’s wonderful to have the choice to dress any vintage era we like, isn’t it?

I’m a mood dresser. Fashion reflects my state of mind or daily intention. Some days I feel sassy and want to show the world I’m in charge, I don a fitted two-tone 40’s suit—like when I’m going to a Town Hall meeting or advocating for something to the school board.

Some days I feel romantic and languid and wear a flowery 1920s dress. Other days, I want the world to know I’m a capable, cute 50s-style housewife and or pert teacher. And of course, there’s the nights when I use all the tricks of late 1930s glam to imbue myself with unique style and confidence.

Does anyone else make your fashion choices this way?

The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress

You’re a Lindy Hopper like me, how did you fall in love with the dance that would become one of the main “characters” in your new book?

I had ALWAYS wanted to learn how to dance. Just like in the book, I was at a show when I was knocked out by this couple decked out in vintage, swinging around the floor. I’d only ever seen dancing like that in movies. I found out where they took lessons, started going, and never stopped. At first, it’s like a drug. You can’t get enough dance. I read about it, found old movies with Lindy, collected big band music and created scrapbooks of “vintage inspiration.” It become and integral part of my identity.

Lindy Hop Girl in the Jitterbug Dress

Favorite Lindy Hopper past or present?

I know it’s cliché, but I adore Frankie Manning. I was lucky to meet him and interview him for my magazine. He was always so generous and filled with love and love of dance. He was truly an inspiration.

As far as style goes, I try to emulate the 40s style of Jean Veloz and Jewel McGowan.  They’re both old-timers you can see in many of the bobby soxer movies. Jean is still alive and dancing, and that is an inspiration, too.

 bill nye the science guy
Tam with Lindy Hopper Bill Nye the Science Guy

I’m a romantic at heart, tell everyone how you met your husband?

We both worked retail in the shoe department—he in men’s, me in women’s. In the stock room,  I would glimpse this cool looking guy who was dressed in vintage suits, black and white shoes, and even a fedora when he left for the night.

After watching (okay sort of spying on him) for weeks, I got the nerve to talk to him. I asked him, “Where’d you learn to dress so cool?”

“Old movies,” he’d replied.

We went on to talk about 1930s and 40s movies, big band music, and vintage fashion. I told him I was taking swing dance lessons and did he want to check it out. He did! He was a natural. We became dancing fools in love. Our courtship consisted of vintage fashion quests, old-movie watching, and lots and lots of dance.

When he joined the Navy and went to boot camp, I thought that was it. We’d drift apart, but our feelings for each other grew. When I went to see him graduate in Chicago, he asked me to marry him. That’s a whole long story for another time! But I will say it was delightfully spontaneous, romantic, and vintage-esque!

The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress

The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress
Tams homecoming with her husband

Teaching Lindy Hop with your husband, must have been a blast (and a lesson in working together and patience I’m sure). What did you love about the teaching process?

When we first moved to San Diego—Navy stationed us there—we were some of the first Lindy Hoppers in town and one of the few couples who stressed the “vintage” aspect of the dance.

We are a good match and a bit comedic. I like to think we’re a little like Gracie Allen and George Burns in our repartee. My hubby gets very focused on small details and often would stop the class to help someone who was struggling. I would keep track of how antsy the other students were getting and keep us rolling forward.

We both have our way of expressing the rhythm. My hubby is a numbers kind of man. I like to use sounds and positions to teach. It makes for a perfect match since everyone’s learning style is different, too. We cover all the bases and make sure to keep it really fun.

I love sharing the love of dance and the history of it. Plus, some days I’d be tired or crabby and think “Ah, hell, I don’t want to teach tonight.” But by the end of the night I was refreshed and the negativity drained away.

The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress

Favorite vintage item in your home and why?

Non-clothing? It might have to be my vintage kitchen table. When we first moved to Texas, I was looking for a bed for my daughter at an antique store and I saw this table and totally geeked out on it. I seriously started sweating. My husband was in San Diego, getting our house ready to go on the market, and I bought it without him seeing it. But he loved it.

I love to cook and am in the kitchen a lot. Every time I look at it, I get a thrill. It is so damn vintage and in my mind, represents all the good things about the past that I love.

awesome vintage kitchen table
The awesome vintage kitchen table

Coolest vintage event you have attended to date?

Camp Hollywood, which is still ongoing and in its 19th year. Holy Smokes! I was at the first one. (yikes I feel old). Then there was also this event called Swing Camp Catalina that brought instructors from all over the world to beautiful Catalina Island (which makes an appearance in the sequel: The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress Hops the Atlantic). The island itself is magical, but the historic ballroom made you really feel like you’d time-travelled. It was enchanting to dance there.

Camp Hollywood

You live in Texas, tell everyone why Texas would be a cool vintage destination to visit?

visit texas vintage sign

I can’t speak for all of Texas, but my little town of Lockhart is adorable with a vintage square and the BBQ Capital of Texas. Plus, we have the oldest, continually working library in the state, as well as the most photographed courthouse.

But that’s all sight-seeing stuff. If you want to do dancing and vintage, you’d have to go to Austin a mere 30 miles up the road from me. They have an amazing swing scene and Austin is the live music capital of the world!

There are so many great swing band. My husband and I love to go to the Continental Club and hear, Continental Graffiti or Hot Club of Cowtown! And anywhere White Ghost Shivers are playing, we try to go. Not only are they fun to Shag, Bal and Lindy to, but they put on a hell of a show, reminiscent of 1930s vaudeville.

There are two very old (Western) dance halls, one is the Broken Spoke. We go there when they have Western Swing bands like Big Sandy or Billy Mata. It’s pretty rough and a little seedy, but has a nostalgic vintage cowboy feel. The same goes for Gruene Hall (pronounced green). It’s one of the oldest continuing operational dance halls in Texas, located in Gruene, TX.

In downtown Austin, we also like to patronize the old Driskill Hotel and have heard some great band there as well. The joint oozes vintage ambience and is supposed to haunted.

And did I mention the shopping? SoCo (South Congress), as the local’s call it, it ripe with vintage, thrift, and unique stores for a day or two of eclectic shopping.

You collect vintage patterns, do you also sew like many other vintage enthusiasts out there?

Absolutely. I’m trying to drop a little weight—Texas beer and BBQ snuck up on me—but will get back to sewing as soon as I do. I found that I couldn’t afford all the beautiful vintage I wanted, so, I started sewing it. Plus in comes in handy when you rip seams dancing.

Your bio at the very beginning says “Tam Francis is the girl in the jitterbug dress, writing vintage romantic short stories and novels with a cocktail in one hand and a pen in the other”.  Name that cocktail in your hand.

Lavender Lemon Drop! Want the recipe? I just made my own lavender bitters from my home-grown lavender, too! It’s my latest fave.

lavender lemon drop drink

Okay here is a tough question (and last one).Cary Grant or Gene Kelly?

Oh My! Are you kidding? I LOVE Gene Kelly (got to interview his brother Fred for the magazine years ago), and Gene is one hell of a dancer and that cute butt. Seriously, best butt EVER! (Is that rude of me to say?) But Cary Grant is my kind of handsome with a nice balance of humor. The way he jumped around in Indiscreet (1958) makes me think he’d be an excellent Lindy Hopper and my man has got to hop.

Thank you Tam for such a wonderful Interview, it was a pleasure getting to know more about you and I look forward to visiting Texas some day soon. And don’t forget to check out my Interview that Tam did on me, HERE.

Find Tam:




Happy New Year! The Vintage Inn’s 2015 Year in Review

What a year this has been and how fast it has gone as well. I literally feel like I just started 2015 and now it’s coming to an end. Well the one thing I do know is that 2015 was a busy and fun year and I would love to share with you some of the adventures I got into with you. Here is my 2015 in review.

January: Every year I attend a big German Karneval (mardi gras) function called GAMGA in Las Vegas. It’s 2 days of costume parties, after parties and then a big Gala. It’s super fun and something I have been doing with my parents since I was a kid.

German Mardi Gras in United States

February: I was lucky to be able to attend the premier of the 1940s new Canadian TV show called ‘X Company‘. I have never been part of a premier and it was a cool experience and we even got to meet the host of the event and get our pictures taken with the cast and producers.

X Company TV Show Premier in Toronto

I attend a 1920s Speakeasy party at the famous and beautiful Palais Royale in Toronto.

1920s Speakeasy Party at Palais Royale Toronto

AND I traveled to Seattle, Washington for a long weekend to visit a good friends parents and see uber cool Seattle. I did a blog post all about it HERE.

Seattle Washington first starbucks
In front of the first Starbucks

March: I did nothing really blog post worthy. WHAT?? lol

April: VIVA Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend! I did several posts on that big adventure which can be found HERE.

Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend 18

May: Vintage Spectacular Dance with the GTA Swing Band. This was a super night of dancing, dressing up and great Big Band Music. The image below is some of the lovely ladies of TVS and the lead singer of the Band (she is soooo good).

vintage spectacular dance

I was very lucky to be part of a cool experience in May with a favorite Rockabilly band in Toronto called “The Millwinders“. Myself and few friends were filmed dancing in front of a green screen for use for future videos. Here are a couple of pictures from that day.

1950s vintage style
Credit: Kahlil Heslop

Lastly Toronto Lindy Hop (that I’m part of) put on a full weekend of Lindy hop, classes, history lessons and live music dances all weekend long called ‘Toronto World Lindy Hop Day’. I played host and it was such a good weekend 🙂

The images below are with 2 living legends in the Lindy Hop World. Chazz Young the son of one of the founders of Lindy Hop-Frankie Manning (and a talent as well) AND Dawn Hampton the Queen of the Cabaret and a little firecracker (her image is on the shirts we are wearing).

Dawn Hampton and Frankie Manning toronto lindy hop

Summer (June, July and August): I did a full blog post on all the events I attended (tiki party, UK Adventure, Horse race event plus much more), so check that out HERE.

hats and horseshoe event 2015 woodbine racetrack

September: Weekend visit to Havana, Cuba

This was not my first visit to Havana, but this was definitely the first time I visited areas outside of the Old part and it was fantastic. I still have to do a blog post on all the new things I saw but for now here is a collage of some of the highlights.

Havana Cuba

October: Halloween and a friend’s Wedding Reception Toga Party (yes a toga party). For Halloween the hubby and I went as Amazing Race Contestants. The outfits were big hits.

Amazing race costume idea

Toga Party!

toga party costume ideas

November: Swing Out To Victory’. Once again I helped my friend Dean with hosting duties as a third of the beautiful “Dominion Belles”.

Swing out to Victory-1940s vintage outfits
Credit: Kahlil Heslop

The throwing of the candies 🙂

Swing out to Victory-1940s vintage outfits
Credit: Kahlil Heslop

Here I am with 2 friends from the Toronto Vintage Society. Both created their outfits from scratch and Joy on the left, won the best dressed because she recreated the “Swing Time” outfit from the movie with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Toronto Vintage Society Swing out To Victory

Opening of Toronto’s first ‘Shameful Tiki Room‘ (literally around the corner from my apartment). Now one of my local hangouts.

Opening of Shameful Tiki Room Toronto

The official Tiki mug for Shameful. Very Canadian with the Beaver 🙂

Shameful Tiki Room Toronto

I dj’d my first Rock N Roll social dance night for my friends 50s dance studio ‘Soda Pop Hop‘. Such a fun night!

Soda Pop Hop Social Dance Night. Rock N Roll dancing

December: Toronto Vintage Society annual Kitschmas Party. I played host once again at the party and it was another huge success. Here are the winners of the title of Kitschmas King and Queen. Make sure you check out the blog called “Flipsville” because she made these outfits!

Toronto Vintage Society Kitschmas Party

And that my friends is a general overview of my 2015 year. I hope you had a wonderful year and I wish all of you a Happy 2016! Thank you so much for reading my blog and commenting and just being wonderful readers, I love and appreciate each and everyone of you.

Liz 🙂



A Lindy Hopping I will go-My Favorite Vintage Lindy Hop Videos

I’m off on my next big adventure to NYC tomorrow for the big Swing Dancing (Lindy Hop) event Frankie 100-Celebrating the life and legacy of Frankie ManningI’m all packed, printed off my schedule and danced a few solo Charleston steps in the kitchen..I’m ready to dance my feet off!



While I’m off dancing I thought I would share some vintage Lindy Hop clips to get you in the spirit as well. Please enjoy and if you are interested in seeing the event live,check out the dance website “Yehoodi” from Friday-Monday.

Now in the words of Frankie Manning “Onetwoyou know what to do”


Many people consider Hellzapoppin’ the greatest single Lindy Hop performance of all time. Frankie was in charge of putting the routine together, and mentioned in his autobiography that the dancers worked extra hard for this performance, practicing even longer hours than usual to perfect it. His autobiography also has a long section of anecdotes regarding the process and filming. First couple: William Downes and Francis “Mickey” Jones; 2nd, Norma Miller and Billy Ricker; 3rd, Al Minns and Willamae Ricker; 4th, Frankie Manning and Ann Johnson. Dean Collins also does a dance in this film to the song “Watch the Birdie.” (The sequences, however, were shot on different days, and arguably the two most significant figures in Lindy Hop Leading — Frankie Manning and Dean Collins — never met.) (Source)

Frankie Manning Dancing at the Savoy Ballroom-1930s

It’s very rare for us to have social dancing footage of the original dancers in the original swing era. We are lucky to have a few brief seconds of Frankie Manning dancing with a partner in a crowded Savoy ballroom from what is probably the late 1930s. Whether or not its social dancing is hard to say, as he very well might have realized there was a camera filming him, and changed his dancing because of it. Still, though, it’s great to see a young Frankie Manning in a suit, in his element. It’s only a few tiny seconds, but at least we have that much (Source).

Jitterbug History featuring Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers-1942

This short was filmed in 1940 (though not released till 1942) and near the end you can see the Whitey’s. It’s also the same group of dancers who did Hellzapoppin’. Note that this clip has extremely slow dancing compared to the other Whitey’s Lindy Hop performance footage. William Downes and Mickey Jones first, Norma Miller and Billy Ricker second, Willamae Ricker and Al Minns third, and Frankie Manning and Ann Johnson forth (Source).

Buck Privates with Dean Collins and Jewel McGowan-1941

Swing Fever-1944

Jean Veloz (Jeanne Phelps) is featured here dancing with Don Gallager & Lenny Smith in this delightful number “One Girl and Two Boys,” sung by Marilyn Maxwell with Kay Kyser’s band.

Groovie Movie-1944 

Jimmy Dorsey playing One O’Clock Jump. Dancers – Charles “Chuck/Gossomer” Saggau, Arthur Walsh, Lenny Smith, Kay Smith, Jeanne Phelps Veloz, Irene Thomas.

Don’t Knock the Rock-1956 (As a fan of 1950s Rock n Roll, this clip is a real favorite of mine)

Band: Bill Haley & His Comets with a slew of Los Angeles swing dancers, including: Gil & Nikki Brady, Freda Angela Wyckoff, Lenny Smith, and Joe Lanza.


Have a great week and weekend! Keep on Swinging!

Liz 🙂

Toronto Vintage Clothing Show-The Highlights

So this past Sunday I was excited to be able to work the booth for the Toronto Vintage Society at the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show. We were there to raise awareness of our society, sell some beautiful “Make Do and Mend” sewing kits and also sign up fellow vintage enthusiasts for our meetup group.


Here I am with the lovely Larissa from Blonde Moxie at our booth. I’m wearing a Ethel of Beverly Hills sweater that got so many likes that day and even one lady wanted to buy it off me while at the show 🙂

Toronto Vintage Society

Photo Courtesy of Larissa

We were also joined by some of the other lovely ladies of TVS. Lisa, Larissa and Irene from Petite Plus, Meow!

Toronto Vintage Society

All of us together (minus our fearless leader Jacquie who was out-of-town on business).

Toronto Vintage Society

Here is a picture of the mending kits we created with vintage fabric for the pin top. Inside was candy, vintage buttons and everything else you need to sew up something fabulous.

vintage mending kits

Image courtesy of Irene 

We had a draw at our booth too and it had lots of wonderful goodies that any vintage loving person would want (there was some great items for the men as well, but just not showing in this pic).

Toronto Vintage Society

 Image courtesy of Shermy from Shermette

At one point during the day our booth even had some swing dancing happen. Here is somewhat blurry but fun picture of myself and my friend Dean doing some Lindy Hop.

Toronto Lindy Hop

Photo Courtesy of Blonde Moxie

Then there were more dancers…yay!

Toronto Lindy Hop

Amongst many of the wonderful visitors that stopped by the booth, one was Diane from the Costume Society of Ontario. She was wearing the most amazing Edwardian outfit! Don’t you just love it on her?

Costume Society of Ontario

After socializing and promoting TVS, I finally got my turn to head out to the show and do some shopping. I managed to pick up a couple of things but did not snag any clothes because I’m in saving mode for VIVA next month in Vegas, where I know I will be buying a lot of outfits.

Here are my purchases….

My kitschy Leather Poodle Pin..love it!

vintage poodle brooch

Second purchase was this absolutely gorgeous green 1950s hair piece with the more glorious feathers you have ever seen. It was being sold for $40 but some of the feathers needed a glue gun and so I managed to snag it for $20. Yippee! This baby is coming to Vegas with me.

1950s hair headband

Now I did not purchase this but a friend of mine did and it truly was the PURCHASE OF THE SHOW! 

A skirt out of Marimekko 1960’s fabric. They did not know the significance of the pattern or the fabric, which is why she only got it for 30$. It is signed too. Quite the find and you can read all about the extensive history of this brand here. Good job Erica!



Now here are some pictures of what I wish I could have purchased.

Lets start with the granddaddy of them all…a 1950’s Vintage WITH TAGS Alfred Shaheen! I have never seen a for sale Shaheen in real life (online only) AND with tags. This dress was a unicorn at this show AND also too small for me. ugh 🙁 If you are in Toronto it’s being sold at 69 Vintage on Queen St. West.

Alfred Shaheen

If you are an xsmall you could have taken home this beautiful 1950’s swimsuit! I just LOVE the buttons and the skirt portion and of course the fabric. Wonderful piece.

1950s vintage bathingsuit

Going to prom? Then this beautiful stunner of a 1950s prom dress would have been perfect.

FYI: The dress is still for sale at “House of Vintage” on Queen St West.

1950s vintage prom dress

Those were basically the only pictures I had time to take from the show but if you head over to the Toronto Vintage Society website you will see a wonderful post on the event.

On another note, I have been doing a pin-curl set lately with my hair instead of foam rollers and I’m really really enjoying how it is turning out.

vintage hairstyle

P.S. did you see my eyelashes?? Look how long and fantastic they look. I just recently got extensions put in by Shangri-Lash and I love them! Stay tuned for a review on that experience.


In the end the whole day was a success and we ended up with a load of new members to our group and we met so many wonderful vintage shoppers! I look forward to getting to know many of them at future events.

Did you do any vintage shopping this weekend? Score any great deals?



“Let’s Dance”: Palace Pier, Toronto Canada

A while back…like several posts ago I mentioned that I picked up this awesome book called “Let’s Dance: A Celebration of Ontario’s Dance Halls and Summer Dance Pavilions” by Peter Young.

What is the book about:

“Let’s Dance: A Celebration of Ontario’s Dance Halls and Summer Dance Pavilions is a nostalgic musical journey, recapturing the unforgettable music of youth and lasting friendships, the days when the live mellow sounds of Big Bands wafted through the air — Louis Armstrong, the Dorsey Brothers, Bert Niosi, Art Hallman, Johnny Downs, Mart Kenney, Bobby Kinsman, Ronnie Hawkins …. Throughout the 1920s to the ’60s, numerous legendary entertainers drew thousands of people to such memorable venues as the Brant Inn in Burlington, Dunn’s Pavilion in Bala, the Stork Club at Port Stanley, to the Club Commodore in Belleville and the Top Hat Pavilion in North Bay — and the hundreds of other popular dance venues right across Ontario. From the days of jitney dancing through the introduction of jazz and the Big Bands era to the sounds of some of Ontario’s best rock groups, people of all ages came to dance and some to find romance on soft summer nights.”

"Lets Dance-by Peter Young"

The book was a wonderful read and especially since I’m a Lindy Hopper and I love all things Nostalgic around that era. So the book gave me the urge to:

A) Want to visit these places, existing or non existing;

B) Share some of the history with my readers and with the Ontario Lindy Hop dance scene as well.

So I thought I would do a blog series on many of these places, so here we go with our first post…


Palace Pier dance hall

Palace Pier

The Palace Pier was originally conceived in the late 1920’s to be a large amusement pier that was to rival the neighbouring “Sunnyside Pavilion“. The pier was to project 1800 feet into Lake Ontario with a  steamboat landing at the end. However financial difficulties and the depression stopped construction and only 300 feet of pier was created (see above). For most of the 30’s the Pier was vacant but on June 10th, 1941 the auditorium opened as The Strathcona Roller Rink, and then a short time later became The Queensway Ballroom in 1943. This reverted to the Palace Pier Dance Hall  and would soon become a favorite destination for dancers.

Here is a picture of where the Pier was located (the left image) in Toronto

palace pier location

Plans for the Pier before having to scrap almost everything (was to have had a bandstand, Theatre and “Palace of Fun” which I could only assume was rides).

Palace Pier

The Big Bands

The Pier saw many Big Bands pass thru it’s doors, bands like:

lionel hampton

There is a story from Ernie Ince who was the General Manager for the Pier for many years that recalls the effect one Bandleader had on the audience “Lionel Hampton would work the crowd into a frenzy. He’d soak 3 suits in a performance and play louder and faster as the night moved along” (“Let’s Dance” by Peter Young, pg 13).

Man I would of given ANYTHING to have seen that…sigh.

Palace Pier Big Band

The Pier’s heyday was the mid-40’s and into the mid-50’s with the 50’s seeing a renovation that had the Palace Pier boosting about having one of the largest dance floors around. 3 tiers were built with balconies surrounding the dance floor so that everyone could see the action on the dance floor (“Let’s Dance” by Peter Young, pg 13). CBC Radio even did live Radio broadcasts from the Pier over the years.

Changing with the Times

By the mid-50’s the Pier had to change direction to keep alive so they started booking country acts like Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash which ended up being very successful (“Let’s Dance” by Peter Young, pg 15). Also during the week they would book Bingos, Boxing matches, political rallies, proms and such to help pay the bills to get them to the weekend where they were still seeing around 1000 attendees coming out to celebrate music and dance.

The End

Sadly on January 7th, 1963 in the early morning there was a fire at the Pier and everything was completely destroyed and due to declining popularity it only made sense to not rebuild and sell the property. Condos were then eventually built on the spot where the hall stood (the Palace Pier Condos).


The building may not be standing anymore but you can still pay a visit to the monument on the Waterfront Trail at the Foot of the Palace Pier Court (it’s just west of the mouth of the Humber River. Walk over the bridge and keep going till you see the monument).

Interesting fact: The base of the monument are the original concrete pier footings



Here I am with the monument. I have to say I could actually envision everyone dressed to the 9’s coming down here to listen to some amazing Big Band Music on a Saturday night. It made me wish I had a time machine so I could of joined in on the fun.



To end my little trip, my husband put on some Glenn Miller “Moonlight Serenade” and we closed our eyes and actually pretended it was the 1940’s for a moment and we danced. It was a fun experience and I’m sure we got some weird looks but I did not care, I got to dance at the Palace Pier even if it was just in my mind.

Please let me know if you have visited this spot as well and stay tuned for another post in this series.

Other ‘Lets Dance’ Posts: CNE Tent, Kenwick on the Lake, Port Dover Summer Garden

Liz 🙂

Key looks of the 1940’s for Toronto’s “Swing out to Victory” (or any social dance)

Key Looks of the 1940s Blog Post by the Vintage Inn

Sept 30th, 2016 UPDATE-Swing Out To Victory this year is back at the Hamilton Warplane Museum (Nov 19th) and tickets are currently up for grabs. Get yours today!


Hi everyone! For my first official blog entry I thought I would start with a favourite event of the Lindy Hop season in Toronto called “Swing out to Victory“. This dance is usually held at a Warplane museum in hamilton but plans have slightly changed this year and it’s now in Toronto on November 10th. Now for those who have attended in the past, you know that dressing up is pretty much a must. You can dress modern or you can venture down the Vintage/Reproduction clothing road (I personally prefer the latter), but for those interested in Vintage I thought I would supply some clothing inspiration/ideas for the lovely ladies prior to the big dance. And since the dance is more focused towards 1940s clothing, I thought I would focus on 1940s style for this blog (however there is nothing wrong with breaking out 1920s-50s style as well).

II faut ‘skimp’ pour être chic’, you must skimp to be chic – Vogue Oct 1941-

The war was on and rationing of materials was in full effect. Gone were the days of silk and wool, women were left with materials like rayon, synthetic Jersey, and gingham to create their clothes. Elaboration was out and a pared-down elegance was becoming the norm. The main look of the decade: Was broad shoulders and a streamlined, slim look.

Women’s “Utility Suit” or “Victory Suit” or “Clothing by law” was fashioned to resemble the military style of WWII. The suits had a boxy, broad-shouldered (aka shoulder pads) jacket. Peplum at the bottom of the jacket was also used to give the illusion of volume (see pic below). Blouses were normally solid coloured with details around the neck. Skirts were shorter (knee-length) and either straight or A-lined and had a front and back pleat.

Other Skirt Options:

  • Trumpet
  • And swing skirt (for the dance floor)

1940's women's suits

















How to wear this look: Accessories even during the war were still very important to a 1940’s women. Pair the suit with an asymmetrical or angled shaped hat with unusual trimmings (whatever could be substituted or used during the war. Ex: materials from older hats).  Add Stockings with the seam or you could do what many women had to do when stockings became rationed which was to paint some light colour to your legs and draw the seam up the back. Shoes: Peep Toe and T-straps (1” in height) were fashionable (and saved on leather) as were Cork platforms. Don’t forget a basic purse. Lastly add your red lipstick and curl your hair with a pin curl set.

1940s Women's blouse
Women’s Blouses AND great hair examples



















1940s Vintage hats

1940s vintage women's peplum dress

Pants/Slacks were also becoming part of women’s every day wear as they had to wear them to the factories. These slacks were often high cut or at the waist and would have a single pleat down the front of the pant, and wide legged. Jeans and overalls were also being worn much like our favourite “Bomb Girls” did.

How to wear this look: Top the pants with a form fitting blouse or sweater tucked in, add a “mans cut” jacket or Bolero. Add the “Rosie the Riveter” scarf to your hair if you want or a snood with victory rolls and don’t forget the red lips. Shoes were sturdy and practical, often flat or you could pair them with a wedge shoe.

1940's women in pants

1940s vintage image of women in slacks

1940’s Dresses

Shirtwaist dresses: This style of dress you can easily find today (Trashy Diva has a few they make). The simple dress features a button down style top often seen with a flared or A-line skirt. Just like everything else during this time it was considered useful for most daily activities.

How to wear this look: Pair it with a pair of saddle shoes (and bobby socks-they appeared in the 40’s first) or wedge or peep toe shoes. Hair in victory rolls or try a pin curl set. Add a ribbon, Flower or a snood to the hair. Once again…put on those red lips.

1940s Shirtwaist dress



















Rayon Dresses were very popular during the 40’s as it was the dress”that never creased and had silk-like quality to it” and made going from day to evening very easy. Many of the dresses would be in colourful prints, knee-length and very simple cuts. Bolero and fitted jackets were added to the dress to create more outfits.  This style was very popular for swing dancers.

How to wear this look: Same styling as image below.

1940s rayon dresses




1940’s dress features:

  • Cap sleeves (sometimes with a small slit on the side for ease of movement)
  • Puffed up sleeves with gathers at the top
  • Dress necklines: Cut-outs (got to loves cut-outs!), Square, keyhole, V etc.
  • Sequins & beads: Not rationed by the war, sequins were sewn on dresses, jackets and shawls to add drama to day wear and evening wear.
  • Evening Dresses “Long”: Were Strapless (elegant and saved on material!), spaghetti strapped or halter topped, draping from the waist was seen as well.
  • Evening Dresses “Short”: Women would wear cocktail dresses (Little Black dress made its way to the scene) or Suits. This look was very popular during the height of the war.


1940's evening gown

1940s eveningwear short and long dresses


Now for something a little different….

Sportswear & Ready to Wear (Originated from New York Fashion Industry)

Highlights (but not limited too):

  • Shirtwaist dress (mentioned above)
  • Pinafore Dress-often seen in Gingham
  • Sundresses in cotton
  • Plaids, checks and stripes were often seen in Ready to wear outfits
  • Designers: Claire McCardell and Clare Potter
  • Beachwear or Swimsuits (Maybe you would like to go as Pinup Betty Grable)
    • One piece suits were form fitted, Halter or V neck with bottoms that were like shorts (but went to the top of the thigh) or skirt shaped.
    • 2 pieces swimsuits were not like what we know today. They were high-waisted, and the top was the same as above. Note: The Bikini was invented in 1946.
    • Playsuits: Very short dresses that wrapped around a swimsuit. Also playsuits with long skirts and front buttons with a snug leg under panties and bra-like top.
1940s pinafore dress
Pinafore Dresses
1940s vintage sundress
1940s sundress
1940's playsuit
1940s Playsuit

1940s playsuit



1940s vintage swimsuit images


How to wear these looks: If you are going for the “Sportswear” look think of a “younger look”. Simple pageboy hair style, no hat, saddle shoes, peep toe shoes or wedges. Ribbon in the hair if you like. Cute and simple. Red lips!

For Swimwear: Look to the Pinups of the time for style inspiration. Betty Grable, Ava Gardner, Jane Russel. 1940’s hair style and 40’s shoes and your good to go. Oh! and a flower in the hair always helps (As everyone knows or now knows 🙂 I’m a big hair flower fan)

Hawaiian themed & Mexican Influences

  • Sarong Dresses and Hawaiian prints – MY personal favorite
  • Peasant tops-off shoulder blouses with drawstring and puffed up sleeves and a full peasant skirt. Think Carmen Miranda

How to wear this look: With the styles above, 1940’s hair and makeup is a must. Add flowers…lots of flowers to one’s hair. Pile on the Bakelite bracelets for extra effect.

1940s vintage hawaiian dress

1940s vintage summer outfits for women
Peasant tops and playsuits again
1940s sarong dress
Sarong Dresses-MY FAV!


Christian Dior’s “New Look”-1947

With the war over, materials available and France open for business again a brand new look was created for women called “New Look” by Christian Dior. The idea was to let the curves of the women’s body be molded by the clothes. Highlights:

  • Small nipped in waist
  • Full skirt falling below mid-calf
  • Soft shoulders, NO MORE SHOULDER PADS!
  • Loads and loads of fabric

1940s playsuit mexican look





















How to wear this look: Kitten heels or pumps, dramatic hat, gloves, red lips, black eyeliner and impressively styled hair.

 Pinterest Inspiration:

I have a few boards on Pinterest that I have been filling up with great style ideas. Check them out:

Where to buy 1940’s clothes:

For places in Toronto: Visit Gadabout in Leslieville or Cabaret Queen St. West. Kensington market might have some 1940’s clothes or “Like” clothes (Flashback, Exile, Ego). Meaning you might find a 1980’s dress influenced by the 40’s and since you have a bunch of new info on the “look” of that time period you could easily pull it off. For new vintage style dresses check out: Rosie the Rebel on bloor st west, Damzels on queen st east and on roncesvalles, Tatyana on Queen St.West and Loveless on College St.

In Elora there is a very amazing dress shop called “Sweet Trash” which will be able to help you with your 1940’s dresses/suit hunt.

Online: Etsy is always a good place to shop, as is Ebay.

Trashy Diva and Stop Staring , Vivian of Holloway (have beautiful sarongs) have some good 1940’s influenced outfits as well (I own two “shirtdresses” from Trashy Diva).

So my ladies, there you have it A high-level overview of what you could wear to Swing Out to Victory..or really any swing dance/event you wish to attend. I hope this has helped you get your brain going and I look forward to seeing all the pics of your beautiful outfits (since I sadly have to miss this year )


New venture

Hi Everyone! This blog is a new venture for me because unlike my blog in the past which focused on my crazy dating life (which is non-existent now that I’m married lol) this one is about my passion for all things Vintage from 1920’s-60’s with a focus on my love of Lindy Hop and Rockabilly.

I currently live in Toronto and I Lindy Hop regularly and when I go out I try to always dress up and look the part of someone from the 40’s or 50’s. Even during the day I have found myself dressing more in the vintage look than jeans and t-shirts. I’m just feel more like “me” when I wear vintage (or reproduction) clothing then I do in normal street wear.

So with that said, when I’m dancing I always get asked about “where I got that?”, or “how did you do your hair?” etc. so I felt that starting a blog would be the best way to give you MY take (and my guest bloggers take as well, that I will have time to time) of everything you need or want to know about living the vintage life with a Toronto Lindy Hopper twist (aka some Cdn content lol).

Lastly, I decided to call my blog “The Vintage Inn” because I really feel that it expresses exactly what I’m trying to do with this blog… “A place where all things Vintage live”, a “Catch all” you could say. Clothing posts, hair & makeup posts, online shopping tips, where to vintage shop in Toronto, etc.

So stay tuned for my next official post.

I will leave you with a pic of yours truly “Liz”.