The Swell Time for a Swing Dance blog tour continues here today with a fun guest post from the author! With a title that includes the phrase "swing dance," you can bet there's some spinning and fast footwork involved in the pages of Cindy's latest mystery...and maybe in her own life too. :)
In this article, you'll get some insight into Cindy's love of swing dance, while also finding some tips on how to dress for a 1940s-style dance. Maybe you'll walk away with an extra spring in your step...and a new hobby!
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Dancing Through the Pages
By Cindy Vincent
Ever since I was a little girl growing up in the early 60s, I’ve always had a love of dancing. I think it started when I was about five or six, probably after learning how to square dance in kindergarten. As I recall, we were taught the Virginia Reel at a very early age, probably since it was simple enough that even a child could do it. Ha! From there, I had several years of ballet classes, along with the yearly recital, which always involved a satin and sequined tutu.
So naturally, when I was older and the swing dance revival of the 1990s came around, I wanted to be part of it. The only issue? I now had a husband who would rather have a root canal than go out dancing. Even so, with a lot of prodding, (and begging . . . lots and lots of begging,) he finally agreed to learn to swing dance. And while taking classes didn’t appeal to him, I bought a video (yes, an actual VHS tape), and we followed the steps and practiced in the privacy of our living room until we had the basics down pat. Then little by little, we added a few moves here and there until we were good enough to go out dancing for an evening and enjoy ourselves. (And yes, he had fun, too!) Though we weren’t exactly “Fred and Ginger” out on the dance floor, as my husband the engineer often joked, “What we lacked in talent, we made up for in g-forces.” Meaning, we danced very fast and had a lot of fun. But we certainly weren’t good enough to win any dance contests!
However, we did win another contest at a dance. Because many of the dances we went to (and there were many!) were re-creations of the WWII-era dances, dressing the part was a truly fun aspect of the evening. So we went all out. He wore a vintage 1940s tuxedo, and I usually wore an authentic 1940s dress, along with the hat and gloves and all the accessories, thus leading us to win “Best Attire” at a Fabulous Forties hangar dance at the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame. I still have the plaque in my office to this day.
Attending all these dances also led us to absolutely love swing music, especially the music of Glenn Miller. And though he passed away during WWII, a version of the orchestra regrouped in 1956, and it is still touring to this day. (With ever-changing members, of course.) You can find out about their tour schedule at https://glennmillerorchestra.com, and you can even go to one of their concerts, if you’d like to experience this wonderful music from the past. We’ve heard them play “live” many times, and it’s always hard to sit still throughout the whole show! In fact, people often jump up and start swing dancing in the aisles. (Okay, us included . . .)
And if you don’t know how to swing dance yourself, these days you’ll find plenty of swing dance instructional videos on YouTube. Plus, lots of cities have their own swing dance societies, and some cities even have hangar dances, 1940s USO style.
That brings me to a final subject: How do you dress for such a dance? Of course, for women, you’ll need bright red lipstick—Victory Red, as they called it—and you’ll probably want to wear a dress. In those days, the style was generally wider at the shoulders with an A-line skirt, to give a woman an hourglass figure. Here’s a vintage 1940s dress, similar to something Tracy might have worn in my book:
I also recommend that you wear long gloves, a small hat, and plenty of sparkly jewelry. Back then, women wore full jewelry sets at once—necklace, earrings, bracelet, and brooch. And to complete your look, panty hose with seams up the back will definitely put you in that era. Men can wear a double-breasted suit or baggy pleated pants and a sweater vest and bow tie. A fedora (hat) is a nice touch if you can find one.
Now I leave you with a little “incentive” to get out there and swing dance yourself . . . Here’s one of the best swing dance songs ever written, “In the Mood” by Glenn Miller:
Once you go swing dancing, you’ll understand why I included it in my book, Swell Time for a Swing Dance. It’s just so much fun!
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Want more? Find the full schedule (and a giveaway!) for
this "swell" blog tour HERE.
this "swell" blog tour HERE.
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