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History of Swing Dancing

History of Swing Dancing

Swing Dance

Anyone has the power and ability to showcase his individuality as he is presented with various ways of expressing himself. This can be done through the written word or by orally articulating his thoughts and ideas. Some people can better express themselves through singing songs that touch the heart while there are others who would rather perform in front of an audience to exhibit their artistic skills. Dancing is one way of displaying one’s flare on the dance floor. Be it a professional or an amateur dancer; one thing is common in their experiences, that of an exhilarating feeling as one move to the beat of the music and doing the appropriate movements.

Swing is one of the more notable and enduring dances that have been developed. When you talk about Swing, it is very interesting to note that there are some dance forms falling under this category. The swing dance includes the Balboa, Bop, Charleston, East Coast Swing, Jitterbug, Jive, Lindy Hop, Push, Shag, West Coast Swing, and Whip.

It was during the 1920s, in the United States, that people took their first steps to swing music. Swing traces its roots to Jazz music as the dance originated from the African American community during that period. The swing fever went on to conquer the rest of the world. From the late 1920s until the 1940s, these years are referred to as the swing era. Even today, the dance steps in swing are still being performed to modern music.

The pioneer of swing dance was the Lindy Hop that was danced in the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, New York. The Lindy Hop can be executed to any jazz or blues music. Then came the Jitterbug, Charleston and other variations of the swing dance. The basic differences with these swing dances involve the step patterns that may consist of 6 or 8 beat rhythm units. Some swing dance makes use of spinning and pushing moves mixed with some kicking moves, which makes this dance style truly quite energetic to accomplish. Swing may also be combined with other well-known dance styles. As an illustration, the dance “Swango” is a mix of swing steps as well as that of the tango, another favorite dance.

Ever since swing was first done on the dance floor, numerous competitions have cropped up showcasing the swinging prowess of its followers. Dancing contests distinguish between ballroom swing and street swing. The former follows strict step patterns as it is danced mostly during competitions for ballroom dancing while the latter is more flexible to interpretations. The type of swing dance performed should likewise conform to the music being played. Swinging jazz music is apropos to Lindy Hop, and ragtime music is most suitable to Charleston. Hip Hop Lindy, as the term implies is danced to the tempo of hip-hop music while Country Western Swing is apt to country and western music. Each state in America also have their respective popular swing dances that include the West Coast Swing in California, DC Hand Dancing in Washington, DC, Imperial Swing in St. Louis, Missouri, Supreme Swing in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Whip in Houston, Texas.

Swing dance is certainly one of the dance styles that will be passed on from one generation to the next as its steps continue to evolve.

Rosie The Riveter | Cultural Icon

Rosie The Riveter | Cultural Icon

Who is Rosie the Riveter? When the World War II began in 1939 the majority of the male workforce entered the armed forces to fight for our country. This left a gaping hole in the American workforce that needed to be filled by someone. Unfortunately, for many women at the time entering the workforce was something to be ashamed of. If a woman was working it meant that she was not taking care of her family. Additionally, because people assumed that a woman would never work unless she had to, people would assume the family was suffering financially and look down on them. All of the shame that came with working deterred many women from every considering picking up the slack in the workforce. This is where Rosie the Riveter came into play.

During World War II, pro-war propaganda became popular. Posters were made encouraging men such as plumbers or other construction workers to enlist and buy bonds, and encouraging women to grow “Victory Gardens” to supplement their food supply. When it became obvious to employers that women were needed in order to keep up with high demands for supplies, the government sponsored the propaganda poster of a woman clad in work clothes, flexing her muscles and proclaiming “We can do it!” This was just one of many propaganda posters targeted at women, and some targeted at their husbands, which sought to encourage women to join the workforce. Whether or not the posters were effective is debatable, as, though millions of women held jobs during World War II, only a small percentage of those women joined the workforce during the war.

Even though most people associate “Rosie the Riveter” with the propaganda poster, drawn by J. Howard Miller, that is not where the name, or even the concept, came from. “Rosie the Riveter” was a name given to any woman in the workforce at the time, used as a sort of slang. It was then popularized by a song, which was recorded by several different artists and eventually used as the theme for a film of the same name. Norman Rockwell also took a swing at drawing Rosie, which graced the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. No matter who drew Rosie, or sang about her, the message of “Rosie the Riveter” was that any woman could work and that women should be proud to do it. Over the years many rumors spread about who “Rosie” was, and while there are many guesses to who she might be, the character is considered fictional.

Despite the powerful depiction of Rosie, the truth is that she was used to empower women only when it was convenient. Women who were employed or promoted during World War II were expected to leave the workforce when the men returned from war. There were no long-term job opportunities for women in the workforce. In fact, once the war was over, the government began printing new propaganda posters encouraging women to go back home and be with their families. Employing women was seen as an unfortunate necessity during wartime, not equal opportunity. That being said, Rosie continues to be a feminist icon and continues to empower women and let them know that they can indeed do it to this day.

Written by: Emily Rose Farrell

American Homes in the 1950’s

American Homes in the 1950’s

A roofing company in Jupiter, FL enlightened us to pre-fabricated houses built in that era. Following World War II there was a huge market for single family homes. After the Great Depression in the 1930’s and the war during the 1940’s, people were desperate for traditional family values and a normal life. Because of this, the 1950’s saw a massive resurgence of the housing market. Because of this, the style of homes in the 1950’s really expanded. Houses needed to be built quickly and efficiently.

Pre-fabricated houses, although not a new discovery, but were very popular during the 1950’s. The most popular of these were Lustron Prefabs, which were made of metal. Due to the high demand, the company was unable to keep up with the orders coming in and ended up making less than 3000 of these houses. You can still find some of these houses around the United States. Quonset huts are another example of pre-fabricated houses in the 1950’s. These were metal houses that resembled huts that were used for shelters during World War II. Because they were already built, they were very simple and inexpensive and were a great solution to families who wanted a house of their own.
In an effort to utilize materials efficiently, architects sought to build single story houses that could work for larger families. The result of this was the Mid-Century Modern house, which can be found all over the United States. These were also called Ranch or Prairie style houses. These houses would have big, open floor plans with lots of room for movement. They would also have sliding glass doors to so that families would have easy access to the outdoors. After World War II, there was a lot of emphasis placed on spending time with family, specifically outdoors, so integrating houses into nature was important for many homeowners. The front of the house would often have a geometric design made of clean lines. Mid-Century Modern houses were often split level houses, utilizing multiple levels split by shorter staircases.

Another popular housing style during the 1950’s was the Cape Cod style house. This house was so popular that it was chosen as the shape of the houses in the game Monopoly. After such a turbulent time in the 30’s and 40’s, a traditional housing format like the Cape Cod house was desirable for many families. This style of house would have a large chimney as a focal point for the house, usually located right behind the front door. These houses look very traditional and have steep roofs and window borders. Other key features would be a narrow staircase and shingle siding. Given the name “Cape Cod” it should be no surprise that these houses were based on houses found near the cape, but these houses were built all across the country during the 1950’s.
Because of the demand for houses, the style of homes in the 1950’s really expanded to includes all types of homes. These houses can still be found all over the United States today. These houses, which are predominately single family homes, still make great homes today. The traditional style and open floor plans are perfect for new families building a home together.

Written by: Emily Rose Farrell

Fashion Style in the US During the 1950’s

Fashion Style in the US During the 1950’s

American fashion style in the US during the 1950’s was influenced by many social, cultural and economic factors. Unlike the period during the Second World War when there was rationing and limited access to fabric, different types of fabric in large quantities were available during the fifties allowing new fashion to bloom during this decade. The 1950’s was the beginning of one of the biggest economic booms in the United States. A lot of men were able to secure employment meaning consumerism was driven by housewives and the baby boom. Fashion marketing was hence directed towards women.

Women’s fashion during this era was to either make the lady find a husband or please her husband. Thin waist, large, defined bust and hips was a largely popular female shape. Many women and girls conformed to this standard. Bustier tops, corsets, controllers were considered standard women fashion. Nylon slimmers, latex and fare were also common. To achieve a cone like bust shape, bras and bust paddings would be used. Fashion during this period defined a woman’s societal standing. Five female outfits, each with a certain purpose emerged during the fifties. There was clothing for carrying out housework or staying at home, conducting errands or business, social gatherings, maternity and for women in low socio-economic classes, work uniforms. Most clothing was similar in both silhouette and shape but different in fabric, color and pattern. There was a certain desire that existed to impress and match with friends and neighbors. As a result, matching family outfits were common.

Men’s fashion made very few changes during this period. Choices included slacks, sweaters, suits, sports coats and casual wear. Casual wear had bolder colors and patterns emerging but business wear remained static during this period. Work clothing was sort of military like since most men had served in the military. In the middle of the decade, teenage culture and fashion began to emerge. Teenagers began to get disposable income from part-time jobs and their parents. Various formal fashions were marketed to this segment as proms and school dances became an important part of teenage life. Judging by the design of the dresses sold to female teens, they were meant to be worn during proms or school dances. Less conservative styles such as sexy silhouettes, tight shirts and skirts for women and rebellious looks such as studded boots and leather jackets for men emerged at the end of this period.

Written By: Robert0h

Fashion After the Great Depression | Stepping Into the 1940’s

Fashion After the Great Depression | Stepping Into the 1940’s

When thinking of fashion from different decades, some are easy to described. The 1920s had the flapper dress, the 1970s had bell-bottoms, etc. The 1940’s are not as easy to pinpoint. During the Great Depression in the 1930s, fashion was not a priority. When World War II started and the economy began to pick up, however, fashion was once again revived.

American fashion style in the 1940’s was very glamorous, but also comfortable. Women began wearing tailored suit like jackets with skirts, although pants were still worn predominately by men. The shoulders would be squared in order to accentuate the waist and skirts would end just below the knee. Matching sets were a very fashionable choice, as long as gloves were included in the ensemble. Bright colors came back into fashion, as dyes became more accessible.

Another trend in women’s clothing in the 1940’s was to have outfits for different parts of the day. Women might have different outfits prepared for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, depending on the occasion. Tea or day dresses would be worn during the day, mostly in the house or for running short errands. Utility suits, otherwise known as Victory suits, could be worn for work or to meetings. Cocktail dresses, usually short and flared, could be worn with pearls and gloves to evening events.
Shoes became much more elaborate than the standard shoes from the 1930’s. Women’s shoes in the 1940s became thinner and less chunky. Heels became more delicate and a little higher. The 1940’s also saw the popularization of the wedge shoe, often called the wedgie. The peep toe also became popular and could be found on wedges and regular heels. Women also began wearing oxfords, saddle shoes, and loafers, which were fashioned after men’s shoes.

Perhaps one of the most iconic pieces of fashion and art from the early 1940’s was the portrait of “Rosie the Rivetter” who was the personification of the American woman in the workforce. Because women began working more, pants and overalls became an acceptable fashion choice, though still not quite as popular as skirts. Pants were usually high waisted and flowing, to emulate skirts.

While men’s fashion remained fairly standard, women’s clothing in the 1940’s became much more fashionable and people began to experiment with clothes again. Fabric rationing during the war led to higher hemlines and women in the workforce led to pants being more widely worn by women. The risks taken with bright colors and bold clothing really paved the way for future fashion innovation.

 

Written By: Emily Rose Farrell

1920’s Fashion in America | A Vintage Look at the 1920’s

1920’s Fashion in America | A Vintage Look at the 1920’s

The 1920’s fashion trends have been featured in many articles, photographs and print so as to give us a picture of how our great ancestors trended in their own cool way. However, today many fashion houses have tried to bring the vintage style back and have been greatly appreciated by fashion experts.
On a lighter note, after the World War 1, the fashion world changed. Some high end upscale textiles were now affordable, and made it possible for trendy fashionable items to be made at home. In the 1920s most clothes were handmade. However, one stunning thing about the 1920s fashion was the outline of their designs. The clothes were notably straight and flat. At times it almost looked like any style other than straight was a big no. The straight shape is a distinct component in the 1920s style.
Let us take a look at how 1920s wardrobe was like back then.

1. Hats and head wear.

There were several styles for women’s hats. Some were styled like bonnets and others were close fitting commonly known as Felt Helmets. Most of the hats had silk roses, buckles, ribbons, feathers, pins and many more. The style differences were endless, with some having a ribbon loop on its side, while others had gold lace trim and were in velvet. Although women’s hats were of various types, men’s hats were simple an quite the opposite since they were in black, blue or a shade of brown colors. The hats were made of felt and had the same style you see in the 1920’s movies. There was also the option of a snap-front, woolen hat.

2. Coats and outerwear.

Coats were often made of brown and dark blue subdued colors, and often had large buttons. Furs were popular with these coats. Almost any animal was available to line the coat’s insides or even to act as a warm collar. Many coats, however, were long in that they stretched below the knee, shorter coats were also in fashion. Sport jackets were popular as well due to functionality and convenience.

3. Sweaters.

Woolen sweaters were also common in the 1920s. They came in different colors, but navy and maroon were the popular choices. Some sweaters featured buttons done the front while others had wide colors and belts. Cardigans were also very popular. They were double knitted and all-wool and came in a large range of colors. They had anywhere between three to six buttons, with or without pockets.

4. Shoes.

Shoes back then were most of the time laced up above the ankle, having a fairly tall heel for women and come in many colors but many women wore brown or black leather shoes. While men shoes came in black or blown cap toe oxford for office wear, converse tennis shoes for casual and formal brogue wingtip.

As women’s fashion was rapidly breaking ground, men’s fashion style remained relatively the same. Men wore suits together with hats into town and wore flannel at home. But more on that another time.

 

Written By: Tony King