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Rock and roll – how I got my groove on

1 Jun

It turns out I’m a bad blogger. This is not surprising! But nonetheless, it is a little terrible that this story has sat waiting to be told since February.

I started rock and roll dancing about June or July in 2011 with Feet with Heat and instantly was hooked. I could see I’d finally found my “thing” and decided that I wanted to do as much as I could! Unfortunately my partner G would rather (insert painful metaphor) than dance, so I went alone, but going any further than just dancing in class requires a partner. I was really lucky to meet a guy at dancing, D, who is fun to hang out with and fantastic to dance with, and we decided within a few weeks that we should have a few practices and see if we could get any better.

Me and D at Feet with Heat ball 2011

Me and D at the Feet with Heat ball 2011, where we danced up a storm with each other and the rest of our studio

Come early this year, our dance teacher decided that D and I were doing ok and should enter a small dance competition held as part of Rockin’ the Hutt, a street festival and fair in Lower Hutt, Wellington, on February 26th.

Now, I should explain that I do performance anxiety poorly. Or well, depending on your point of view. Anything that involves being watched, assessed, or judged turns me into a dithering mess. So it was with trepidation and a huge amount of personal development that I agreed to this craziness! But D was keen and supportive and I knew that we’d have fun so I signed up.

Of course, once the paperwork was done the important thing was what I was going to look like! I wore my skull and roses dress (yet to be blogged about) and arranged people to do my hair and makeup. Claire of The Vanity Case and Miss La Belle of Miss La Belle’s Hair Pretties were sharing a stall in the market selling Besame vintage makeup, vintage hair styling, and handmade hair flowers and pretties. So at 9 am I got my hair and make-up done sitting on a stool in the middle of the street!

Claire of The Vanity Case doing my hair in vintage victory rolls

close up of hair and fascinator

One of Miss La Belle’s psychobilly hair pretties, a skull on a butterfly, the perfect complement to my skull and roses dress! And yes, I am going to add a strap keeper to the dress. Photo credit: Julian Thomson

The wonderful Mrs C had also decided that D needed to coordinate and kindly made him a tie and pocket handkerchief that matched my dress. He looked great.

Walking the ring for the best dressed competition

D and I walking the ring for the Best Dressed competition. Check out D’s matching tie and pocket handkerchief. The handkerchief is made from the same cotton as my contrast band and has a tiny skull appliqué on the corner!

D and I competed in the rock and roll open (where you are judged as a couple), entered individually in the jack and jill (where you dance with lots of partners and are judged individually) and entered best dressed.

Dancing action shot

A bit of petticoat showing. Thank goodness for my slip! Photo credit Julian Thomson.

dancing action shot

D and I mid turn. Love how the skirt flares. Photo credit Julian Thomson

We also got lots of social dancing in between different competition rounds, trying to keep up with the wild rock and roll tunes spun out by Wellington’s own X-Ray Cats.I was a nervous wreck just before the open section, but D distracted me with kind words and bad jokes, and we made it through the competition without falling off the dance floor, which was a raised stage set up in the middle of the street. That was my main concern so I was happy!

Social dancing action shot

Social dancing with D’s dad, D in the background. The dance floor was busy! Phot credit Julian Thomson.

Social dancing action shot

Another gratuitous dancing shot. Photo credit Julian Thomson

The X-Ray Cats getting into the moment

Finally, at the end of the day the results were announced, and to my delight, we did well! D and I were shocked and thrilled to find we came third in the rock and roll open, and we now each have an actual medal hanging on the wall. I was even more shocked to discover I came second in the follows in the jack and jill. And to top off the day, D and I won best dressed competing couple, meaning we each got a tidy sum to put towards dance shoes from Kanikani shoes. I love my new dance shoes.

Triumphant best dressed winners and dance placers!

Not a bad start to competitive dancing! And just like that I was hooked. Since then D and I competed in a small club competition in Whanganui, on very short notice, where we surprised ourselves by coming 5th in a field of 7, which was very exciting as we were the only couple freestyling and not doing well-rehearsed routines.

Coming into cuddles, a great move. Skirt me-made and to be blogged about. Photo credit Julian Thomson

Coming out of sliding doors, another neat move. Photo credit Julian Thomson

And to top it off, on Sunday just gone, D won the leads in the rock and roll Jack and Jill organised by our studio and held at the Southern Cross bar. And I won the follows!

I’m still an absolute bundle of nerves before every event but I see this as a great way to do something I love and overcome a personal limitation. And who knows where to from here? There will be more to follow!

Finished object: pink polka dot circle skirt

20 Mar

My first completed project post! I’ve been held up on posting by a lack of pictures of me posing prettily-ish in any of my finished works. But I’ve decided to plunge ahead with this post with only action shots and see how it goes. If I get around to getting some appropriate posed photos, I’ll add them in!

Pink polka dot skirt

Me and the pink polka dot skirt on the dance floor

McCalls 5811Pattern: McCalls 5811
Year: about 2010
Fabric: cotton sateen with a small percentage of spandex, in stash for about 6 months
Notions: zip, trouser hook
Made: Finished March 2011, started not much earlier (a fast make for a change!)
Techniques used: lapped zip, slip-stitching waistband
Time to complete: A couple of hours maybe?
What I learned: doing something for a second time makes it easier. I can do lapped zips afterall – and YouTube is your zip techniques friend.
Wearable? Worn as often as I can get away with it! But it’s not on high rotation as I have a theory that really identifiable garments shouldn’t be worn out all the time – otherwise people will think I don’t have any other clothes!
Likeability: I love it! 10/10
Unsolicited comments: “You look like Minnie Mouse.” Hmm, not sure about that one. But I get lots of other lovely comments, and my favourite was “you look like happiness.” Aww

This is my second circle skirt. My first circle skirt has dropped (despite being hung) and needs to be re-levelled and hemmed so I’ll post about that skirt (and more about actually making a circle skirt) when it is re-finished. Grr.

Circle skirts are already easy to make and being my second, this one came together in a cinch for a nice change. The heavier weight cotton was easy to work with and the project seemed to fly by. I did my first lapped zip in years (my last few zips have all been invisible zips) and even that turned out perfectly fine with no hassles, thanks to a quick refresh with the help of Google and YouTube. All in all it was a pleasant sewing experience!

I love circle skirts! As well as being easy to make, they are so much fun to wear, and (at least I think so) very flattering. And I love dancing in them! I do rock and roll dancing (at beginner level) and there are lots of twirls and spins, and circles skirts are the finishing touch needed for such frivolity. Of course, such spinning and twirling shows one’s knickers quite a lot, so before I debuted this skirt, MrsC at the Hectic Eclectic helped me make a ruffled, super froofy petticoat with built in slip, and did a great tutorial on it here.

The dance studio I go to for rock and roll (Feet with Heat) had their Christmas party and medal presentation in December 2010. I went with my dear friend Miss La Belle, wore my polka dot skirt and had a blast!

Me and Miss La Belle

Miss La Belle and I get a photo on the way into the party. My knees are bent as I am a lot taller than Miss La Belle (due only to my stomping heels) and the photographer needed our heads at the same height!)

Me, and the skirt, in action.

Pink polka dot skirt in action

Just starting or finishing a spin, with the skirt at almost full altitude.

Not the most graceful set of photos but they do show the skirt in full flight!

Pink polka dot skirt in action 2

More spinning!

The top is from a clothing swap, but I love it with its great flutter sleeves so may take a pattern off it one day.

Pink polka dot skirt in action 3

It's all about the spins!

Earlier in that day, I did something amazing, at least for me. I did a dance exam. Yep, I sat the beginners level dance exam for rock and roll. This is amazing if you knew my reputation (poor) for having any level of coordination, combined with my abject terror of any form of exam. For rock and roll the beginners exam is called a bronze medal test and if you pass, you get an actual medal. It isn’t quite as scary (and therefore cool) as it sounds though. The exam consists of one minute slow dancing and one minute fast dancing, with my teacher as my partner. But I shook like a leaf before, during, and after. I have to admit I didn’t wear my circle skirt for the exam – I didn’t want the examiner to think that I thought I was all that and mark me harsher for it, so I wore my birdie bridesmaid’s dress, still to be posted.

Not only that, but in between my medal test and the party, I did something else amazing, at least for the camera-shy me. A retro kitchen pin-up shoot, in my skulls and roses dress! I’ll post pictures from that when I do my skulls and roses dress post.

All in all a great day featuring a great skirt. Roll on more of my new wardrobe!

All photos courtesy of Julian Thomson