People come to Los Angeles from all over the world looking for one thing: Hollywood glamour. The modern film industry certainly doesn’t offer it, and most of Hollywood’s old hot spots have been tarnished by pervasive technology. However, on August 11, visitors to the Original Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax were transported back in time during the Dapper Day Summer Soiree.
Dapper Day is a company that has been organizing stylish outings to Disney theme parks for ten years. It started at Disneyland in Southern California in 2011, but the custom has since spread to Disney World and Disneyland Paris. Twice a year, attendees can “go out in style” in the happiest place on earth, shop at a display of vintage and retro vendors at the Disneyland Hotel, and dance to live swing bands . The event usually takes place in the spring and fall, and it is very popular.
Summer Soiree was the first Southern California gathering Dapper Day has hosted outside of Disneyland in years. The Original Farmers Market was a great location, as its large outdoor space of tables, restaurants and food stalls has remained very similar since it opened in July 1934. The rich history made it the perfect setting for the aftermath. midday and evening live swing music. and dancing with retro and vintage summer clothes sold and worn.
A fun event
If you’ve ever been to the Original Farmers Market, you know it’s a place like no other. There are places to buy every type of food you could want, as well as gift shops and produce carts. Not everyone is familiar with the upstairs terrace, which is sometimes reserved for meetings and special events, but is otherwise haunted by employees during lunch breaks. This charming covered terrace was reserved for Dapper Day festival-goers from noon.
At 2 p.m., the Dapper Day booth opened, giving attendees free lapel pins and selling retro clothing and accessories in themed designs, which are still available for purchase online. Many people gratefully bought colorful paper fans to cool off between dances on hot summer evenings.
I arrived around 5pm and things were pretty slow. The band was settling in, getting ready to play in an hour. After getting my event pin at the Dapper Day booth and buying some food, I went to the upstairs terrace. It was delightfully peaceful up there, with a lovely breeze blowing through the open windows. Looking at the historic clock tower, in front of which the band was setting up, I could see more and more people arriving and filling the chairs that were set up in front of the bandstand. Although the event was planned for the whole day, it really started at 6 p.m., since most people came to dance.
At 6 p.m., Jumpin’ Joz started playing. Self-described as “the hottest band for swing music and dance in Southern California,” this five-piece band set up their instruments on a small bandstand in front of the famed Farmers Market clock tower . For two hours they played an entertaining mix of jazz, big band, swing and 1940s-50s rock and roll, including classics like “Whatcha Know, Joe?”, “There Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens”, and “Bewitched, Deranged and Bewildered”. People of all ages and walks of life gathered at the bandstand to cut a rug. Some of the guests were young vintage enthusiasts who jumped at any opportunity to swing dance, while others were older folks who likely attended many of the Original Farmers Market’s live music events on Thursday nights. ‘summer. As usual at these events, there were more ladies than gentlemen, but anyone with itchy feet got a chance to ride the truck.
A forgotten hobby
Ballroom dancing as a recreational hobby is truly a lost art. The last generation that liked to dance as a couple were the teenagers of the 50s or early 60s, but their children preferred twist and disco, and their grandchildren eventually gave up any formal style of dancing. However, the art of swing dancing has not been completely lost since the 1950s. It has seen resurgences over the years, and it now has a growing fan base among those interested in what some call the counterculture. Today’s counterculture often consists of a unique aesthetic trend that evokes the early to mid-twentieth century, particularly the 1950s. Counterculture enthusiasts often enjoy fashion, music, movies, decoration, architecture, automobiles and dance from earlier eras. Some followers incorporate the style into their daily lives, through vintage or retro clothing and household items, while others reserve the hobby for events and festivals.
Since the internet has made information and images from the past easily accessible, many young people are discovering vintage life and falling in love with it. In response to this growing trend, brands and events dedicated to retro aesthetics are popping up in the US and UK. Many retro festivals combine classic car shows with live music and swing dancing and the wearing and selling of retro and vintage clothing. (In case you get confused, vintage clothing was actually made in a bygone era, whereas retro fashion is new items that replicate old styles, with varying degrees of accuracy.) Another place you’ll find necessarily vintage chests of drawers is the classic film festivals. or one-on-one screenings of old movies, though such events rarely cater to the swing-dancing and vintage-fashion crowd.
In Southern California, particularly in the Los Angeles area, there is a thriving counterculture community. Once you get the hang of it, you can find enough vintage activities to keep you busy for all your free time. Dapper Day hosts two trips to Disneyland a year, as well as occasional outings to other locations, such as Summer Soiree. The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles hosts frequent events, often centered on architecture and fashion, such as the Avalon Ball on Catalina Island each May, monthly cocktail parties at historic venues, and a presentation or an occasional visit to an important place. The Cicada Club is a 1930s-style nightclub that features gourmet food, dancing, and a different live band every weekend night, enforcing a strict formal dress code to keep it classy. In addition to these, there are many other vintage theaters, nightclubs and restaurants that appeal to the retro crowd through themed events or their sheer historical value, such as Musso & Frank Grill. After attending a few of these events or places, like me, you will start to see the same people, as this is a very specialized niche group.
Join the fun
If you’re looking for a new hobby or activity, I highly recommend swing dancing. Getting involved in the vintage movement can be great fun, as it offers activities for a wide variety of interests. Between shopping, automobiles, music, dancing, antiques and architecture, there really is something for everyone. Extended families, friends and couples can spend time together while exploring themed events and destinations.
A great way to see if you like the vintage scene is to go to an event like the Dapper Day summer party. You might find your first retro or vintage piece to start your new fashion collection. You can listen to music and watch dancing, which is a great way to learn to dance yourself! These events always attract experienced dancers who are happy to dance with newcomers, no matter how inexperienced. Many events include a short pre-course on the dances to be presented. Dancing is not only great fun and great exercise, but also a wonderful way to meet new people or rekindle the romance with your spouse!
It’s wonderful that organizations like Dapper Day offer such inviting free events to encourage people to join in the fun! If you live in California or Florida, visit the Dapper Day website to find out how you can attend one of their fall outings at Disneyland/Disney World or another upcoming event. No matter where you live, you can search online for swing dance clubs, studios, restaurants, and events in your area. You will be surprised at what you find! Once you’ve discovered your niche and made a few friends, you’ll never want to stop dancing in style!
The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Epoch Times.