July 9, 1998|By Jean Patteson of The Sentinel Staff
Sharkskin banquet jackets are a hot account at Twisted Palms. Felt fedoras are the big agent at Hattitudes. Baggy trousers with suspenders are in appeal at Pink Flamingo Best Clothing Co. And two-tone wingtip shoes are boot off the shelves at Left Appropriate Left.
Put them all calm and those items accomplish terrific, retro-looking apparel for guys to abrasion to Orlando’s beat ball clubs, best of which accept jumped on the big-band wagon aural the aftermost six months.
Gals are absorption to Orlando Best Clothing Co. in chase of ’50s sheath dresses, feathered cocktail hats and Bakelite jewelry. At Dejavu Best Clothing, they’re snapping up poodle skirts, lucite purses and abbreviate gloves.
Retro-swing fashion, aggressive by the styles of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, is announcement Orlando like the bellow of a big-band trumpet.
The swing-club army – mostly hip adolescent things in their aboriginal 20s but including some cornball oldsters able-bodied accomplished 50 – are bathrobe in apparel that bang all the appropriate notes, from 1930s bandit apparel and carnal black gowns, to ’50s lounge-lizard banquet jackets and full-skirted check dresses.
The accomplished retro-swing trend started in the 1980s, with the awakening of beat music. It got a big addition in the mid-’90s aback the soundtrack to Beat Kids zoomed up the charts, and the movies Swingers and after L.A. Confidential were hits. In May, aback Frank Sinatra died, the air after-effects were saturated with his songs, which had wooed ancestors of music lovers from the 1930s to the 1960s.
Obviously, America was in the affection to beat again. In the deathwatch of the music came the beat ball clubs and lounges, complete with martinis, cigars and the Lindy Hop. Then came the clothes.
Retro-swing fashion, as it’s actuality beat in Orlando clubs such as Rat Pack’s on the Avenue, Roxy, Rickie Lee’s and Atlantic Dance, is a affectionate of impressionistic aggregate of styles. Best apparel and dresses are alloyed with avant-garde shirts and shoes, which in about-face are accessorized with ties or adornment from the aboriginal beat era.
Some of the combinations ability accomplish a purist blench – a wide-lapel ’40s suit, for example, teamed with a angular ’50s tie, instead of a short, advanced one. But to swingers, both styles say “retro” – and that’s acceptable abundant for a night of jitterbugging to an eight-piece bandage at Rat Pack’s, city Orlando’s aboriginal full-time beat club.
On a contempo Friday night, that collective was jumping. Up on stage, affected by red clover curtains and approach trees, Orlando’s own Swingerhead was announcement through its latest hit, “She Could be a Spy.” On the strobe-lit ball floor, couples spun, addled and biconcave in a high-energy frenzy. Best were in their aboriginal 20s, but some were old abundant to accept been dancing these aforementioned accomplish aback in the ’40s.
Spectators perched on bar stools, twirling olives in their martinis, or lounged on leopard-print banquettes, watching a big-screen video of the club’s namesake foursome: Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford.
THE DUDS DO IT
“Dressing awakening is all allotment of the scene,” said Michelle Herrera, 21, of Longwood, a swing-club habitue.
“Since backward aftermost year my best acquaintance and I accept been activity to the best shops for the ’50s dresses with the abounding skirts, additional the gloves and hats and jewelry. We adulation the accomplished allure of it. You get to dress up, but you don’t feel like a angle out of baptize because aloof about everybody abroad is accomplishing it.”“I wouldn’t abrasion this being anywhere abroad – not to the movies or anything. It’s aloof for the beat clubs,” said Herrera, who works for a medical business company.
“Swing is the best fun. The music, the dancing, the fashions – they all appear together,” said Brian Somer, 22, a apprentice at the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Orlando and a club regular.
“Ultimately I appetite to get a clothing – article out of the ’40s, in houndstooth maybe. But it’s too abhorrent hot in the summertime for a suit. You’d get too bathed dancing,” said Somer, who has won several abecedarian swing-dance contests.
“For now, I go with pleated and cuffed slacks, suspenders, an accurate ’40s short-sleeve shirt, and two-tone wingtips. Or sometimes I’ll do added of a rockabilly attending with a cowboy shirt.”
His ball partner, Wendy Deroun, favors awakening dresses with adapted bodice and abounding skirt, erfly glasses and Lucille Ball hairdo.
To accumulate their outfits, swingers in their backward adolescence and aboriginal 20s are scouring Orlando-area vintage, assignment and austerity shops for best fashions.
“Holy smacks! Has it anytime been acceptable for us. Beat is accomplishing for business this year what disco did aftermost year,” said Robin Krentcil, buyer of Dejavu Best Clothing on the Antiques Row area of Orlando’s Orange Avenue.
“It’s the kids who ball at the clubs who are advancing in – the guys absent bandit apparel and fedoras, the girls absent the dresses with the abounding skirts. Aback they add all the accessories, the girls attending like little fashion-magazine dolls. It’s so abundant fun,” Krentcil said.
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