Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Thoughts on vintage, rockabilly and "the scene"

Reading Mary Deluxe and Temperamental Broad's recent blogs where they discuss Rockabilly, scenes, vintage snobbery, got me thinking and analyzing myself. Am I viewed as a "vintage snob" or a shallow "scenester?"

I bought my first vintage dress when I was only 16. I had borrowed a dress from a girlfriend and put my waist length hair up in a french twist one fateful night in 1983, and headed out to Mother's Disco. Mother's was an underage nightclub and when there wasn't a party or something fun to do, I would frequent the venue with friends on a Friday or Saturday night. While hanging out with a friend, she was trying to explain what creepers were. You know, the suede shoes with thick crepe soles that were popular with Teds, and later with punks. She looked down and said "Those shoes there, those are creepers!" We both scanned our eyes up to a very handsome face and she said, "It's Dave Burks!"

I did not know Dave, yet, but we became very good friends. Perhaps I had a little crush at first, who wouldn't? Check out his drivers license photo taken around that time:

That night, Dave told me I should never cut my hair. Did I listen? Of course not, and bobbed my hair not long after we met. Dave also introduced me to the world of thrift store shopping. He influenced my impressionable mind when he told me "You should always wear vintage dresses, you look better in them." That advise always stuck with me.

I started collecting and had a fine collection of beautiful silk and tulle that I wore to underground clubs in the 80s. I can remember being so frustrated with the clothing they sold in retail stores, nothing looked as good or was as glamorous as the vintage dresses I found at the thrift store. When I started getting into punk rock, I still wore a lot of the vintage dresses and made alterations to some of them. I think my favorite was the black velvet fitted top that I attached garter straps to and fastened fishnet gloves to. That top was inspired by Siouxie Sioux.

I lost that collection when I was pregnant. I was living with a girl (she is now on my facebook and might read this!) and when I moved out, I only took one dress with me and when I returned to get the rest I discovered she had sold them. I probably owed her rent, and besides, I would never again have 36-26-38 measurements!

I did not start buying vintage clothes again until the mid 90s, when I started attending some swing shows. I was about the size I am now, but after the birth of my younger two children, I never thought I would be able to wear them again and sold them around 2001 or 2002. I do regret that now!

In 2002, when I started venturing out to shows again, I ran into so many old friends. This is more than 10 years after I got sober, and I felt right at home. I weighed about 250 pounds and finding vintage was a challenge! My first Viva, I had a few vintage dresses but nothing was very special or very cute. Luckily there was good old Stop Staring, and Torrid had a great selection of rockabilly clothing. I started loosing a lot of weight in 2005, and by fall of 2006, I was about a size 14-16 and could find a vintage piece here or there, but also I discovered Whirlingturban. I bought about 8 Whirlingturbans that first 18 months after my first. I still have most of them, but I started gaining weight back through the end of 2007 and into 2008, so that the latter were made bigger.

I was back at weight watchers in September of 2009 when I started working at Time Zone Vintage. In a very short time I amassed a very nice wardrobe as I lost weight. I developed better style, obtained quality pieces that I had only dreamed of wearing in 2002.

Am I a vintage snob? I don't think so, aside from the fact that the vintage must be cute and flatter my figure. I don't care what other people wear, as long as they are looking the best they can. It's all about finding your style, what is flattering, and what fits. If it's modern clothes from H&M or vintage, or repro...it doesn't matter to me. I don't do much 60s or 70s because I don't think it looks flattering on me, or I don't like the feel of synthetic fabrics that were manufactured during that time. I don't like 80s, since after all, during the 80s I didn't like what the retailers were selling then!

Regarding the scene...my social life revolves around rockabilly music. There is a scene that surrounds rockabilly music. Therefore I am active in "the scene." I appreciated the music even more after I learned to dance, which only happened 3 years ago! I did go to shows for years before I learned to dance, but loved it even more after I learned. Now, any excuse to dance is all that is needed to get me out of the house. Here is proof...me at a Yelp Elite dance. No, I am not a "yelper" but my friend was hired to DJ so I took advantage of his invitation so I could dance.

In 2006, I was inducted into a group of girls called "The Bombshells." The Bombshells are a social club and we sponsor an event called "Booze Broads and Hotrods." Because I am a fan of rockabilly and psychobilly music, I would travel to a lot of shows. Being older, and a non drinker, I made friends, maintained friendships, and became acquainted with many people in bands or other lovers of music. I went to Viva, LA for the Hollywood Showdown weekenders, and many, many roadtrips to LA just to go to a good show. Between the club, and my personal relationships I started producing and promoting my own shows. I then started promoting rockabilly shows at two local clubs owned by good friends that I've known since the early 80s.

For anyone that had questions about me, or made assumptions that I was a snob or total scenester because of my posts about the bands I've worked with, shows and events I go to, or the clothes I wear, I hope this clears it up. Over half my wardrobe I got on trade at the vintage shop, and most of my ebaying has been done in the last year and a half, and I still find great deals! I have paid a lot or traded a lot for something really special, but I think it's worth it if it makes me look and feel fabulous!


Straight Talking Mama! said...

I would never think of you as a vintage snob! I think that the comments about snobbery are more about those people who judge you on the basis of what you wear.

I'm like you in that I've been around quite some time, I originally came from the love of the music then found the clothes, but I couldn't care less what people wear, as long as it suits them. Nothing worse than seeing someone wearing something cos it's 'in' on the scene but doesn't suit them. Years and years ago there was a big vintage western wear resurgence in the UK, I liked the look of it but it never suited me, so I never wore it!

Dolly Cool Clare said...

Really enjoyed this post Kim. Its always a recurring theme on blogsville about "The Scene" and this was refreshing reading.
I have always been into 50s and 60s stuff since being really young - first the music/films, then the clothes/styles/culture bit came later. My home is full of vintage homewares, and I love vintage accessories - but I'm not so big on the clothes. They never seem to fit me and I don't like the prints so much (apart from hawaiians - and most of the really nice ones are WWAAYYYY out of my price range!) I prefer repro hands down - spots, cherries, anchors, bows - all the stuff that a lot of "vintage" folk think is naff and cheesy. Do I care? No. I like it and it makes me happy to wear it and it suits who I am. I am not going to start wearing stuff I don't like, and that doesn't fit me right just to "look the part". At the end of the day, I love people watching and seeing what other folk wear and buy, which is why I love blogging. I have not really experienced any derogatory comments on what I wear or how I look when I am at "scene" events, apart from at Rhythm Riot which is VERY vintage. Again, it was only a few people and I didn't let it bother me. I meet a ton of people at all the shows and events I go to - vintage and non - who are all lovely and its not an issue. Every "Scene" or "Style" will always have this stigma attached to it like everything in life. I love reading your blog by the way - you are not a snob at all and your always provide a really interesting view on things going on over in the US - more please! :))

Kim Bombshell said...

Thanks for your sweet comments! It was kind of fun to write that all out. I know I will be meeting Fiona at the Rave, and I hope, you too Dolly, are at the Rave in June :-)


Shrinky Inky said...

Dave Burks - love that guy - he used to be my neighbor here on the Central Coast but then he and his lovely family moved!

I'm 51 years old, i've seen the scene come, go, come back, fester and linger. I stopped caring about who's the coolest and who's not and who has what and what you should have. I dress for me, I don't really listen to rockabilly music. It's okay if ppl like my style, it's okay if they don't. It's okay if it's vintage, repro, modern, whatever floats my boat. I just like people who have STYLE and own it.

We need to make ourselves happy, not everyone else ;)

Kim Bombshell said...

I love that you know Dave! He and I are still buds and he still loves to give me shit.

I dress for me, too, but my vanity does want to impress! I won't deny it! But it doesn't matter if it has some famous label if the dress is ugly or unflattering.

I LOVE rockabilly music, but I'm also a fan of 80s dance music, punk rock and psychobilly. The Pogues are probably one of my all time favorite bands.

Betty2Tone (Laura) said...

I've never read anything you've written that made you sound like a snob!

Temperamental Broad said...

Living in Denver I feel a lot of snobbery from non vintage wearers. Rockabilly here is way different than I am used to. There are only about 4 of us that wear vintage (give or take) and most in the scene either wear jeans and a t shirt (guys) or pencil skirts and halter tops (girls). Its a really casual scene. That being said, I don't feel the snobbery there. I just feel like they don't get it and cant really figure us out. We're tattooed and all but we're wearing our grandparents clothes. WTF!!

Where I feel the snobbery is when I'm out in the regular world and get stares and comments from 'normal' people. I do get nice comments too, but mostly its a lot of 'what is that???'

As far as being in a scene goes...I've always been a scenester of some sort I guess. I was a raver in high school which developed into clubbing at 80s, punk and goth nights. It was all intermixed in 'burque. I was pretty heavy into the goth thing when I started listening to the neo swing of the 90s. The whole swing thing looked amazing to me! I sought it out and was disappointed. Super casual, all ages, no alcohol. Boo!!! Then I found the Rockabilly crowd and it had everything I was looking for. I was hooked and still am. Burque's scene was like a little LA/SF, with all those bands coming thru on a regular basis. The way those two cities are is what I'm used to--Jiving, great music, great vintage clothes. I think in other parts of the country like Denver it is more casual. Its more car culture, Social D and country, and less vintage, R&B, and dancing. Its all Rockabilly at the end of the day, but I prefer a more California approach. That and the fact that my male counterpart and other half (e) lives in SF. Waaaaaa!!!!

Kim Bombshell said...

I get two reactions from people...either they think I'm fabulous or they look at me like I'm from another planet.

Here, in the burbs of SF, the pencil skirts and jeans are the majority. In SF, at events where there is dancing, there will be vintage. I dress for myself, but do like it if someone appreciates what I wear, but if they don't, no skin off of my nose!

Miss Dollie DeVille said...

Great post Kim! I loved reading about your past. I also don't think you are a vintage snob. But then again I don't think I am but apparently other people may. Like you said, we just like what we like, and take pride in ourselfs and how we look, but don't care what other people wear. I do compliment someone on a nice outfit to start up a conversation, but would never be unfriendly to a person based on something like a outfit. Can you name one person that you think is actually. A vintage snob? I can't. Even dealers that wear deadstock vintage head to toe everyday- they too just like what they like and want to look their best. I don't know who came up with this vintage snob thing, but maybe it's like big foot- everyone is always looking to point a finger at one, but upon closer inspection, it's not what you thought at all. Keep up the great work!!

Welcome to DeluxeVille said...

Knowing a little about the struggles you have gone through in life and the power it takes to overcome them, I doubt anyone would ever consider you the kind of person that judges others.

You just keep being you!

All the best,

Tasha said...

Kim, it was really fun reading your take on the scene and your involvement! I find it so interesting since everyone is different and approaches things from a different perspective. At the end of the day I love the music and I love the style and I just try to be the best gal I can be without passing judgment on what others like/don't like!

I hope I get to meet you at Viva! :)

Vivi.Deluxxxe said...

I can see how some people can consider others who wear vintage 24/7 as vintage snobs... (i'm definitely not saying that you are)... but when you see if from a somewhat outside point of view, you can kinda get a sense of where these judge-y name callers are coming..

When I say I see it as an outside point of view.. I mean so as in, I would love to wear vintage... but at the same time, some of it just isn't my taste.. or as a larger gal it's harder to find.. and living off of min. wage doesn't help when a lot of the clothing is at sky-rocketing prices (as you've so mentioned about etsy & ebay as well)... so I settle with repro for my quick "vintage-esque" fix and sometimes prefer the edginess some repro lines possess...
So sometimes when a repro/modern-day(yet has a vintage feel to it) clothing wearer is stuck in the middle of all these actual vintage clothing wearers talking about brands and eras their dresses/items are, you kinda feel outta place & put down below.
I compare it to modern women now a days.. you know, those who talk about their jacket is Prada, their pants Hermes, shoes Louboutin, jewelry Bulgari, etc. I used to hear it all the time at the high end salon I used to work at.. and I really didnt care to hear what name brands they were wearing and dropping. But I know at times I felt like they were flaunting & telling me all about it to make me feel inferior whilst I'm wearing my Target brand flats.

So yea.. even though one may not actually BE a snob, some but not all people, just might come off as one when they look at me as "that girl in the pencil skirt w/a polka dot halter top".

Temperamental Broad said...

Vivi.Deluxxxe-I like your perspective. most of my friends here are into Psychobilly so they dress completely different than I do, but I love them for their style (not just that of course!). Most of my other friends in SF and NM wear vintage though. At the end of the day we just all respect each others personal style. I just enjoy the fact that all my friends are unique!

Dolly Cool Clare said...

Yep, well said Vivi.Deluxxxe!
I just wanted to add that like Holly (Temperamental Broad) mentioned in her earlier comment, and I missed in mine - I actually get more negative comments and stares from "regular" people! ha! Its just not so nice to get the negative vibe from people who you consider to be into the same things as you - but they are in a very small minority so lets all wear what we like and just enjoy the music eh?!

jewlover2 said...

Kim...ooooo, you have a blog. :) I can officially stalk you now. >:} Anyway, I said all I wanted to about this topic at Holly's blog but I thought I'd give you a shout.

Kim Bombshell said...

Ashley! Did you have your baby yet? Are you coming to Vegas? I was away from blog writing for a couple months, I need to catch up to see if you posted anything about the baby.

The Vintage Housewife... said...

I loved your post!!!...wow it is so neat to read all about you and your life...you are so interesting!! gals can we all say it...who the heck cares any more...we love our vintage Yes we do! and we love things now...to make our life easier and more comfy...alas i love remix shoes...they don't break every moment i move!!!!!NO snobs! just fab rocken' kittens!!

KIm I love how your a ebay junkie...hahaha me too! hope we haven't outbid eachother! Kim i think you rock and oh my ,oh my you are in a group how freakin' rocken' is that...tell us more about your chick group...ok now i am really in envy!

Like you gals all said...lets just rock the real us!!! & rock out to the rockabilly music!!!! NOw miss inky...miss ya kitten so glad to see ya around..Cat~

jewlover2 said...

Kim, yes indeed...she's going on 4 months so we'll be there with bells on...and baby slings...and strollers...and diapers...and spit up in varying colors...and...;-)

luvgmt.com said...

You're one of the most approachable gals I know. Snob is the last thing I'd ever call you.



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