Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Dream for Adelita

On August 31st, my wife and I performed this showcase routine in memory of our first child, who passed away earlier this Spring.  As swing dancers, we felt it was a fitting tribute: for nine months our daughter was our consistent third dancer partner, bouncing along to the music she could hear and feel from the womb.

In all honesty, I was not sure how people would react to such a simple and melancholy routine.  I expected some polite applause and little more.  The choreography is basic, largely swingouts with accentuated moments of musicality suggested by Dax & Sarah who provided us with invaluable help on the routine.  This simplicity is in stark contrast to the other showcase routines that many had worked on months in advance to perfect complicated rhythms and sequences.  Furthermore Lindy Hop is a joyous and celebratory dance, one hardly associated with grief.  Frankly, the tremendous response we actually got was rather overwhelming.

Nevertheless, I really only have two creative outlets: I know how to write, and I know how to dance.  Ultimately no matter what an artist's medium is, the intense pain of something like the loss of a child is inevitably going to be channeled and expressed through their art.  While cathartic, performing this routine taxed me immensely. In those three to four minutes, the memories I carry of her brief but intense life came flooding back.  Leaving the floor I felt drained: physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

What made it all worth it was talking to people, many of them complete strangers, and hearing their reactions. A handful of parents confided in me that the routine reminded them of just how precious their own children are to them.  Some people reflected on their own loved ones who have passed away.    Others called or emailed loved ones who had lost children themselves to check in and see how they were doing.  I even was able to refer a couple of families dealing with child and sibling loss to The Compassionate Friends, the support group that my wife and I have attended since our daughters passing.

If anything I hope we were able to let people know that:
it is ok to be sad,
it is ok to grieve for the ones we have lost,
it is ok for us to remember them,
and it is ok to cry.      

In her short time with us, our daughter taught me so much above love and life.  It is hardly a surprise that she is still inspiring people even after she is gone.

Good night sweetheart. . .
pleasant dreams.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Pachuc@ Boogie at Eastside Luv May 18th 2014

Another great night planned by the one and only Barrio Dandy!  I will be deejaying the band breaks, so come check it out!

-Ladies & Gentlemen, Chucos Y Chucas, Hepcats and Hep Kittens Get Ready to Boogie & Rock N Roll !!

This Month of May at PACHUCO BOOGIE Sundays We bring a LIVE MUSICAL Performance by Pachuco Jose Y Sus Carnales @ Eastside Luv wine bar y QueSo (
1835 E 1st Street, Los Angeles, California 90033)

With your Host & Sponsor El Barrio Dandy from Barrio Dandy Vintage and Accessories. Our very own OG Pachuco Boogie Resident DJ Nikokoya bringing you the best in Vintage Sounds of the Barrios and Urban Boogie Clubs of the Late 1930s, 1940s Y 1950's.

The music we bring is a mix of Pachuco Boogie, Swing, Rock N Roll to Vintage Latin Sounds of Mambo, Rumbas to the Chicano Rock Y Oldies of yesteryear!

The music that put the beat and Rhythm in the Heart of our Barrios!

*21& Over W/ID
*Happy Hour Drink Specials 2x1 On Draft Beer 8pm-9pm
*$5 Cover All night




Sunday, April 27, 2014

Stacy Adams Concorde

Few shoes are seared into the collective memory of la Pachucada quite like the pointed toe "Concorde" by Stacy Adams.  Historically, Chicana and Chicano zoot suiters of the late 1930s and 1940s were known to wear thick and heavy triple-soled bluchers.  Yet over the decades, the elegant and streamlined shape of the "Concorde," the "Dayton" and the "Apollo" have come to be recognized as the de facto shoe of the pachuco.

Founded in Brockton, Massachusetts, the Stacy Adams Shoe Company built a cult following amongst men of color along the eastern seaboard and southwest of the United States.  Compared to other early and mid 20th century shoe companies, Stacy Adams was a much smaller operation.  As a result, the company's willingness to offer custom colors and styles to their stockists became a major part of the brand's appeal to working class patrons looking for creative ways to style themselves on a budget.  According to barrio lore, a Chicano patron of Penner's, a San Antonio men's clothing store, created the city's signature pachuco color of tangerine when Sam Penner filled his custom order for a pair of Stacy Adam shoes in the unlikely shade.  Penner's still offers tangerine calcos through their own line of Stacy Adams-inspired shoes, Stacy Penners.  Stacy Adams discontinued the practice, as the business, alongside Nunn Bush and Florsheim, have since been purchased by the Weyco Group and production of the shoes have been moved from Brockton to overseas.

A major contention vintage-minded pachucas and pachucos have held with contemporary Stacy Adams shoes is the use of faux patent leather resulting in a overly plastic appearance.  While their line of knob-toe "Madisons" (known amongst African Americans as biscuits) are offered in kidskin and built on leather soles, the "Concorde" and "Dayton" are rarely offered in anything other than poly poromeric.  To my surprise Stacy Adams have revived the kidskin "Concorde" for this season in black, white, gray, and yes, tangerine.  Unfortunately, they are still built on synthetic soles that lack jitterbug "slideability." Nevertheless, these calcos will look nice once properly shined up.  They can be ordered online, but you should go out and support your local mom & pop and ask them to special order them for you.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

2014: New Journeys On The Horizon

After an exhausting summer and fall, I decided that one of my resolutions for 2014 was to update Eastside Jitterbug at least monthly.  So be sure to check back in for features on conducting life history interviews, some projects I've been working on in Southeast Los Angeles, why swing dancing in Santa Barbara sucks/rules, as well as an unflinching look at my foray into parenthood!

See you soon!


Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Furukawa

While aesthetic and construction details can tell a lot about the origin of a vintage suit, very little can reveal the facets of a previous owner’s life.  A piece of vintage clothing carries a sense of history that often remains hidden to its contemporary owner.  With the exception of items passed down from older family members, most of the vintage garments we come across previously belonged to strangers, some of whom lived out their lives on the other side of the globe.  Yet, every once in awhile, we are afforded glimpses into the lives of a garment’s previous owner.  

Visiting a local vintage shop, I came across two vintage suits crafted by the same tailor.  Both suits were constructed of light and drapey wool gabardine and the slacks featured identical construction with matching “d-ring” self-fabric belts fitted into the dropped belt loops of the Hollywood-waist slacks.  A bit overpriced, I left both suits at the store and gave them little thought afterward.  After a few months, I returned to that same store and found just one of these suits remaining, I tried the suit on, and found it decently fit, save the shorter inseam on the pants.  I took the suit to the register and the guy rang me up.

About a week after purchasing this vintage suit, I discovered that a friend of mine had purchased the other suit.  His suit, navy blue and double breasted, lacked both the maker’s tag and union labels.  Hoping to gain some insight on the origin of his suit, he turned to the facebook page “Ask a Vintage Menswear Expert” for advice.  Recognizing the suit, I turned to my own closet and pulled out the suit I had picked up.  While his double-breasted suit carried no tags, my single-breasted suit did.  Sewn just below the inside breast pocket was a black and gold label that read “F.M. Fujii Merchant Tailor Lahaina, Maui. T.H.”   Above that pocket were the monogrammed initials of “MF.”  Upon further investigation, I found the name “Mitsuo Furukawa” handwritten in the lining. 

A quick Google search of F.M. Fujii in Lahaina, Maui turned up nothing.  However, what is certain is that F.M. Fujii would have been one of scores of East Asians operating tailor shops in Hawaii’s small but strong garment industry.   In the 1850s, tens of thousands of Chinese and Japanese came to Hawaii to labor in the burgeoning sugar and pineapple industries.  To supplement the low wages earned in the fields, many turned to opening their own business.  These businesses included custom tailoring and home sewing, with artisans employing fabrics imported from countries of origin.   As tourism began to rival agriculture as Hawaii’s premiere industry in the 1920s, the tailors began churning out brightly colored sport shirts giving birth to what would become the Aloha shirt.

Since my brief search for F.M. Fujii turned up nothing, I decided to try looking up the suit’s owner, Mitsuo Furukawa.  I knew my chances were slim, but I tried my luck.  To my surprise, I discovered a James Mitsuo Furukawa from Lahaina who had participated in a Veteran’s History Project archived at the Library of Congress.  Furukawa was already working as a laborer at the age of 16 when Pearl Harbor was bombed.  He actually saw the planes flying overhead and heard the explosions during the attack.  Later drafted in 1944, Furukawa surprisingly did not serve in the European theatre as many of Nisei did.  Instead, he worked as a translator for the US Army in the Pacific theatre.  What many may not know, is that Japanese Americans in Hawaii were not interned en masse the way they were in the continental United States.   However, during his service, he recalls himself and other JA servicemen having to wear special badges and being restricted from certain areas.  Furukawa served with the armed forces until 1966.  After his military service, Furukawa pursued a doctoral degree and became a professor at Towson University near Baltimore.  Dr. Furukawa is still listed as emeritus on the Towson University website, complete with his email. 

From the photographs, it appears that James Mitsuo Furukawa has the right build and stature for this suit, so it may have, in fact, been his.  The only way to find out for sure would be to contact him directly and ask.  I’ll let you all know when I find out for sure!  Regardless, this suit, now dubbed “The Furukawa,” will remain one of my favorites and sure to pop up a bit more in the rotation as the summer months are upon us.      

For more info on James Mitsuo Furukawa, or the Veterans History Project, visit their website at: