Dapper Day at Farmers Market: A Historic Day in Downtown Los Angeles

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People travel from all over the globe to Los Angeles for one reason: Hollywood glamour. It’s not available in the modern movie industry, which has seen many of Hollywood’s old hotspots become soiled by technology. However, on Aug. 11, visitors to the Original Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax were transported to the past at the Dapper Day Summer Soiree.

Dapper day is a company that has been organizing stylish trips to Disney parks for over ten years. It started in Southern California’s Disneyland in 2011, but the custom has since spread to Disney World and Disneyland Paris. Attendants can “step out of style” twice a year at Disneyland Hotel. They will be able to shop from vintage and retro vendors, as well as dance to swing music. It is very popular and usually occurs in spring or fall.

The Summer Soiree was Dapper Day’s first Southern California gathering outside of Disneyland. The Original Farmers Market was a great location, since its large outdoor area of tables, restaurants, and food stands has remained very similar since its opening in July 1934. Its rich history provided the ideal backdrop for live music, dancing and summery vintage and retro fashions.

The Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles on Aug. 11, 2022. (Courtesy of Tiffany Brannan)

A Fun Event

If you have ever visited The Original Farmers Market you will know it is a unique place. You can find everything you need, as well as gift shops and produce stands. The upstairs dining deck is often reserved for special events and meetings, but is frequently used by staff on their lunch breaks. From noon to the end, Dapper Day attendees had access to this charming deck.

At 2 p.m., the Dapper Day kiosk opened, offering attendees free pins and selling retro clothing and accessories in themed patterns, which are always available for purchase online. People bought colorful fans made of paper to cool down between hot summer nights.

I arrived at the venue around five o’clock in the afternoon, but things were slow. In less than an hour, the band had set up and was ready to go. After I had purchased some food and received my Dapper Day pin, I headed upstairs to the dining area. The open windows let in a lovely breeze and made it feel very peaceful. As I looked down on the clock tower in which the band was set up, more people were arriving. The event started at 6 pm, despite being scheduled all day. Most people come for dancing.

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At 6 p.m., Jumpin’ Joz began playing. The five-piece band, which was self-described “the hottest group for swing music in Southern California,” set up instruments at a small stand in front the Farmers Market clocktower. For two hours, they played an entertaining mix of 1940s-1950s jazz, big band, swing, and early rock and roll music, including classics like “Whatcha Know, Joe?”, “There Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens,” and “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.” People of all ages and backgrounds gathered by the bandstand to cut a rug. Many of the attendees were vintage-loving young people who love to dance and swing, while some were more experienced folk who attend the Original Farmers Market on Thursday nights during summer. There were more women than men at the event, but all who had itchy feet could still get a ride.

Visitors at the Dapper Day Summer Soiree at the Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles on Aug. 11, 2022. (Courtesy of Tiffany Brannan)

A Forgotten Hobby

Ballroom dance is a dying art. The last generation who enjoyed dancing in couples was people in their teenage years in the 1950s or early 60s, but their children preferred the twist and disco, and their grandchildren ended up foregoing any formal dance style altogether. However, the art of swing dancing has not been completely lost since the 1950s. It has experienced resurgences over the years, and it now has a growing fanbase amongst those interested in what some call counterculture. The counterculture of today often consists of a unique aesthetic trend that evokes the early to mid-20th century, particularly the 1950s. Counterculture enthusiasts often love the fashion, music, films, decor, architecture, automobiles, and dancing of earlier eras. While some people incorporate retro or antique clothing and homeware into their lives every day, others keep it a hobby that they only use for special events.

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Many younger people have fallen in love and discovered the old-fashioned life thanks to the availability of images and information from the past via the internet. This growing trend has led to the rise of retro-themed brands and events in the United States and UK. Retro festivals often combine vintage and retro fashions with swing music, dancing and live car shows. In case you are confused: Vintage clothes are actually from a previous era. Retro fashion, on the other hand, is made of new products that replicate old designs with different degrees. You can also find vintage-loving people at classic movie festivals and individual screenings of old movies, but these events are rarely for swing dancers or vintage fashion fans.

Southern California has a vibrant counterculture scene, especially in the Los Angeles region. You can find plenty of vintage activities that will keep you busy in your spare time once you join the circle. Dapper Day organizes two Disneyland trips per year. There are also occasional excursions to other places, like the Summer Soiree. The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles hosts frequent events, often centered around architecture and fashion, such as the Avalon Ball on Catalina Island every May, monthly Cocktails in Historic Places, and an occasional presentation or tour at a significant location. The Cicada Club is a 1930s-style nightclub which offers gourmet food, dancing, and a different live band every weekend evenings, enforcing a strict formal dress code to keep it classy. There are also many vintage nightclubs and restaurants, which attract retro patrons through their historic or themed events. You’ll see people you know after you have attended several of these locations or events, like I did. It’s an extremely niche group.

Visitors at the Dapper Day Summer Soiree at the Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles on Aug. 11, 2022. (Courtesy of Tiffany Brannan)

Join the Fun

If you’re looking for something new, swing dancing is a great choice. It’s a great way to have fun and engage in a variety of hobbies. There is something for everybody, including shopping, cars, music and dancing as well as antiques and architecture. You can spend time with extended families and friends while you explore themed events or destinations.

A great way to find out if the vintage scene appeals to you is to attend an event such as the Dapper Day Summer Soiree. It’s possible to find the perfect retro piece or vintage item for your next fashion line. It’s a fun way to enjoy the music and watch the dancers, as well as learning how to move. Experienced dancers are always attracted to these events and will be happy to share their skills with novices. A lot of events offer a brief class on dance basics before the event. Dancing can be a great way to have fun, exercise and create new friendships.

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It’s amazing that Dapper Day offers such fun and free events for people! If you live in California or Florida, visit the Dapper Day website to find out how you can attend one of their Fall Outings to Disneyland/Disney World or another upcoming event. You can search online for swing dance clubs, studios and restaurants in your local area, regardless of where you are located. It will be amazing what you discover! You’ll be hooked on dancing when you find your style and meet some friends.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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Tiffany Brannan is a 21-year-old opera singer, Hollywood historian, interviewer, copywriter, fashion historian, travel writer, and vintage lifestyle enthusiast. In 2016, she and her sister founded the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society, an organization dedicated to reforming the arts by reinstating the Motion Picture Production Code.

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