Hangar Dance recreates fun in the fortiesA costume contest spotlighting World War II fashions will be among highlights of the WWII Era Hangar Dance planned Sept. 22 at the Red Wing Airport, located on Highway 35 in Bay City.
By: Ruth Nerhaugen, The Republican Eagle
A costume contest spotlighting World War II fashions will be among highlights of the WWII Era Hangar Dance planned Sept. 22 at the Red Wing Airport, located on Highway 35 in Bay City.
The dance is a fundraiser for the Goodhue County Historical Society.
The 13-piece Generation II Big Band will provide music for dancing, and Shoreline Dance Studio will offer free dance lessons before the orchestra takes the stage. Master of ceremonies will be John Anderson.
The costume contest will take place during intermission.
Men and women will compete in various categories including day wear, evening wear and uniforms, plus there’ll be a special category for anyone who comes dressed as a character such as Rosie the Riveter or President Roosevelt.
The event will get under way at 5:30 p.m. with the opening of a canteen and silent auction. Both will feature items either from the 1940s or reminiscent of that era.
Free dance lessons by Shoreline Studio dancers will be at 5:45 p.m. A USO scalloped potatoes and ham dinner will be served from 6 to 7 p.m., and dancing will be from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. Beer, wine and soda will be available. After dinner, hot dogs will be available and USO style volunteers will sell coffee and doughnuts.
Throughout the evening Uncle Sam, who is being played by Bill Foot, will be selling tax-deductible “museum bonds.” Proceeds will be used to upgrade technology at the history center — specifically, an interactive screen.
The Hangar Dance is open to everyone. People can buy dinner-dance tickets for $30 or dance-only tickets for $20.
Anticipating that people will want photos of their costumes for keepsakes, organizers will have photographers on hand to snap pictures and print them onsite. There will be a charge.
A WWII Jeep and a T-6 Trainer aircraft will be parked just outside the hangar for anyone who wants them to be in the official portrait.
Civil Air Patrol youths will help out that night, and organizers hope local veterans will come out and have fun.
“We’ll be honoring veterans of WWII and all other conflicts. We owe a great debt to the men and women who fought to secure the freedoms we enjoy today, and we want them to know how much we appreciate their sacrifices,” according to the steering committee, which is chaired by Dawn Bennett.
Tickets are available at Bella Casa and Rivertown Market in downtown Red Wing, from committee members and at the history center, 1166 Oak St. They also may be reserved by calling the museum at 651-388-6024. Dinner tickets must be purchased in advance.
Need a costume for the big dance?
A costume contest promises to be among highlights of the upcoming WWII Era Hangar Dance. Sponsored by the Goodhue County Historical Society, the dance will be Sept. 22 at the Red Wing Airport in Bay City.
But what to wear? Not everyone has Grandpa’s Army uniform, or Grandma’s flirty little dress — not to mention the fedoras and fascinators, gloves, ties, handbags and other accessories that were distinctly 1940s.
Fitting into those uniforms and dresses — especially grandma’s tiny shoes — can be another problem.
Karen Boek, who has been costuming productions at the Sheldon Theatre for almost 10 years, has a solution: Rent an outfit from the Sheldon Costume Shop.
She has scheduled two dates — 9 to 11 a.m. Aug. 28 and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 5 — when people can come to the shop and try on clothing suitable for the period. And she’ll help them assemble a top-to-bottom look with the proper accessories.
“I have a pretty good idea about the 40s. We’ve done several shows from that era,” Boek said, including “Evita” and “South Pacific.”
The fee for a complete outfit will be $25. That’d include a dress or suit and blouse, hat, gloves, vintage jewelry, handbag and possibly shoes for a woman; jacket, shirt, pants, tie, hat and shoes for a man.
The price will be less for fewer costume elements.
“If you have a dress or suit you want to match, bring it down and we’ll find the rest,” Boek said.
In addition to the fee, the renter must have the clothing cleaned before returning the outfit. Cottons and polyesters can go into a washing machine on the cold cycle and line-dried, she noted. Many more delicate fabrics can be cleaned at home using a Dryelle kit that’s available at many stores.
The important thing is to have fun with the costume, which is exactly what Boek has been doing for the past decade — ever since local actor Helene Olson-Reed asked her to help press costumes for a production of “Meet Me in St. Louis” at the Sheldon.
Soon after, “I got to be a quick-changer for the load female,” Boek said. More requests for help followed until she began taking on responsibility as lead costumer.
“My first solo show was ‘The Rented Christmas’ in 2005,” Boek recalled. She has done the past seven Red Wing High School musicals and a number of Phoenix Theatre shows including “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Oklahoma,” “The Wedding Singer” and this year’s “9 to 5.”
“It’s a lot of fun,” she said.
She draws on the ever-growing costume collection that fills the lower level of the city building at 419 Bush St. — the former Port Authority and planning department behind Red Wing City Hall. Garments are embellished and altered, and special pieces may be found at local and area thrift stores.
“And we accept donations, all the time,” she said — including contributions of fabric and sewing notions for when costumes must be created.
The shop is organized largely by decades, with long racks of dresses, blouses, suits and skirts that will fit the 1940s theme. “We have a lot of vintage dresses, floor- and street-length, and beautiful pieces from the 40s,” she said, including furs, and some ladies pantsuits which came into vogue during the war.
People don’t need to stick to the ordinary.
“We have lots of bride’s dresses,” Boek said, including 40s and Fifties styles, “and lots of veils.” She’d love to dress a couple for a military wedding.
If anyone wants to come as a WWII nurse,” she added, “I have the hats and shoes.”
For the men, there’s a corner section packed with uniforms from the various services, plus there are racks of suits and trousers and jackets, and a surplus of fedoras. Ties of all shapes, colors and designs hang from a wall.
“I have several nice striped ‘zoot suit’ jackets,” Boek noted, and enough striped vests and red bowties to outfit a barbershop quartet.
She will schedule two dates after the dance for people to return the costumes.
At the dance, a panel of judges will award ribbons and prizes in several categories, according to contest organizer Bert Madtson.
Anyone interested in renting an outfit or accessories from the Sheldon Scene Shop must sign up in advance by calling Madtson at 651-388-6648. Entrance to the shop is around the corner of the building to the left, through the gray door and down the stairs.
“We don’t have everything,” Boek said, “but we have a lot of really fun pieces.”
Tips for creating a 1940s outfit
“Women were very put-together in the 1940s,” according to Sheldon Theatre costumer Karen Boek. “They were very organized and classy.”
Boek, who is helping people assemble costumes for the Sept. 22 World War II Era Hangar Dance at Red Wing Airport, offered some tips for recreating the look of that period.
Dresses and tailored suits typically had squared shoulders with shoulder pads, narrow hips and straight or slightly flared skirts that end just below the knee. Pleated skirts also were favored.
Mixed separates were becoming popular to help stretch the wardrobe, and women started wearing pants as more joined the work force — loose, comfortable trousers or overalls like those worn by Rosie the Riveter.
Clothing frequently was utilitarian and less than elaborate. Colors were muted. According to one fashion book about the Forties, brown and green dyes were rationed for uniforms, so women turned to deep maroon, navy blue and undyed white or beige fabrics.
Evening wear was long and had a little more trimming and color. Women wore cocktail dresses and rayon day dresses when they were out dancing the swing or jitterbug. Sweetheart necklines and small collars were typical.
Teenage girls tended toward sweaters, knee-length skirts and bobby sox, often with saddle shoes.
Accessories were important:
• Hat styles included pillboxes, fascinators, berets and brimmed hats. Women working in factories liked to up their hair in colorful scarves; ribbons, headbands and snoods also were worn to dress up an outfit or control long hair at work and play.
• Gloves to match the outfit were essential.
• War-appropriate shoes usually had sturdy, thick heels. Women wore pumps, wedgies and shoes with peep toes or T-straps; in factories, flat shoes or boots were worn.
Nylon stockings were scarce. Many women painted a line down the back of each leg so it looked like they were wearing stockings with seams.
• Hair usually was long but was worn pinned up or back, caught up in a snood or hairnet, or twisted into braids.
The popular “pin back updo” called for creating gentle ringlets with a curling iron then rolling one large curl on top of the head in what was called the Victory Roll. Pictures and directions can be found online. Pageboys, finger waves and barrel rolls also were popular styles.
• Makeup was pale and creamy, using lots of powder. Women did not wear colored eyeshadow, but some used mascara and eye liner on the upper lid. Lips were “redder than red” Cupid’s bows and nail polish was bright red to match. A daring woman might put a “beauty spot” on her lower cheek.
Musicians and mobsters wore zoot suits, which were oversized jackets worn with high-waisted, baggy trousers with narrow ankles.
Most men were “victory suits” that had no rolled cuffs on the trousers, no sleeve buttons and no patch pockets. Instead of vests, many men preferred double-breasted suit jackets. The silhouette called for shoulder pads. Navy and black were typical colors.
Undershirts had fallen from favor. Plain white shirts were worn with the suits; cufflinks and suspenders were popular. Neckties were important.
The common man’s hat was a fedora worn at a jaunty angle. Wingtip shoes were popular.
If you go…
What: WWII era Hangar Dance
Who: Goodhue County Historical Society
When: 5:30-11:30 p.m. Sept. 22
Where: Red Wing Airport, Bay City, Wis.
How much: $30 dinner-dance; $20 dance only
More info: 651-388-6024 or www.goodhuehistory.mus.mn.us