The Hanus Tattler

Bringing Back Dance Cards

Posted in Dance by Jesse Hanus on February 16, 2011

One of the challenges faced in the Rochester swing dance scene (and probably many others) is getting people to dance with new people. This includes getting beginners to ask more experienced dancers and vice versa. Well, we’ve found one solution: dance cards.

The use of dance cards date back to the 18th and 19th centuries as a way to keep track of who you are going to dance with during the night. Women carried dance cards, probably around their wrist, and penciled in the names of their male dance partners on a numbered list.

My good friend Mike Hibarger from Boston gave me a vintage dance card from 1933 several years ago and I still appreciate this gift very much. The card is from a Valentine’s dance and includes advertisements, lists of officers, members and boosters, and of course, the program. Oxana, the gal who used this card, sure liked dancing with Chuck! He’s listed for six out of her 12 partners. How cute.

For Groove Juice Swing‘s Sweetheart Ball on Feb. 11, Mike Thibault printed re-creations of this dance card for all attendees.

“Oh how cute!,” “What a great idea!,” people said upon receiving their card. One new dancer even said, “This is the main reason I came!” However, not everyone was enthused initially. For some reason a few passed up the chance to use and possess one of these lovely souvenirs.

Seventy-eight years after the date on the original card (to the day), our cards worked a little differently.

Boys as well as girls would carry them, and the name of your partner was written down after you finished a dance with them. Once the 10 names were filled in, you were entered to win one of the following prizes:

  • First prize: $50 to Chocolate and Vines (a local wine/beer and chocolate pairing restaurant)
  • Second prize: a four-week class session
  • Third prize: one month free admission to Lindy Jam (our weekly social dance).
  • Also, the first 15 boys and 15 girls to fill their cards received an extra prize (handmade hair-flower pins for the ladies and valentine’s candy for the fellas).

The dance floor was packed all night. People who usually only dance with the person they brought were dancing with people they have never spoken to before. Beginners and advanced dancers alike were excited to be dancing, meeting new people and filling up their dance cards at the same time.

Oh, and the people who initially turned away the dance cards? They came back to the desk and joined in on the fun. Since everybody was using them, you seemed like an outsider if you weren’t.

While the dance cards were a lot of work to design and assemble, they were totally worth it. I wish we could use them for all our dances, but fear they might lose their magic. This is becoming a Valentine’s tradition for us, and I hope it will for other dance scenes too.


My Life Wish List

Posted in Fashion, Life Happenings by Jesse Hanus on February 9, 2011

During my lifetime I have crafted a mental list of items that I must obtain at some time or another. They are all very feminine things that I feel my life would just be incomplete without.

These items float in and out of my mind, especially when I’m antiquing or vintage shopping, and I’m finally putting them into a concrete list.

I’m sure this list will grow, and some items I actually already own, but making this list now will help push me to complete this goal and maybe even inspire you to make your own.

Folding Screen

I dream of getting dressed behind one while a man lingers on the other side. I’ll hang my beautiful gown and underthings over it (read below). It will be wooden and have an intricate design laced across the front.


I will sit on the vanity stool brushing out my pin curls, and then apply my bright red lipstick. Last summer my wonderful boyfriend Mike Thibault surprised me by purchasing a vintage vanity on his way home from Swing Out New Hampshire. It needs a little bit of work to securely attach the mirror, but it is gorgeous. I also need to find a little wooden stool for it. Here is my friend Laurel testing it out at the store:

Silk Robe

This will be for lazy summer mornings or evenings. It fits loosely with a tie belt and the hem hits mid-thigh. The pattern is floral, probably with a lot of red.

Vintage slip

I found this on Etsy two summers ago. It’s a pale yellow and perfect for summer nights. I used it to dress as damsel in distress Fay Wray in our 2009 Lindy Compound Christmas Card.

Birdcage Hat

I’m thinking a black pillbox hat with a short birdcage net. I’ll wear it with a perfectly form fitting little black dress, black pumps and clutch, and seamed stockings.

Emerald Green Gown

I will descend a grand staircase and drink lots of champagne while wearing this gorgeous gown. I’m almost positive that a replica of the dress Keira Knightly wore in the movie Atonement will do the trick. I’ve found people offering this on Etsy for $250-$300. Now I just need an occasion.

My only rule is that I will not purchase the item unless it is exactly what I have been dreaming about. No compromises here.

Hmm… anybody else getting an urge to go thrifting?

Essential Item: Party Shirts

Posted in Fashion by Jesse Hanus on February 8, 2011

A few weeks ago I went shopping with one mission in mind: obtain party shirts. I brought three accomplices along with me and after several hours in the mall we walked out with some new clothes and a strong desire to go clubbing.

I realized the need for party shirts when I attended Swing and Soul in December, a dance event focused on dancing to soul music. Many of my lady friends were rocking out in their party shirts and I was in my usual swing dance attire, feeling like I missed the memo.

Sure, I have t-shirts, tank tops, blouses, and even fancy tops, but nothing appropriate for the rare night I might want to hit the town and dance to Justin Timberlake.

Before leaving on our mission, we decided it was important to define the term “party shirt.” After discussing, we decided that a party shirt can be any or all of the following:

  • Flowy
  • Skimpy
  • Low-cut
  • Black or rich in color (think jewel tones, not pastels).
  • Sequined
  • Jeweled
  • Ruffled
  • Look good with dark-wash jeans (the ultimate party shirt pairing).
  • Make you look good when you hold your arms above your head and shake your hips.
  • NOT strapless. I will continue to defend the fact that I cannot party in a strapless top.

Some examples found on

I deem party shirts as an essential part of any girl’s wardrobe. Even if you never go clubbing, these work well tucked into high-waisted pants, or paired with a cardigan. Now go forth, don your party shirt proudly, and dance like everyone is watching.

Hair Flower Tutorials

Posted in Fashion by Jesse Hanus on February 7, 2011

It’s Floweruary, and I’ve been pretty good so far, wearing a hair flower each day so far this month except for yesterday. I’m confident I can stick it out and continue to put in enough effort to look cute enough to post a picture of myself every day.
What helped me a lot with this mission was making my own flowers, along with some of my girly friends.
It’s affordable, fun, and easy. We even taught a boy how to make one.
Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through it. Starting with supplies, then linking to the tutorials we used, and finally telling you what the tutorials left out.


  • Lightweight, silky fabric
  • Hot glue gun
  • Spools of wired ribbon
  • Needle and thread
  • Beads/buttons for centers
  • Scissors
  • Tea lights
  • Bobby pins, alligator clips, or other barrettes.
  • Felt or other sturdy fabric to attach flower to hair accessory.


We used this tutorial to make the large ribbon flowers, and this tutorial to make the layered silky ones. Some of the smaller flowers we purchased and glued to bobby pins.


  • For the large flowers, I used four yards of ribbon for the yellow and purple ones, and two yards for the plaid.
  • I cut the spool of ribbon into four sections so that it was easier to work with. Be sure to burn the edges of the ribbon so it doesn’t fray.
  • When pulling out the wire, be sure to pull from each end of the ribbon so that you don’t accidentally pull the wire inside of the ribbon and can’t get it back out.  Also, tie a little bit of wire around each end when you are done scrunching so that it doesn’t go inside the ribbon while you are making the flower.
  • After creating the center of the flower, the tutorial says to “start wrapping the ribbon around,” but that won’t work. You have to continue making folds as you wrap to make it look interesting. It doesn’t have to be a consistent pattern, but keep the end result in mind.
  • For the silky flowers, be careful when burning the edges. You can easily end up with burn marks on the fabric or a completely shriveled or flower by placing it too close to the flame. It’s surprising how far back you can hold it and still burn up the edges slightly.
  • For the centers of the flowers we used a couple of very small beads, vintage buttons, or simply colored thread. Red thread makes a good center on a white flower or yellow thread on a darker flower.

That’s my advice! It took me about an hour to make a large flower and maybe 30 minutes to make a smaller silk one. I’m excited to hear how other ladies are crafting for Floweruary!

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Gordon Webster Band on Playing for Swing Dancers

Posted in Dance, Journalism, Rochester by Jesse Hanus on January 25, 2011

Dancing to live music is a unique and fulfilling experience as a swing dancer. While I do know some people who prefer dancing to recorded music, you just can’t get the same connection and energy from a DJed song as you can dancing in front of a live band.

Many current swing dance bands play almost exclusively for swing dancers, including Gordon Webster’s band. He just returned to Rochester on Saturday, January 21 to play at the monthly Groove Juice Special dance.

For bands, there is a difference between playing for swing dancers and playing at gigs without dancers. Though I imagined they played slightly differently, Gordon described it to the extreme contrast as speaking two different languages.

It was interesting to hear about this topic from the musicians perspective. Gordon, his trombone player Matt Musselman, and Rochester dancer Laurel Issen all give their personal thoughts about this in the video below.

For those interested in video production/editing, here is what I learned on the tech side of things:

1. Manually set the brightness of the camera. It’s on auto in this video, and changes brightness during the interviews quite often.

2. Use a shotgun microphone for interviews (or a lapel mic if you have one). I actually did use a shotgun microphone, but it did not get set to shotgun mode so it picked up a lot of background noise from the air conditioning in the room.

3. Take lots of b-roll footage! I wish I had a few more angles of the dancers, band, and interviewees.

As a dancer, do you prefer dancing to live or recorded music? Why? Or for musicians, do you prefer playing for dancers or non-dancers? Why?

How To Rock High-Waisted Pants

Posted in Fashion by Jesse Hanus on January 19, 2011

Maybe high-waisted pants for women are a passing trend, but keep in mind that they’ve been a recurring trend since the 1930s. Throughout the decades, high-waisted pants have had a place in fashion culture, whether it was Katherine Hepburn sporting finely tailored wide-leg slacks in the 40s or Madonna rocking out high-waisted skinny jeans in the 80s.

Some women can pull them off, making their legs look miles long and their tummy tight, while other ladies who wear them improperly get the unfortunate result of a saggy-looking butt or belly pooch.

This blog post originated from a discussion on Facebook about the pros and cons of the style. I agree it’s not for everyone, but my goal is to help people who do like them wear them the right way.

Here are some important tips to wearing (and rocking) high-waisted pants, whether long or short.

If your pants don’t fit you, they’re going to look bad whether they are high-waisted or not. With high-waisted pants, if they don’t fit correctly your bum could look more like that of an 80-year-old. Make sure the pants hug your waist, hips and tushy snugly, so that you get a sleek fit instead of a loose or too constricting one.

What to pair them with
I like pairing high-waisted pants with sophisticated and slightly loose-fitting blouses. For the office, go with a classic white button down, or something a little more flirty for a night out. Make sure the shirt is tucked in (what’s the point of covering up the best element of the pants?) and does not add too much bulk under the pants. For shorts, make your look pop by wearing brightly colored or patterned tights.

As with any long pants, the bottom of the hem should be a few inches from the floor, not rubbing up against it collecting dust and fraying. You should be able to show off your cute ballet flats without exposing your ankles.

Here are some photos of girls looking adorable in high-waisted pants. From celebrities of past and present to my marvelous and fashionable swing dancing friends.

What do you think of this style? Any other tips for rocking the high-waisted pants look?

Dock 2 Letterpress: A Photo Slideshow

Posted in Journalism, Rochester by Jesse Hanus on January 8, 2011

My wonderful friend Tony Zanni is a creative partner at Dock 2 Letterpress and allowed me to visit his shop and shoot some photos. I also wrote an article about his business for one of my classes last year.

I am continually intrigued and excited by his work. Letterpress is an old-fashioned art form worth preserving, and I’m glad there are people like Tony around doing just that.

Here is a slideshow containing my favorite photos that I captured at his shop last week.

Wearing Children’s Clothes

Posted in Fashion by Jesse Hanus on November 22, 2010

Hello, my name is Jesse and I am OK with looking like a marshmallow this winter because being as warm as possible is more important. This is a big step for me. I’ve had the same coat for three years and while I adore the way it looks and still get compliments on it, I freeze on the walk from my car to class.

An even bigger step for me is the realization that it is OK for me to buy this coat (pictured) from the children’s department at H&M. Hear me out on this one before those judging eyes glare upon me through your computer screen.

Please note that I’m writing this post from a women’s clothing perspective, but much of it also applies to men’s clothing.

Buying from the children’s department as an adult has some benefits. For petite people the sizing can work out quite well. Also, you’ll spend less money for the same amount of fabric. Larger children’s sizes are often the same as smaller adult sizes.

This coat (size 12-13 years) hugs my torso, is the right length on me, and even has those elastic wrist cuffs that keep the cold from getting in (I forgot how awesome these are!). Note that these cuffs are inside of the sleeve, so they are not seen, only noticed and enjoyed by the wearer.

Price: $50. This is a savings of at least $30 for a similar coat in an adult size.

But please don’t forget the following: children’s clothing is made for kids, who have a different body type than adults, mainly because they have not hit puberty. This means there is less darting and also less room for things like hips and the other voluptuous parts of us. The result: the clothes will look more sack-like on our adult bodies.

With this coat, I’m OK with the fact that there is no darting. I’m going to look like a giant gray marshmallow even if I buy an adult-size coat. Although, I did find a pull-string to cinch the waist of the coat, which is at my bust line.

However, I will not buy kid-size pants, shirts, skirts, or anything that will look better if it is fitted. I would rather hem a pair of pants that fit what little tushy and hips I have. They may be small, but they make me a woman, and my clothes should emphasize that fact.

Another downside to children’s clothing is the obvious difference in style. When browsing the kids rack one will likely see more hearts, butterflies, and pink. Lots of pink.

One last thing about my coat that is somewhere between a pro and con is that it has a little sewn-in tag for a name and telephone number. This could either be for returning my lost coat to me, or returning a lost Jesse to her loved ones. Haven’t decided which info to put on it yet, but I’m pretty sure this goes on the “pros” list. 

Do you ever find yourself shopping in the children’s department? Am I wrong in thinking this is acceptable? Who’s phone number do you put on your clothing tag?

The Joys of Being a Personal Shopper

Posted in Fashion by Jesse Hanus on November 14, 2010

Shopping is fun: browsing physical or online stores, keeping up on the trends, figuring out what looks good on you, coordinating outfits, and finally walking away with a purchase… it’s a recipe for pure joy. The only ingredient I don’t enjoy is spending money. So how can one do all of this without dropping a dime? Yeah, right… it’s the title of this blog post. You get it (or if you don’t, read this).

The Clientele
No, I don’t do this professionally, but I do it nonetheless. So far I only do personal shopping for boys and my current client list is: Mike (boyfriend), Ross (roommate), and Eric (brother). Next on the list: Gordon Webster (musician: The shopping trip with Gordon was supposed to happen recently while he had a gig in Rochester, but we were both too busy to fit it in. Sad face.

My Methods:
I haven’t been doing this whole shopping for other people thing for very long, but I do have some method to my madness. My top three tips:

1. Find a style that fits them. You know, as opposed to one that fits you. If I went only by what I think looks good on guys in general, all of the boys I dress would look the same. While I include some of this knowledge, I also try to consider the individual and their personality, lifestyle, and body type.

2. This one’s for the guys: Trust me. If I say it looks good on you, it does. Expect to step outside of your free t-shirt comfort zone and into the world of cashmere sweaters and socks that match your pants (unless you’re wearing jeans, in which case they should match your shoes). It will make both of our lives easier if I say, “You look hot in that,” and you respond, “Fuck yeah I do,” instead of trying to argue with me. This rule also applies to life in general.

3. Men’s fashion is different than women’s fashion. Keeping up on the current trends for ladies is awesome; I highly recommend it. However, this does not necessarily help when dressing men. But don’t fret! Men’s fashion is interesting, gorgeous, and I know it’s hard to look at male models, but you can do it. Subscribe to men’s fashion blogs, read articles and browse the web for pictures. I even save extra fashion-savvy photos to my computer. Here are a few I have on my lappy right now:

The Bonus:
I’m surrounded by well-dressed fellows. Also, I get to make other people more fashionable, more confident, and maybe it could even help them find their soul mate. I know many who swoon over a guy in well-fitting jeans and argyle sweater.

The Downfall:
All dudes learn how to dress. Then it sucks?
Have you ever tried personal shopping? What are your experiences and tips?

Autumn Update

Posted in Dance, Journalism, Life Happenings, RIT Swing Dance Club by Jesse Hanus on September 28, 2010

Whew, it’s been a while! In short, I’ve been on co-op at Rochester City Newspaper for the summer and went back a few weeks ago for the fall quarter too. It’s been great! I write and do photography for them and have already seen my name in print several times.

Other than that I’ve certainly been dancing more. I went to Southern Belle Swing Bash in Atlanta and took second place in both Solo Charleston and the Jack and Jill. After that I attended the International Lindy Hop Championships and with a confidence boost from Southern Belle I entered the Solo Charleston competition. I made it pretty far, maybe 10th place (unofficially) out of about 30 people.

I spent a lot of time working on my solo dancing this summer, either with my sister Ellie or just while I was out social dancing. I definitely set a goal of making the finals at Southern Belle and am so glad that I set this goal, I really needed a push in my dancing.

Two weekends ago I taught at Rhythm Shuffle in Buffalo, my first out-of-town workshop with my dance partner and boyfriend Mike Thibault. Our classes were “A Three-Minute Love Affair” (Song Structuring), “Frankie’s Favorites,” “Jazz Up Your Lindy Hop,” and “Let Your Soul Shout” (dancing to soul music). My personal highlight was seeing our whole class doing a soul train and having a blast!

I also decided to step down as president of the RIT Swing Dance Club during my senior year. Now there are two totally capable co-presidents in charge and I look forward to seeing what they do with the club.

This fall I am taking two classes at RIT, Film Language and History of the Documentary. They are both pretty interesting so far, just watching tons of classic movies and then talking/writing about them. It’s cool that I get to take film classes as a journalism major, especially at RIT where the film teachers are really great.

OK, so now that the post-summer update is out of the way, I can get into the meat of things!… in my next blog post. :)