When I needed to buy an inexpensive grass skirt for my wife, the first place I though of was Party City. I know a lot of die-hard Tikiphiles look down on their plastic Hawaiian flowers and Tiki Mugs, but as one of the largest distributors of Luau party items, they’ve got a lot of kookie stuff that’s hard to find anywhere else.
The grass skirt (which ran me $8.99) had a tag that said Made in the Philippines. Well, you can’t get any more authentic than that. But what’s really interesting is the little instruction pamphlet that they give you with the skirt: “The Simple Hula Instructions”. Printed on thin, goldenrod-colored paper and including 1930’s style line art drawings of feet (for dance steps) and Hula girls (to illustrate the proper way to sway the hips), this piece is a fantastic example of something created a 70+ years ago that is still in circulation. Granted, the paper itself is probably not too old, and it was probably printed recently. But I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere in the Philippines sits a 100 year old factory with a turn of the century printing press churning out these little Hula dance leaflets while in the next room a couple of dozens people make those wonderful grass skirts by hand.
The Simple Hula Instructions start out with “In the American Fox Trot an other American Dances, keeping time, making fancy steps and other movements are practically all done by the feet. The Hawaiian Hula includes the feet, knees, hips, arms, wrists, fingers and – very important-the eyes and facial expressions this combination of graceful movement and expression makes the Hula the most pleasing and entertaining of all dances. That is why the Hula is called beautiful.”
The pamphlet goes on to explain how to Hula, including the fact that “…the Hula is an interpretive dance. The Dancer is telling the story in pantomime.”
Click on the image to enlarge
Finding this litte gem just goes to show there’s still some very old, very fun retro-vintage stuff floating around in stores and online. Sometimes people don’t even realize what they’ve got. Once I bought four metal signs (from the 1950’s) at a hardware store that was going out of business. The hand-written price tag on them was 10¢ each, and that’s how much I paid for them. Another time I bought a couple of boxes of Legos from a department store in Northfield, NJ. They had cleaned out their back room, and found them sitting behind some other stuff. The price tags had the date on them, 10-82. I bought them in 2000 for the 1982 price!
So if you like retro fun stuff, antiques, or anything quirky…keep you eyes open, kats and kittens, you never know where something might turn up!