Tag Archive | dancing

Lifestyle Lessons: Lolita Coursework

Hello, readers,

This back-to-school season has me thinking about how I spent my last two semesters at my undergraduate university. I figured I’d share the classes I took since I love looking at other people’s schedules. Please keep in mind that I obviously didn’t take any of these classes because I thought they would give me “lifestyler points” or anything like that. I’m American, and I majored in English Writing (fiction), I minored in German Language and Studio Arts, and I got a certificate in Children’s Literature. I had a very diverse course load as a result, along with some wiggle room in my schedule.

My Last Year

Fall Semester

  • Indo-European Folktales (a fairy tale course in the German department)
  • Painting 1
  • Senior Seminar in Fiction Writing
  • 19th Century British Literature
  • Basic Japanese Language 1
  • Ballroom Dancing 1

Spring Semester

  • Russian Fairy Tales
  • Drawing 1
  • Costume Design 1 (the only theater course I ever took)
  • Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature
  • Basic Japanese Language 2

I really loved how eclectic my last year was, and I adored all my classes. I put in 100% of my effort into all these courses, and it was probably the most rewarding year of my undergraduate career. Besides taking more literature and writing courses, I was able to start learning a new language, work on my artistic skills, learn about fairy tales and their importance to cultures around the world, and learn how to waltz. These are things that I will carry with me all through life. Plus, I was able to learn enough Japanese to justify a trip to Japan as my graduation present to myself.

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If you have extra room in your college schedule, or if you’re not in college but have some time to take classes somewhere, you could consider taking a lolita-esque course. I love learning, and I’m always trying to discover new things. If you’re looking for a way to get more old-fashioned or lolita hobbies in your life, you could look at taking any number of appropriate classes. I broke some of them up into categories below.

Languages

I go into detail about three specific languages below, but you can really take any language if you have a personal connection to it or feel it’s lolita-esque in some way. You could take German because you like the sentimentality of The Sorrows of Young Werther, the German bisque doll makers, the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales, or the works of German composers. You could take Chinese to be able to handle Taobao better or get a better understanding of kanji. I don’t personally see a connection between lolita and Swahili, but you might, and you might enjoy learning that language. Ultimately, learning a new language in itself is a wonderful thing to do, and the process in and of itself always reminds me of times gone by.

English

You probably already know English if you’re reading my blog, but you may be using Google Translate. (Welcome, any non-English readers!) If you don’t already know English, it’s probably one of the most “lolita” languages that there is. So much of lolita fashion is inspired by Victorian fashions, but lolita is also hugely influenced by Lewis Carol’s 1865 novel Alice in Wonderland (although the visuals of the Disney 1951 animated movie might be a lot more influential than the text). I am a huge fan of Victorian literature, and I highly recommend reading those novels (untranslated). If you still don’t believe me that English is a lolita language, look at lolita brand names: Angelic Pretty, Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, Alice and the Pirates, Innocent World, etc.

If you already know English, you could push yourself and your appreciation of the language by taking a poetry or writing class.

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French

Remember how lolita is extremely influenced by the Victorian era? Well, French was the language to know in the 1800s. A good education in Victorian England always included French, and the Russian aristocracy spoke French almost exclusively. Whether you think lolita fashion is inspired by Rococo fashion or not, the elegance and opulence of the era have certainly impacted our views on the clothing and associated lifestyles. Also, there is no denying that Marie Antionette herself is a major lolita inspiration. For those of you who like the look of antique porcelain dolls and like to emulate that look with lolita, the French were one of the major manufacturers/craftsmen during the peak of bisque dolls’ popularity. Let’s not forget the brands that love French, too: Metamorphose temps de Fille, Moi-même-Moitié, Atelier Pierrot, Juliette et Justine, etc.

If you like fairy tales, then you can read Charles Perrault’s fairy tales that were written down and adapted about 200 years before the Grimms started their work.

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Japanese

For a street fashion that originated in Japan, is there really a more appropriate language than Japanese? Besides helping you out a lot if you ever plan to go to Japan for a lolita holiday, I found knowing some Japanese was just useful for navigating brand websites. I also enjoy anime and Studio Ghibli movies, and it’s very fun for me to be able to pick out words and phrases I know or hear a more nuanced and layered meaning that I can’t get just by reading the subtitles. Even if you hate anime, you can do the same thing with Kamikaze Girls. For me, Lolita will always come back to Victorian England, and there was a huge Victorian interest in Japan and all things “Oriental,” so you might learn a bit of the language as a historical homage if you’re not interested in anything modern from Japan outside lolita.

For those of you who like things that are specifically feminine, you might really like Japanese. There are many different styles of speech in Japanese, but one of the big divisions is that there is a distinct difference between feminine speech and masculine speech (much more so than in English, where “talking like a lady” generally means “don’t swear”). Also, hiragana used to be “women’s writing,” and it was used for personal correspondences among women of the court. I think hiragana is also just lovely to look at, although I have a really hard time writing in it.

Quaintrelle Skills

Taking a class is a great way to jump-start a new hobby. If you’re looking for something new you can do with your free time, consider taking a class that will teach you something you think is useful or wonderful.

Drawing and Painting

By Philippe Legendre-Kvater (via WikiCommons)

Drawing sketches and making watercolor paintings was a major pastime of gentry women, and it’s a great hobby if you’re looking for something that allows you to take some time out of your day and slow down. You might not want to wear your finest brand or prints that run while working with watercolors, but that should be easy to avoid. Learning how to draw can also help you if you like to design your own handmade clothes, or you can make beautiful drawings of your coordinates and use those drawings to help plan new ones.

I took college courses in drawing, painting, and costume design (which helped my figure drawing), and these courses will probably not focus on painting a lovely rose garden or sketching a bowl of fruit, and they will probably include abstract styles that may or may not interest you. The good thing about these courses is that they will get you to experiment with different materials, even if you’re not interested in the projects. Then, later, you can draw and paint whatever you want with the techniques you learned.

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Piano

Piano is the standard for Western instruments, and I’ve heard that learning piano is the easiest way to learn how to read music and understand music theory. However, I’m more interested in the social history of the piano and how playing the piano was an essential skill for educated women to have. It’s easy to imagine why learning how to play the piano was thought to make a girl more marriageable when you consider that there was no passive way to enjoy music before the radio. If you wanted to unwind at the end of the day, someone had to sing or play an instrument. There were lots of restrictions placed on musical women throughout time (playing a wind instrument was considered scandalous, as was playing a cello or a percussion instrument, and some regions would not allow women to sing in public/in front of men), but piano was supposed to be demure enough for women to play. This probably also had something to do with the fact that the piano is played while sitting.

While learning any instrument would have about the same modern value as learning to play the piano, I find piano lessons and classes much more easily than I find other instruments, except perhaps guitar.

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Ballroom or Historical Dance

Dancing was an extremely important part of social etiquette, and balls were major social events. I feel like dancing is one of the areas of our modern life that has changed the most, and knowing how to do ballroom dances is a thing most people learn specifically for weddings. These dances are lovely, tons of fun, and a perfect thing to do while wearing lolita.

This is a more difficult skill to develop than some of these other ones because it generally requires a partner, but that’s why taking a dance class is great. It guarantees you a partner while you’re learning. If you have a significant other or a friend that wants to take a dance class with you, then everything is going to be a lot more fun. My university and local community college both offer ballroom dance, but you can normally find lessons in clubs or dance studios, too.

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Sewing, Crocheting, Knitting, Millinery

I think being able to add handmade touches to your lolita wardrobe is an incredible thing, and learning these sorts of skills will let you do that. From a historical standpoint, I feel that sewing and crafting in general gives me a connection to the women who came before me and always had a box or basket of sewing work or made their families clothes. Plus, I really like that I know how to sew; it’s given me a much deeper appreciation for textiles and quality garments.

You might have trouble finding millinery classes near you, but my city’s public library system has tons of knitting and crocheting classes and clubs that welcome beginners. Once you know how to start with any of these hobbies, there are tons of free tutorials online to help you develop your skills and learn new projects. Knitting/crocheting is a hobby I would like to have just so I could be working on something I like while relaxing and hanging out with my boyfriend in the living room or watching Netflix.

Specific Interests

If you’re not looking for a new hobby and don’t have the time to learn a language, you can take a general course in various fields that might be a part of the lifestyle you want to live.

Music or Art History

Pick and era that inspires you, and then take a music history or an art history class that focuses on that era. You can learn the history of the development of Baroque art and its characteristics, and also learn to identify pieces and artists. You can be inspired by vintage fashion and take a course on jazz music.

I really liked the art history and music classes I took during undergrad, but I know a lot of people hate these classes. It’s true that there is a lot of memorization of names and dates involved, but you learn so much. Maybe I really like these classes because none of their content was ever included in my before-college curricula, and I feel like cultural history is something everyone should be aware of. After taking these classes, I feel like I just have a better appreciation for what I see when I visit museums or hear when I listen to “classical music” playlists on Youtube.

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Fairy Tales or Children’s Literature

My university had many courses that focused on children’s literature or fairy tales. I loved whenever I was able to take one of these classes because I was able to revisit familiar stories and books and notice things that had gone over my head as a child. It’s sort of the same feeling as when I re-watch a movie I loved back in childhood as an adult for the first time.

If this is an area of interest to you, you might also like to learn more about it in a formal class setting.  I learned a lot about how childhood has been understood and thought about throughout cultures and time from taking children’s literature classes, and I loved that the fairy tale courses I took introduced me to a wealth of new stories that I hadn’t heard before (like the one that inspired this JetJ JSK).

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So, readers, have you ever taken a class that you would consider lolita or appropriate to your lifestyle? What was it? Are there any classes you think I should have specified in my list? Let me know in the comments below!

Stay dedicated,

Raven

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Lifestyle Lessons: Sports and Physical Activities

Hello, readers,

In no way is this post meant to ever imply that “real lolitas” do not play basketball, rugby, or whatever other sport, or that you are in some way less of a lolita if you do roller derby, rock climbing, or whatever other sport. This is just a fun post where I talk about sports or physical activities that are lolita-appropriate, i.e., those that can easily be done in lolita (specialty shoes notwithstanding).

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Sometimes, you want to dress up in lolita and have a day full of adventures. However, I’ve found that I think of lolita as limiting. The sorts of things I want to do while I happen to be wearing lolita are not necessarily the sorts of things I would want to do if I were not wearing lolita (like painting, for example). I’ve also found that my concern for my clothes and does nothing to discourage my sedentary lifestyle.

So, for those of you who would like something (anything!) to do when you’re all frilled up, here are some physical activities that you can do while wearing lolita. Some of these would also be fun activities for meet ups.

Outdoor Sports

These, being meant to be done outdoors, are all heavily dependent on the weather, and they’re probably best done in summer and early fall (if you live around the 40th parallel or a temperate zone).

Croquet

If croquet is too impractical for you, mini-golf or putt putt is another option. Still, for those of you that can get a croquet set, this is the most picturesque lolita sport to do. (Alice in Wonderland, anyone?) It can get very competitive, but you don’t need to break a sweat while playing. If you have a yard, you can set a game up there, but if you don’t have a yard, or if you’re trying to play croquet as part of a meet, try going to a local park and setting up your match there. The rules are fairly simple, and you can find out how to play online. Croquet would also be a great game to add some variety to a picnic or to a lazy day of lounging. If the ground is dry and firm, you should be able to wear whatever shoes you’d like, too.

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Kite Flying

This is something I’ve always seen as being super Romantic and nostalgic, and it has the added “lifestyle lolita” benefit of being crafty. You could always buy your own kite or borrow someone else’s, but kites are very easy to make. There are all sorts of templates and instructions on the internet to help you make your own, and then the benefit is that you can customize them. If your local community has a kite-flying meet up, part of the meet could be everyone crafting their own kite before setting out to fly them. That way, all the kites could be decorated to match everyone’s coordinates! Of course, you could always match your kite to your coord as a solo lolita as well. Regardless, you’re probably going to have to find a park or a large city square in order to fly your kite, though, as most yards are too close to trees, power lines, or other buildings and are thus not conducive to kite flying. Since you only need to run a little bit to get the kite going and most leisurely kite flying is spent standing around with your kite in the air, you can feel pretty confident in wearing whatever shoes you’re comfortable standing in.

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Badminton

Now, I personally am not really a fan of this game, but other people seem to have fun playing this, and it’s certainly something you could easily play while in lolita. I’ve seen people set up games in their backyard with just a clothesline set up instead of a full net, so that’s always an option if you want to set up your own game. I think that this one would be another great thing to play at a meet, with lolitas on both sides of the net. Because of how much jumping and landing is involved, I would think twice before wearing most lolita shoes while playing, but flat shoes like tea parties or low-heeled boots should be fine. Don’t put yourself at risk for twisting an ankle! Keep in mind that every time you jump up to hit the birdie, your petticoat and skirt will inflate and puff out on the way down, so make sure you wear some bloomers if you’re planning on playing badminton!

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Indoor/Outdoor

I had a hard time trying to figure out what to call this category, so I settled on “Indoor/Outdoor” because these are activities that can be done inside, even if they need special facilities.

Ice Skating

Unlike all the summer sports elsewhere on this list, ice skating is meant for winter. The most picturesque way to ice skate is to do it outdoors, but outdoor rinks are pretty rare (at least in my experience) and skating over frozen ponds is often very dangerous (also, that ice tends to be really bumpy). I’m lucky, and I currently live in a city that has a seasonal outdoor rink downtown in which they set up a massive Christmas tree, but going to an indoor ice skating is also a lot of fun. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to skating rinks, in which case I’m sorry. Still, for those of you who can ice skate, I think it’s a great way to spend a day. If you’ve never gone ice skating, though, here are a few warnings: even indoor rinks are really cold, and you will probably end up bruised by the end of everything. I always get bruises from the skates around my shins and calves, but you’ll probably bruise if you fall, too. A side effect of the cold means that you probably won’t feel these until the next morning. Unless you’ve been ice skating before and are confident in your abilities, I also wouldn’t wear your very best and most expensive dress. It isn’t like people skating by will skate over your dress and cut it to shreds, but you will most likely fall at some point, especially if you’re new at skating, and I wouldn’t want my best dress subjected to that. Have I made ice skating sound dangerous and terrible? I really hope not, because it is so much fun and it’s very easy to do in lolita. The extra layers of lolita even help keep you warmer than just a pair of jeans would. It doesn’t matter what shoes you wear since you will replace them with ice skates.

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Giant Outdoor Chess… or just Chess

Okay, so this is a bit of an oddball. Chess is a sport, but it’s not very active and I’m clearly stretching here. Still, I love chess and I wish I were better at it. Plus, playing giant outdoor chess is a nice alternative outdoor thing you can still do even if you’re tired or not feeling your best. If you or a friend/family member like bigger DIY projects, then you could totally make your own set of pieces (even standing floor signs with pictures of the pieces painted on would work) and use extra floor tiles to make your own board on your lawn (or at a park). Otherwise, there are some outdoor sets that you might be able to find. A local outdoor shopping center near me has one, so you might be surprised where they could be. Of course, my favorite variation of giant outdoor chess is where you you have people playing as some of the pieces. Imagine how perfect it would be if you had enough people at a meet playing this where you could have lolitas in shiro and the lighter color ways of sweet and classic playing on the white side and have lolitas in kuro, gothic, and the darker color ways of classic and sweet on the black side.

One variation of this suggestion is to just go to a park with chess tables and play a regular-sized game outdoors. This is probably a lot easier to manage than the giant version. Also, probably the easiest variation to actually do is to just play regular-sized chess indoors, but that seems almost dull by comparison.

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Bowling

I think bowling is a lot of fun to do, even if you’re very bad at it. (I should know, I was on the bowling team at my high school and I was terrible.) The rental shoes are always hideous, but other than that, bowling is pretty lolita-friendly. For one, there’s a lot of sitting time so you don’t need to be physically fit to play for a long time. Secondly, there isn’t a lot of movement when you do actually bowl, so wearing lolita won’t get in the way. If you’re planning to go bowling in lolita with some non-lolita friends, or if your comm is having a bowling meet, I wouldn’t have fake nails, gloves or rings on. You can take off rings and gloves, yes, but I’ve seen too many people break their fake nails off while bowling. You should also be careful if you have very long nails, but most people should be fine. If you’re worried about alley grease, which does sometimes get on the balls, just bring an old kitchen towel and wipe off your ball before bringing it close to your clothes. (Bowling balls just need a quick wipe, so you shouldn’t have to worry about seeming too fussy in front of non-lolita friends.) Make sure you wear bloomers, though! Your legs and butt are liable to get into some weird positions while bowling, and there will definitely be panty-flashes if you don’t have bloomers.

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Dancing

This is a fairly specific category, but these dances have the advantage that they are designed to be performed while wearing a dress or costume. Obviously, lolita doesn’t fit the general aesthetic of the tango and lolita is not a ballet stage costume, but these dance styles can still be done for fun in lolita without the clothes getting in the way.

Ballet

You’ll need special shoes! You’ll also need a fair amount of physical strength and flexibility, but you can’t just instantly acquire those. While the other dance forms I talk about have basic steps that can be learned in a few minutes and you can start dancing almost immediately, ballet takes a lot of dedication. If you are not already a ballerina, then you probably don’t have serious aspirations to be a professional ballet dancer and you can approach ballet with a more relaxed outlook. Still, ballet is absolutely gorgeous, and it does not require a partner the way the dances below do. If you’re looking to learn a new skill and want to take lessons, consider taking ballet. Alternatively, if you’re looking for motivation to (continue to) go to the gym and work on strength, learning ballet might be a great way to give your training a more concrete focus.

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Ballroom

While you don’t need special shoes precisely, trying to do anything involving footwork and balance in Rocking Horse Shoes is probably a bad idea for both you and your partner. Some lolita-appropriate shoes will work just fine, but others are too intense. Just use common sense, and you should be fine. Modern ballroom dances include tango, waltz, foxtrot, swing, Latin dances, and polka. I’m in a ballroom dance class this semester, and I can tell you that the basic steps to all these dances are fairly easy to pick up. Of course, I’m learning American style ballroom dance, so I can’t say how easy it is to pick up international style. Ballroom dance requires you to have a partner, someone to lead and someone to follow, so this probably rules out most comms from having ballroom dance meets. Assuming you have a partner who is also willing to learn these dances, ballroom dance is a super fun thing to do while wearing lolita.

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Period/Historical

Just like with ballroom dance, just exercise common sense in regards to shoes. Also, I don’t really think that you’ll need to worry about period-specific shoes if you are in a full lolita coord. This might be a bit harder than the other dance styles to learn because not a lot of people still dance things like the cotillion and the minuet, but there are resources on the internet that you can use to learn. These sorts of dances were done by women wearing clothing that was much more impractical than lolita, so wearing lolita shouldn’t pose a problem for you if you would like to do the sorts of historical dances you would see in a movie adaptation of Jane Austen.

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What do you think of my list? Do any of you like to do some phsyical actictity while in lolita? Are there some pastimes I missed that you think should be on this list? Let me know in the comments below!

Stay sensible,

Raven