Things To Do

Get Retro as the South Florida Shake Down Brings the Rockabilly Community Together

While a lot of South Florida locals focus on the latest trends, a tight group of swing dancers, pinup models, and rockabilly music fans live and breathe a bygone era.

After looming large on the cultural zeitgeist during the early aughts, rockabilly events have been few and far between in the past five years, causing the local scene to fade among the clubbers, ravers, and hipsters. That’s exactly why pinup model Ramona DeVille created the South Florida Shake Down in partnership with Dave Faber – a large rockabilly event dedicated to celebrating the culture of the '40s through the early '60s.

On Sunday, July 31, the world of all things rockabilly will take over the 4:30 Boardroom Bar complete with beginner swing dancing lessons, music by local band Slip and the Spinouts, a retro bikini fashion show, a pinup contest (which the public is invited to participate in), a burlesque show, and a vast collection of vintage cars and motorcycles to peruse.

DeVille got her inspiration from the biggest annual rockabilly event in the United States, Viva Las Vegas, where thousands of fans from all over the country gather to enjoy their favorite music, cars, and fashion. She hopes this local version will be the inaugural event that will continue annually for years to come.

“When I came back from Viva Las Vegas this year, I decided it was time for us to have our own event and try to bring everyone from Miami to West Palm together,” DeVille says. “I want to see more car shows down here and be able to go somewhere where I can connect with more people who are into the same things I am. At the same time, I want to support the local vendors and businesses who are a part of the rockabilly scene.”

Ever since DeVille was a little girl, she has listened to music from the '50s and enjoyed vintage fashion, hair, and makeup. She started pinup modeling in 2007 and is a member of the Luscious Ladies, a large, nationwide group of pinup models. For the past six years, she’s been traveling to events out of state, and she wants to bring people down to South Florida for a change.

“The rockabilly scene is very scarce right now, unfortunately, but we can work on that,” she says. “I think everyone is kind of in the shadows, and it’s hard when you don’t know where to go and meet people who are into the same music and style that you are. If we can start having these events, then maybe we can spark other people to do more events like this and build a culture here for that.”

DeVille and Faber, owner of the 4:30 Boardroom Bar, have planned an entire afternoon of entertainment for this Sunday. Starting at 11 a.m., you can show off your retro ride and register for the classic car and motorcycle show. There is a $20 registration fee, and the parking is first come, first serve. Judges are looking for classic cars prior to 1972; the bikes can be retro modified.

Then at 11:30, you can take a beginner swing dance lesson from instructors from Swing Out South Florida, Fort Lauderdale’s largest swing dance troupe. Enter the Shake Down’s raffle, and you also have the opportunity to win two free tickets to their Monday Night Dance. After you learn some jive, you can dance to live rockabilly music by Slip and the Spinouts from noon to 3 p.m. There will also be a DJ outside for those who want to walk around and peruse the local vendors like Sailor Jerry, who will be selling discounted drinks.

At 1 p.m., owner of Black Cat Bikinis, Joanna Borres, will be showcasing her line of handmade retro bikinis in a fashion show. Joanna has melded her love of Old Florida, midcentury, tiki, Polynesian pop, classic hot rods, and pin up gals to create this fusion of retro-modern style swimwear.

Right after the fashion show, you can root for your favorite pinup model to win the title of Miss South Florida Shake Down. Anyone can enter the contest in hopes of winning the coveted title, a cash prize, gift cards, and photo shoot with Erika Nelly Photography. Girls can get their hair and makeup done onsite by Dirty Mistress and also schedule photo shoots with Nelly onsite.

After Miss South Florida Shake Down hands out the trophies for the vintage car and motorcycle show, you can stick around for Jenna Beth’s Cupcake Burlesque show. Jenna Beth, Francean Fanny, and Ruby Tesla will be performing their classic burlesque acts, with a special rock 'n' roll flair. This will be Cupcake Burlesque’s last show until September, so savor the sparkling affair until they return in the fall.

While DeVille hopes everyone has fun at the event and that the Shake Down continues years into the future, her main goal is to bring the community together.

“I’m a family person, and I just want to bring the family together,” she said.

The South Florida Shake Down. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 31, at the 4:30 Boardroom Bar,  3343 NE 32nd St., Fort Lauderdale; Facebook event page.
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Michelle de Carion