Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Viva East 2019)

WOW. Just WOW. I don't even know if this post will be coherent or will be anything other than me gushing over all the amazing ladies I got to meet last weekend at the Viva East Rockabilly Weekender 2019.

As I have done the last 2 years, I got all dolled up in a variety of outfits and had fun among my fellow retro pinups at Viva East. Unlike previous years, I got a hotel room for Friday and Saturday night and went for a full weekender pass for myself and Cody to enjoy the entire event.  I am SO glad I did and even made sure to book our room for next year before leaving Sunday to ensure we'd get a room in the Boxborough Regency (we stayed in the sister hotel one town away this year).

I still cannot believe this weekend happened. It was like something out of my fantasies. I was SO nervous to drive up on Thursday night for the Sip, Stroll & Serenade that Dollface D (our hostess and event organizer) was throwing to introduce the Darling Dames Pageant Contestants and let everyone mingle to and get to know each other. So nervous, in fact, that I was getting negative about it and wanted to just stay home and not go at all (yay anxiety!).

But I didn't give in. I pulled on my favorite wiggle dress and drove up, hoping that when I got there, I'd find someone to hang out with and would have an OK time. Upon arrival, I got the lay of the land, checked in, and got my wristband. From there, it was only a matter of minutes before I spotted a couple of the other pageant contestants across the dance floor. I took a deep breath and decided to go introduce myself and sit with them.

Before I could even make it across the floor, the stunning Phoebe Nyx spotted me first and started waving frantically with the biggest smile. My nerves IMMEDIATELY vanished and she gave me the biggest hug. For the rest of the evening, I hung out with Phoebe and Bombshell Beckie. We got pretty chummy and really clicked. As the evening progressed, more contestants showed up and we could tell pretty early on that we were all going to get along just fine.

Selfies are a must when you make 10 new friends!

And we sure did! The serenade portion of the evening was karaoke in the bar next door.  Very quickly we all realized that many of the finalists were singers! It was so funny! We all sang 2-3 songs each, each one of us belting out our favorite tunes ( I sang "Valerie" and "Be My Baby" - though it wasn't the same without my groom there to hear me!!) and by the end of the night, I had a handful of new gal pals and was SO excited for the rest of the weekend.

Cody met me at the event after he got out of work on Friday and joined me for a birthday dinner followed by drinks and the late burlesque show. It worked out really well since my day was pretty packed with a vintage hair seminar, shopping in the vendor room, and the Viva East pool party that afternoon.

Rebecca Not Rachel, Bombshell Beckie, Jenny, myself, and Lilith Hart poolside!

Saturday was a CRAZY day. All the contestants received their question for the pageant around 10:30am, which gave us all a few hours to really think out our answer and decide what we were going to say. Soon after, I got my makeup done by the Retro Beauty by Bombshells and as I was getting beautified, I brainstormed my answer. After my makeup was done, the Bombshells helped me pin my sundae hair piece onto my head and let me hang out in their little lounge so I could focus and get my answer down in my head. I wanted to stay somewhere fairly private as I didn't want to be distracted by everyone else arriving and talking to me.

The pageant was SO fun. It was extremely sunny and hot but the pageant was fairly brief so we weren't completely melted until the very end. I had everyone I loved there to cheer me on, too - Cody, Red, Emma, my parents, Dave and Jen, and even my Bubbie! They all were phenomenal and helped snap a lot of these photos in this post. My own personal paparazzi!

I was 4th to strut my stuff and was asked "What Does Being a Pinup Mean to You?" I was surprised at how much love I got from the audience as I shared my answer. There was so much response and cheering that I did change the end and fed off the crowd a bit, but here is what I wrote before the pageant and essentially what I said:
"If I am being totally honest, it has absolutely nothing to do with the perfectly set hair, flawless makeup, tiny cinched waist, and amazing wardrobe. Don't get me wrong, it is lot of fun rocking this red lipstick and ice cream getup, but being a pinup is really about being happy in your own skin and rocking every inch of your beautiful damn self.
Can I fill you in on a secret? No one can see the size on the tags in your clothes but you. The numbers don't matter! The size on our clothes don't matter, the number on the scales don't matter. They don't dictate our worth or how healthy our bodies are because every body is different and every body is beautiful. life is so short - why spend any of it depriving ourselves of being happy and living our best lives?"

I was SO happy I could speak about body positivity as that is very much my platform and something I try to spread everywhere I go to as many people as I can. Then the most amazing thing happened - my name was called for 1st Runner Up! I was SHOCKED! I didn't think much of winning because I was just excited to be involved and making so many friends. As everyone knows, I don't have many retro people around me everyday so when I am at an event like this, it is SO cool to be around women and men who I can truly relate to and who get me!

WHO?!? ME?!?

In the end, Phoebe Nyx was 2nd Runner Up, I was 1st Runner Up, and Bombshell Beckie was crowned Miss Darling Dame 2019. You read that right! My two buddies I met the first night joined me in the final 3! Can you believe that? I love that we won together, it was definitely some form of retro pinup kismet.

There are so many photos of what looks like Phoebe Nyx being so motherly to me - she made my weekend so memorable with her charm, spunk, and our common nerdiness!!

It is INCREDIBLE to have landed 2nd place - considering it is my first pageant that I landed a spot in - but the even more incredible part about this weekend? All the genuine friendships I now have. I have never felt such support, compassion, excitement, and appreciation from a group of women before. We were all essentially fawning over each other all day everyday as the event went on. Not just the contestants but the attendees, the vendors, the dancers, EVERYONE.

Viva East is unique that way - it's an event where everyone is welcomed with a warm hug, everyone is encouraged to have as much fun as they can, and everyone gets a smile or wave or friendly hello as you walk by them. I found myself cheerily greeting everyone I passed on Saturday morning with "good morning!" and a smile because I was just so HAPPY to be there.

My social media profiles have beefed up with the abundance of new friend requests on Facebook and follows on Insta the more people I met. I am now also a member of the Bomber Vixens Ladies Club, a New England based pinup group, and I am thrilled as it is something I have been LOOKING for for such a long time. I feel so content and pleased and "whole" after this experience. It's amazing.

It was truly unbelievable and I cannot wait to return next year!

My new stage mom (aka my sister), Emma, got video of my speech and when they announced that I won so feel free to get a glimpse of the fun (I am sure Blogger destroyed the quality but hopefully it's not too bad):

And because I can't sort through all of the fun or leave any out, here's a random collection of some of the fun photos I've saved from everyone's social media throughout the weekend: