Ponyboy loves a blonde! We photographed our favorite East Coast rockabilly gal, the lovely Miss Katie Bickert from New York City’s Rebel Night dance parties. Katie, also known as RockDollNYC on Instagram, is always dressed to the nines in beautiful mid-century vintage fashions at the fabulous events that she throws with her boyfriend DJ Sei and the rest of the Rebel Night Crew. No one can deny that Katie is the “face” of this party, with her trademark glowing smile and fabulous rockabilly jive moves on the dance floor. http://www.rebelnight.nyc Photography by Alexander Thompson.
PONYBOY: Katie! Where were you raised?
KATIE BICKERT: I was raised in New Hampshire. I grew up partially on a farm where my dad raised emus and horses. I’ve been living in New York for the past eight years.
PONYBOY: What brought you to New York City?
KATIE BICKERT: I came to New York to pursue an education and career as a hairstylist. There’s not much opportunity in creative fields or diversity where I was raised, so New York offered all of that, plus the excitement of events, music and the chance to meet and work with new people.
PONYBOY: When did you start getting into vintage clothing?
KATIE BICKERT: In my late teens I was really getting into the vintage aesthetic, but it wasn’t until I moved to New York in 2007 that I started lusting after more and more beautiful vintage dresses. And it’s evolved from there! I collect everything from fun dresses and prints (that are perfect for wearing out dancing), to older workwear, motorcycle sweaters and even little boys’ vintage clothing that I can fit into! Ha! Ha!
PONYBOY: How long have you been dressing in 1940s-50s clothing?
KATIE BICKERT: Well, when I was eighteen years old living in New Hampshire, the choices for vintage shopping were few and far between. There was an antique mall in my town that a vintage vendor had opened up. I wandered in one afternoon while she was there and she looked at me and said, “Now that’s the kind of girl who should be shopping at my store!” We became instant friends. She taught me a lot about clothing, and got me started on the addiction that I have today, which still continues to grow.
PONYBOY: Where do you find all of your fabulous clothing?
KATIE BICKERT: I find my vintage clothing at lots of places! eBay, of course, and other online venues. I also shop at local boutiques and flea markets. I think most people would assume that it’s hard to find affordable good vintage in a city like New York; but it’s here, you just have to dig for it a bit. I’m lucky to have a great friend with a car, and we travel to places outside of the city often, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Long Island to hunt for treasures. Half of the fun of collecting vintage for me is finding it, as well as the memories you make along the way. We’re planning a road trip to the “World’s Longest Yard Sale.” I can’t wait!
PONYBOY: How long have you been involved in the Rebel Night party?
KATIE BICKERT: I’ve been attending Rebel Night since the moment I turned twenty-one! Ha! Ha! And I immediately fell in love with the atmosphere. I feel that the party is really something special. I was so shy to learn how to dance, but the Rebel Night host DJs literally dragged me onto the dance floor and I was totally hooked. There’s a very small community of people who dance rockabilly jive in New York City, and Rebel Night is definitely the place to go dancing! I started getting really involved with the party in 2005, when we created the Rebel Night Weekender. I had to take a much bigger role at that point, since it required constant communication with venues, bands and attendees. Our host DJs are all native Japanese speakers, so this was much easier for me to take the roll-on.
PONYBOY: Your next weekender is approaching soon. Tell our readers about this event.
KATIE BICKERT: It’s this upcoming weekend, July 17th-19th in Brooklyn. We’re celebrating Rebel Night’s ten year anniversary! I think that’s quite a big accomplishment for any party to last ten years in this city. It’s taken a lot of dedication and tight friendship from all of us involved. Friday the 17th is at the Grand Victory in Williamsburg. And we have The Bothers playing, as well as Silvertooth Loos, who are flying in from Los Angeles. Then the record hops will go on until 4am.
Saturday’s and Sunday’s events are at The Shop, a newly opened BBQ place/live music venue in Bushwick. It’s called “Hula Rock” and it’s a Hawaiian-themed event featuring Johnny Farina, who is famous for his 1959 hit with Santo and Johnny, “Sleepwalk.” We’ll also have two Wild Records acts performing, Will & The Hi-Rollers and Josh Hi-Fi Sorheim, as well as more local bands playing surf, garage and rockabilly. All kinds of other fun stuff are planned, including guest DJs from as far away as Germany, burlesque, a pig roast, limbo contest, photo booth, tiki drink specials, etc. It’s a labor of love, but we’re all so excited for the big day to be here this Friday!
PONYBOY: How does this event compare to the your first weekender a few years back?
KATIE BICKERT: Our weekender in 2010 was the first live show Rebel Night had ever done. I’m not sure how many people even know that! We went from doing only record hops, to a three-day live music event with bands and DJs from all over the world. We probably should have worked up to it first, but it was a fantastic time. And we still have people that come up to us at other weekenders and tell us how much they enjoyed ours. This show will be different in some ways; however, as we have a lot more experience now and have used that to create events that absolutely anyone can enjoy. Not only are there live bands, DJs and dancing, but also other treats and visual things happening at the same time!
PONYBOY: What performers are you especially excited to see?
KATIE BICKERT: I’m really excited to have Will & The Hi-Rollers back at Rebel Night, as they’re really celebrating their anniversary, too, and are one of our favorites. We loved The Clams last year at Hula Rock Vol 1, as well. I know Johnny Farina will blow us away! Also, our friend Jodi Ham is debuting her band’s new lineup at this show. I guess that’s the best part about doing the booking, you’re excited about every band on the lineup!
PONYBOY: We bet you’ll be dancing all weekend!
KATIE BICKERT: Oh, you know it! We try to make ourselves as organized as possible before the show, so that we can relax and enjoy the music while we’re there.