The Boston Tea Party this weekend was my first big swing dance event of the year. For awhile I have been hearing about what a great party it is, with a thousand or so lindy hoppers and west coast swing dancers gathering from around the country for competitions and dance parties all night.
There’s something really wonderful about being stuck in a hotel with hundreds of people who share the same passion as you for a whole weekend. Wandering around the lobby, you see folks practicing steps, vendors selling various dance paraphenalia to passersby, people watching dance footage on laptops, and lots of smiles.
Boston Tea Party is unique as a gathering point for both west coast and lindy hop dancers. This reaches its ultimate expression in the "crossover" competition, where a champion west coast follower is paired randomly with a lindy hop leader, and vice versa, and then the couples have to dance to both lindy hop traditional swing music and to west coast modern pop music. It’s both hilarious and awesome seeing these top dancers try to perform in another dance style — sort of like a live "So You Think You Can Dance" but with a lot more love and silliness. There’s really nothing in the world that can compare to seeing west coast champion John Lindo and lindy hop star Carla Heiney doing tandem charleston.
At one point last night I was in the west coast ballroom, and a woman asked me to dance. Then she looked at my baggy pants, sneakers and kangol and said, "Oh wait, you’re a lindy hopper?"
"Yep," I replied. "Let’s dance."
"But I don’t do lindy hop," she said, as doubt crossed her face.
"Well I don’t know west coast. But I think somehow we will muddle through."
We then proceeded to have a lovely dance together.