According to organizers, the Boston Tea Party (BTP) showcases the two most prevalent forms of swing: Lindy Hop and West Coast Swing. Lindy Hop is the original and more traditional form of swing, developing from the Charleston in the late 1920s. West Coast is a derivate of Lindy Hop, often characterized by smoother movement and contemporary styling.
“Boston Tea Party is one of the best annual competition events,” says Ellie Hanus, Rensselaer’s former Lindy Hop instructor. “It’s really the place to find top-notch competitions, and unlike any other event, a competition where the Lindy Hoppers and West Coast Swing dancers cross over to dance with each other.”
During the weekend, the dancers had the opportunity to pick up new moves from more than 80 workshops, let loose at social dances, compete in a list of partnered competitions, and enjoy a show from some of the best swing dancers in the world. Although Rensselaer Swing Club members are primarily Lindy Hoppers, the weekend introduced them to such dances as Balboa and the Collegiate Shag.
“It is often hard to obtain new material when the only Lindy Hop scene in Albany is here on RPI’s campus. Everyone who went [to BTP] was able to see an improvement in their dancing over the course of three days and had a blast,” says Swing Club Treasurer Katie Murdock ’11.
The swing dance workshop/competition event draws over 1,400 dancers from throughout the world and with backgrounds as varied as the dances themselves.
Eight Rensselaer dancers competed in the novice Lindy Hop Jack and Jill competition. In a Jack and Jill competition, dancers are randomly paired with three different partners with whom they share three dances in a display of improvised dancing. Dancing among 60-plus couples, three Rensselaer students went through to the final competition. Gabrielle Doyon ’11 and Orian Breaux ’12 placed 12th dancing together, while Sarah Boyd ’12 placed ninth with her partner, Ben Kohler of Baltimore.
The competition proved meaningful for all of Rensselaer’s participants. “Despite not making it to the finals,” says Matthew Shiroma ’13, “the experience I gained by dancing with other people has improved not only my dancing skills, but my abilities to interact with people who have different backgrounds and, in the end, still accomplish a common goal.”
The RPI Swing Club offers lessons in Lindy Hop every Wednesday at 8 p.m. and holds open practices every Monday at 8 p.m. in Academy Hall.
For more information, visit ballroom.union.rpi.edu or contact the club president, Gabrielle Doyon, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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