My favorite thing about swing dancing (aside from the actual dancing part, of course) is the global community. People are always surprised to hear that you can find a Lindy hop scene pretty much anywhere in the world, but it's true! It's kind of like having a built-in friend group anywhere you go, and it's so much fun to dance in other places. Any time I have moved or gone on trips, the first thing I look up is the local Lindy hop scene. It's how I met all of you wonderful people when I arrived in Colorado!
I have also traveled a lot specifically for dancing—most cities hold a big event once or twice a year, either a workshop (which has classes during the day) or an exchange (just lots of dancing). I started dancing in Cleveland, so it was really easy to drive to events around the Midwest: Columbus, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Chicago, Dayton, Cincinnati.... the list goes on. Many were workshops, so I took classes and learned from instructors I didn't normally have access to, which did incredible things for my dancing. As I got more into dancing, I started traveling to events farther away.
I went to my first weekend dance event after about three months of dancing. It was a bigger exchange, so there were a couple hundred other people there. It was crazy intimidating at first, but as I met people and danced with them, it got easier and I made lots of friends! (Not gonna lie, sometimes at events I still get intimidated when there's lots of good dancers there.) I started to understand that this was way bigger than my little college scene, and that was when I really fell in love with Lindy hop. I can't really describe it (by this I mean you should really go to a weekend event and experience it for yourself), but amazing things happen when you spend multiple days focused on swing with people who are as obsessed with the dance as you are.
I lived in New Zealand for six months, and the people I spent the most time with were the local swing dancers. I found the group before I left the US, went dancing like the day I arrived, and stayed close friends with many of them for my whole visit. There are some I still keep in touch with, like Jakob, who I met up with in Sweden this past winter after not seeing since we got him hooked on dancing in NZ (six years ago!). I've reunited with New Zealand and Australian dancers at other events in the US and Europe as well.
The biggest event I've ever gone to was in celebration of Frankie Manning's 100th birthday (though I guess it's also technically the biggest dance event ever). The event was in New York City, and something like 2,500 dancers from around the world attended. I spent days dancing for hours and hours with people from dozens of different countries. I really thought my feet were going to fall off, and it was one of the best experiences I have ever had!
As many of you know, Anthony and I went to Sweden this winter to learn how to teach better, but we traveled around before the workshop as well. I stayed in Copenhagen before the dance event began and of course ended up dancing most of the nights I was there. The Copenhagen dancers are lovely. They treated me like a visiting friend— I got invited to Christmas Eve dinner (there were even gifts for me!), another dancer put me in contact with her American friend so neither of us would be alone on Christmas day, and another showed me around parts of Copenhagen. That was before we even got to all the dancing in Sweden!
I'm not saying the Lindy hop community is perfect. Dancers, instructors, and organizers can still be crappy, there will always be drama, and I've watched the scene go through a lot of changes even just since I've started dancing (though my seven years have nothing on the people who have been dancing for decades). But overall, I love being a part of this community wherever I go, and I hope you all continue to dance and make the community better. You better believe I will be dancing in Indianapolis, Costa Rica, and wherever I go afterwards!
If you're ever traveling anywhere, try looking for local dances! Don't be afraid to just show up and dance. There are dozens of amazing events around the US to check out, which are great for taking a weekend dance trip. Around the country, you can find small events that are personal and very low key all the way up to events with hundreds of dancers that attract some of the best dancers in the world. Ask me or any other instructor about where you're headed; chances are, one of us knows someone there.
Thank you, Boulder Swing dancers, for being my home and community, and please never, ever hesitate to contact me for anything, even if it's just to say hi! I will miss you all so much!
by Sarah Siertle