Sometimes it’s about the style, sometimes it’s about the heart- an ILHC recap

This past weekend, I rode out Hurricane Irene nestled in the bowels of the Westin Alexandria Hotel, just south of D.C. I was there to attend the International Lindy Hop Championships (reverently called ILHC by those in the know and those who love acronyms), a four day/five night dance camp and competition weekend for my mostest favoritist of hobbies, swing dancing. It was my first time attending this much-hyped event, and it certainly lived up to it’s reputation. I saw some of the best social dancing and choreographed routines that I’ve ever seen in my life, and danced until three am each night.

ILHC is a competition- focused event. So a lot of the top names/personalities of the Lindy Hop World were there. I point this out because most of these lindy celebrities are admired for their dance-ability for a good reason- they’re fantastic at it. That’s why many dancers will travel via plane, car, boat, and (if necessary) camel to go learn from them. So for me, ILHC seems one of the key places to be to see where Lindy Hop currently is and where it might go. All the egos and cliques that surface during this type of weekend don’t particularly bother me, and the hero worship around the Lindy Celebrities is an understandable human compulsion- if not always a healthy one. In a nutshell: I adored the hell out of ILHC and will attend next year if at all possible.

Here is one of the routines from this weekend by one of my favorite couples to watch, Skye and Frieda:

And here is a routine by Kevin and Jo, who’s style and direction in dance I love like like a Trekkie loves DragonCon:

They’re saucy. Me likey.

There are over two dozen awesome routines I could link to- but you’d get link-overload, and I don’t want that. These two are a sample of some of the tightest technique and choreography that is out there right now for Lindy Hop. High quality stuff, no?

But there’s one performance from this weekend that everyone will talk about (okay, there are really two that will be famous from ILHC 2011, but the other one will be talked about at a therapists’ office after a night of cold-sweats)- and it’s good for totally different reasons than the above two videos are good.

So this routine by Brittany and Dargoff is, hands down, my favorite. It cannot- it does not do justice to the moment. If you’d been there, it was One Of Those Moments. The type you try to tell friends about later, but it doesn’t work. The energy in the room couldn’t be replicated, couldn’t be planned, couldn’t be tamed- it rose like a physical thing as the couple just swung the hell out for almost two minutes. To someone not familiar with Lindy hop, it might appear a bit boring- they’re doing the same move (a swing-out) over and over and over. And they’re doing it to really fast music. But watch the people in the room. Listen to the noise of the crowd and watch towards the end as we come to our feet to cheer them on. Keep in mind that this event is one of the highest (if not THE highest) caliber event in the swing dance world. Everyone brought their A-game. The top performers and teachers were there, showing off their best stuff. In a weekend full of great performances and visually stunning technique, this performance brought it. Brought it.  Brought us up off our asses and had us yelling. It brought hundreds of people to their feet- not for technical skill, but for sheer love of what we do. For the passion of expression.

Check it out:

That moment at 1:55 into the piece, that energy is what makes me travel, makes me practice, makes me love dancing. It’s every part of your body being totally in the moment. Very Zen, in a swing-y sort of way.

ILHC, we shall meet again.


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