For most Americans the end of November signals the start of the Holiday shopping season, football and eager over consumption at holiday gatherings. While many pass down annual traditions that include Thanksgiving Day parades and feasts, dancers in the swing community honor traditions like week long dance conventions over Thanksgiving that include marathon workshops, showcases and so much more.
From November 23-27, 2016 the Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel in Burbank comes to life in a haze of metallic glitter dust and elaborate costumes as it is taken over by US Open dance championship attendees. And before the glitter dust begins to settle, the hotel becomes flooded with even more arrivals who flock there for the US Open Swing Congress which immediately follows the US Open from November 28-30. People travel from far and wide to take part in this Superbowl of swing dance.
This event is in such high demand that there is a section on USOpenSwing.com where patrons can purchase passes up to one full year in advance. Well before this years has even begun, some have already begun planning for next years event. Many participants like to register and buy tickets well in advance to avoid waiting in long ticket lines, and also, in part because there are a limited amount of available open and reserved seats for participants and spectators. Since reserved seats are only accessible to their owners, spectators are left with standing room only seats once the remaining non-reserved seats sell out. There is even a seat buy back program which allows reserved seat ticket holders who wish to keep their same reserved seats to do so for the following years event. If those seats aren’t re-purchased within the time allotted, they are then released for purchase by other patrons on a first come first serve basis.
There are a variety of passes available for purchase, from workshop only passes, single day passes, division tickets, complete weekend passes, as well as discounted youth and performer passes. The event schedule is jam packed with back to back presenters, performers, special classes and more. There is even nightly social dancing scheduled until well beyond sunrise, going as late as 7:00 AM. Like many other congresses, this event will be loaded top to bottom with workshops as well as vendors selling special merchandise from apparel, shoes, accessories, DVD’s and more. There is even a multi-media presentation scheduled along with a celebrity performance to close the show. Special workshop sessions will be held by well known figures in the scene such as 3rd generation swing dancer and television personality Benji Schwimmer, to ATOMIC’s own Ben Morris, and Tatiana Mollmann and Jordan Frisbee, who are six time world champions in the sport.
For those interested in competing, there is a long list of divisions open for a broad range of experience levels to compete; from novice to pro categories, to small groups and teams, jack and jill, rising stars, juniors, masters, and pro-am; featuring everything from lindy, cabaret, strictly swing, strictly shag, showcase, classic, and so on. This event is such a big deal in the swing dance community, that despite it falling over Thanksgiving week, it still draws large crowds from all over the nation and across the globe. Large crowds are expected this year as well, with many of them coming from right here in Southern California. So many in fact that the main local swing spots, including ATOMIC (which rarely shuts down) are expected to be ghost towns if they open at all. With so much at ones disposal, the weeks events are a great way to learn, practice, widen ones dance and social circle, and ultimately progress towards greater growth and progress while having a ball. *We do not claim ownership of this video. All rights by Youtube/WestCoastSwingOnline.