Learn about a fun new event that’s building unity across the Tri-State one tea dance at a time.
A fun new event spreads unity within the Tri-State’s LGBTQ+ community. Tea Dance is “a magical mixture of fun, accepting people in a cool space with great music and delicious cocktails. We welcome the full spectrum of the LGBTQ+ community and our supporters at tea dance,” Richard John Cooke, Chief Fun Time Officer at Tea Dance Cinci, says. “Old friends reunite and new friendships are created. Our goal is to ensure tea dances are welcoming, inclusive and fun.” The event also includes DJs around the Cincinnati area that play house and dance music. “Tea always starts at 4pm and the dancing is usually by 5pm. We usually wrap up the evening by 7pm with the ‘last dance’,’” he says. The Tea Dances happen once or twice a month and always happens at different locations.
The event has been around for two years, officially in Cincinnati, but “tea dances go as far back as the 1940s after WWII where tea rooms were places to meet people,” Cooke says.
The inspiration behind starting the event came from a desire Cooke had to bring his friends and other people of the LGBTQ+ community together. “We used to meet at Neon’s on a Sunday afternoon and when that closed, we didn’t have a place to consistently and reliably meet up and hang out,” he says. “There really aren’t that many places for the LGBTQ+ community to call a gathering spot of their own in the city anymore, especially during the day.” The mission of the event is “to bring the LGBTQ+ community and our supporters together on a Sunday afternoon using dance to catalyze connections so people feel welcome and included,” Cooke says.
The Tea Dance isn’t just important for the LGBTQ+ community, it positively affects the city of Cincinnati. “Tea Dances have become established and well-known in Cincinnati through the word of mouth, social media and the press, certainly in the last year,” he says. “They’re one of many positive signals of a thriving LGBTQ+ community, which speaks to the thriving diversity within our city and this is good for everyone in Cincinnati, including our visitors.” The Tea Dance is an event that has happened throughout history, but it now adds a modern twist. “What is different about Tea Dances today, in Cincinnati, is that we move them to different locations each time and we have the benefit of social media to drive awareness and excitement leading up to the tea dances, during each event and then for people to share their photos and stories of the tea dance they attended.”
Cooke loves to work on every part of the Tea Dances. “It’s so exciting to find a new venue, to work with amazing staff representatives at these venues and to use social media to share details of the venue and the upcoming tea dance there,” he says. “But there is nothing that gives me more pleasure than to greet people coming through the doors each time – to welcome old friends and make new ones. It’s the best feeling!”
Cooke is devoted to making the city of Cincinnati a more welcoming community. “We already scheduled through the end of 2019 and thinking about new venues for 2020,” he says. “There’s no sign of me letting up anytime soon. I love how this has taken off so organically and I love to see people having fun. That’s it. That’s the magic!”
The next event is on July 28 at Lockbox at 21c Museum Hotel in Lexington, Kentucky, from 4-7pm. “This is our first tea outside Cincinnati,” Cooke says. To keep up with the event, follow them on Facebook.