Tags and categories are not the same. Tags were not available until wp 2.3 was introduced. It was not "tags" that were hidden previously in the Connections theme. It was the categories that were and still remain hidden.
Setting that aside, IMHO what wank says about requesting that wordpress.com "disappear" the tags on this one theme is true.
"They're not going to do that because they want as many links to the tag pages as they can get. Multiple links back to wordpress.com are a form of payment for your otherwise free blog."
So, that means your alternative is to purchase a css upgrade $15 per year for one blog and "disappear" the tags yourself.