What Kind of West Coast Swing Dancer are You?

– by Julie Epplett (TO West Coast)

Reprinted here by the author’s permission. Visit the original article on her website.


It occurred to me that there are so many *awesome* events coming up, it’s becoming really hard to decide where to spend your wcs dollars.  This is my attempt at a fun way to make sense of some of the choices available – based on personal dance preferences or personalities – knowing of course that most of us are composites of more than one type.  Enjoy!

The Purist:  “Give me West Coast or Give Me Death” is your mantra. Okay, may-be that’s overstating your devotion to the dance a wee bit, but you have no interest muddying the dance waters with a cornucopia of dance styles. As a Purist, you’re going to love Montreal Westie Fest (October 16-18): Montreal’s first purely West Coast Swing event of its size and scope with a young and exciting line-up of Pros, levelled workshops, competitions – and ALL WEST COAST SWING.  Not only that, Joanna Swanson and I still have seats available at our Toronto ROCKS! MWF tables at $144 Canadian (vs. $125 US on the website for general seating, i.e. no table).

The Adventurer/Omnidancer :  You thrive on variety and new challenges, or perhaps you still have strong ties to a previous dance community.  You might attend a Salsa Congress one weekend, a Fusion workshop the next, then a West Coast Swing Intensive the week after that. Your mantra is “I came to dance!” – and so you shall, at events like Vision Dance Encounter (October 2-4):  the only event in North America which pairs West Coast Swing with Brazilian Zouk, taking place right here in Toronto.

Events that offer both West Coast Swing and Hustle are more common. C.A.S.H Bash (hosted by the Cleveland Akron Swing & Hustle club November 27-29) has a huge Canadian presence [Toronto ROCKS! C.A.S.H. Bash – contact Joanna first to get your table code].
WCS and Hustle are both offered at  Spotlight New Year’s Eve.
Closer to home is the Hustle & West Coast Swing Weekend Intensive being held at Joy of Dance (September 3-6): Faceook Page or check the calendar – and next summer, the Toronto Open Swing Hustle Championships (TOSHC).

The Voyeur: Sure you can cut a rug with the rest of them but sometimes you want to sit back and be entertained. “I like to watch” you say while being inspired by a Champion level Jack and Jill or blown away by a Cabaret division.  Your Vision Dance Encounter weekend pass includes admission to the full length production of Dance Me Outside that will include performances by blind performers and West Coast Swing Uber-stars Jordan Frisbee and Tatiana Mollman.  Montreal Westie Fest will feature some kind of showcase, and there’s usually something fun to watch over Thanksgiving Dinner (yes, a nice dinner is included) at C.A.S.H. BashSpotlight New Year’s Eve“spotlights” all Finals, so you don’t miss a thing, and features a couple of unique Pro comps including the insane concept of an Invitational Jack & Jill Classic. Oh, and then there’s Bookends…

The Scholar:  You look for events that offer “levelled workshops” – so that the skill level of participants are more evenly matched and the instructors can teach to that level. These are my personal favourite classes to attend when my goal is to have a few major “take-aways” at the end of a weekend.  Montreal Westie Fest will offer this style of instruction, with level auditions taking place on the Friday night.  (Swingtacular, BridgeTown Swing, Rose City Swing and others! – see Globetrotter, below)

The Competition-Whore:  You’ve never met a competition you didn’t like, and often spend more on competition fees than the cost of your weekend pass. “Sign me up!” to take part in anything from Jack and Jills to Pro-Ams, Bookends, Strictly Swings….you-name-it. You’ll get plenty for floor time atMontreal Westie Fest, and even more at C.A.S.H. Bash, Spotlight and TOSHCif you take part in both the Hustle and West Coast Swing divisions.

This style of wcs dancer is not to be confused with the Points-Monger who only attends WSDC (points) events – although all of these are World Swing Dance Council registry events. WCS/Hustle events C.A.S.H. Bash, Spotlight New Year’s Eve and TOSHC will also record points as part of the new Hustle Dance Tour (Facebook Event)

The Globetrotter:  West Coast Swing events take place literally all over the world.  Check out the World Swing Dance Council Registry Events Pagewhere you’ll see listings for Norway, Sweden, Australia, and Munich interspersed with events in Dallas, Phoenix, and Dearborn, Michigan.  I’m really enjoying getting to know Portland, Oregon as a cool and quirky city with two WSDC events:  BridgeTown Swing and Rose City Swing.  Here in Canada, Vancouver now has a *new* event, a “Sweet Side of Swing” franchise (Facebook Event) – joining the more-established Swingcouver which takes place in January.  Also in January, (speaking of cool and quirky cities) the Austin Swing Dance Championships is now the culmination of the AANCE (America’s Amateur National Championship Event) tour where the top Novice and Intermediate competitors meet to compete for some serious bragging rights.

If you’re more of a rubber-tire traveller, you can simply “get in the car” forMontreal Westie Fest, C.A.SH. Bash, Spotlight New Year’s Eve….I hear Vermont is beautiful in September, and our own Joanna Swanson is on staff at the Vermont Swing Dance Championships   Fly or drive, Summer Hummeris always a fun dance getaway.

The Marathoner:  You enjoy concentrated learning opportunities and are attracted to “Intensives” and “Bootcamps” that require complete focus and a certain amount of physical fortitude.  I’m thinking, of course, of the “WCS Intensive 5 Day Dance Camp” (Facebook Page) taking place in Ancaster right now. Robert Royston and Mario Robau also offer amazing intensive weekend curricula. David Ward & Maria Ford will be in Ancaster for a mini-intensive experience later this month: August 22-23 (see calendar).

The Life-long Learner: You know how to get something out of every kind of class, workshop, or weekend event – it’s all good – whether it’s inspiration, a new move, or a renewed respect for the perfect anchor.  You repeat Beginner lessons with a “beginner’s mind”, recognizing that there will be at least as many plateaus as break-throughs in your dancing, and that West Coast Swing is a journey, not a destination. Your mantra: ”Enjoy the ride!!”