To Westie or Not to Westie – My Views on the Pro Social Dance Debate


[Editor’s Note: Brace yourself… this post longer than usual and could possibly turn into a novel due to my enthusiasm and nature of this issue.]

Westies… we’re kind of in a really fortunate world. The “pros” of our sport are extremely accessible compared to other fields. A topic came up on “Westie Discussion of The Day” how the Swiss Open handles social dancing with pros  at their event. Before I step on a soapbox and get all preachy, I’d like to share my experiences and how I see both sides of the story.

Now A Message from a Pro… 

(Ben Hooten’s comment on the WDOTD where this discussion started)

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Ben lives up to his word. This man taught private lessons all weekend, plus workshops as well. What I took away from my dance with Hooten was that no matter how much I struggled, he made it so FUN for me.  Didn’t make me feel inferior at all. He has such passion and heart for this sport. His words were true. A little time sacrificed and it can make a world of difference for a dancer.

Taletha Jouzdani the BEAST-A

Taletha recently did a workshop weekend here in OKC. She challenged me. If I missed a lead she gave me the chance to catch what she led before. My goal as a westie is to keep growing in this dance. Taletha has a great way of teaching information, but still keeping it lighthearted where everyone feels comfortable and enjoys the learning process.

Devil’s Advocate Anyone?

The Swiss Open made valid points on their site. Yes, pros work a lot of hours at these events… sometimes 12+ hours in a given day easily. That’s privates, workshops, and demos, and sometimes performing routines. A body can just be worn out. R&R is needed for mental sanity. And the “say yes” policy isn’t always the best policy. Pros are human and they have the right to dance and the right to not dance. But… status doesn’t give you a free “Be-A-Jerk” card either.

One pro (who shall remain nameless) decided it’d be fun to play dance cop with me during a social dance. Normally, I LOVE feedback. But as the saying goes… “I came out to social dance to dance. If I wanted a lesson I would’ve paid for it.”

Brent Key — the KEY to a fabulous social dance

He flew in to MC… compete in the invitational J&J, and social danced his BIG heart out until 5am both nights of Wild Wild Westie. He was one of the only few pros to do so. Brent had the biggest smile anytime anyone would ask him to dance. Even if I goofed in our dance, he would smile and play around with that fancy footwork of his. Key showed me the true meaning of being a great ambassador of this dance. Using your devotion and love of this dance to spread joy to others.

Michael Kielbasa – The gentleman of the ballroom 

I had a lesson with Michael in Dallas. In my head, I thought that was it. Eh, I got my chance to dance with Michael Kielbasa we won’t social dance. Luckily, I was wrong. When I say he is a gentleman, he truly is one. Remember when Hooten said a dance can make someone’s day, week, month or year? Yep. Very True. Michael taught privates and workshops ALL weekend. Made a conscious effort to put in a good amount of social dancing in (again being one of the few pros to do so). He even found time to give a dance to this Bambi of a dancer – yep, yours truly. Kielbasa never under-minded my skills. A smile goes a long way, and to see that during our dance was truly comforting.

Bottom line… Whether pros choose to dance with someone is their choice. Yes, they’re not machines. They need rest. However, I completely agree with Ben. If a pro just wanted to view this job as a money maker… teach privates. Otherwise, let’s celebrate the dancers…. pro or not who dance on for the LOVE of it. Live.Laugh.Dance.

  1. Great topic…this is also an issue in the Salsa world. You definitely have your pro’s who run and hide during socials…but there are also many who love their job and will dance all night.

    Reply

  2. Just as a side note – usually Ben Morris social dances his fair share – but at WWW last year, he spent EVERY waking moment getting together his throw back routine with Melina – so even though he couldn’t be out there social dancing – he was preparing a special show for people – and pouring his heart out into it.

    Reply

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