Dancing looks super luxurious – costumes, travel, and even the art itself can be glamourous. The truth is… we dancers know the expenses build up. There are dances classes, private coaching, competitions, events, social dancing on a consistent basis. West Coast Swing may be a little more laid back than some of its other partner dance counterparts. However, staying relatively active in the community can be financially hard. That is why I applaud those dancers for helping encouraging people to begin or continue their dance journey.
Event Directors hold a special place in my heart. Not only because I aspire to be one, but because they offer volunteer opportunities at WCS events. Events are where West Coast Swing dancers get inspired! We meet new friends, we’re motivated to amp up our dance game, and we gather in the name of dance to have a good time. The fact that E.Ds. help lower admission costs by volunteering is tremendous. We need to keep young dancers engaged and interested in this dance. They also need to learn the history from our wonderful westie veterans. Conventions are where that happens. The networking opportunities are invaluable.
Let’s talk SHOES. This is a HUGE expense in the dance world. Depending on how often you dance, you can burn through a pair quite quickly, and replacing them costs a lot. Enter West Coast Swing legends, Barry Jones and Johnny Siharath. They recently formed a program called “Dance Shoes Alive Again.” Jones and Siharath noticed the increase of new dancers, and fed off their excitement. They understood how costly investing in this dance can get. The pair asked their friends to donate old or lightly worn shoes (getting shoes re-soled or replacing the inserts are much more economical than buying a complete new pair). Giving someone their first pair of professional dance shoes lifts a HUGE weight off a new dancer’s shoulders.
Coaching… as someone who personally has a coach, I’ll attest that it is a tool that cannot be measured for a dancer. That knowledge however comes with a price, sometimes a hefty one. USA Swing Network partnered with some of today’s top pros (Sarah Vann Drake, Kyle Redd, Ben Morris, Buddy and Laurie Schwimmer, etc.) in the “Teen Dance Scholarship” program. Young dancers who have an interest in the dance are nominated by a member of the dance community (experienced dancer, E.D., local coach). If selected based on a criteria, they will receive 1 free hour coaching session with one of West Coast Swing’s top professionals. Donating time and knowledge are a few ways the pros give back. Giving that push of encouragement from someone well-noted in the community boosts a dancer’s confidences and inspires them to continue dancing.
These are just a few examples. Search throughout the WCS scene, and you will find many more awesome examples of westies giving back. I am not Miss money bags. I consider myself very fortunate to have gone to events and to be an active member of this community. That is why it really moves me to see others want to strengthen and expand our westie family. Thank you. Whether you’re a westie who donates time, money, or even just a dance to a new dancer. You never know, you could possibly have changed their lives forever.