I had the wonderful opportunity to work with Brandon Parker at Wild Wild Westie, and he posed the question to me: What do you want out of West Coast Swing? My initial reaction was to be an advanced dancer. Upon further revelations, there was more to my goals than the competitive level.
What a Feeling!!!
YES. Ideally I would like to technically progress through this dance and become a “great dancer.” However, after experiencing a few speed bumps at the event, I realized philosophically I had a larger goal in mind — To be the most encouraging follow for my partner, and to have my partner feel happy and joyful whenever they leave the floor.
A few of my friends had asked me, “So, did you have a unicorn dance this weekend?”
“Unicorn dance? What the heck is a unicorn dance?” To better explain what my definition of a unicorn dance is, I’ll tell you a story.
Even though W3 was filled with fantastic dancers, friends, and good times, I admit I was in a funk.
Friday night comes along, and this beautiful, lyrical, gorgeous song comes over the speakers.
I LOVE the song because I saw this video just mere days before.
I didn’t care how low I was feeling, I wanted to dance to this song. I ask Jb Brodie to dance, and what proceeds to happen completely changed my mood.
It didn’t matter how crazy I got attempting to interpret the music, Brodie went along with me. At one point he even said, “That was me testing you.” I like to be challenged! I don’t want to feel like I’m holding back my leader, just because my dance vocabulary isn’t as strong as the other follows. I want to have a dance dialogue just like everyone else, and that’s exactly what that dance was – a conversation amongst two people.
That one simple dance instilled some confidence back inside me. It reminded me that no matter where in the journey I am with West Coast Swing, if I give it 100% something beautifully unexpected can be the result. The dance recharged my outlook, and gave me the confidence to be the spunky, bubbly, eager, follower I’m known for in the community. To give off that vibe of support and happiness to a fellow partner after a dance, that’s essentially one of my key goals.
Sing it, Aretha! Yes, respect. For me, it’s not about reaching the pro status and having on-lookers go, “Oh… My… God. Look. At. Her. Dance. She is soooo good.” It’s about colleagues having faith in me and realizing I don’t “half ass” anything about West Coast Swing.
I like others put a lot of work into my dance. I do drills off the floor at home, I social dance, I train with coaches. That all costs time and money. LOTS of time and money, and just like anyone else I just want some respect. Not speaking in rank, but just respect that no one’s going to be “disappointed” that they’re dancing with me. Social dancing and competing is about doing this thing we love! And I didn’t realize how big of an issue of “judgement” and “inferiority” was going on until I recently got back into dancing.
Through the grapevine, I’ve been hearing a lot of talk lately on how people are either too intimidated to dance with someone a much higher level than they are or the opposite of where the higher level dancer disregards newer dancers, because “they might suck.” Not a lot of people remember that we all were beginners at one point. Unless someone’s physically harming you or making you feel uncomfortable, there’s no reason to disregard them and not give them your best. We all have a responsibility to grow this dance, and that’s not going to be possible if we downsize our partners. Gary Jobst talks about this is this eloquent post. As a social ambassador for West Coast Swing, I would like continue to encourage others to be positive and welcoming — which is what our community is known for.
Hopefully this post makes you ask yourself what do you want of your dancing, and how you see your role in West Coast Swing. 🙂 What are your goals on and off the floor? #OurResponsibilityWCS