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Dancing - Country/Western and Swing!

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[Jack and Jill West Coast Swing, Intermediate Division, World's Championships 7, January 1999]

Dancing! You may have noticed this topic start to creep into several of my pages . . . Well, May 1996 I started going out and taking Country/Western dance lessons. I had never really tried before and was terrified of the dance floor. However, I had wanted to try to put together a juggling routine for a while and realized I could not continue to stand there like a tree while juggling, so it was time to learn to dance! While I doubted that I would use country/western music and style for a juggling routine, I figured it was a good start to get me moving my body. I figured I would try more modern dance later. However, it turns out dancing is more fun than juggling and I never got back to working on a juggling act for performance/competition . . .

I started with line dance lessons at a local C/W bar. They were free, easy and full of friendly people! But they got a little boring after a while. Line dances involve doing the same 24 or 32 steps usually, over and over for a whole song. By August, I decided I wanted to move on to couples dances. A lot more challenging and I could get my hands on a girl! I started with Two-Step, then moved on to West Coast Swing, Waltz and a little bit of others.

Dancing is fun! Plus, there are more new single women out each night at dancing than there ever were in all of the juggling clubs in the DC area. Some evenings is it hard to get in dances with all the women I want!

Of course, people approach social dancing differently. For me it is fun! I dance with anyone. Young or old, single or married, beginner or advanced. There is seldom a reason to turn down a dance, unless it is one I do not know, or I absolutely need to take a break and cool down . . .


Competitions. Dancing started out as just fun and I have wanted to get better. A lot of friends compete and I go to comps quite a bit, but I had never really thought I was good enough to compete or that I had the time to work at it. Well, that has all changed!

[Marlboro Country Dance Showdown, Finals with Lisa, September 1998]

In September '98, I was at Spurs and they were having the last of the prelims for the Marlboro Country Dance Showdown. With just 15 minutes before it started, I decided to give it a try. I asked a a friend and out we went. To say I was nervous wouldbe an understatement! Especially considering we had to do Two-Step, Waltz and West Coast Swing. Thing is, Lisa and I had never Waltzed together before -- our first together Waltz was in the competition. We made it to the finals for the next week. We practiced a couple times and did a lot better the second week! I was not as nervous, did not make any really bad mistakes and we managed to take 2nd place over all plus $250!

Between that and taking first place in my first West Coast Swing competition just a few weeks prior, I wanted more! So, I started taking private lessons when I could with Dawn Garrish. May 1999 I started competing in ProAm competitions. I did it for a couple of years and moved up to Intermediate. Of course, I would to find a partner and move over to couples Division competition. But we will see . . .

I had to stop ProAm due to my travel schedule for work, and photography has started to take over a lot of my time so competition is not as important as it use to be. Of course, one of the other downsides to competition -- I have to wear a hat and boots! For now, it looks like competition is on hold. I am at a comfortable level where I can do well in Intermediate Jack and Jills. Guess that shows my social dance skills are fine. I am not sure I want to put the extra effort in to move up to Advanced...

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Dance Resources. For the most comprehensive list of Swing and C/W dances in the DC area, see Dave Moldover's Dance-Info page. He also puts out an e-mail every Thursday that is pretty much the best comprehensive list of places for dances. Also, see Weekly Country Events for specifics on Country/Western events on the Capital Country Dancin' page. Check The Washington On-line Dance Network for information on more Ballroom, Latin and other dancing.

Cherry Hill! College Park, MD. This is where you can often find me on Wednesdays (when I am in town). It is actually an RV park in College Park Maryland with a conference center Dawn and Dean Garrish use for a great social dance. Great dance floor, friendly people and smoke free! This is where you will find most of the competition dancers during the week. Check out their site at http://www.deananddawn.com

Spurs and Blackies!. I actually started to learn C/W dancing at Blackies in Springfield, VA back in '96. Great crowd, friendly dancers. Unfortunately in January 2000 it was closed and then demolished to make way for construction as they expanded the nearby interstate and interchange. Spurs, in Waldorf MD, was my other favorite C/W dance bad. Great dance floor, friendly people and did not have the meat market feeling like Blackies had. Unfortunately summer 2002 they changed format. C/W dancers just do not fill the cash register like normaly partons at other bar. These were just my favorite 2 of almost a dozen C/W bars and other dance places (Junction, Red Moon Saloon, Galaxy, GW's, etc) which closed or changed format over the past several years. I will miss them all.

[C/W Dancing]

Swing Dancing. Since some people have heard that I do swing dancing (and yes, met my girlfriend through the dance team I compete on), I thought it would be nice to show a snippet of what West Coast Swing looks like. It is a form of Swing dancing but unlike Lindy and Jitterbug, it is a not an aerobic dance with tons of lifts/throws done to Big Band Music. West Coast Swing is a bit more mature and smoother dance done to a wide variety of music. Take a look at these short clips from to see what it is like. I am on the team one, the others are of various pros (sorry about the slow download speed):

More on competitions . . . Competitions are fun. Everyone is there to dance, not to stand around and smoke or drink like at the bars. There are plenty of things to do like take workshops, watch the competitions/exhibitions and just plain dance. After all, you cannot learn by just watching, and you do not have to compete to go and enjoy it. I've started keeping a list so I can remember where I have been.

o Oct 1996 -- Bootscooters, Harrisburgh, PA
o Feb 1997 -- Atlantic Seashore, Williamsburg, VA
o Apr 1997 -- Eastern Invitational, Fairfax, VA
o Oct 1997 -- Virginia Swing Open, Fairfax, VA
o Oct 1997 -- Halloween in Harrisburg, Harrisburgh, PA
o Jan 1998 -- World's VI Championships, Nashville, TN
o Feb 1998 -- Atlantic Seashore, Williamsburg, VA
o Mar 1998 -- Big Apple, Meadowlands, NJ
o Apr 1998 -- Eastern Invitational, Fairfax, VA
o May 1998 -- Texas Classic, Houston, TX
o July 1998 -- Chesapeake Jubilee, Baltimore, MD
o Aug 1998 -- Swing Fling, Fairfax, VA
o Sept 1998 -- Atlantic SeaShore Festival, Richmond, VA
1st place, Jack and Jill, West Coast Swing
o Sept 1998 -- Marlboro Country Dance Showdown, Waldorf, MD
2nd place overall, Two Step, Waltz and West Coast Swing
o Oct 1998 -- Halloween in Harrisburg, Harrisburg, PA
o Nov 1998 -- Gateway Country Classic, St. Louis, MO
o Jan 1999 -- World's VII Championships, San Antonio, TX
12th place, Intermediate Jack and Jill, West Coast Swing
o Jan 1999 -- Winter Blues Blaster II, College Park, MD
2nd place, Intermediate Jack and Jill, West Coast Swing
o Feb 1999 -- Atlantic Seashore, Williamsburg, VA
o Mar 1999 -- Big Apple, Meadowlands, NJ
2nd place, Jack and Jill, West Coast Swing
o Apr 1999 -- ASDC Swing Competition, Meadowlands, NJ
o May 1999 -- Eastern Invitational, Fairfax, VA
ProAm Male Novice with Dawn Garrish
Gold - Two-Step and West Coast Swing
o May 1999 -- Grand Nationals, Atlanta, GA
o Jun 1999 -- Orange Blossom Country Competition, Orlando, FL
ProAm Male Novice with Maria Melton
Silver - Cha-Cha, Two-Step and West Coast Swing
o Jun 1999 -- Colorado Country Classic, Denver, CO
ProAm Male Novice with Dawn Garrish
Gold - Cha-Cha, Two-Step and West Coast Swing
o July 1999 -- Chesapeake Jubilee, Baltimore, MD
4th place Overall, ProAm Male Novice with Dawn Garrish
Silver - Waltz and West Coast Swing
Gold - Cha-Cha and Two-Step
o July 1999 -- Country Dance Marti Gras, New Orleans, LA
ProAm Male Novice with Dawn Garrish
Silver - Cha-Cha, Waltz and Two-Step
Gold - West Coast Swing
o Aug 1999 -- Swing Fling, Fairfax, VA
o Aug 1999 -- North East C/W Dance Festival, Boston, MA
3nd place, Jack and Jill, West Coast Swing, Novice/Intermediate
3nd place, Jack and Jill, Two-Step, Novice
o Aug 1999 -- Atlantic SeaShore Festival, Richmond, VA
1st place, Jack and Jill, West Coast Swing, Novice
o Sept 1999 -- New Mexico C/W Dance Fiesta, Albuquerque, NM
3rd place Overall, ProAm Male Novice with Dawn Garrish
Silver - Cha-Cha
Gold - Waltz, Two-Step and West Coast Swing
o Oct 1999 -- Halloween in Harrisburg, Harrisburg, PA
ProAm Male Novice with Dawn Garrish
Bronze - Cha-Cha -- Seemed good to me... not sure what the judges saw!
Gold - Waltz, Two-Step
Silver - West Coast Swing
o Nov 1999 -- Gateway Classic, St. Louis, MO
o Dec 1999 -- Las Vegas, NV
3rd place, Jack and Jill, West Coast Swing, Novice
o Jan 2000 -- World's 2000 C/W Dance Championships, Nashville, TN
9th place overall, ProAm Male Novice with Dawn Garrish
Silver - Cha-Cha, Two-Step and West Coast Swing
Gold - Waltz
Finals, Jack and Jill Two Step, Intermediate
o Feb 2000 -- Atlantic Seashore, Williamsburg, VA
2nd place overall, ProAm Male Novice with Dawn Garrish
Silver - Cha-Cha and Two-Step
Gold - Waltz and West Coast Swing
2nd, Jack and Jill Two Step, Novice
Finals, Jack and Jill West Coast Swing, Novice
o Mar 2000 -- Big Apple, Meadowlands, NJ
ProAm Male Novice with Dawn Garrish
Gold with Honors! - Two-Step
Gold - West Coast Swing
3rd, Jack and Jill Two Step, Novice
Finals, Jack and Jill West Coast Swing, Novice
o May 2000 -- Eastern Invitational, Fairfax, VA
1st, Jack and Jill Two Step, Novice
o Jun 2000 -- Colorado Country Classic, Denver, CO
2nd place (of 31 couples), Jack and Jill, Two-Step, Novice
5th place (of 31 couples), Jack and Jill, West Coast Swing, Novice
o July 2000 -- Chesapeake Jubilee, Baltimore, MD
Finals, Jack and Jill West Coast Swing, Novice
o Aug 2000 -- Swing Fling, Vienna, VA
o Aug 2000 -- Atlantic SeaShore Festival, Richmond, VA
1st place, Jack and Jill, Two-Step, Novice
o Oct 2000 -- Paradise Dance Festival, San Diego, CA
1st overall, ProAm Male Novice with Dawn Garrish
Gold - Cha-Cha, Waltz, Two-Step and West Coast Swing
Finals, Jack and Jill Two Step, Intermediate
Finals, Jack and Jill West Coast Swing, Intermediate
o Nov 2000 -- Dallas Dance Festival, Dallas, TX
1st place, Jack and Jill, Two-Step, Novice
o Dec 2000 -- Las Vegas Dance Festival, Las Vegas, NV
1st place, Jack and Jill, Two-Step, Intermediate
1st place, Jack and Jill, West Coast Swing, Intermediate
o Dec 2000 -- Christmas in Dixie, Birmingham, AL
1st place, Jack and Jill, West Coast Swing, Novice
2nd place, Jack and Jill, Two-Step, Novice
o Jan 2001 -- Worlds C/W Dance Championships, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
ProAm Male Novice with Dawn Garrish
Silver - Cha-Cha, Waltz, Two-Step and West Coast Swing
o Feb 2001 -- Atlantic Seashore Festival, Williamsburg, VA
1st place, Jack and Jill, Two-Step, Advanced
o Mar 2001 -- Big Apple, Meadowlands, NJ
1st overall, ProAm Male Novice with Dawn Garrish
Gold - Cha-Cha, Waltz, Two-Step and West Coast Swing
Finals, Jack and Jill Two Step, Intermediate
Finals, Jack and Jill West Coast Swing, Novice
o May 2001 -- Eastern Invitational, Fairfax, VA
o July 2001 -- Chesapeake Jubilee, Baltimore, MD
Finals, Jack and Jill West Coast Swing, Novice
1st place Overall, ProAm Male Intermediate with Dawn Garrish
Silver - Cha-Cha
Gold - Two-Step, Waltz and West Coast Swing
o Aug 2001 -- Swing Fling, Fairfax, VA
o Aug 2001 -- NE Dance Festival, Stamford, CT
2nd place, Jack and Jill Two-Step, Novice/Intermediate
o Sept 2001 -- Music City Country Dance Challenge, Nashville, TN
1st place, Jack and Jill Two-Step, Novice
Finals, Jack and Jill West Coast Swing, Novice
4th place Overall, ProAm Male Intermediate with Dawn Garrish
Gold - Two-Step
Silver - Cha-Cha, Waltz, West Coast Swing
o Oct 2001 -- Paradise Dance Festival, San Diego, CA
3rd, Jack and Jill Two Step, Intermediate
3rd, Jack and Jill West Coast Swing, Intermediate
o Nov 2001 -- Dallas Dance Festival, Dallas, TX
o Dec 2001 -- Las Vegas C/W Dance Finale, Las Vegas, NV
1st place, Jack and Jill, Two-Step, Intermediate
2nd place, Jack and Jill, West Coast Swing, Intermediate
o Feb 2002 -- Atlantic Seashore, Williamsburg, VA
o Mar 2002 -- Big Apple, Meadowlands, NJ
o May 2002 -- Eastern Invitational, Fairfax, VA
o Jun 2002 -- Colorado Country Classic, Denver, CO
o July 2002 -- Chesapeake Jubilee, Baltimore, MD
o July 2002 -- Country Dance Marti Gras, New Orleans, LA
o Aug 2002 -- Swing Fling, Fairfax, VA
1st place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Aug 2002 -- NE Dance Festival, Stamford, CT
o Aug 2002 -- Music City Country Dance Challenge, Nashville, TN
o Sept 2002 -- Virginia State Open, Fairfax, VA
3rd place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Oct 2002 -- Paradise Dance Festival, Monterey, CA
1st place, Jack and Jill, Two-Step, Intermediate
1st place, Jack and Jill, West Coast Swing, Intermediate
o Nov 2002 -- Dallas Dance Festival, Dallas, TX
1st place, Jack and Jill, Two-Step, Intermediate
3rd place, Jack and Jill, West Coast Swing, Intermediate
o Jan 2003 -- Worlds C/W Dance Championships, Nashville, TN
o Mar 2003 -- Big Apple, Meadowlands, NJ
Finals, Jack and Jill Two Step, Advanced
Finals, Jack and Jill West Coast Swing, Advanced
o Apr 2003 -- North American Dance Championships (Swing), Meadowlands, NJ
5th place, Teams, Capital Swing
o May 2003 -- Eastern Dance Challenge, Fairfax, VA
2nd place, Jack and Jill West Coast Swing, Intermediate
o May 2003 -- Fresno Country Classic, Fresno, CA
1st place, Jack and Jill Two-Step, Intermediate
6th place, Just Dance Two-Step, Intermediate
o July 2003 -- Baltimore Bash, Baltimore, MD
o Aug 2003 -- Swing Fling, Fairfax, VA
o Sept 2003 -- Virginia State Open, Fairfax, VA
o Oct 2003 -- Halloween in Harrisburg, Harrisburg, PA
o Oct 2003 -- Paradise Dance Festival, San Diego, CA
3rd place, Jack and Jill, Intermediate Two-Step
o Apr 2004 -- MAD JAM, Washington, DC
1st place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Apr 2004 -- North American Dance Championships (Swing), Stamford, CT
5th place, Teams, Capital Swing
o May 2004 -- Eastern Dance Challenge, Fairfax, VA
o Jul 2004 -- Baltimore Bash, Baltimore, MD
2nd place, Jack and Jill, Intermediate West Coast Swing
o Aug 2004 -- Swing Fling, Fairfax, VA
2nd place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Mar 2005 -- MAD JAM, Washington, DC
3rd place, Teams, Capital Swing
o May 2005 -- Eastern Dance Challenge, Fairfax, VA
o May 2005 -- Grand Nationals, Atlanta, GA
8th place, Teams, Capital Swing
o July 2005 -- Baltimore Bash, Baltimore, MD
2nd place, Jack and Jill West Coast Swing, Intermediate/Advanced
o Aug 2005 -- Swing Fling, Fairfax, VA
1st place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Oct 2005 -- U.S. National Dance Championships, Chantilly, VA
o Nov 2005 -- Virginia State Open, Herndon, VA
1st place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Mar 2006 -- MAD JAM, McLean, VA
2nd place, Teams, Capital Swing
o May 2006 -- Eastern Dance Challenge, Fairfax, VA
1st place, Teams, Capital Swing
o June 2006 -- Liberty Swing Dance Championships, Jersey City, NJ
3rd place, Teams, Capital Swing
o July 2006 -- Baltimore Bash, Baltimore, MD
o Aug 2006 -- Swing Fling, Fairfax, VA
1st place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Oct 2006 -- Virginia State Open, Herndon, VA
1st place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Mar 2007 -- MAD JAM, McLean, VA
o May 2007 -- Eastern Dance Challenge, Fairfax, VA
o June 2007 -- Liberty Swing Dance Championships, Newark, NJ
2nd place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Aug 2007 -- Swing Fling, Fairfax, VA
1st place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Oct 2007 -- Virginia State Open, Herndon, VA
1st place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Aug 2008 -- Swing Fling, Fairfax, VA
1st place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Sept 2008 -- Virginia State Open, Herndon, VA
1st place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Nov 2008 -- US Open Swing Dance Championships, Anaheim, CA
3rd place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Mar 2009 -- MAD JAM, McLean, VA
o Aug 2009 -- Swing Fling, Herndon, VA
o Nov 2009 -- Virginia State Open, Herndon, VA
1st place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Mar 2010 -- MAD JAM, McLean, VA
1st place, Teams, Capital Swing
o June 2010 -- Liberty Swing Dance Championships, New Brunswick, NJ
1st place, Teams, Capital Swing (lights went out during out performance!)
o Aug 2010 -- Swing Fling, Fairfax, VA
1st place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Nov 2010 -- US Open Swing Dance Championships, Burbank, CA
4th place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Mar 2011 -- MAD JAM, McLean, VA
o Mar 2011 -- Mid Atlantic Dance Classic, Baltimore, MD
o Aug 2011 -- Swing Fling, Herndon, VA
o Nov 2011 -- DC Swing eXperience (DCSX), Herndon, VA
1st place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Mar 2012 -- MAD JAM, McLean, VA
1st place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Jun 2012 -- Liberty Swing Dance Championships, New Brunswick, NJ
2nd place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Aug 2012 -- Swing Fling, Herndon, VA
1st place, Teams, Capital Swing
o Mar 2013 -- MAD JAM, McLean, VA


Dancing! / Ray's Home Away From Home / ray@bowers.com / August 12, 2012