First time heading to a WCS convention? Check out our handy guide below! For information on current events and rules, visit the World Swing Dance Council.
A West Coast Swing convention is a 3-5 days event where Westies from all over the world gather to dance, compete and socialize.
Okay, so you have decided to go to a convention and picked one. Now what?
Once you have decided to go to a convention, check out their website. Every convention will have a website with a lot of useful information such as schedule, registration, and accommodations. Next, make sure you follow them on social media. Every convention will have a Facebook event. This is the best way to keep updated with the latest convention news. Many also join Facebook groups to follow a convention and stay in the loop.
*Pro tip: Even if you aren’t going to a convention, it never hurts to follow their event. It is becoming a trend to live stream events for free! So grab a drink, sit back on your couch and enjoy the competitions right from your living room!
First thing first is figuring out when you want to arrive at a convention. This highly depends on what is important to you. Conventions usually start on Thursday and ends on Sunday but most attendees won’t arrive at a convention until Friday. This is because most competitions won’t start until Friday night. Keep in mind that intensive workshops that you might be interested in can start on Thursday at some conventions.
*Note that this differs for European events as they usually have leveled workshops where everyone has to audition into.
Workshops – Conventions are great places to take a lot of workshops from top professionals from around the world. These workshops are usually very large and (depending on the convention) can even incorporate other dance styles.
Competition – Competitions are explained below. Champion competitions are usually the highlight of the night. You will find the ballroom packed at this point. Be sure to register for your competition as soon as possible as registration typically close one hour before an event.
Social Dancing – Conventions have a LOT of social dancing but some of your best dancing happens late at night and going to early in the morning. Those who makes it till the ballroom close – sometimes as late as 8am – are part of a “Breakfast Club” and can be even be featured by the DJ in a Breakfast Club photo. Also, some may argue that you get the best dancing Sunday night so if you have a Monday off, #alwaysstaysundaynight.
Meet New Westies – Conventions bring Westies from all over the world to one place. Here you will have a chance to make new friends from all over the world.
Have fun!! – Lastly, prepare to have a fun filled weekend full of dancing, learning and meeting new people. You might even experience being Swungover on Monday.
There are usually three types of competitions (Jack n Jills, Strictly Swing, and Routines). Registration for competitions usually close an hour before a competition.
Jack and Jills – This is the most common type of competition. You can only compete at your level depending on WSDC points. Partners and music are chosen randomly and partners are rotated every song during prelims. Followers and Leaders are judged separately during prelims but partners are judged together during finals. WSDC points will be awarded to finalists according to the WSDC guidelines (note that this only applies to WSDC sanctioned events).
Strictly Swing – You register as a couple and will dance with the same partner throughout the competition. Music is chosen at random. No points will be awarded to finalists.
Routine – The routine division is where you have a chosen partner and music. Partners typically practice for months to put a choreographed piece on the floor. There is several types of routines (classic, showcase, rising star, masters, sophisticated).
Specialized Jack and Jills – Often times, conventions will have specialized Jack and Jills such as All-American, Pro-am (and Pro-am strictly), High Low, Jill and Jack, Generational, Sophisticated.
These descriptions are taken directly from the WSDC site, please click here for the full document.
Newcomer – New dancers / competitors should check event rules. While the WSDC requires a new dancer to start in a skill level no higher than Novice, some events make the Newcomer division mandatory for new dancers.
Novice – Novice is the first category that all dancers must pass through to demonstrate their basic dance skills.
Intermediate – Intermediate is designed to contain the most dancers while they perfect their social and competitive dance skills.
Advanced – Advanced is intended to be a very competitive category where a dancer may move up from Intermediate or return to from All Star.
All Star – All Star is intended to be extremely competitive, with constantly evolving and changing skill level, and requiring consistent placements to remain in this category.
Champion – Champion points are tracked in the Points Registry; however, Champion is a general category that is set by promoters for their higher skill level dancers in attendance.
Master – A level for anyone age 50 or over.