Category Archives: Support

West Coast Swing Levels

West Coast Swing Levels

The West Coast Swing Levels system helps the community advance with a clear flow of progression through Levels 1-6.  Bringing dancers together of similar experience and ability can be a huge aid in the endeavor to improve our dancing. As with many systems, It also has it’s drawbacks! Here is our perspective on how it works across the European community. Also, where it works, where it doesn’t and what we’re doing to help you to understand the WCS Level system.

Events

At the largest WSDC events in Europe you will find the need to offer your workshop level relative to your WSDC registry Jack & Jill division. This system is slowly filtering down through Intensives, workshops and regular classes across the world.  Although this is not yet standardised everywhere here is a rough outline of how it works,

  • Beginner – Just starting out (Often not catered to at large events) | Level 1
  • Newcomer – Got the Basics of social dancing. Compete in this division until have confidence to venture forward or after a 1st place. | Level 2
  • Novice – Have a firm understanding of WCS. No prerequisite to enter this division. Considered the entry level for J&J competitions. | Level 3
  • Intermediate – At least 16 Novice WSDC points required. Dancers usually beginning to travel internationally for events. | Level 4
  • Advanced – At least 30 Intermediate points. Many dancers at this stage have begun teaching and other apprentice roles, great dancers. | Level 5
  • Allstar – At least 60 Advanced points. Semi-Professional & Professional Teachers, Judges, all round fantastic dancers. | Level 6

Note – The main body of the Social WCS community, at least in the UK, fits between Levels 1-4, with a sprinkle of Levels 5 & 6. An ‘Advanced’ workshop attendance does not give you access to the Advanced level of competition nor Level 5 workshops.

Having said all of this, you should realise that that levels fluctuate from region to region and event to event.  If assigned Level 3 at one event, it won’t guarantee you will receive the same level at the next event.  

Where did ‘Levels’ come from?

West Coast Swing Levels came to the Global WCS community when Europe joined the party, in the mid 2000’s.  US Pro’s started to get invited to Europe and European Pro’s started travelling to the US in equal measure.  It is our understanding that Sea, Sun & Swing was the first event to incorporate a ‘Level’ system in WCS workshops which was adopted from the Lindy side of the event. So, somewhat of a natural progression for a lot of the Southern France community. Even with it being familiar to the local community. There were still rumours of the ‘Crying room’ where unsatisfied dancers found themselves.

Nevertheless, the Level program of workshops was largely welcomed warmly by the US instructors who were not very familiar with this event set up but saw the benefits immediately.  At Midland Swing Open in 2010, we began offering an ‘Advanced’ level workshop track. Held in a tiny room and included 4 workshops throughout the weekend. Your ticket into the workshop required you to have Advanced WSDC points and became the first levelled workshop in the WCS UK community.  It is amazing to think how many of the dancers in those workshops are now European Allstar and Champion dancers, Event Organisers, Teachers and Judges located all over the world.

When it works well?

Offering a comfortable space within which to learn is so important. Some Level 2 dancers can feel pressured when higher level dancers are in the rotation or simply in the room. New dancers can also feel intimidated by not knowing who to ask to dance in the social dance parties.  In fear of asking the ‘wrong’ person they sometimes don’t ask anyone at all.  

Grouping dancers together by ability allows teachers to tailor the information they are offering to guide the group to get to the next stage of their development.  Often an instructor will base a workshop off of what was witnessed ‘en masse’ within a J&J division knowing that they have that group the following day in class.

Having separate Levels can leave for a much more positive experience for both Instructors getting gratification from a larger majority of the group and participants realising the reward of growth  For dancers that don’t compete there is usually an audition process so that you be placed in the level that best suits your dance ability regardless of your WSDC registry points or lack thereof.

To get the best result from the audition process and workshop levels, it helps if the workshop levels are full and everyone attends the audition. Even if you are content with the level that you are already assigned.  This allows the selection panel and general dancers alike to see the full spread of dancers in attendance to make the assessment more accurate. 

When it works less than well?

Can be when dancers wear their workshop wristbands all weekend to let people know which level they are.  

or when organisers move dancers to balance Roles or to make groups appropriate for the size of rooms used.

If organisers do not restrict access to levelled workshops and dancers do not use their own better judgement. It can leave instructors and participants with a negative experience of not feeling good enough to achieve the material or concepts in the class.  

There is a flawed notion that the amount of time spent dancing WCS is an indicator of which level a dancer should be eligible for. Every individual learns at a different rate and will have many different factors that affect there personal progression. 

How we’re trying to help you understand the West Coast Swing Levels System.

At our website, you will find lots of useful infographics and documents to help get an idea of the bigger picture and how far along the learning curve you are already.

We’ve also added video tutorials that compliment our approach to the Levels in WCS. 10 video lessons for Level 2 and 21 video lessons for Level 3. We consider these courses to be a guide to the minimum standard for these levels. Learning the material will NOT guarantee you will gain the correlating level at an event. Although, it should give you an idea of what you should be aiming for.

Learning the material on an intellectual level is far from it being a practised technique that can be demonstrated when necessary in an audition or competition. So although you may have learnt all the steps, you might need to practice it on a regular basis to bring the knowledge into muscle memory.

To conclude,

We feel that the level system does offer more positive than negative and although it isn’t always perfect. It does help greatly with the growth and development of the WCS community.  Seeing International events incorporating levels into their events is testament to how well it’s worked in Europe.

The best approach you can have is to take the level offered at face value. This level does not grade you as a human being and you shouldn’t feel unworthy of the higher level. It means that at that event, on that weekend, in that year that you’re of the same ability level as those also assigned to the same level.

 The instructors will always gear the workshop to the dancers in the group. Even if that means them changing plans, not making it through or adding material on the spot.  Rest assured that whichever level you’re assigned, the instructors will cater the lesson to the group of people in attendance.

Feel free to contact us for further guidance or support as you develop in WCS.  Our objective is to help you find confidence within your dancing so that you can enjoy WCS even more.

Wellness in West Coast Swing

Picture of a lotus flower in 2 shades of green above the text West Coast Swing Wellness also in green.

Wellness in West Coast Swing

Wellness in West Coast Swing is an ideology which EastonSwing. Together with Natalie Lockyer Coaching began to promote, through the middle of 2019.  Whilst we’re all stuck indoors during the Covid-19 crisis, taking care of your self physically and mentally is vitally important.

We’ve noticed that there are increasing levels of stress and anxiety amongst the WCS community and we aim to help alleviate that.  Increasing Wellness will also increase your social dancing capacity and leave you feeling better after an event weekend.

One of our goals is to deepen the connections between individuals in the WCS community.  Especially, between the Wellness Westies already in the community and dancers struggling to maintain good balances in their lives. 

Introduction

First introduced to the idea of Wellness by a Swiss Anaesthetist who was managing us when teaching in Switzerland, Germany and Austria in the early 2000’s. From meditation techniques to visiting Roman baths, we were given the beginning of our Wellness journey, even before we knew what it was all about. We began learning more about diet and nutrition to help maintain energy levels when teaching many long days consecutively, what foods would help with recovery and what we should avoid before performances.  This together with many more lessons we’ve learned have prepared us to achieve our goals and greater stability in our mental and physical health.  

WCS Pro’s tend to be exceptional humans who often share what it takes to be a great dancer. But, there is never enough time talk about what it takes to maintain such a level of function and output.  Every Pro we know goes to great lengths to promote and maintain a healthy body and mind. Our ambition is to share some methods and techniques that the Pro’s use to stay well so we can all enjoy WCS a little more.

WestCoastSwingWellness.com has already started posting articles on how stay well in mind and body.  Here are some of the main topics that will be covered in existing and future posts.

Physical Fitness

Yoga, Pilates, Workouts, Injury prevention, Posture and Joints, Massage.

Mental Health

Mindfulness, Consent, Self-acceptance, Growth & Purpose, Environmental mastery, Positive Social interactions.

Nutrition & Hydration

Immune Boost, Macros and Micros, Supplements, Development.

Sleep

Muscle regeneration, Memory retention, Hormone & Mood Stability.

Hygiene

Personal Hygiene, Water Stations, Travelling, 

To conclude, as Wellbeing becomes a more important part of every aspect of our lives, be confident knowing that your dance community is also aligned to this way of thinking.  To this end, in late 2019 we have launched the West Coast Swing Wellness project. The goal is to increase wellness within West Coast Swing.  WCSWellness will highlight many health and fitness professionals from the WCS community whose expertise and advice will help guide us to a happier healthier lifestyle. Follow our social media platforms and Blog articles to start getting more reward from your WCS dancing.

WCSWellness
Website | https://westcoastswingwellness.com/
Instagram | https://www.instagram.com/wcswingwellness/
Facebook page  | https://www.facebook.com/wcswellness
Facebook Group | https://www.facebook.com/groups/301962604108804/

Natalie Lockyer
Website | https://www.natalielockyercoaching.co.uk/
Instagram | https://www.instagram.com/natalie_lockyer_coaching/
Facebook Page | https://www.facebook.com/Natalielockyercoaching/

Thanks for reading through this article, Dancing amid Adversity.  For more articles from WCSWellness follow our Social Media and Join our mailing list. Feel free to reach out to us at our Contact page.