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What Makes West Coast So Special?

By Kristen Wunderlich

It was a Monday evening in the first month of my freshman year of college. I was standing at the designated street corner waiting for my sister and my friend to meet me. The purpose of the meeting was, as of then, unclear.

Who asks someone to meet them on a random street corner on a Monday night without telling them why or where they are going? I thought. Am I going to be abducted…? I’m probably going to be abducted.

Sure enough, my sister and friend arrived and wordlessly escorted me down the street. They ignored my protests and questions of where we were going or what was going on and instead elected to pull me down the street towards our unknown destination.

I did not sense the true gravity of the trap until it was too late.

It was a dance class. Worse, it was a West Coast Swing, partnered dance class, where instead of simply failing individually, I could drag someone else down with me. Now was my only chance to make a game-time decision, should I stay or should I go?

I stayed, and have now been dancing West Coast for four years.

West Coast is a dance where people come for the music and awesome moves, but stay for the community. It is a difficult dance and takes some initial time, effort, and learning before the dance starts to really make sense.

Fortunately, this is offset by the enormously welcoming culture. West Coast is a dance that is founded on social dancing; it lends itself to the forging of bonds and building of friendships. It is a dance open to people of all ages, of all dance backgrounds, and if you are not careful you might just find yourself a part of its community for four years.

In Minnesota, nowhere is the growth of the West Coast community more prevalent than at the weekly Swingesota dances. Every Wednesday night, Swingesota hosts group lessons and a social dance at Fallout Arts Initiative. Westies young and old, new and veteran come out to dance, socialize, and be a part of a community that continues to expand. This expansion is especially impressive given the generally low retention rate of Westie converts. Swingesota has created an atmosphere where people not only want to come and learn, but stay. I credit this success to the quality of the instructors, the awesomeness of the dance itself, and to the diverse community that is always genuinely excited to accept new people. It is what makes West Coast truly special. This is why the dance is a growing phenomenon in the world, the country, and in Minnesota.