As I reflect back on my experience at Boogie by the Bay this year, I cannot help but smile even after over a month’s passing. Boogie has always been one of my favorite events, but this year was probably (read: absolutely) the best weekend I have had at an event, ever.
There were so many things about this year that made it such a special experience, one of these of course being the Next Generation Swing Dance Scholarship. As some of you may know, I recently relocated to the Bay Area from San Luis Obispo. While this is quite an exciting change for me, it was also hard leaving the first and only dance community I’d ever known. While I was thrilled to be moving to one of the largest (and most awesome!) dance communities in existence, I was a bit nervous to be a small fish in such a big pond—er, bay. It was nerve-wracking to think about having to find my place in a brand new community. It’s like being the new kid in school, except for the part where I’m 22 and no longer in school. Shortly after moving here, I came across a post one of my friends shared about the NGSDC Scholarship application deadline being extended. I hadn’t heard of the scholarship before this, but after reading about it I decided to apply. The application was a bit lengthy, but I actually enjoyed the process because it allowed me to thoroughly lay out and reflect on my goals and thoughts regarding West Coast Swing, and what type of role I’d like to take on in the community in the future.
I’m so happy I applied, because it not only was a large part of why Boogie by the Bay was so amazing for me this year, but it also opened countless doors along my dance journey over the next year.
First, I was able to get my first bit of experience judging under the wonderful Kelly Cassanova. After finding out about the scholarship on Friday night, I decided to shoot her a message via Facebook on the off-chance she might let me apprentice judge for the rest of the weekend. I’m so thankful for her taking the time to allow me to do that on such short notice. I learned so much over the course of those two days, including the following:
Judging is HARD.
Kelly is an absolute beast of a head judge.
Judging is my thing!
For quite some time now I have known that judging is something I hope to do (and do well) in the future, and the judging mentorship was one of the main reasons why I applied for the scholarship in the first place. Since then, I have been able to judge a handful of local jack & jill’s in the bay area, and hope to continue to gain experience and better my skills over the next year.
As for the rest of the weekend, there are a few other things I’d like to share that made this event so special to me. For one, I had some amazing dances with some amazing people! I had the pleasure of drawing Chris On in finals on Sunday. It was hilarious because we drew each other the week before at Bridgetown Swing, and even got the same song!
Finally, the last special piece of the weekend was the fact that my parents and brother were there for the whole thing! This was their first event ever, as well as their first time seeing me dance in person. It meant so much to me that they came up to support me, and honestly I don’t think they could have picked a better event or year to do so. My brother even took all the beginning and junior’s classes! We went to the junior’s pizza party on Saturday night, and it wasn’t long before I realized he didn’t need me. I asked him about it later and he said all of the juniors were super welcoming and friendly. Even though I’m not a junior, I appreciate what a great environment Boogie by the Bay cultivates for this next generation of dancers.
I just want to wrap up by saying that in my short time here, I have felt so incredibly welcomed and loved by the NorCal Westie family. I want to extend a huge thank you to the Next Generation Swing Dance Club for awarding me such a generous scholarship. I’m so excited to be apart of this community, and can’t wait to use this scholarship over the next year to not only better my own dancing, but contribute to the community in every way I can.
Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you on the dance floor soon!