Mental health

We’re back! And to kick off the new year, we’re talking about how we can understand and improve our psychological and emotional well-being. We sat down with Dr. Divy Ravindranath, a board certified psychiatrist and a fellow dancer, to talk about how dance affects our mental states – both positively and negatively – and what we can do to stay healthier and happier in the dance world. We discussed the learning process, the benefits of dancing, how to deal with tough times, and how to navigate the ups and downs of competition. Take a listen and get a good start to your year by discovering how to enjoy dancing more!

Goldwater Rule
Mind over Matter: Attitude and Mindset –
It’s not all about you –

Safety and consent

Many of us dance West Coast Swing for the joy of sharing in musical expression with someone else. Unfortunately, there are times when people cross personal boundaries, and times when people are harassed, abused, and even sexually assaulted. In this (extra long) episode, we first interview Lizzi Kampff-Jansen, a licensed independent clinical social worker, to discuss the nature of this problem in our society today. Then we’re joined by Shantala Davis to chat about this problem in our dance community, as well as some of the ways we can move towards a culture where everyone feels safe and comfortable. Settle in for a serious discussion about a sensitive but critically important topic affecting our community.

Why Don’t Victims of Sexual Harassment Come Forward Sooner? (Psychology Today)
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) (
Agreeing with The Four Agreements (Psychology Today)
Edgar Schein’s Model of Organizational Culture
SoulPlay – Safety & Consent
The 10 Principles of Burning Man
The Paradox of Tolerance (Wikipedia)
Should We Tolerate the Intolerant? – Big Think
Mission City Swing Code of Conduct
Consent Collaboration Council

Laurie Schwimmer

Though she is perhaps best known as mother to Benji and Lacey, Laurie Schwimmer has been and continues to be a star in her own right. In addition to performing in a variety of dance styles, she has taught West Coast Swing around the world, choreographed winning routines for couples and teams, and trained several of our community’s most successful professionals. In this episode, we had the pleasure of chatting with Laurie about her own background, how she trains young dancers, and how she thinks about choreography. She shared stories about Benji and Lacey, her pet peeves about West Coast Swing today, and, yes, we talked about judging and swing content with her as well. Take a listen and learn more about this legend of swing – and about the dance itself.

Laureen Baldovi

Most people know Laureen Baldovi from her winning routines with Robert Royston, but she has followed her own path since their partnership ended nearly two decades ago. In this episode, we sat down with the eight-time US Open Swing Dance Champion to discuss her early days in West Coast Swing, her inspirations and mentors, and what made her and Robert so successful. We talked about why she stepped away from swing dancing, how she found her way back, and the challenges she had to overcome along the way. Plus, she shared her view of the dance today, her feelings about performing “Fever” at The Open again, and her thoughts on judging swing content. So settle in, get cozy, and enjoy our conversation with this classy and lovely living legend of swing.

Robert Royston & Laureen Baldovi – Fever (1997)
Robert Royston & Laureen Baldovi – Fever (2018)
Ronnie DeBenedetta & Lauren Baldovi (2010)

The Open 2018

Every year, The Open is a showcase for swing dancing – what it is, what it has been, and what it can be – and this year’s event was no exception. We talked about Deborah’s experience competing at The Open, how much we admired Benji and Nicole’s Showcase routine, and our reactions to his retirement from routine divisions. We also discussed the different showpieces at The Open, what we liked in the Classic division routines, and the different trends in costumes (unitards! tunics!) and choreography (walk offs and hands on mouths). Of course, we also looked at judging at the event, in particular the issue of swing content (and swing aesthetic) and we got into a debate about NASDE’s decision to degender the routine divisions (though we agreed that “degender” isn’t the right term). Take a listen and let us know your own thoughts!

NASDE Rules (including Statement of Swing)
The Open Rules [PDF]
Benji Schwimmer’s retirement from routines
Dawn Hampton discussing the feeling of the music
Benji Schwimmer & Nicole Clonch
Myles Munroe & Tessa Cunningham Munroe
Glenn Ball & Florencia Diaz
Semion Ovsiannikov & Maria Elizarova
Jesse Dickson & Lannie Sullivan
Thibault Ramirez & Estelle Bonnaire
Tony Schubert and Larisa Tingle Schubert
Jakub Jakoubek & Emeline Rochefeuille
More routines to come as they become available online…