Each week, Hugo Miguez and Stacy Kay post Tuesday Tips, advice from the pros to the larger Westie community about everything from dance etiquette to great ways to learn in workshops. We at Wandering Westie are looking to expand upon these with stories from our own Westies each week – proof of these tips in action!
Let’s not mince words here. A huge chunk of the reason any of us do this is the people. Basking in the swungover feeling of a Monday’s post-event glow, I find myself floating on a euphoric cloud that only a truly great group of people can create. This community is an incredible dance family that grows by the day, and a support network that has been unparalleled in my own life. I love it, and by extension love all of you.
Hugo and Stacy are right, though—no matter how much we may remember someone’s awesome dance or great conversation, it’s OK to not remember someone’s name. There are so many people that you meet over the course of one event or one social dance that it’s just not plausible. That doesn’t reflect negatively on you or on them, it’s just a fact of life. Even more true, people will be flattered that you remembered them at all. Sometimes I like to ask “Hey, have we danced before?” as a way to prompt that conversation.
Now, if you want to make some long-lasting, memorable friends in WCS, here are some things I’ve done.
Social Media is Wonderful
Seriously, nothing has made me appreciate Facebook more than becoming a Wandering Westie. With so many people to keep in touch with, finding those with whom you connected on Facebook not only helps you expand your Westie social circle, but helps give you a way to connect with those people outside of WCS. I can’t tell you how many incredibly kind messages I’ve gotten after competitions from people – whether people have just found someone with whom they can share their WCS obsession or they just want to say hello – and how many of those have morphed into the beautiful constant-conversation thread that social media can create. I wouldn’t have my Westie Besties if it weren’t for social media. So don’t hesitate to go find people afterwards – or even at the event. It’s a good way to make people feel remembered.
Dance a Long Time
My personal favorite is the long dance set. I adore finding a friend and connecting with them over 5-7 songs late at night, in a back corner of the dance floor. I’ve made some of my best friends out of these longer dance sets, because not only do you fall into a groove of dancing with each other, you start to experiment and practice and learn things from each other. Naturally, those things come up in conversation later, and a solid friendship is formed. Never hesitate to say “hey, do you wanna do a few more?” if you’re really loving dancing with someone; it’s a quick path to a good friendship.
It’s also great to do the night before Finals, because throughout my Novice experience I noticed how excited people were to practice and think about new things for their next set of dances. That’s how I made one of my absolute best friends in WCS. (And never hesitate to ask for a Strictly.)
“Be Kind and Remind”
You’re going to dance with tons of people in the WCS community, and you’re not going to remember everyone. Some people are better with names or faces than others. I tend to think I’ve danced with people I’ve never seen just by sheer numbers and probability at this point. It never hurts to open with a reintroduction, even if you totally remember the person from before. Much like you’ve been dancing with hundreds of people, so have they, and names/faces are hard. Frankly, I tend to remember more people through their connections.
It’s simple human psychology. People like to feel remembered, so anything that shows you may vaguely remember them, like “Hey, I’m Joshu – have we danced before?” should be taken well.
And if you want to make better friends in WCS – the people you run up to and hug whenever you see them at a dance – take your time to get to know them while they’re there, find them outside of WCS dances, and get to know them. The more people you know well in the WCS community, the more people you’ll meet, and the more fun it will become. There will always be more people. There will always be new people. There will always be a support network waiting for you as you expand further and further into the Westie community. So be ready for all of that when you step out onto the dance floor. I believe those friendship moments new and old are the most magical thing about this community, so just let them happen, whether they happen on the first introduction or the fifth.
For more on friendships, check out our Welcome Wagon article, 5 Ways to Expand Your Westie Family and Make New Friends at Events.
Hugo Miguez and Stacy Kay are renowned for their precision, variety, and teaching methods within West Coast Swing. Since 2011, they have taken the circuit by storm with their Classic routines and are re-defining the learning process of the dance world. They will lead you through energetic dances while sharing their advice on all things dance. Hugo and Stacy reside in sunny Clearwater, Florida and travel as competitors, judges, and choreographers for numerous events in different dance styles. Both continue to share their passion for dance and enjoy working with all levels of experiences. They work with top professionals in many different dance styles distinctly furthering their education and experience. Their philosophy is to introduce and foster fresh, comprehensive dance knowledge for their students by giving more of themselves within every experience. They can be reached at www.hugoandstacy.dance.