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How Westies are Staying Sane & Active


Feeling lost or unmotivated without WCS social dancing? You are definitely not alone!

I recently posted a question on Facebook, asking dancers:

Without events/comps/social dancing, what are you doing to stay motivated to keep up your WCS skills? How are you staying sane and active these days?

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The results were fascinating. Dancers from all over the world generously shared the habits they have settled into, what's filling their dance bucket, and what is giving them comfort/motivation right now.

I am honoured that so many generously shared, and while I don’t claim to have all the answers, I do have some suggestions that might lift your spirits.

I’ll finish this article by giving you a short “how to keep your sanity” project and a special treat, but...

First, let’s take a look at some of the more common responses, so you can get a feel for how others are coping with their Westie-withdrawal. 

Here’s a link to the original survey post, but if you don’t want to sift through all the responses, I’ve summarized them below.


Motivated or un-motivated?

I found it interesting that many people fixated more on the question, “What are you doing to stay motivated to keep up your WCS skills?

Many described not how they were staying motivated in WCS, but how they had lost motivation.

  • “I just feel sad”
  • “I’m tired of solo choreo”
  • “I don’t see how I can train without a partner”
  • “I needed to reduce my screentime”
  • "I haven't tried online offerings because I don't see the point"

I understand that many dancers are struggling without being able to physically social dance WCS. I know that by now many of you have tried online offerings and are still feeling unfulfilled. 

I get it. There’s nothing that can replace live social dancing. We were all addicted and are now going through an extended withdrawal. 

Live social dancing, classes, and comps filled a long list of needs in our lives.

Such as:

  1. Physical socializing
  2. Synchronization with another body
  3. Achievement & social approval
  4. Adrenaline rush from risk-taking
  5. Eureka moments of learning new things
  6. Proof of progress in skill mastery
  7. Party atmosphere
  8. Social connections, friendships, & support
  9. Physical expression to music
  10. Physical Fitness
  11. Critical thinking & strategy skills
  12. Stress relief
  13. Fun artistic/creative challenges

(more on this coming later)

It can seem like going from feast to famine when so many of these needs are suddenly no longer being fulfilled. 

Which leads me to my question...

How are dancers staying sane and active now?

My favourite response to the survey:

There was a wide variety of types of answers - some were emotional, some had more to say than others. So I took the liberty of summarizing:

  • Picking up new hobbies: baking, crafts, languages, musical instruments, home renovations, social video gaming
  • Continuing education: taking special interest courses & certifications
  • Physical fitness programs: challenges, yoga, training for marathon, Peloton
  • Spending more time outdoors: walking, running, hiking, cycling
  • Solo dance or dance-adjacent activities: pole dancing, shuffling, ballet, hip hop
  • Training courses for WCS: Swing Literacy Teacher Development, Dancer Development

So it appears that dancers have gotten creative with how they are filling their time. You have likely done a little exploring on your own by now, so I have a challenge for you:

Your current sanity project

Your current sanity project is to fill all the rest of those missing needs from a variety of other sources. 

Good news: You might have already instinctively sought these out. Consider these questions:

  1. Take Inventory: What are you doing now instead of dance? 
    • Sourdough baking? Yoga? Quilting? Hiking? Shuffling?
    • Personally, I’m consumed by coaching and teacher training

  2. Make a checklist: How do all your replacement activities fill each of these needs?
    • For example, Maybe you are getting body connectedness and stress relief from Yoga, or adrenaline rush from mountain biking.
    • Personally, I’m getting creative challenges from my website remodelling.
       
  3. Self-reflect: Are any of your needs UNfulfilled? How might you fill them? 
    • For example, are you missing the social aspect and friendships in the dance community? How could you foster those relationships without being physically present? How could you develop new friendships outside of dance?
    • Personally, I’m feeling like I need more exercise, so I’m considering workout programs to start this month.

  4. Brainstorm: How do your replacement activities indirectly bolster your return to dance? 
    • For you, not-dancing might mean time for mental/physical recovery, which will stabilize you for when you do resume regular dancing.
    • Experiencing other hobby communities might make you realize how much you appreciate aspects of WCS you might have taken for granted.
    • Learning new things might actually be cross-training skills, such as handstand training or learning to play piano. Consider how these other hobbies can indirectly help your WCS.
    • Training in other skills might give you more perspective and insight into who you are as a learner and strategies for learning any skill better.
    • Personally, I never stopped my dance business, just pivoted it, so everything I’m doing is contributing to my return to dance, and supporting others in this goal.

It might surprise you to know that you have more control over filling your needs than you thought you did!

But I still want my needs filled by WCS!

Of course! WCS is the complete package you can look forward to resuming, but in the meantime, your alternative activities are worthwhile “a la carte” ways of filling your needs. 

That being said, I encourage you not to give up on WCS. I have several ideas on exactly how you can still get at least 84% of these needs filled through WCS.

I know, 84% seems oddly specific, right?

Remember the list of 13 needs that WCS provides us (mentioned earlier in this article):

  1. Physical socializing
  2. Synchronization with another body
  3. Achievement & social approval
  4. Adrenaline rush from risk-taking
  5. Eureka moments of learning new things
  6. Proof of progress in skill mastery
  7. Party atmosphere
  8. Social connections, friendships, & support
  9. Physical expression to music
  10. Physical Fitness
  11. Critical thinking & strategy skills
  12. Stress relief
  13. Fun artistic/creative challenges
Out of these 13 needs, while it might seem like they are all being muzzled by the pandemic, only the top 2 bolded ones actually have to be muzzled right now. 

That means 11 out of those 13 needs (84.62% to be precise) can be provided to you during your shutdown time…

...and don’t worry... of course, we’ll show you how (for free...keep reading).

We know this because we’ve been keeping students sane, active, and motivated since March by filling these 11 needs - but not just with online classes: with digital courses, interactive group coaching, mini-private lessons, hot seats, challenges, and a super-engaged, supportive online community. 

It all started with our Free 7-day Footwork Agility Challenge back in March and guess what?

There’s another one coming soon!

Master your balance, turns, and spins so you can do any rotational movement, with any amount of revolution and speed, with more confidence and control.

I looked forward to the M&T Challenge videos in my my inbox everyday... and the hundreds of people who posted theirs! And, I have to say that it was PERFECT timing (with the craziness in the world. To know that everyone was in the same boat and we were all working together for a common goal, and everyday we were able to see each other (apart)...that was nice. ❤️❤️❤️🥰 

Daniella Minetti

My favourite part was being able to practice and reinforcing the Swing Literacy method while feeling connected to and inspired and humbled by the West Coast community. It was motivating, got me out of my head, and truly puts a smile on my face everyday seeing everyone, "travelling" online by being able to see people in their homes and hometowns all over the world! 

-Nicole Liu


It is hard to pick my favourite parts because I really loved everything. I especially loved how we had something everyday to work on that wasn't too overwhelming and built on day by day in a way that helped me to see how it all comes together to better our dancing. I loved the support and accountability, enthusiasm and encouragement. The sense of community and being in it together. 

-Tish Rosevaar

I feel that this Swing Literacy program really offers the "keys to the castle" in terms of what it reveals about learning WCS and other dance styles as well. I really wish my other dance styles were taught this way! In these times of uncertainty, the Bootcamp helped to ground me, gave me something concrete to work on, and gave me an amazing new global social dance circle. 

Jonathan Wong

Swing Literacy was the missing piece in my dance education. This experience has also changed my practice habits. Before, I had no idea how to practice. Now I have a social group I practice with and they keep me motivated to keep improving. This was a unique and invaluable service. 100% worth it.

Jasper LaFortune


Swing Literacy Bootcamp was the light that enriched my life the most in Corona time! It's a great tool for someone in a small community like me here in Japan who doesn't have the opportunity to get new knowledge and dance every week with coaches. It is a precious place with friends from all over the world. We have a guidebook and community packed with the resources we need. Experience the amazing verbalization of WCS. I recommend it!” 

Hisaki Minoda

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One Response to “How Westies are Staying Sane & Active”

  1. Really good article Tessa and I liked the reminder of the 11 things we can actually do something about in this time of COVID. I love that you are offering a free challenge to non-members again! Thank you for everything you do to enhance and maintain our dance community.

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