ASDC 2014

Another ASDC come and gone but we won’t have to wait as long for the next one!  With the sad news that ACC will no longer be held, ASDC has moved into that time slot and will be MLK weekend in January 2015.  YAY!  I, for one, am very excited for the move – there is so much going on in the Springtime that the move to January actually makes it a bit easier for us.

Another fantastic event.  During the weekend, they spoke of the “Dream Team” DJs of Victor Loviera, Cher Peadon and Ruby Lair – that is not an exaggeration!  Three of the most talented and well respected DJ in all of WCS and we got all three of them for the weekend.  I have to say that the event directors are a bit a “dream team” themselves.  You’ve got Rick Domalski, who has traveled and competed for years – he knows what competitors and social dancers want.  Then Angel and Debbie Figueroa – amazing champion dancers, but beyond that, they also have vast chief judge experience and know how to keep an event running smoothly.  You add in Mike Topel, yet another well known, well organized chief judge and the event, at least from an attendees’ point of view, was the most well run I’ve ever attended.  Every event has its issues, no matter how well planned, but I don’t really remember having any UGH moments regarding timing of events or things running ridiculously late.  In fact, there was even time for dinner on both Friday and Saturday nights for us before the evening activities!  Really rare of us.  

This year was also very special to us as we were bringing the first ever SSQQ WCS Team out on the competition floor.  These are all people who represent the studio we work for, either as staff members or long time students.  With Michael Stephens, we had the privilege of being their choreographers, their coaches and for this event, part of their dance team to sub in for dancers who couldn’t make the event. Most of the folks on the team have never been to a full weekend event before, let alone actually perform at an event.  We were truly proud of them and how they performed and it made me very very happy to get to share the experience with them.  It gives me so much joy that they enjoyed themselves so much that they are ready to perform again.  That’s dance JOY, people!

It’s back to work this weekend with the team to prepare for our next performance at Swingapalooza!

West Coast Swing Competition Class starting April 17th at SSQQ!

Starting April 17th, Trent and Michelle Haynes will be offering a West Coast Swing Competition level class for active competitors and those want to compete!  Each week, we will cover different topics on all aspects of competing, such as technique, musicality, jack and jills, judging, etc.  This is a great way to get ready to start competing or to take your competition to the next level.
Join us for this fun and informative class!
Every Thursday, starting April 17th, 9:30-10:30pm
Located at
SSQQ Dance Studio
1431 W. TC Jester at 20th street
Houston, TX 77008
Classes will be $7 per person/class.
For more information, please email at

Novice Invitational 2014 and more…

Novice Invitational was one of the first events that I ever competed at when I first started WCS.  This event holds a lot of fond memories for me, and this year was no exception.  In the last year, we’ve had the honor of working with a lot of new dancers and competitors in WCS.  It has been an absolute pleasure getting to see them grow in the dance and in their self confidence, and see them make so many improvements, in both social and competitive dancing.  Congrats to Robert, Karina, Sherri, Troy, Leah, Emma, Amy, Shane, Lani, Alan, Karen, and Mary on all your progress and successes!  A special thanks and congrats to Kevin, Louie and Roger for dancing with me in the pro-ams this year – it is an absolute privilege to get to dance with each of you and I hope you had as much fun as I did!  

It was also a time for some personal achievements, being on staff for the first time at this event and getting to work with the incomparable Debbie Figueroa.  She has been a wonderful mentor and coach in my dance journey and I cannot thank her enough for her faith in me.  Plus between her and her husband, Angel, I have achieved my next step in this journey of mine – All Stars, here I come!

And since apparently, we weren’t danced out yet, last Saturday was the ever popular WCS party hosted by David Appel.  David has been doing these parties for almost 10 years – and I am happy to report that he is doing these on the regular these days!  David always has a great mix of popular and current music, and he always works with great venues to give us a great floor and a nice comfortable setting.  Trent and I both danced hard for almost 2 hours straight and we both had some fantastic dances all evening.  I apologize to anyone that I missed over the weekend – it was time to go home and ice so I can dance some more next time!

Next up is Austin Swing Dance Championships!  We’re busy putting the finishing touches on our SSQQ Swing Team to get ready to compete our new routine for the first time!  So excited and nervous! 


Dallas DANCE 2013



I’ve had a couple of days now to recover, although I did have to go back to work on Tuesday.  I used take that Tuesday off – something I need to remember for next year!

Dallas DANCE has long been a favorite event of ours and we were definitely looking forward to competing and seeing some of our best friends, both in and out of the dance community.  We were aware of some drama and rumors that were floating around which I think effected the energy levels early in the weekend.  By Sunday, however, the energy in the ballroom was as electric as it ever was!  Sunday was a great show from the novices to the all stars, with a sharp teams division, and some Phenomenal exciting performances in Cabaret, ending with one of the best invitational JJ divisions I’ve seen in a long time.  I mean that sincerely and not just because Trent was dancing in it for the first time.  🙂

It was also a weekend of some personal triumphs for both of us.  We both get a bit insecure from time to time about our competition status as we aren’t getting any younger and sometimes we wonder if we can keep up!  It was only my 2nd time to make finals in a jack and jill at this event at any level and my first time to make strictly finals ever!  To have done both at the same time was so exciting and so shocking.  And then to have placed in both (5th in JJ, 3rd in SS) was just icing on the cake.  Thank you so much for all my dance partners for taking care of me: Tommy, Shane, Byron, Mike, and Jay in JJ and Jeff in SS!  It was also my first time taking the floor as a pro at Dallas Dance in the Female ProAm division.  The last time I was on the floor in a proam routine was with Trent in 2007!  I was a little nervous, but as usual when the music started to play, the nerves went away.  Matthew did a fantastic job – his best performance of our routine yet!

Trent also had his firsts.  He is now a back to back winner of All Star JJ in Dallas!  ANd he had to dance twice – and he won 3rd with his other partner!  He was also invited to dance in the invitational JJ – a big honor at Dallas Dance, and a goal of his for over 20 years.  He drew the incredibly talented Stevie Blakely and they proceeded to have one of the best dances I’ve ever seen from Trent.  And they came in 6th!  Amazing for going up against some of the best of the best in the country in WCS.  I was supremely proud and happy!

Of course the best parts of the weekend were always laughing in our suite with some of our best friends and just getting to spend time with people who like you for you.  Absolutely the best thing to have come out of learning how to dance – my friends who have become like family to me.  /sappy sap sap/

Till next year!


Novice Invitational 2012 – Playlist

Since I did get to sit in for a bit, I thought I’d share my playlist…

Artist Title Length Album
Anthony Hamilton Woo 3:15 Back To Love (Deluxe Version)
Jamie Cullum Don’t Stop The Music 4:48 The Pursuit
Charlie Wilson Never Got Enough 4:12 Just Charlie
mark morisson Return of the Mack 3:33 R’n’b Story 3
Al Green Love And Happiness 5:03 Greatest Hits [Expanded Version]
Marc Cohn Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours (Bonus Track) 3:08 Listening Booth: 1970
The Kidd Rizz Who’s Your Daddy? 3:38 Who’s Your Daddy? – EP
Will.I.Am Swing By My Way feat. John Legend 3:49 Must B 21
Hil St. Soul Until You Come Back to Me 3:54 Soul Organic
Big Head Todd & the Monsters Beast Of Burden (feat. Macy Gray) 3:42 Rocksteady
Chrisette Michele Be Ok 3:43 I Am
Ernie Halter Black Coffee In Bed 3:26 Franklin & Vermont
Marc Cohn After Midnight 2:50 Listening Booth: 1970
Beth Scalet California Dreamin’ 2:43 Roadwork

Dancing in the Caribbean

So we decided to go on vacation – and took a 7 day western caribbean cruise with Michelle’s parents.  I have to say, I had a very good time.  Lots of food (waaaaaaaaaaaay to much food)! Lots of drinks!  And probably the biggest surprise – we danced every night!

We knew that there would be live bands and we could probably find a place to dance while on the ship.  We just had no idea how much dancing we would be able to do and all the people we would meet because of it!

During the first full night at sea, there was a welcoming party on the main promenade.  It was formal night so we were all dressed up and there was a pop/R&B cover band playing.  When we realized that they were playing some excellent dance  music, we found an empty spot of floor and started dancing!  I think we danced a couple of songs and then headed off to dinner.

That night after dinner, we decided to find that same band so that we could get in some more dancing to work off all the food we had eaten so far.  While we were there, we saw another couple dancing to west coast swing.  We were so surprised to find another couple that knew our dance, we had to go chat with them.  I think they were from Colorado and they were there with a big group of dancers, who we kept running into all week.  Many of the dancers were older, but we loved that they were all out there, doing waltz, foxtrot, two step, swing, just out there getting their groove on!

Throughout the week, people kept stopping us on the boat to tell us how much they enjoy watching us dance and if we knew where they could take lessons from their part of the country.  We met couples from all over and by the end of the week, we were joking that we had groupies!  They would start asking us when and where we would be dancing each night so that they could come join us to dance and to watch.

I can definitely see the appeal of cruises and especially of going on a dance cruise!  I think we’ll definitely be looking into a dance cruise in the future.  Any recommendations?

Novice Invitational 2012

Decompressing from the weekend.  Always a fun event where we get to see so many of our wonderful new friends and tons of social dancing!  We had a great time catching with new friends from Dallas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.  The best thing about these events is getting to meet so many incredible people and having those zen moments, both on and off the floor.

This event is completely geared towards the novice and intermediate level competitive dancers, which makes it a great venue for those starting out in competition.  This year’s featured workshop instructors were Shawn and Kristen Moody and Matt and Crystal Auclair.  They are some of the best dancers in the nation and fantastic instructors.

This is the last year that the event will be held at the Hilton Clear Lake.  The hotel has made some nice upgrades to their facilities and in general, we like the hotel.  But it does deter some folks from heading down because it does add quite a bit of drive for those coming in from out of town.   It’s a far drive for most of us who live in Houston as well.  Next year, the event will be held at a new venue, the new Westin at Memorial City Mall, which we think will be an amazing location.  Easy access, in town and lots of places nearby for shopping and eating.  Can’t wait!

I had the privilege of getting to compete with my two Ams, Matthew and Louie, again.  They are really great dance partners and always a pleasure to dance with, socially or in competition.  Trent and I also got to compete in the Advanced JJ this year.  He drew Enola from Oklahoma, one of the nicest and funniest people we’ve met!  Since we had more guys than ladies, I ended up having to dance twice, with Henry from Louisiana and CJ from Dallas, both incredibly smooth dancers.  I’ve drawn Henry before and it is always a pleasure.  I haven’t danced with CJ in awhile – our paths just hadn’t crossed lately, but we also had an amazing dance and to our surprise, a 3rd place finish, amongst some of our toughest peers!  It was definitely a nice surprise to end the weekend with.