When we heard of what West Coast Swing event, Rose City Swing is doing for Juniors in the community, we were impressed and excited. They give away passes, offer free competitions and do other crazy things… Why didn’t more events do this? How could they offer so much and still make it work for their bottom line? We interviewed Rose City event directors Babak Shakeri and Trudy Thatcher to find out more about what they are offering, why it matters, and why they believe it’s actually good for business.
Babak and Trudy, what are you, as the event directors of Rose City Swing, doing for the Juniors at your event?
This year, we have decided to go all out to invite Juniors to attend Rose City Swing, in hopes of creating a genuine and exciting experience for them. We hope our junior program will also create one of the first WSDC Juniors Jack and Jill in the Pacific Northwest. Essential components of our plan are to make Rose City Swing affordable AND a great educational experience.
To make Rose City affordable, the Junior event pass is FREE, plus free entry into the Junior Jack and Jill. An accompanying parent also receives a free chaperone pass, which entitles him or her to social dancing and workshops. We are also planning on doing some fundraisers at Rose City Swing to help reduce the cost for the juniors who attend.
To make Rose City Swing a great educational experience, we are offering a free two-hour Juniors intensive taught by the wonderful John Piper and Janelle Guido. Additionally, we have created an All Star – Junior mentorship program, where all stars get a free pass to Rose City Swing in exchange for offering a free private lesson to a Junior dancer.
We also take a few measures to make sure everyone (including the juniors) feel safe. We have trained security guards, who are also beloved dancers, patrolling the area throughout the night. Additionally we strive to foster a family-friendly dance floor, which is why we do not provide a bar in the ballroom. This environment allows everyone to have a worry free and fun weekend.
Why is it important to you as event directors and Westies to support the juniors?
There are many reasons why supporting Juniors is important to us. First off, they are the future of this dance. By investing in them, we ensure that our dance will continue to be passed on to the next generation.
Secondly, we are committed to the belief that dancing is a healthy activity, not only for our Juniors, but for people of all ages, and we want to do whatever we can to encourage the positive, lifelong habit and strong community connections that this dance represents.
And finally, this program allows us to create relationships with the Juniors that will continue to grow in the coming years as they reach adulthood. So from a business standpoint, we are growing our customer base and ensuring that the next generation will be just as excited about Rose City Swing as the current generation is.
How have you made this Juniors program work financially at your event?
Honestly, when we think something is right for our community, financial considerations don’t become an issue because we just want to “make it work.” We are blessed by the support of others in the dance community who help with sponsorships dedicated to the juniors’ program.
What are you most excited about?
While we are excited about the whole program, I think our favorite part is the All Star-Junior Mentorship. This program is meant to connect Juniors with the All Stars of today. Not only do all the Juniors get a free lesson by an amazing and accomplished teacher, but the All Stars also get a free pass as a thank you. We hope this will create a bond between the Juniors and the All Stars that will grow in the coming years.
Rose City Swing event directors, Delancey (top), Trudy (middle), and Babak, (bottom) in their “we did it” post-event picture from 2016. For more info on Rose City Swing, you can visit their website.