COMP 101: New to competition? Never Fear, COMP 101 is here!
Wild Wild Westie!!!!!! AKA my favorite competition of the year! But as a college student I have always had to learn how to manage comps and I am here to tell you everything you need to know about how to get the most out of the weekend at WWW by answering the top 11 questions about the weekend. So here we go…..
Question 1: What does your student pass give you?
The best part about being a student is the student pass! Along with being at a more affordable price #poorcollegestudentproblems, the WWW student pass comes with all kinds of extra benefits! You get all the normal benefits of a weekends pass - ability to compete in comps, access to workshops, a super exciting pool party, and dancing till the sun comes up - as well as a BONUS workshop taught by the 2016 US OPEN Classic Champion Ben Morris….THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!!!! This workshop is going to be an incredible opportunity and will be followed by an awesome pizza party….all for free! :D So be sure to be there!
Question 2: When do you sign up for comps?
Well, ASAP! If I was you, I would arrive at the hotel, walk inside, head to registration, and SIGN UP!!!! (If you haven’t already done so online) It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Competition registration always closes 2 hours
before the competition starts and you don’t want to be that person who couldn’t compete because you didn’t register in time. Once you are checked in and registered, you will get a wristband for the weekend.
Question 3: What is the Wild Wild Jack and Jill?
All you need to know is…..DO IT!!!! It is an all levels Jack and Jill that lets people draw anyone from any level! Well, unless you’re an all-star or champion, you can’t draw each other (see levels)
Question 4: The difference between Newcomer and Novice
This is always the biggest question people ask especially when they start to compete...Do I belong in Newcomer or Novice? And this is the best way to break it down for you:
Newcomer: When in doubt, newcomer is the place to be. Especially if it is your first competition, Newcomer will give you a good taste of what it’s like to compete in the West Coast Swing world. If you are still working on your basics and have to count them out or think about the moves, this is the place for you! Generally the rule of thumb is - if you’ve been dancing for less than a year. Getting Newcomer points is NOT a requirement to compete in novice.
Novice: You want to be in Novice if you are super solid on your basics and don’t have to think about your steps any more. At this level, some of the leads and follows you will be dancing with will start doing moves that are little more complicated than basic moves and start to throw some styling into the mix. If you think you can handle that, then Novice is the place for you!
Question 5: Workshops...How do I know where to be?
So the best part of WWW is the leveled workshops! These are not offered at every competition so take advantage of this! Each of the amazing workshop instructors tailor their content to the level in the room. This is an invaluable tool! The there is a great structure that they have to determine which level to be in, but if you are unsure of where you are, then make sure to make it to the auditions on Friday afternoon. The workshop instructors hold a mini Jack and Jill for those who want to try to get to a higher level and they determine if you are able to handle the content at the higher level.
Roughly, here’s how the leveling works with competition levels:
W1 – if you have no Novice points . No requirements.
W2 – if you have at least 1 Novice point To audition into the W2 level, a dancer shall have a working knowledge of basic 6- and 8-count patterns (sugar push, tuck turn, left and right side passes, basic whip, etc.) and good timing
W3 - if you have at least 1 Intermediate point. To audition into the W3 level, a dancer shall, in addition to the minimum requirements of W2, be able to demonstrate good technique, teamwork and basic musicality.
W4 – if you have at least 1 Advanced point. Criteria to audition into the W4 level shall be determined at the instructor’s discretion.
Question 6: What do you wear for competitions?
What you wear is always an important part of competition. Here’s what you need to know…
Men: This is simple for you. The best attire for competition is slacks and a button down. This is always a good clean look for competition. You can also add a tie, bow tie, or vest if you feel like classing it up a bit! Make sure that you wear some sort of color that pops. This means try not to wear black on black, wear something more along the lines of black slacks and a color shirt….think red, blue, green, etc.
Women: Now this is a little bit more tricky for you. You want to wear something that looks good on you, looks professional and has a pop of color. Here are some good combinations to think about:
◦ If you plan on wearing dance sandals, you should be wearing slacks or nice yoga pants and a nice blouse. This is the ideal look for competition because dance sandals always give your legs a nice clean look which is something the judges always like!
◦ If you plan to wear dance boots, nice leggings or jeggings and a nice blouse is the way to go.
When it comes to competition everyone should make sure to wear some color and look good. The judges are looking at you and if you are dressed well it can only help you!
Question 7: What is a bib number?
This will be handed to you at registration. This will be the number that is associated with you name all weekend for competitions. Make sure not to lose this!!!! You will wear this number for every competition you are in. Make sure to grab 4 safety pins when you grab your number and put them in each of the holes in the corners.
Question 8: Where do you put your bib number?
So when it comes to any competitions throughout the weekend, you need to be wearing your number at all time. Men/Leaders should wear their number on the top of their back in between their shoulder blades and Women/Follows should wear their numbers on their lower back, starting around the top of your hips. Always find someone to help you pin your number before competition and make sure they follow the 2 pin rule - this means pin the top two pins and let the bottom two hang, this will help keep the bib weighted down so it is not flying around while you dance!
Question 9 When to stage? And what is that?
So staging happens before competitions start. Staging is where they get all the competitors for a competition all lined up before they call you out onto the floor. They usually start to begin staging 10-15mins before they call all the contestants out onto the floor. This means make sure to be down in the ballroom before this time. I always make sure to be down in the ballroom at least 30 mins before my competition begins. This gives me time to have some warm up dances and test out to see if the floor is slick or sticky. It also gives me a chance to make sure I get my number pinned, hear when they start staging and make sure I have everything I need.
Question 10: How do you get a partner? Since this is a partner dance…
So as we all know West Coast Swing is a partner dance but we sign up as individuals for competitions…..so how do we get a partner to dance with? Well here is how it works. Once you are staged, the MC will call all the leads out onto the floor followed by all the follows. As you go out onto the floor, you get matched up with a lead in the order that you are called. This will be your first partner. Once everyone is out on the floor and has their first partner they will take the two end of the line and bring them around the floor to make a circle. Once this is done you will slot the dance workshop style and the first song will begin. After your first dance they usually rotate you 2-3 times to make sure the judges get a chance to see and judge every person. They will pick a random number and that is how many people the followers will rotate by. Then the person you rotate to is your new partner. This happens a couple of times and before you know it, it will be over. This process is the same for prelims and semis.
Question 11: How do finals work?
FINALS!!!! Always the most exciting part of the weekend. So once competitions are done on Saturday the judges scores will be taken and a finals list will be posted late Saturday night in the general area near registration. The finals lists will be done by division. And if your name is on the list then get excited because you made finals! This means you will be dancing again on Sunday with the chance to earn points and prizes. So here is how finals works…..Staging and calling out for finals is the same as it has always been. The difference is in the partnering. In finals, once you are called out they will have either the follows or the leads route ONCE by a random number and that will be the person who you are dancing with for finals. In finals, you are being judged as a couple as opposed to individual being judged how they do in prelims/semis. So go out there and give it your best!!!
Bonus: WWW Extras!
WWW has some of the best swag so make sure to get it before they run out….they always do!
The pool party every year is off the hook so make sure to be there!! This year, water basketball, water pistols, water balloons and more!
Watch as many competitions are you can! It’s always a blast to watch and cheer on the other dancers!
Social dance till the sun comes up - not only is it awesome to dance with all the other dancers there but you have the chance to win a sweet WWW mug/trophy that only those who close the ballroom down on Saturday night get! So don't miss out!