GO WEST SwingFest Postponed until 2024.
To all our friends in the dance community
For those I have not yet managed to contact personally, I thought I’d take a moment to communicate about our decision to postpone Go West SwingFest until 2024.
Let’s start with the good news! The last 2 years at JRDA have been our best in a long time. Class sizes and general student energy has been fantastic, and we’ve attracted some fabulous new staff. In regards to West Coast Swing, our classes have continued to grow with a new and enthusiastic group of dancers.
Covid afforded a rare and valued opportunity for me to reassess my priorities around what I wanted out of teaching and dancing. So I am partly writing this not just as an explanation about why I’m postponing Go West, but as advice to other dance teachers about not walking down the wrong path.
After 24 years of running JRDA, like many people who run their own businesses, I started to wonder where the joy had gone in doing something I loved. I’m sure that many long term dance teachers go through this struggle at some stage, and many simply decide to leave the business altogether. However, I realised that what I enjoyed more than anything was simply teaching, which was my purpose for starting the studio in the first place.
As a consequence I reduced my staff, and even made the decision that I’d be happy to run the studio by myself if need be, without any additional teachers. What happened then has been incredibly positive - the best staff remained with the studio, and despite my fears, the studio actually grew even bigger. As I took a more active teaching role, classes generally began to grow and the studio became a more positive place overall. I know it sounds like a cliche (I wish I’d had a mentor that could have convinced me earlier), but once the fear of returning to my passion was removed, and I was able to confidently re-engage with what I loved doing, things actually got better…..who’d have known :)
So what has this got to with Go West SwingFest? Well, I looked around at how successful the classes have been and how much our West Coast Swing classes in particular had grown lately, and I realised that running the event at this stage was taking me away from what I loved doing, and from other projects I’ve been putting off for too long. Things that once upon a time made JRDA great. So I need to get back to what I love, and the dream of GO WEST needs to take a back seat for a while.
Now that’s the positive stuff, but there are other factors that have played in to this decision.
I have also been struggling with a few health issues that were not healing due to the mounting stresses of running the studio with fewer staff, and being severely sleep deprived for over a year. On average I was getting 3 hours’ sleep a night, which was affecting my health and my recovery. So it was time after all these years to look after me. The amazing thing was, that as soon as I made the difficult decision to postpone the event, I had what felt like the first good sleep in a long time.
Go West has been a compliment to what we do, but is not what makes JRDA strong. I fell back in love with my studio during Covid, and I don’t want to lose that feeling again. My joy is in travelling to other people’s events, creating performance teams, and studying dance for myself, and the last couple of years has allowed me to start doing that again. I’m just not quite ready to let that go yet, and I hope in the meanwhile I can get on top of some health issues.
Changes to the rules in running international events also mean that, with a few modifications, we’ll be able to run Go WEST events in-house in the future, which will also make these events cost effective as well. So there’s lots of positive reasons for this decision.
I look forward to being a part of the WCS scene with even more enthusiasm and support as a result of this.