10 Biggest Struggles of West Coast Swing Dancers

Over 2 years I polled tens of thousands of WCS dancers across the world to find out their biggest struggles. We received 1000’s of emails and comments – here are the top struggles of WCS dancers worldwide. Here are the top 10 replies we received!

Before we get started I want you to know something…

Dancers of EVERY level have struggles both mental and physical. You’re not alone – All of us go through struggles – It’s a normal part of the process. -Brian

Top 10 struggles of west coast swing dancers

We included some actual responses we received via email.

1.  I have trouble staying on time to the music.

“I took a weekend workshop.  I had never even seen the west coast swing before before.  What a fiasco!  Left was right and right was left.  I was f-ing lost. Yes, that word describes my situation precisely.  I did not take the 2nd class as I did not want to screw up any partner.  Then for the next couple of years I avoided the dance when I could.

“I no problem executing patterns with no music but as soon as the song comes on…I really struggle with staying on beat”

REPLY: Check out our Musicality Resource page. There are a few good blogs and videos to help you stay on time!

Or just download our video 4 KEYS TO BETTER TIMING

Learn to Stay on Time
with these 4 tips


2.  I can’t remember my patterns

“My biggest WCS struggle is that I forget new moves shortly after learning them.  Seems like lessons never spend enough time on practice, which I think may help my retention”

“ My biggest WCS struggle is that I forget new moves shortly after learning them.”

“I seem to know the pattern after class but when I social dance… BLAM it all goes out the window”

REPLY: Check out our 5 tips to remember your patterns blog post

3.  I lack self confidence

“I first started to learn dancing  to help recover from the side effects of being in a toxic relationship. I didn’t know which direction to go. My self confidence was shot, I was unsure of  myself, and my soul was crushed.

One of the hardest struggles I had to overcome was to get rid of the the self defeating doubts that I had with in myself!

Thanks to dancing and especially West Coast Swing. I have performed in  2 show case dances. I  have also competed. My first time competing, I got the best all are Swing Dancer Award. I have done things that I have always seen done, but I never pictured myself doing!

Dancing has changed my life in more ways ways than I ever imagined.”

“I just recently started ballroom and social dance lessons at age 65. My instructor is a very talented 24 year old. Yikes! The thing is I really can do the steps. My lack of confidence holds me back”

REPLY: Everyone and I mean EVERYONE struggles with self confidence during their dancing. You are not alone. Be patient with yourself and remember to enjoy the learning process because you ARE good enough! Looking for more detail help on overcoming frustration while getting better at west coast swing?

4.    I don’t have anyone to practice with

“I love WCS but I can’t find a regular partner to practice with”

“We are new to west coast swing and there is no dancing in my area so I struggle with practicing on my own.”

REPLY: Practicing by yourself can be rewarding. Also I suspect there are others in your area with a similar frustration. Perhaps forming a practice group with a couple of them would be a fun idea.

Read our Practice by Yourself blog post

5.    I struggle with styling, creativity & musicality

“My wife and I got into WCS late (early 60’s / late 50’s) from a social ballroom background. We can learn patterns and moves but #1 struggle is learning to play with the music and look like the rest of the West Coast World”

“As a follower I feel like I lack styling. I don’t want to be boring. I want to look good so others will dance with me”

REPLY: For help with musicality watch VIDEO – #1 Key to Musicality for WCS.

The #1 Key toMusicality in West Coast Swing
For help with styling, check our our Styling Resource page

6. I get stuck on various things despite knowing what I’m doing is incorrect or could be done better

“I’ve taken private lessons from lots of top pros. I know what my problems are but I have trouble correcting them even though I know EXACTLY what is wrong”

“I struggle with staying back in the connection. Even though my teacher has explained it to my 100 times I still can’t seem to get it right.”

REPLY: You are 100% normal. Actually your are lucky too! Knowing what you need to fix and being aware of it is a HUGE step to actually getting better. Be patient, enjoy the process and as time goes by look back and appreciate how far you’ve come! If you have access to a good regular teacher/coach then use their expertise to guide you. A lot of what they can share is not only technical by mental. Staying positive and knowing that you’re struggles are normal will help keep you in the game 😉

Check out our Video Page for some awesome tips and techniques. There is a Q&A section where I have done video replies to your questions!

7.   I look around at everyone else, and I’m frustrated at how little I know.

“Every time I go social dancing it’s demoralizing. I feel like everyone else knows what they are doing but I’m just a dumb beginner”

“I get so overwhelmed with all the technique I hear in lessons and workshops. I feel like I don’t know a thing and I’m never going to be any good.”

REPLY: Be okay with not knowing! Chances are lots of other dancers in the room feel the EXACT same way. Trust me I was one and now I run the worlds largest wcs website. You’re gonna be ok! 😉

8.   West Coast Swing seems so much harder then my previous dancing.

“I’ve done several ProAm ballroom competition but man starting WCS was the hardest thing I’ve done in dancing”

“I was very into social ballroom but WCS was super confusing to me at first. It didn’t seem to fit the mold of my other dances. The music didn’t seem to match the timing of the patterns. Very confusing!”

REPLY: Yes WCS is a VERY difficult dance to be really good at. It can be learned fairly quickly buy as we get more advanced it becomes infinitely challenging. This is why we all love it so much though 😉  There are so many things to keep us entertained and excited.

Wanna learn more? Our video page has 400+ videos to help!

9.   Social dancing WCS is, frankly, waaay beyond my comfort level.

“Truth be told, even now, social dancing WCS was like to visiting a rural part of a foreign country while knowing only five words of the language. I still do not possess enough of the vernacular, vocabulary, or processing speed to be confident as a follower in WCS.”

“Leaders who get frustrated when I don’t know what they think they’re leading, pushy/pulling/yanking leads, or shy (lack of leading) leads and you have a perfect storm to keep me from the local social dances, workshops, and conventions.”

REPLY: There is only one way to fix this one…. Like Nike says… JUST DO IT! Make a goal to dance for just 30min of a social dance. Heck, maybe make it a goal just to dance once! Then slowly add to your goal until you can get through an entire dance. You might even enjoy it! 😉 If you want more help – read these 3 keys to better social dancing.

10. Finding a place to dance.

“We live in a small town with no west coast swing dancing. We have to travel 2 hours to find the closest social dance.”

“There are no west coast swing teachers in our area. We dance in a small group at our studio but none of the instructors are ‘real’ west coast swing teachers”

REPLY: After teaching around the world (25+ countries) I have learned this truth. Every dance community started with just a few passionate people who really spurred growth. Maybe YOU are the one to do it in your community!

Start with just a few friends and start inviting people. If you are not confident in your ability to teach others… shoot me an email and I’ll give you some awesome resources that you can use to help instruct others and build your community.

CHECK OUT our Beginners Guide to WCS was created to help move people from Beginner to Intermediate.

Bonus: My husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend is not into dancing

“I love dancing but my husband hates it. I just want him to dance with me. What do I do?”

REPLY: As much as we love dancing…It’s not always for everyone. If you are lucky enough to have the support of your partner, be grateful and enjoy your dancing! The dance bug is likely to hit you hard and you might want to dance 5 nights a week but be respectful of your partner because they are likely not to understand your new passion.

WCS Teachers #1 biggest struggle

I struggle keeping people coming back to class

“As teachers we need to keep it fun when the learning curve is so high, especially for a beginner leader.  If it gets too technical, it’s not fun.  And if it’s not fun, they don’t come back. “

REPLY: Yes! This is always a struggle. A few things that we did at our studio to help retention was to identify ‘student advocates’  We asked some of our more advanced students to befriend new dancers and offer advice and encouragement from a student perspective. This also gives the new dancer a ‘friend’ in the studio. The student advocate can introduce the new dancer to the other students and teachers in the studio. We make it a point to REALLY take time to talk to new dancers before and after class and encourage participation! We also offer a free private lesson to new dancers who come to class to help encourage participation and to help answer any dance struggles and questions they might have.

11 thoughts on “10 Biggest Struggles of West Coast Swing Dancers”

  1. I’ve been enjoying your move of the week for the past couple of years now. You do a great job of breaking down the moves and explaining what they’re based on. Always fun and informative. Thank you Brian, miss Meghan, and miss Emily, for sharing your knowledge and expertise with the world!

    • Thanks so much Tony! We REALLY enjoy sharing with you. I hope the dancing is going well. If there is anything you need just ask… we are always here!
      Best wishes,

  2. Honestly the biggest problems I run/ran into when attending classes in West Coast are teacher related. Just like any subject West Coast instructors tend to forget that certain movements aren’t natural to everyone, and it takes time to learn them. In skiing there is a skill set called ‘detect and correct’ which on it’s surface seems simple but like most things it is not.

    Teaching isn’t just about telling people what they are doing wrong or showing them that it can be done. It’s about teaching yourself to come up with different strategies and drills for each and every situation/student in order to progress them into a improved skillset. This may mean giving up the awesome flourish and twist at the end of the move you love and settling for a simple step out when teaching mixed classes.

  3. In short the best advice I can give to frustrated teachers/students is it’s not always them or for that matter you. I learn best not thinking about every minutia and movement of a given subject instead focusung on the larger patterns and letting the small stuff fall out of it, but once I hit a level of comfort I start looking for these items. Others work the exact opposite… and even more people learn in different ways the point is that there is no silver bullet for perfection.

    Just remember there are no ‘Bad’ dance moves only unrefined ones 😉

    • Thanks for adding to the conversation! I think it’s important that we know that we are not the only people having these issues. The more we can share our best info with one another the better we all become. Thanks again! -B

  4. I do thank you for your site and all the info, still having struggles. I do a lot of country line and partner dancing, ballroom, now trying shag and want to WCS. Confusing to say the least. Yet I will keep trying/ Being retired an on fixed income and because of Roofing all my life I am kinda beat up and have my physical struggles. And again I will not give up
    God Bless I will keep intouch

    • Hi Frank,
      Thanks for taking the time to write. Super happy to hear that you’re still plugging along and enjoying the process. WCS can be confusing for sure. That’s the main reason I wanted to write this post… to let you know it’s not just you… we all go through a lot of the same struggles. (I’ve fought a bad back for the past 15 years to boot) Sending you well wishes on your WCS journey. If you every have any questions…. we are always here. Best wishes,

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