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The Naked Truth: Real Talk about West Coast Swing

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United States




Laureen Baldovi

Most people know Laureen Baldovi from her winning routines with Robert Royston, but she has followed her own path since their partnership ended nearly two decades ago. In this episode, we sat down with the eight-time US Open Swing Dance Champion to discuss her early days in West Coast Swing, her inspirations and mentors, and what made her and Robert so successful. We talked about why she stepped away from swing dancing, how she found her way back, and the challenges she had to overcome along...


The Open 2018

Every year, The Open is a showcase for swing dancing - what it is, what it has been, and what it can be - and this year's event was no exception. We talked about Deborah's experience competing at The Open, how much we admired Benji and Nicole's Showcase routine, and our reactions to his retirement from routine divisions. We also discussed the different showpieces at The Open, what we liked in the Classic division routines, and the different trends in costumes (unitards! tunics!) and...


Music and DJing with Ruby Lair

Let's face it: good music is essential for a good night of dancing and a good dance in competition. To discuss the power of music - and the role of DJs in providing that music - we sat down with one of the best DJs around (and one of our personal favorites), Ms. Ruby Lair. We asked her how she got started, how she got so good, and how she thinks about playing music for both social dancing and competitions. We talked about the influence of DJs, current trends in our music, and how DJs can...


Brandi Guild

Grab yourself a beautiful glass of wine and find a cozy spot to sit for this special interview with one of the classiest people we know, the lovely Ms. Brandi Guild. We sat down with her to talk about how she got started in West Coast Swing, who has influenced her most, and her thoughts on women professionals in our dance world. She shared her worries about the current state of our dance, her opinions about judging, and her reflections on teaching. Listen to how she faces the challenges of...


All Things Swing with Tom Paderna

In this week's episode, we sit down with our good friend Tom Paderna and talk about a wide range of topics. We discussed the origins of NASDE and how it's changed over time. We discussed WSDC and how it's impacted the scene. We chatted about Masters-level dancers and why they don't get the same kind of respect they used to. We touched upon the growing perceptions of entitlement in our scene and how that has eroded our sense of community. And we talked quite a bit about how to foster more...



With the US Open fast approaching, we talk about what it takes to put together a routine - from picking a song and getting choreography to working with coaches and practicing. Deborah talks about how she's working on her routine with PJ Turner, and Eric reflects on what he's learned from his past experiences. We discuss the Rising Star division, what we like about good routines, and the trends we're seeing in routines today. Whether you're doing a routine, thinking about a routine, or just...



Whether you’re a competitor, a professional, an event director, or someone who just enjoys watching dance videos online, judging has a big impact on you - and the dance we all love. In this episode, we discuss the skills it takes to judge, what judging looks like in practice, and how judging influences what constitutes “good” dancing. Listen to how we each go about judging, what we think about the quality of judging these days, and what we think is needed to raise the standard and provide...


Boogie by the Bay

After a fantastic weekend at Boogie by the Bay, we discuss what makes it such a great event, and what other events can learn from its example. From hiring top-notch staff to creating a relaxed atmosphere to keeping things running on time, Boogie sets the bar for a quality experience for everyone who attends - competitors, social dancers, and even the pros themselves. Later in the show, we're joined by Co-Event Director Andy Bouman, who gives us a look at how he and the Boogie by the Bay...



In this episode, we discuss professionalism - and the lack thereof - among our dance professionals. We talk about the ways event directors can mistreat the instructors they hire, how instructors can be unresponsive and unreliable, and why being a dance professional can be challenging. Listen as we explore the need for more emphasis on relationships in business, more respect and mutual support, and higher standards for how professionals should behave and treat one another. footnotes The Trust...


Robert Royston

The legendary Robert Royston joins us to discuss his early days in West Coast Swing, what he did to become a dance professional, and how the dance scene has changed over the last thirty years. We talked about the problems of judging, how to balance the past and future of the dance, and what excites him about what is happening in our community right now. He also shared with us his personal insecurities, why he dislikes “Facebook petting,” and what’s next for him as he thinks about his own...


Finding your place

In our very first episode, we have a more introspective and reflective conversation about our own dance journeys and the challenges of finding our places in the dance world. Deborah shares the story of how she got into West Coast Swing, her quick rise to success, and the difficulties of being a female dance professional both in and out of a partnership. Eric tells the story of his early days, why dance can be hard for him, and how he found his place in the community. Along the way, they...


Coming soon.

An introduction to The Naked Truth: Real Talk about West Coast Swing and hosts Eric Jacobson and Deborah Székely.