A Short Documentary on Kelly Casanova and "Degendering" Swing [UPDATED]

Lia Brown and Helen Chao.jpg

“Degendering West Coast Swing: Breaking the Binary” is a short documentary on efforts to remove gender restrictions on West Coast Swing competitions. The film is focused on the work of Kelly Casanova, a WCS champion based on the Bay Area, to convince the different West Coast Swing organizations to allow men and women to compete in whatever role they wish in the different competition divisions. Kelly is such an inspiring figure who deserves more accolades for her work.

Check out the documentary, directed by Leah Rathe, here.

Here’s the showcase that Sam Buckwalter mentions that she performed with Jennifer Deluca in 2009 at Boogie By the Bay.

In more recent performances, check out this sick showcase by Lia Brown and Helen Chao at DC Swing Experience from a few weeks ago.

The YouTube description of the documentary mentions that this is “episode 1.” So perhaps we’ll see more exploration of efforts to “degender” West Coast Swing in the future.

West Coast Swing, of course, is a related, but distinctly different dance than Lindy Hop. Lindy hop does not have any national level organizations that dictate contest rules as West Coast Swing does. So it is up to individual events to decide on their rules about who can compete in what divisions. We aren’t aware of any major lindy hop competitions that have gender restrictions.

UPDATE 11/28/18: We have heard reports that at the 2018 US Open competition this weekend, it was announced that gender restrictions on competitors have been removed. According to Matt Richey on Facebook: “Jack and Jill’s, Strictly Swing and Routine divisions no longer have any gender restrictions.” Nice!