About the Fort Wayne Westies

Vision

To cultivate one of the most inclusive, friendliest, and growth-oriented dance communities in the area around modern West Coast Swing.

Mission

To host regular events to LEARN, PRACTICE, and DANCE West Coast Swing. To develop resources to help dancers of all skill levels learn and master WCS. To cultivate a community atmosphere for people to connect, make new friends, and create lasting memories.

The Fort Wayne Westies is a West Coast Swing club in Fort Wayne, IN that aims to promote “modern” West Coast Swing as it’s taught, danced, and competed around the world.

Our Fort Wayne West Coast Swing community is a group of dancers with diverse dance interests; ranging from West Coast Swing to other forms of partner dancing, including ballroom, latin, country, swing, and more.

We aim to provide regular opportunities for dancers to gain mor exposure to West Coast Swing while also providing fun opportunities to learn, dance, and socialize in the area.

Westie Principles

  • Connection – No matter who you are, what role you play, how new you are … you’re encouraged to reach out, meet, and ask anyone to dance! Find those people sitting by themselves and introduce yourself. If you’re new, find that one person in the room and go sit closer or ask them to dance!
  • Expression – Dare to be who you are and show us what you hear in the music. WCS is all about expression and connection. Find the courage to be yourself and to show us who you are!
  • Try/Fail – Push yourself out of your comfort zone; try that new pattern, try that new styling, try something new … don’t be afraid to mess up: that’s where new discoveries are made!
  • Encourage – Support those around you that are learning to express what they hear in the music, that are stretching out of their comfort zones, and that are stepping onto the dance floor for the first time! High-fives aplenty!
  • Have Fun! – This is the whole reason we’re here in the first place. Having fun, making new friends, and creating great memories. Fort Wayne Westies, at least for me, is all about connecting people around a common interest.

The Team Behind Fort Wayne Westies

The Team behind Fort Wayne Westies consists of a variety of independent dancers/instructors and studios from around the area. Below are our most common and most prominent supporters of our community. Although the only “official” team member of the Fort Wayne Westies is Austin, the success of this club consists of many people that contribute their time and knowledge to the growth of the community.

Austin Pranger

Austin Pranger

Club Owner + Instructor

Austin aims to cultivate a thriving West Coast Swing community in the area by organizing events and creating resources for the Fort Wayne Westies – to give new and experienced dancers that opportunity to learn, practice, and dance West Coast Swing.

Austin is in the process of becoming an instructor for the Fort Wayne Westies!

Melissa Culbertson

Melissa Culbertson

Westie Advisor + Instructor

Melissa is a major advocate of modern West Coast Swing and has been supporting the Fort Wayne Westies since its inception. She not only teaches for the Westies, but also provides her time and studio to the club at unparalled rates to give our community the best chance at succeeding.

LuAnn

LuAnn

Westie Volunteer

LuAnn has been helping the Fort Wayne Westies behind the scenes by providing an incredible amount of personal support for Austin as well as being a friendly face that greets everyone at each Westie Night.
Stephanie Honderich

Stephanie Honderich

Instructor (GoDance)

Stephanie Honderich has been an early supporter of the Fort Wayne Westies, going out of her way to support a new WCS club almost 2 hours away. As the owner of GoDance Studio, she and her studio regularly teaches at Fort Wayne Westies while contributing to the growth of the WCS culture in our area.
Lamarr Williford

Lamarr Williford

All-Star Instructor (GoDance)

Lamarr Williford is an experienced West Coast Swing dancer, instructor and competitor, rising to All-Star status faster than average dancers. He is a major advocate of kindness and respect in both your dancing and your dance community.
JD Nafziger

JD Nafziger

Instructor (GoDance)

JD is an experienced Westie that has been dancing for years in West Coast Swing, latin, and ballroom. Regularly traveling to weekend events with his studio and Goshen community, he brings a friendly attitude to every dance and every lesson taught.
Emily Wenger

Emily Wenger

Instructor (GoDance)

Emily is an experienced West Coast Swing dancer from GoDance Studio that helps dancers of all skill levels become more proficient in their WCS, ballroom, and latin.
David Fennig

David Fennig

Instructor

Owner of Harmony Cafe & Dance Studio, David Fennig is an incredible force in the Portland, Muncie, and Fort Wayne dance communities by bringing his expertise in WCS, ballroom, latin, and argentine dances.
Dave Couture

Dave Couture

Instructor

Dave is a passionate Westie that has been supporting West Coast Swing in our area for years. He travels to WCS weekend events, is certified with the Golden State (Skippy Blair), and independently teaches in private and group lessons. He has been a major supporter of the Fort Wayne Westies since the earliest moments of our club.
Liuda Lebedz

Liuda Lebedz

Photographer + Video

Liuda helps our community thrive by providing photography and videography of our events for us to share on Facebook. If you see a great photo of you or your friends, it was probably taken by Liuda!
Kasey

Kasey

Volunteer

Kasey is a newer dancer but very passionate about dance and seeing the communities around West Coast Swing and dance thrive in our area.

Origins of the Fort Wayne Westies

The Fort Wayne Westies was founded in January of 2017 as the “Fort Wayne West Coast Swing” club. Preparations for the club’s launch had begun about 6 months prior when Austin went to his first West Coast Swing “weekend event” in the summer of 2016. He fell in love with West Coast Swing immediately and began wondering what it would take to create a local community of Westies like he had heard existed in cities like Indianapolis, Chicago, Goshen, and other major cities around the world.

Over those 6 months he talked with local dances, professional instructors, and other community leaders from around the country to answer the question, “What would it take to create a WCS club?” He wanted the opportunity to dance WCS on a regular basis and to create opportunities for other dancers to dance West Coast Swing “like THAT.”

In the earliest days of the West Coast Swing club, he collaborated with Melissa Culbertson and the owners of the Fort Wayne Ballroom Company to create the “first season” of the Fort Wayne Westies. The club’s first event, Westies Unite!, brought in nearly 100 dancers from around Indiana, Ohio and Michigan.

Over the following months until present day, the Fort Wayne Westies has evolved and continues to adapt based on the needs of the community and what we feel we can do to help the “Westie movement” grow and thrive in our little corner of the world.