May 03, 2014

#66: The Ten

Do Not Pass Go:
The Game of the Ten
Be kind and considerate to others, depending somewhat upon who they are. -Don Harold

Dear Readers, You've been wanting me to write about this topic for some time, and for some reason, I feel ready and willing to do so this week. Are you ready? It's time to connect some dots.
Let's do it. -Katherine

I inadvertently hopped on to the website for a big event that was taking place this last weekend called Liberty Swing.

"Huh," I thought. "Something's different this time..."

Because the faces aren't different.
They never are. Check.

Well, the colors on the edges of their black costumes have changed... but that's exactly what they do every year. Check.

Couple #5 has changed, just like it's supposed to too. Check.

But the faces, the bodies, the goofing and the posing... they are all the same, just as I expected them to be. So what's different?

"Oh right," I murmured, "They're jumping."

You see, Liberty Swing's website is basically just one huge picture of The Ten. I mean, why not? It's one of the rare events whose rules allow for people to dance in two routine divisions, so those of The Ten who normally dance in Showcase get to also dance in Classic. And, because they are in The Ten, they land right up on that podium.

Just like last year.
And the year before.
And the year before that...

Like I said, nothing changed. Except the jumping. Woo hoo.

Scavenger Hunt

This week I'm going to let you do a little detective work. I assume you're going to go out there and find the website I'm talking about. But hold off on that a second, will you? You'll get your chance, I promise. I'm going to ask you the questions, and then you can connect the dots for yourself. I have complete and utter faith in you! Since this post is a re-release and you've had almost a year with these questions, I'm going to add my own personal answers this time, in gray, after every question. Be advised, once again, that these are my own personal opinions. That is all. 

Ready - 
Set - 

Go ahead and write down the names of the faces you think you are about to see. Remember, this site has the picture of the top five winning couples in their Classic Division last year. I don't expect you to call the No. 5 couple, just the top 4. Also, remember that dancers were allowed to compete in both Classic and Showcase.

Write your 8 guesses on a piece of paper, along with the reasons why you think you'll see them.

My guesses: Jordan Frisbee, Tatiana Mollmann, Benji Schwimmer, Torri Smith, Kyle Redd, Sarah Vann Drake, Ben Morris, Melissa Rutz. Why? Jordan, Tatiana, Benji and Kyle were and are promoted and protected by Annie Hirsch and Skippy Blair, both founding and acting members of the WSDC. Sarah is the founding member of The Ten. Ben Morris is promoted through Annie Hirsch through close connections with Jack Smith, who will always tell you straight out that Ben is literally a son to him. Torri and Melissa are only there because they are currently partnering with the others.They could easily be out if the others ever dropped them. IMHO.


Do your research and find the site. You'll know it by what I've said above and its... jumping. How many faces did you get right? On a scale of 1-10, how surprised are you?

All of them. I got all of them right. How surprised am I, on a scale of 1-10? Zero.


In Convention Mention (Weekly Note #27), I reference a conversation I had with one of the founders of The Ten who told me the following:

"Katherine, I love power. I love it. And I'll tell you like I tell everyone else; I'll do anything to get it."

I talk about how she went on to list her "blackmailing, blacklisting and blackballing," that put every single call in the WCS world at her fingertips. Not surprisingly, this founder is still on the podium. Which one do you think she is? Why?

My answer: Sarah Vann Drake.


Considering the information you learned in The Church article, along with the founders also on the podium, how much of a role do you think they play in picking the No. 5 slot? Why do you think it changes every year?

They play a big one. If it weren't for them, it wouldn't only be the number 5 slot that would be rotating - nor would it change with every single event. Event directors do too, but I talk about that later. I will say that when I asked a Norwegian couple if they would come join us at Boogie by the Bay they were really comfortable asking what position they were being promised on the podium. I already knew that Earl and Parker were the first ones to start using this trick at SwingDiego - but usually they just asked their judges to make sure Europeans got in the money ranks. It's a smart strategy. 

Back then, the Europeans were just starting to become interested in WCS, so making sure the first few that came over placed on the podium was a sure fire way to get them to tell others they should come on over to the States too. And come on over they did - in droves. And event promoter after event promoter would brag to each other about how many Europeans they brought over. I don't know what that's supposed to prove... but the point is that they did. But no matter what, Sarah has always been pulling the strings first. Before anyone else. 

For example, she's the one who picked Chuck Brown to go overseas, who has zero street cred here in the States, but here's the difference: he will do anything she asks. He worships those people on the podium. Haven't you noticed what an incredibly large name-dropper he is? The result is that every place he's head judge, it's just a front. Sarah's really in control, as well as the rest of them. The sad part is that she made so much fun of him before he started hiring them. They all did. And when he realized the door was locked to being part of The Ten...  he started an event and hired them. They all stopped making fun of him (he was the first one to say you could do a triple without moving your feet - it was a huge joke between all the pros... until he started paying them.) 

He pays them enormous amounts of money, of course, but owes at least five people that I know of over $35,000 each. I'm sure he's not the only one in this position too. So just as Sarah picks who goes over to Europe, (do you really think Europe would hire Sean & Courtney, Stephen White or Ben McHenry on their own??? by their dancing??? No. Their inability to teach ensures she will always, always, ALWAYS have a job overseas), I think she also plays a huge role in the picks from Europe that the Event Directors hire over here. And that affects the podium. 

Keep in mind, Sarah made it very clear to me waaaay back in 2001 that every single event director hired who she told them to hire, and sadly, when I asked around, I discovered she was right. I don't think that has changed at all. I know many ED's think they are making unique and out-of-the-box picks for their events, but almost every new name in the last ten years has started with Sarah. They are all beatable. 

Take Brandi for example, who is also part of The Ten. She is an amazing dancer... but does she ever win first? Really? Check history. She is an excellent choice by Sarah - Brandi is perfect in her placating and placid position. In finals but out of the money. Sarah is smart. Very smart. So getting back to the #5 spot: she knows that as long as 5th place is rotated out with new faces, people won't notice the shut-out  in spots 1-4 as much. It's very, very clever, and it really does benefit the Event Director's numbers and wallets, which is why they play ball with her. In my humble opinion, of course.


Soon after The Ten was established, the members of it started complaining about their judges. Their complaining produced the idea of actually allowing them to judge themselves. Nowadays you'll notice that many events allow them to hold clipboards while each other competes. How do you think this has affected the community over the last fifteen years?

My answer: I think it was the ultimate betrayal to the competitive community as a whole, personally. I mean, this question is relating to the complaints way back in the late 90's to early 2000's, right when Sarah and Deborah were at the height of their power together. The Ten was only in its embryonic stage. The Council had wiped out all of their routine competition, leaving only J&J's and Strictlies left. There just weren't a lot of professionals left, once they all took power. And once they had it, they wielded it to get whatever they want. 

Let me tell you, the Sarah and Deborah of that day did NOT want to be questioned, on anything. If you ask around, you'll learn that we used to have a Review Room at every event. On Sunday, after the results were announced, you could go in to see the judges and they would give you feedback. Two years of Sarah and Deborah and they ended the Review Rooms... due to the "verbal abuse" the judges were getting. Remember - like attracts like. I sure wouldn't have wanted to join this community after 2001- I came when the people were positive. Like me, a lot of people left around that time too. I opened a studio, others went to another dance, etc. And so the pros left were very much like Sarah and Deborah - they didn't like being questioned either. 

So when event directors kept hearing complaints from them that their judges "didn't understand" them, Kelly Casanova came up with the "solution" to have them judge themselves. Are you kidding? Have you EVER heard of another community doing such an insane thing? This did a few things: it meant that the same people held all the paying gigs at an event. They got all the money. We used to hire and pay older judges with a huge amount of swing culture and history under their belts. By 2005, the only venue that still had them judging was the US Open, but they were eventually kicked out too.

Why? Because these pros have never, ever, ever stopped complaining about the people who judge them. You have to remember - Deborah Szekely was the first dancer ever to introduce "pants" dancing. We all wore skirts before, but Deborah didn't look good in skirts and didn't win in skirts, so she pushed pants. And when she wore them, she did a ton of hip-hop movements which required her legs to be apart. I will never ever forget exactly where I was when she did the very first plié I had ever seen in swing. 

It was at the Press Box with Kenny Wetzel. The whole room gasped. The point is - she wasn't a swing dancer. She wasn't a swing champion. She was just Robert Cordoba's new partner that he'd thrown poor Janne Anderson over for one month before the US Open. So she changed the dance. No more footwork. No more skirts. Just big splits and illegal lifts. 

(If you're wondering if this is when Annie & the rest changed Classic to allow drops and weight supported movements, right when they were about to eliminate them altogether because many were worried about losing the dance, well then, you'd be right. A small handful of people - literally a small handful, ALL of whom were competitors (biased much???), led by Sarah and Deborah, bullied them into completely reversing and changing Classic into a dance only young people could do, and only young people good at gymnastics. Any names come to mind? Right. And Oh. Wait! Did the dance change? Yes. It did. Shame on them all. None of them were weak. All of them killed the dance. The blood on the dance floor is of their own doing this time.)

Back to business: the same year Sarah and Kyle did the very first pop song routine - Groove is in the Heart. That shocked people - but it had swing in it. But the next few routines didn't - just a lot of posing. And judges didn't like it. They were putting them lower than first. So they complained. And then Kelly let them judge each other. 

The swing historians were given the pink slip, and the final stone in the wall between up-and-comers and The Ten was sealed. A few years ago Maxence and Hazel had a great J&J together that people loved and it ended up making the rounds on the internet - it was the closest to a real swing J&J we'd seen in years. But they didn't place. And people wanted to know why not? 

When The Ten judge themselves, you will never, ever, ever see anyone but The Ten in the top positions. Their greatest fear is growing out of the center spotlight. In that, they have each other's back. Putting clipboards in their hands only greased their wheels, while smashing a big iceberg into the ship that was once called Swing. IMHO.


Currently, The Ten often, at one event, teach, judge, compete, DJ and direct. Can you think of a position that these teachers do NOT currently fill at an event? Why do you think they hold so many positions?

My guesses: Well, they don't usually sign people in, or head judge, or coordinate competitions... I guess that's because those require hard work? No, that's a little mean. But the people who do those things out of true volunteering are heroes. That kind of work gets very little recognition. Some of the hardest working people in the competition community are the ones you've never met. You don't know their faces or their names. 

As for the pros, they do work. They travel a LOT and that wears you out. It's one of the reasons they love Abstract - it takes so little energy. People ask me why they changed the dance and I always say two things: one, it ensures no one can keep up with them because they make the changes and others don't and two, traveling zaps too much energy out of true dance professionals. 

Remember, Burn the Floor was originally a traveling show that only featured the best of the best of ballroom... and after six weeks they had to end the show. The ballroom dancers' bodies just couldn't perform to the level they needed to and travel at the same time. They booted it up again with lower level dancers and re-did the choreography so that anyone could do them and the dancers could rotate. But The Ten don't want anyone in their spots, so they push themselves to take every darn teaching spot in the world. 

That is physically impossible to do for swing. Just take a look at Lindy. One of the fastest dances in the world but only a few couples are traveling the world teaching it. Their performances have changed dramatically though - if you watch one of their recent ones, you'll notice that it's mostly a bit of dancing and a bit of posing, but not a lot of all-out Lindy dancing. I'm dying to see one of them do a real Lindy whip one of these days. I feel like its been ages since they just danced

The beautiful thing, though, is that Sylvia Sykes still teaches - they don't shut her out, like The Ten did with Mary Ann Nunez or Lance Shermoen. Actually, we have A LOT of talent in the legends category that came waaay before either of those two and could teach us a whole lot. Unfortunately, the Council cut ties with them very early on. 

They love their social dancing - entire clubs still do 10 hours of dancing a night. It's magical. I wish you guys could see them. I really do. You'd be astonished at what we've lost. Thank goodness for Boogie Woogie (at least in Europe) - their slow style is way closer to true WCS than anything Abstract. 

Anyhow, there are two big reasons I think The Ten hold so many positions: 1. Because they've eliminated all the people who used to hold those positions, either by taking their money, pushing out their generation and making them feel unwelcome, or by making them think they are unfit or out of touch. And 2. Because the more positions they hold, the more control they have over the entire machine - the WCS Mafia machine. The more fingers in the more pies, the more they make sure the money goes into the right pockets.

Keep in mind - there's usually a natural order to things: You're new, you're a social dancer, you're a competitor or you're a volunteer... whether your WCS path takes you into the points system or WCS path takes you into working for you club or helping at your local studio... you start small and build your way up. 

And every year or two there are some real promising dancers that make it higher up, while there are some really amazing teachers who retire from competition and move onto judging or scorekeeping, etc. Just as an acorn grows into a tree, so do dancers grow into who they are meant to be.

But not in WCS. In WCS there's a glass ceiling. It used to happen in All-Stars, but now it happens in Novice. Yup. The glass ceiling starts in Novice. Because if you are serious and train hard, you'll never make finals in Novice. The ceiling has been lowered that far. "Talent," says The Ten, "you are not welcome here." They've done an amazing job over the last 15 years. The glass is military grade. 


Two years ago I wrote that I could forecast the Top 5 at any event in not only the next year, but in the next five years. Do you think I was foolish to do so? Why or why not?

Considering we are now at the four year mark and the results haven't changed anywhere, I don't think I was foolish at all. I think it's scary. I didn't want to be right. I would have loved it if others were placing. I would have loved it if anyone was getting better at their dancing and I would have loved it if judges were rewarding improvements in dance ability out there. But no. Things are exactly the same. And because of that, because such a scandalous suggestion would be proven - would go on to be proven in such an obvious manner - it would warrant extreme consequences. I think it underlines the fact that little changes are needed here, but big ones. Very big ones. In my personal opinion, points should be eliminated, the records left behind and untouched... deleted from the system entirely. We must cut the cancer out, not put a band-aid on it. Bad things have been let alone and allowed to grow while good things have withered and died instead. I was not foolish. Not at all. Just right. And I hope you grab hold of what that means. (And how it reflects on the rest of my writing too - if I nailed it here, where else did I get it right too?)


Of The Ten, certain members are more powerful. They choose who will come up the ranks, they influence the events to hire them and then, once they fill that No. 5 slot, they move against them.

Who, of those you see, is smart enough, willing enough and powerful enough to shift things like these?

When I wrote this, I was only thinking of Sarah. A great example is Sean and Courtney. They (or I should say their parents) paid Kyle and Sarah a huge amount of money for their choreography and lessons. Courtney had a successful partnership with someone else, even placed in the Open with that partner. But Sarah, wisely, pulled that partnership apart and put her with Sean. Since Sarah had just moved to the Bay Area, that previous partnership was no longer a threat to their teaching, or as they put it, their "piece of the pie." The pie analogy is used a lot with those of us from way, way back. WCS isn't a huge community. I mean, it's grown, but aren't in the millions by any stretch. And so there is this analogy of  "the pie" we speak of. And very early on, right before The Ten was formed, Sarah really focused her efforts on controlling the pie. She knew she couldn't get the whole pie. That just wasn't possible. But she learned that controlling the pie, controlling who bought what of it, allowed her to control the size of her pie piece. 

It sounds complicated, but it's really simple. It's genius, really. But it requires absolutely no moral or ethical code. It requires a complete lack of social abilities or recognition. It requires a lack of humanity. It is why lying comes so quickly and easily to these kinds of people. There is no "struggle" inside, just a calm view of what needs to be done. 

In reality, that's how The Ten came to be. It only takes 20-30 pros to service the world, and if you make sure that all the event directors listen to you, as to who to hire and who to let go, it ends up affecting who people place and who they drop. Oh Lord, it would take a year to outline the road map of the psychology behind it all, but I've already given you three. You can piece the rest together. But just remember that when you see a couple in 5th place, it means they are toast. The moment Sean and Courtney placed fifth, Sarah dropped her approval of them and starting moving against them.

Because the only people she pulls into the spotlight, are people she can beat. She'll recommend Stephen White to Norway, because it means she'll look like a dream compared to him and then only give her the money. They would never dream she'd recommend a broken piece of wood to them, but she does, because it protects her interests. You can bet that her recommendations are merely insurance that she gets the best job in the end.

Deep water people in the States look over at Europe and wonder what the hell they are smoking when they keep asking every joke of a dancer over there to teach. And I keep trying to tell them, "hey, they are only hiring who the people in The Ten say they should!" Because they all make The Ten look amazing, don't they? And then, guess what? The "Stephen White's" of the WCS world come home and say, "I've taught in Europe! Come worship at my feet!" And everyone does. Because, if they were good enough to teach overseas, then weren't they better than their local studio instructors? Newsflash. It means even the local Arthur Murray instructors are better than them, not worse.

And don't put it all on Sarah. The others aren't exactly squeeky clean. Shoot, Ben Morris has been bad mouthing the greatest teachers and legends out loud in classes and workshops not just abroad, but right here in the States, in the towns these people actually live in. I swear, once he said the rudest and darkest joke about a female legend who lived just blocks away and... guess what? You think he did it because she couldn't dance? Bull. But, as everyone likes to do in WCS, everyone just said, "he's young" and passed it off. So perhaps Sarah is the worst. The lowest. But the others are in the same pit.


Around four or five years ago, event directors started asking judges to make sure an International couple would be included on the podium. If you've noticed, they never rank higher than 4th or 5th. Why do you think this is? What were the event directors thinking? How does it benefit The Ten?

I knew this was happening from the start. But I was still shocked when a young French dancer asked me, straight out, "Well that depends. Can you promise we'll place?" It was a Grand Nationals and I was still on the board for Boogie by the Bay and, I, doing my duty, was simply letting him know about Boogie by the Bay and that we'd love it if he would attend.

I said that to everyone that weekend. I wasn't being paid by Boogie by the Bay, I was merely being a good ambassador of the event, just like Andy Bouman, just like James Gafford, just like all the other board members who take that job seriously. But this French guy took the welcome too seriously. He grabbed my elbow, looked me straight in the face and basically told me, in broken English, that he was not playing around. He wanted a guarantee of money and of placing before even thinking of taking a flyer.

Honestly, I should've seen it coming. I just thought they saved that stuff for the event directors. I'm pretty sure he didn't know anything about me or if he did, not enough to know that grabbing my elbow like-so would not exactly... fly? with me. Grrr.

But the point is this. He wasn't too far off base. Places were being bought, though they were slowing down at the time (though clearly he didn't know this). "But why couldn't *I* buy my spot???" you  may be asking yourself. You sure spent enough money to have earned one so far, yes, but see, you're not from overseas. Oh, that's right. A lot of you *are* from overseas! Yes! So you're probably even more confused, especially since the people in your communities who are placing over here are actually much, much worse than your best dancers, right! I read your emails! I know!

Okay. Let's do some history homework.

One. In the beginning WCS was a small sport. There were many more clubs than competitions, and the clubs rarely, if ever, went to visit one another. They stayed in their own states and danced in their own region. The regions held competitions, but really, the sign of greatness was being in a movie. That, back then, was a very hard thing to do. You had to really know how to dance.

But not everyone wanted to be on the big screen. In fact, the people who did were in the minority. Why? Because WCS has always been a social dance. Deeply social. They still dance three to five nights a week, five to eight hours a night/day. In ballroom people paired up and competed and in WCS, people paired up and danced. And switched partners. And danced. And still dance. Bam.

Cut to the 1970's. As airplane flights became more mainstream, clubs started to travel a little and mix. People began to speak of a competition that would bring all regions across the nation to compete in one big arena. It finally came to pass! The US Open debuted in Vegas. Then took a break. Then debuted again in Anaheim, CA. There was quite a race to put on the first national competition, let me tell you. But it finally happened.

You could argue that the Phoenix Swing Dance Club did it first, but since they did J&J's only, that's still debated. Anyhow. You get the picture.

But just because a few could fly, didn't mean anyone or everyone wanted to. So the US Open slowly grew. And other competitions/ conventions slowly grew nationwide too. But even still. Through the 1980's WCS was dance SOCIALLY, and socially only.

Now, on comes the 1990's. And Jack Carey thinks up Points. And the Social community goes one way and the WSDC hijacked the competition circuit and the two branches took off.

Well, you have to understand that Jack, Annie and Skippy - they were always talking about "kids being the future of the sport." I don't think they realized that you bring a dance to kids through schools, gyms and studios, not more and more competitions, conventions and... competitions and conventions. That builds a bloodthirsty competitor, not a keeper of the dance.

What's my point? That if an event had an international crowd, that event got special bonuses and favors from the World Swing Dance Council. It garned favor. Gave them "good" attention. More promotion. In short, the more internationals at your event, the more business you got in the long run.

Not only that, but they were used as a bragging right. If an event had anyone coming from anywhere, even Canada, then they screamed it from every mountain they could find, didn't they? I'm sure you all remember it. It was like a badge of honor. You are more of a reputation if you convinced someone from overseas to actually take the time, money and effort to come to your event. Oh geez. It was such a huge marketing tool.

Now. Think about it. How does the Council and the competitive circuit sell the international community on points and WCS in general... but still protect The Ten? How do they do it? I mean, if they keep the walls up super high, like they do for all those living in the United States, then they will not think the money is worth it.

International had to pay a whole lot more to get to a competition than a local. If they leave disappointed and disheartened from that event, then not only would they never come on over again, but they would never talk, promote or encourage WCS in their home city would they? And THAT would cut off the growing pipeline of money for The Ten. Soooo.... what to do?

Ah ha! Give them hope! A carrot! Let them enjoy a few chosen fruits! And so, in those first few years, 2007-2010 or so, they let in just a few on the podium. The Event Directors would tell their judges to let them in- encourage them in the sport. 

And it worked! Magically, those who traveled the furthest were rewarded. A few who danced the best got the podium. Never 1st. Never 2nd. Not even 3rd. But they placed. Which means it isn't rigged, is it? This system does work, doesn't it? And so all the internationals, with their eyes on that dangling golden carrot, chased it all the way over here and spent years traveling the entire US, trying to repeat one of those golden few moments.

The faucet has been cut off now, hasn't it? Too many have figured it out by now. The Ten have gone just about as far as they could go. The pockets are almost completely dry. What a great run, the Council and The Ten had there, right? Wow. How much money Europe has given to the addictive cause that is the Points System. I wonder how many "Ambassador" bonus checks were given out during these last few years. Wow. It is sooo impressive.

I remember reading one overseas "teacher" who actually had, right there, on his HOME PAGE, the goals he has for his life. And guess what his #1 goal was? "To win the US Open." I almost cried. I swear. I really almost cried. Because he was a fool? Because he was an abstract dancer? Because he built his entire business upon that hope? Because he put it on his hooooome paaaaage?!?!? 

No. I almost cried because I believed him. I believed he thought that was possible. SwingDiego was the leader in this game and gave him a Top 5 ranking in one of the routine divisions not three years into his WCS career. I think it was only his second time at the event. But he was ticket to the entire country in which he lived. That man was the life line to that country. They knew if he won, he would be millions of dollars to them and their teachers behind him...

And so he did. Has he EVER placed in the Top 5 since? No. I don't think he was even let into finals in an All Star division not two years later. They use you. Then they forget you.

The corpses are everywhere. Where are yours buried? Did you forget them too? 


We're moving into 15 years now of the same podium. Why, despite all their wins, both in Classic, Showcase, Strictlies and J&J's... do you think they continue to compete, while adding DJing, Event Directing, etc to their on-going resumes? What is the natural progression of competitors in other areas?

I've worked with and participated in a lot of other forms of dance. From Korean dance, to Cumbia, to Tango to Polynesian dance... even African can (get a class in if you can!!) and Flamenco dance (try this too! heck, try them all!), they all pretty much work the same. Even in Lindy.

Those who train in competition go on to compete. When they have competed for a while, they teach. They teach and compete at the same time and start to travel. Soon they stop competing for themselves.They start training others for competition. They teach and help others compete. For example, in ballroom they help their students by doing Pro/Ams with them. You don't see the teachers who do both. That's seen as very tacky and reckless.

If not Pro/Ams, then coaching. They coach the more novice levels and move their way up. After a while they stop teaching and coach full time, and if they are very talented, they judge. Others move into studio ownership. Others move on to choreography. The point is, the natural progression is that those who competed in the industry go on to nurture and train it later. 

It is very rare that anyone in any field competes for more than 12 years. The normal is 6-8 years, some even 2-5. Take a look at the Olympics even. People do one Olympics, maybe two. When lightning strikes, three Olympics. And lightning has not struck our community ten times in the same year.

But those Olympians who do more than one Olympics... notice that they don't move on to coaching, judging or event directing until they are DONE with the Olympics. No, we are not a sport. Not at all. There is no sport or competition circuit on the planet where the same people fill the slots of event director, judging staff, teaching staff, competitors and event music coordinators. 

All anyone does at each event is change hats.

No, WCS isn't a sport. It's a fradulent corporation. The more people email me, the more lawsuits I feel brewing. And they have a case. A really, really strong one. Go back. Look at the results for say, Capital of 2003 and see if you know any of the names. Or BBB. Or whoever. It's plain as day. The CEO's, Board of Directors and Shareholders of WCS are a small knit group made up of deep water people who judge and put on events, the "World" Swing Dance Council, NASDE members, The Ten and that's it. That's it! 

Their shares are not for sale, no matter how much they tell you they are. (That is not entirely true. They will let you enter their boardrooms, see their meeting table and feel the fabric and the wood of the leather chairs, mirrored walls and thick tables. But I've talked about the price of entry before. Addiction. Considering it's just show and tell though - you only get to walk through the room and grab a glimpse, well. Ask your friends that have done it. The ones who don't want to admit they were scammed. The ones who don't want you to see that they are actually ignored now, because they hung around too long after they got their glimpse.

Oh, were you one of those? I'm sorry to have to be the one to do this, but here... take my arm. Let me lead you away, out the back hall, into the parking lot, and the bright light that is there. I'll hold you steady while you take deep breaths and shudder into reality again. I'll wait until you get the message. This is the best. You've had the best. There's no more. You can try - try to go back in. And they'll be nice, but there will be a cold hard edge. You are done. You are used up. You thought that when you'd get here, you'd be able to start promoting yourself as a big star. But that's the wrong move. The deadly one. Sarah will notice. Parker will too. And the others will wonder, after not a very long while... "Why are you still here?"

And finally, the Big Questions:

What do you think the members of The Ten think of YOU?
How do they see you?
Do they want you to improve?
To what extent?

Do you think they really see you, see us, respect us or care for us? Why or why not?

What VISION does this group have for our future?
I will answer this last one... 
You're living it.

Get to it everyone.
Peace Out.

From Weekly Note #66: the Ten. Released June 2013. My personal answers added May 2014. Copyright 2014. For a list of the members of The Ten, see my article My Problem with Points.