Hank, Kristen and SDM!

Kristen has trained in dance, gymnastics and cheer since she was a toddler in West Chester Ohio. As a basketball and football cheerleader there, at Lakota West High School, her team won the national cheer leading competition 2 years in a row, the only team to ever accomplish this feat. She worked her way through college coaching gymnastics at Gym America, a nationally renowned gym in Ann Arbor MI. It was in college that she discovered partner dancing, joining a ballroom dance company which performed in the A2 – Metro Detroit area.

Hank began dancing in 1994 when a girlfriend dragged him kicking and screaming into a country bar to take two-step lesson. He had never been exposed to either, but in no time he was hooked on dancing (the girlfriend not so much). It just so happened that this country bar, the Diamondback Saloon, decided to bring in the best instructors they could find as ongoing full time instructors. which were UCWDC world champion Mike Wagner and NASDE Champion Brandy Tobias (Guild) whom Hank worked with as his first professional instructors. In 1999, Hank discovered the Retro Swing movement where he focused his efforts on a Neoversion of East Coast Swing, eventually learning many of the aerial lifts. Hank was soon hired by a talent agency to perform his retro style swing at corporate events for companies such as Chrysler Corporation, Diamler, Comerica Bank, Adistra Corporation and others. He also was hired to teach at various swing dance clubs and events in Michigan.

Hank and Kristen met on the dance floor, literally, in 2009 when she and her ballroom dance friends discovered WCS, attending a West Coast Wednesday dance. Kristen soon began showing up at all of the WCS dances in the area, which of course is where Hank was at and they eventually began dating. Having attended Swingin Dance Party since 2005, Hank was excited to take Kristen to it as the first large event they would attend together, since it was in Kristen’s home town of Cincinnati where her parents still live in her childhood home. SDP inspired them to hold their own events in Michigan, and the idea for Social Dance Mania was born, which has lead to Swing Dance Mania. For many years Hank had helped his sister put on national events for the US Dart Association at hotels and convention centers in the Detroit area. He found that he really enjoyed event management, so he was eager to apply those skills to dance event management. Hank designed their own dance floors with the needs of dancers in mind (with no screws in the dance surface). Together Kristen and Hank hand produced over 800 of the small wood parts that are glued and screwed to the bottom of the panels which are used to keep the panels aligned and to keep the panel edges from lifting. They then assemble over 100 panels and edging. The large financial investment and months long process was a labor of love, love of dance and of each other.