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... About Sonny Watson

Sonny Watson ...

             Sonny Watson started dancing Hustle, Country-Western and Various Swing dances in Los Angeles, California around 1979/1980 and competed with different partners during that time. By 1982 he had won many contests and began teaching West Coast Swing plus other dances in and around the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, California. Sonny then went on and founded the Valley Swing Dance Club with his friend and mentor ... the legendary Kenny Wetzel in February of 1985.

     In November of '85 he entered his first U.S. Open Swing Dance Championship with his then partner Valerie Browne. Since then Sonny has competed in the U.S. Open showcase, Team, Sophisticated and Strictly Swing divisions with partners Valerie Browne, Tracy Roberts-Adams, Kris Hagerty, Marie Salazar, and Deanna Mollmann. As well as the Local and National Jack and Jill's, Strictly's and the Showcase Division 'N.A.S.D.E. circuit' for many, many years. Sonny and his then partner Deanna Mollmann took First Place in the biggie, the 1997 "U.S. Open" Pro Streetswing division.

     Through the years Sonny has competed in a vast number of contests, which have taken him all over the USA. Sonny has received many awards, including two he is most proud of 'The U.S. Open Teacher / Promoter award' and being inducted in 1995 and 2006 (yes 2x's) into the "California Swing Dance Hall of Fame" and then later in 2007 being inducted into the "World Swing Dance Hall of Fame." But it didn't end there he also wasinducted into the 2007 All~Swing DJ "Hall Of Fame" and last but not least the 2012 U.S. Open "Walk of Legends." Sonny has also been rated in the Top Ten N.A.S.D.E. Tour many times through-out the 1990's and is also credited in many dance books and manuals.

     Sonny Watson was instrumental in helping the "United States Swing Dance Council" (U.S.S.D.C.) pass a bill to make West Coast Swing the Official State Dance Of California. Sonny is a certified, trained judge. When he isn't competing, he serves as a judge at many of the national events. He has Taught, Judged and or Competed at many national events throughout the country including: the A.S.D.C. (New York,) Atlanta Grand Nationals (Georgia,) Phoenix, Boston Tea Party, Virginia State Open, California SwingThing, Various Las Vegas Dance Events, Monterey Swing Fest, Jack and Jill O'Rama, Swing Diego, Dallas D.A.N.C.E., Dallas Classic, Tahoe's Mountain Magic at Monte Bleu Casino, New Years Dance Championships (Dallas,), Swing Worlds, US Open Swing Dance Championships and more. Sonny is also Chairman of the Board of the Dance History Department for the World Swing Dance Council.

     As a nationally-recognized swing dance Coach, Choreographer, Dance Educator, Adjudicator, and DJ, Sonny Watson has and does teach at many local and major three-day swing events from New York to California. Sonny teaches Master, Group and Private lessons in Southern California (based in the San Fernando Valley) but has always had to limit his traveling to meet the needs of his current students. Sonny teaches what is generally recognized as one of the best looking styles of West Coast Swing in Southern California from the ground up. He was one of the first to use the "French Cross" with Contemporary timing ("and three") as well as the Traditional timing ("three And") for the ladies and "Tap-Pivot-Step" (not Tap-Step) for the guys. His expertise in musical interpretation and styling is un-equaled in his field. His style is very recognizable in his students with one of the most solid basics one can find. He is very well respected throughout the United States. Jack and Mary Ann Bridges of the U.S. Open once wrote: "Sonny Watson has one of the largest followings in California."

     Sonny has taught at many famous swing night clubs/venues over the years in Southern California from San Diego to Santa Barbara on a weekly basis ... such as the Longhorn Saloon, Tavern On The Green, the Forge, Sleuth's Bar and Grill, the Valley Club, the Press Box, the Crest Lounge (aka Jitterbugs Lounge, Paladino's,) the Hacienda Hotel, TGIF, Golden West Club, Borderline Bar & Grill, and many more. He has taught at various dance studios such as Let's Dance L.A., Arthur Murrays, B and B Dance Studio, Debbie Reynolds dance studio, Starlight Dance Studio, Atomic Ballroom, Westmore dance studio, Moorpark College, Pierce College, Cal-Tech, UCLA and many more.

Sonny has had some wonderful training from some of the best like Eddy Vega (Hustle / Aerials), the Appels (Aerials), Jill Morton (International ballroom), Kenny Wetzel (Lindy, Mambo, WCS), Tom Slater (Aerials), Phil Adams, Lisa Nunziella (Aerials, Hustle), Skippy Blair and the Dinzels (Authentic Argentine Tango.) and others.

     Sonny has been seen in a few T.V. dance segments, such as the E Channel, Two On The Town, Eye On L.A., E Entertainment ("Worlds Coolest Clubs" with Brian Setzer), the Nashville Network, 7-UP Commercial with Patrick Swayze and danced WCS for the L.A. Rams "Half-Time Show" and more. He has also worked on a few movie projects which never aired :( Sonny has worked with a few Music and Movie Stars such as Kim Catrell, Charles Rocket, Kay Lenz, Michael Monarch (of SteppenWolf) Barbie Benton, and Robert Duvaul, who are absolutely fabulous and fun people. Many dance books have been written that either feature Sonny or use Interviews, Qoutes, or References from/to this website.

     Sonny has worked with many dance teams such as the "Show Stoppers," "Leather and Lace" Pierce College dance team, and his own team "Swingshift which was created back in 1987 by Sonny Watson as a social dance team but continued on to become one of the best West Coast Swing dance teams in the nation. His memorable choreography to "Lion Sleeps Tonight" by the New Tokens and "Baby I'm a Star" by Prince have won Sonny praise for his outstanding choreography. Later Sonny formed the team again featuring any social dancer who wanted to take part called Swingshift: 'Back to Basix' 'to give anyone a chance to fulfill a dream' and went on to compete them in the U.S Open, altho they didn't place, that was not the purpose. Sonny does not perform the team every year :(. Sonny coaches and choreographs others who are now competing and doing exhibitions and some have even went on to become successful competitors and teachers themselves. Some are first time competitors, and many are top dancers.

Some great students I have had the pleasure to teach, Choreograph for or Coach swing to over the years, plus many, many others:
        Adam Mara, Alex Court, Amanda Boddeker, Barbie Benton, Beverly Durand, Brent Patteson, Buzz Malatsky, Candace Hartung, Danish, Dayna Miles, Debbie DanDurand, Deborah Hampton, Deborah Szkeley, Dena Wayman, Denise Gibson, Dianne O'Connor, Donna Lynch, Eddie Valdez, Elaine Burkow, Elizabeth Pffeley, Elise Herman-Valdez, Frank Martinez and Claire Leonard, Gary Gauwain, Helen Tocco, Jamie Lynn Powers, Jared Tracey, Jason Sun, Jeremy Powell, Jessie Rohr, Big Jim Behrens, Joan Hunter, John Ford, June Valentine, Kara Frinzel, Kay Lenz, Kris Hagerty, Karla Klibanow, Kelly Baker, Kelly Hall, Kim Cattrall, Laura Klipp, Leanna Chase, Linda Parsons, Lisa Kay, Liza Hillman, Louise Bretz, Marie-Stanislas Remigereau, Martha Collins, Matthew Sipe, Merideth Jones, Michael Espinoza, Michael Monarch, Miguel Martinez, The Mollmann Sisters (Tatianna, Marina, Deanna,) Ned Van Eps, Oscar Spears, Petra Tunmar, Rachel Smith, Richard Fritsen, Robert Cordoba, Rosie Campos, Sam Bryant, Sandy Paterson, Shaheed Qaasim, Tanin Kosol, Teveya Dovbish, Tip West, Tom Montanez, Tommy Thompson, Tracy Adams, Trish Connery, Wendy Mara and thousands more.

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