Contest was to set the stage by which all others would be judged. Many people confuse the US Open as a swing dance convention, similar to the others, however, it is a three day contest / Competiton that has simalrities to the other dance events, It is not a convention event.
The Open was founded by Jack, Mary Ann and Kenny Wetzel in 1979. On Thanksgiving Weekend of that year held
its first 'Open' at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV. and had a dismal turn-out. Not being one to give up he re worked the vent and offered it up again in 1982 which was a much more attended event. Making some changes he moved the event in 1983 to the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California. It was a huge success. Disneyland was making changes to it's theme park and closed down the Disney Hotel so Jack had to move the event to the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, CA. ( The U.S. Open was also held in Texas and Chicago, etc as a regional event, but they failed.) The Century Plaza hotel did not treat the Open well, but wanting to retire from the promotion business Jack and Mary Ann sold another event they ran called "the Jack and Jill O' Rama" to Tony Fuentes and a few years later sold the US Open ( Which is still being held today in it's new location in SoCal.)
The word "Open" in the title meant it was 'Open' to all forms of swing ( West Coast, Lindy, Shag, Balboa, Jitterbug, East Coast, Jive, LeRoc, etc.) Each style originally competed against the other for many years. Since WCS was the "reigning swing style champion" at the open, they have added other categories allowing the other styles more of a chance to win against their own respective styles of swing.