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 (WCS Legend)
About: Sonny Watson

Sonny Watson and Liza Hillman.
Sonny Watson and Liza

    Sonny Watson started dancing Hustle, Country-Western and various Swing styles in and around 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, 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 which is still very active today.


  In November of '85 he entered his first 'U.S. Open Swing Dance Showcase' with his then partner Valerie Browne. Since then Sonny has competed in the U.S. Open Showcase and Pro/Champion Strictly Swing divisions (plus 'N.A.S.D.E. circuit'.) Sonny's Showcase partners were Valerie Browne, Traci Roberts-Adams, Kris Hagerty, and Strictly partners Deanna Mollmann, and Marie Salazar.

  Sonny competed in many Showcase Divisions across the country receiving many top honors and awards as well as the Local and National Champion division Strictlies, Jack and Jill's and Invitationals for many, many years. (Sonny was also invited to dance in the illustrious "Champion of Champions Invitational" in Arizona as well.) Later, Sonny and his then partner Deanna Mollmann took 'First Place' in the biggie ... the original ... "U.S. Open Pro Streetswing division" in 1997 at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, Ca. proudly becoming a 1st generation ''US Open Swing Dance Champion.'' (as of 2017 The US Open is in its 6th Generation :)


  Through the years Sonny has competed in a vast number of contests, which have taken him all over the USA. Sonny has also 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 big-one ''World Swing Dance Hall of Fame''.


  But it didn't end there. He was also inducted 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 dance manuals. Sonny has also been given the grand title of Council Historian (and Chairman of that Board mind you) of the Department for the World Swing Dance Councils 'Dance History Department' (which basically just consists of him, good title tho lol). ... This guy knows his stuff and his peers know it!


  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 and when he isn't competing, serves as a judge at many of the national three-day dance events. He has Taught, Judged and or Competed at many national events including: the American Swing Dance Championships (A.S.D.C. New York,) Atlanta Grand Nationals (Georgia,) Phoenix SDC (Arizona,) Boston Tea Party (Boston, MA.,) Virginia State Open, California SwingThing, Various Las Vegas Dance Events in Nevada, Monterey Swing Fest, Jack and Jill O'Rama, Swing Diego, Dallas D.A.N.C.E., (America's) Dallas Classic, Mountain Magic (at Tahoe's Monte Bleu Casino,) New Years Dance Championships (Dallas, TX.,) Swing Worlds, US Open Swing Dance Championships and more.


  As a nationally known and recognized swing dance Coach, Dance Educator, Choreographer, Adjudicator, and DJ. He has taught at many local and major three-day swing dance events from New York to California. Sonny teaches Master Group and Private Dance Lessons in Southern California (based in the San Fernando Valley). Sonny teaches what is generally recognized as one of the best looking basic foundation styles of West Coast Swing in Southern California from the ground up. With over 36+ years dance experience, he was one of the first to use the ''French Cross'' with contemporary rhythm (''and -three'') as well as the traditional rhythm (''three-and'') for the ladies and ''Tap-Pivot-Step'' (not Tap-Step) for the guys. His expertise in musical interpretation, creativity and various styling knowledge is unequaled in his field. His style is very recognizable in his students with one of the most solid basics one can find anywhere. He is very well respected throughout the United States and 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, Poinsettia Pavilion (Santa Barbara,) TGIF, Golden West Club, Borderline Bar and Grill, and various Halls and many, many more. He has taught at various dance studios such as Let's Dance L.A., Arthur Murray's, 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 others.



  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 was 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 (in center field) for the L.A. Rams "Half-Time Show" to name a few. He has also worked on a few movie projects which never aired :( Sonny has worked with a few notable 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, Quotes, or actual references from and 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 teams "Swingshift." Swingshift was created way back in 1987 by Sonny Watson as a social dance team but continued on to become one of the best West Coast Swing dance competition 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 2: 'Back to Basix' ... 'designed to give anyone a chance to fulfill a dream by dancing in the Open' and the team did go on to compete in the U.S. Open that year, although they didn't place, that was not the purpose. Sonny does not perform the original competition team every year but is getting ready to put another competitive team together in the near future. He does have a performance team that works on a WCS routine together all year and performs locally. :) Sonny coaches and choreographs for others who are now competing and doing exhibitions ... some just starting out but many have even gone on to become successful competitors and teachers themselves.


Photo's



Sonny Watson Photo Gallery


Sonny and Denise after teaching a lesson, circa 2015 Just me in a suit, circa 1996 Sonny Watson and Deanna Mollmann take first at US Open Swing Dance Championships at Disney Hotel Cool black and white photo of Claire and I in a private lesson, Northridge studio Sonny Watson 2015 Sonny and Amanda, circa 2004 Sonny Watson and Deanna Mollmann 1997 US Open - First Place Sonny and Benita, circa 1996 circa 2013. Sonny and Denise teaching the First class of the Weekend, US Open pre party Hired to dance at the Longhorn Saloon Benefit Dance with Kris Hagerty, circa 1990 circa 2015. Sonny and Denise teaching the First class of the Weekend, US Open pre party Sonny teaching the Intermediate class at the Crest Lounge in Reseda, CA. circa 1996 Sonny Watson and Deanna Mollmann, 1997 US Open Swing Dance Championships A photo of Maryann Nunez and I doing our WCS/St Louis shag routine My Birthday with Shaheed and Terra Diva Pose with some of the Girls at closing on Wednesday Night Dance. Circa 2013 Sonny Watson  and  Kris Hagerty Sonny and Valerie compete in Country Two-Step Finals at the Cowboy in Anaheim, circa 1982 Elise getting a Club Jacket from Eddie at Xmas Sonny and Tatianna Mollmann, Back in the day Showstoppers dance team. This Was the first ever 'team performance' at the US Open, we did it for two years Swingshift Dance Team, circa 1988 Swingshift Dance Team, circa 1993 Swingshift Dance team, circa 1996 Michael Jackson's Thriller Routine pose before going on stage, I'm in back/middle Sonny and Kris at the Crest Lounge Halloween Makeup, I was a Zombie A Halloween party, I was Dracula A Halloween at the Americna Legion Hall with Kelly Baker and Deanna Mollmann When I was teaching at the Hacienda on Monday Nights Sonny and Melina Rameriz Won L.A. City Swing dance contest and got a cruise for two on the Azure Seas with Valerie Brown circa 1983 Sonny and Valerie Brown at a 1950's night in Brentwood, Ca. circa 1984 Spent two weeks in Florida, from Orlando to Key West Sonny and Traci hosted a Kareoke WCS Night at Dimples in Burbank. Singing with Traci and Disco Dave Sarul Sonny and  Roberta Swingshft-Back to Basix Getting my Butt handed to me whe I was doing Martial Arts, 'Kung-Fu San Soo' in Van Nuys, Ca. I was about 19 here Sonny and Traci, circa 1986 Sonny and Traci dancing Showcse at US Open Sonny and Traci US Open pose Sonny and Traci opening pose at US Open circa 1987 Traci and Sonny rehersing their routine in Downey, Ca. circa 1986 Dancing with my friend Robert Cordoba at the Crest Lounge, circa 1988 My birthday at Sleauths Bar and Grill at the Sherman Oaks Galleria circa 1986 My birthday at Sleauths Bar and Grill inShermanOaks Galleria circa 1986 I got my first award ' Teacher of the Year,' yay! Walk of Legends poster situated outside the US Open Swing Dance Championships 2012 Sonny Watson and Kris Hagerty, Dallas Dance WCS Showcase Division Sonny dancing with one of the Clonch sisters 2013 Sonny and Deanna at Mountain Magic in Tahoe circa 2010 Sonny dancing with Melissa Rutz in Monterey, circa 2013 Mary, Sonny and Robin Photo of Sonny and Michele Kinkaid after winning 1st Sonny Watson and Kris Hagerty, Dallas Dance WCS Showcase Division Sonny Watson All Swing DJ 'Hall of Fame award. circa 2007 circa 1995. US Open Swing Dance Championships and Kris Hagerty Sonny and Deanna, circa late 90's Sonny and Deanna, circa late 90's Sonny and Deanna, circa late 90's Sonny dancing with Rachel Smith at the Clubhouse in Orange County, Ca. circa 2014 Sonny Watson and Kris Hagerty, Dallas Dance WCS Showcase Division Sonny and Carlito Country Dance Contest, circa 1982 Country Dance Contest, circa 1982 Country Dance Contest, circa 1982 Circa 1988 Going out to dinner with some dance friends, circa 1988 Country Two-Step contest, circa 1983 Circa 1987 with Pat Browne Sonny Watson Judging at a dance contest Circa 1987 Sonny and Denise teaching a class in Agoura, Ca. Circa 2015 Crest Lounge in Reseda, Ca. Kris on floor and Sonny on stage Competing in Texas with Kris Hagerty, Dallas Dance 'Showcase' division, seen here doing the 'Snake' Sonny Watson and Kris Hagerty, Dallas Dance WCS Showcase Division Sonny Watson and Deanna Mollmann doing the 'Kick-Flip' We were featured in the local newspaper, here's the main photo they used of Kris and I Sonny Watson and Kris Hagerty, Dallas Dance WCS Showcase Division Circa 1983. Sonny Watson and Debbie Perry compete in the Texas Two-Step. 2nd Place Induction into the prestigious 'Walk of Legends'