Wee Tze Yi (Zee) is the organiser of Asian West Coast Swing Open and Singapore Latin Extravaganza. He shares how he started dancing and his desire to grow the dance community.
When I was a teenager, my mom brought my family to a social dance club. I was rather reluctant to attend the event as a boy who does sports, it didn’t seem appealing to dance nor wear shiny costumes. After the workshop, I was impressed by watching people improvising and freestyling on the dance floor. A girl on the dance floor caught my attention and I danced with her. That’s the pivotal moment when I fell in love with social dance. I had a change in perception that social dancing was in fact, a great experience to meet people.
What were the struggles you faced when you started dancing?
I started learning social dance while I was in the army. In army camp, social dance wasn’t well understood nor accepted amongst my army buddies. It didn’t help that I was serious about practising and committed to practising my dance moves while in the army camp. They would make fun of me for dancing in camp and called me names. It wasn’t easy to put up with. It was rather challenging to deal with criticism and negative feedback from my peers. But I was determined to push through and continue what I loved doing despite my circumstances.
How did you overcome your struggles and continue on?
I started teaching dance at a small dance studio, but I never envisioned myself to do big things for the dance community. I feel that dancing had changed my life. That, it wasn’t about becoming a better dancer but educating others to be a better person and partner. When you become a better social dancer, it improves your interaction with others and it makes you a better person. I wanted to share this experience with others, as it had bought so much joy into m y life. It is a joy to share my love for dancing with new dancers.
When I was in university, my career was in trading. I had been trading in currency as my day job. But as I got more involved in the dance scene, I wanted to share my strong desire for social dancing to become mainstream and to be danced by more people in Singapore, especially for working adults.
There are physical aspects for body coordination, mental aspects to acknowledge your weakness and improving oneself, at the same time, social dance is a social activity that allows people to meet people from all walks of life and it brings happiness. For people who had to work long hours, I believe there is no other experience that comes close to having a social activity to meet people and keep physically fit while engaging the mind to think creatively and analytically to create a dance move. This is why I put so much into the dance community to organise events for others to discover the joy of dance.
Festivals & Events
When I was serving my military service, I had to save up for two years to attend the Los Angeles Salsa Congress. The Congress had a five thousand crowd turn out. It was such an incredible experience that I wanted to recreate the international experience for Singapore local dancers to experience at their doorstep to meet and dance with people from all over the world from different cultures.
My goal of organising dance events is to bring in good international artists to Singapore. The experience of meeting them live in person is more incredible than watching them on video. I want to share the gift of dance and unite people from all over the world.
My message to the world
Dancing had made me happy and that’s the bottom line. When I teach students, the most amazing experience is when I am able to get a new dancer to feel that joy and happiness for themselves. Especially when they come back to me years later and tell me they are happy to have started dancing.
My dream is to make social dancing a mainstream activity so that as many people as possible experience it for themselves. It is the dance together with the mindset, culture and supportive community that makes it magical.