The Sundance Association for Country-Western Dancing is proud to be a participant in Give Out Day, the only national day of giving for the LGBTQ community, raising over $5 million for over 600 organizations since 2013. Check out more general information about Give Out Day
The Sundance Association for Country-Western Dancing was formed in 1999 to provide education in and programs for country-western dancing in the LGBT+ community in San Francisco. As an all-volunteer and community-supported nonprofit, the Sundance Association fosters individual growth and passion, encourages volunteerism and financial giving, and strives to create an inclusive and welcoming community.
The major projects of the Sundance Association include:
• Sundance Saloon. Twice-weekly dance lessons and open country-western dancing featuring a variety of dance forms including two-step, waltz, east coast swing, west coast swing, line dancing, and more. These events take place in a club setting and are open to the general public, with typically 75 attendees on a Thursday, and 150 on a Sunday. Sundance Saloon, and our related projects, have touched thousands of lives over the past twenty years.
• The Sundance Stompede. An annual four-day country-western dance convention featuring four nights of large-scale dances and three days of educational dance workshops for all levels from beginning to advanced. We attract about 700 participants, half from the greater Bay Area, and half from all over the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia. This event is the largest and most acclaimed of its kind anywhere.
• The Sundance Bandits. A dance performance group comprised of interested attendees of Sundance Saloon. Sundance Saloon dancers have also gone on to perform in other acclaimed performance groups, including the Vima Vice Squad and the Barbary Coast Cloggers.
• Community events. The Sundance Association hosts country-western dance events in association with other organizations and festivals, broadening its reach in the general LGBT+ community. Examples include events at the San Francisco Pride celebration, the Castro Street Fair, at Jane Warner Plaza in San Francisco (Castro & Market Streets), senior centers in San Francisco, RSVP cruises, and many other locations over the years.
• Community support. The Sundance Association assists with fundraising events for many other nonprofit organizations in San Francisco, and has helped raise over $400,000 over the past twenty years (examples: AIDS Emergency Fund, LGBT Asylum Project, Transgender Law Center, Openhouse).
The Sundance Association is much more than a listing of its projects would suggest. The contribution of the Sundance Association to the health of the greater LGBT community and the individuals within it cannot be overstated.
All of the projects of the Sundance Association have had a primary goal of developing a culture of welcoming inclusiveness. Attendees find there is no importance placed on attractiveness, dance ability, socio-economic status, age, race, ethnicity, gender identification, sexual orientation, or any of a myriad of classifications that traditionally separate us. As a result, we host a wide cross-section of the LGBT+ community (e.g. ages 20s to 80s, men and women, cis and trans, gay and straight), who all mix together and dance with each other in a utopian environment that doesn't exist anywhere else.
• Importance at the community level. The unique qualities of Sundance Association instill a passion in our attendees who develop a powerful desire to make this organization succeed. The majority of our regular attendees volunteer and/or contribute financially, with everyone serving as ambassadors and advocates of the organization. Out of this, a strong community has emerged, spreading well beyond the confines of the San Francisco Bay Area.
A comment we recently received from a gay U.K. documentary film-maker specializing in the arts sums it up perfectly after his first-time visit. "For me the most striking thing was the diversity, the way the Stompede operates to bring people together, and the visibility and unity that creates. It was the most joyous celebration I'd experienced as a gay audience member to a cultural event, and the fact it's created by the people that attend it gives it this overwhelming sense of community passion and personal human honesty."
• Importance at the individual level. The Sundance Association is life-changing for many. Folks who never thought they could dance find that they can, giving them a new awareness of music and dance, and a new sense of confidence. In this digital age of social networking, the Sundance Association provides a place where people can connect face-to-face, and provides the encouragement to do so. It gives people a safe place to feel welcome and to belong, and a place to find solace and renewal to help cope with life's challenges.
• Importance for specific sub-groups. While we serve a wide range of the LGBT+ community, there are some specific sub-populations that deserve special mention. (1) 30% of the attendees of Sundance Saloon are over the age of 60. Not only do we provide an affirming activity for our older generation to enjoy, but it's in a setting that effortlessly mixes older and younger folks. (2) While our activities usually include the availability of alcohol, the majority of our attendees do not drink alcohol, making it a safe environment for those in recovery, while still offering the appealing atmosphere of a nightclub. (3) We strive to welcome financially-challenged folks by maintaining low entrance fees, offering volunteer opportunities, and never turning anyone way for lack of funds. 30% of our attendees earn less than $50,000, and 12% less than $25,000.
The Sundance Association is facing new financial challenges in 2019. Our expenses are increasing by $30,000 this year, primarily due to rent increases, and we expect an additional $10,000 annually in subsequent years. We have worked to meet this need through increased giving, increased fundraising, and the successful application for grant funding. But there is still so much work to be done. We are extremely fiscally responsible. As an all-volunteer organization, we have zero expenses for staff, and our administrative expenses excluding insurance are less than 2% of our total expenses. We depend on the support of the community we serve, and we hope you'll consider making a contribution to this important organization.
Sundance Saloon 20th Anniversary Event
Sundance Stompede Hoedown 2018