Bob Preiss Social Dance Award


The Bob Preiss Social Dance Award is our most prestigious award at Swing Diego. Our hope is that by recognizing dancers with excellent social dance skills we will encourage others to follow their fine example. 

The prize is named after Bob Preiss of Phoenix, Arizona who was instrumental in our initial success but passed away before he could attend. Bob was the essence of a great social dancer. 

The winner of this award receives a lifetime pass to Swing Diego. 

Criteria for award...

Dance Attitude

The dancer leaves each parter feeling great about their dance!

Dance Spirit

The dancer possesses a "never say no to dance"

Dance Passion

The dancer seeks out others who aren't being asked to dance!

The winners of this aware are chosen by the Swing Diego DJ’s who observe social dancing all weekend. 


Past Recipients

2018 Joel Torgeson  Pine Island, Minnesota

2017 Kristine Dougherty – San Diego, CA

2016 Mike Carringer – Phoenix, AZ

2015 Fernanda Dubiel – Curitiba, Brazil

2014 Kristen Humphrey – Phoenix, AZ

2013 John Piper – Chico, CA

2012 PJ Turner – Knoxville, TN

2011 Jasmine S. Williams – Dallas, TX

2010 Céline Sully – Lyon, France

2009 Anna Balcom-Lumsden – London, UK

2008 Wendy Miller – Tucson, AZ

2007 Ben Morris – Los Angeles, CA

2006 Will Shaver – Eugene, OR

2005 Justin Tobias – Arlington, VA

2004 Paul & Melinda Booth – Mercer Island, WA

2003 Libbat Shaham – New York, NY

2002 Bob Preiss – Phoenix, AZ



2018 Joel Torgeson

I’m deeply honored to receive the Bob Preiss Social Dance Award at Swing Diego 2018! This is incredibly meaningful to me, as social dancing is what I base my swing world around. I stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before me (just look at the list!), and I’m deeply thankful to the Swing Diego event organizers for putting together such an excellent weekend.
So many people have shared their time, talent, and love for the dance with me over the years, I can’t help but feel the need to do the same with every new person I meet on the dance floor. The fact that two virtual strangers can spend 3 minutes together co-creating art is pretty amazing, and I’m thankful for everyone who lent me their time this past weekend so that we could enjoy movement together!

2016 Mike Carringer

I am incredibly honored to have received the Bob Preiss award at Swing Diego 2016. Swing Diego was my first event ever back in 2012 and I fell in love with West Coast Swing from the moment I entered this amazing ballroom.
I love the energy that the swing community has throughout all of the competitions in the afternoon, and all the way through the late night dancing. That energy at SwingDiego is palpable and needs to be shared with everyone!
I pride myself in being known as a social dancer in our community. Being able to dance until the early hours of the morning is something I love doing and wish I could do daily.
Thank you everyone who stayed and danced with me until the bright hours of the morning! Continue spreading the joy of dance! Save me more dances next year!

2015 – Fernanda Dubiel

I feel really honored and so happy to receive this prize!  Swing Diego is the best weekend of the year!!! I love this event, people are awesome, so kind and the energy and social dance is just incredible!!

I’m 15 years old and I’m Brazilian. I started to dance ballroom when I was 7 and since than, I’ve known this would be the passion of my life!

I’ve had my first wcs class with Jordan Frisbee and Tatiana Mollmann when they were in Brazil, I was 10 years old and it was awesome weekend! They got me so in love that in the next day I was already taking an English course only to be able to speak with them!

I can’t explain how WCS changed my life, how it continues to change my life! WCS gave me the opportunity to grow up, to travel and to meet new lovely people! And yes, it’s not only a dance, it’s something that gets into your heart, and once it’s there, you can not let it go!

My dream is to be able to share this feeling around the world, on every single dance to every single person!  I’ll be waiting for you in Swing Diego right on the dance floor! yay! With Brazilians.

2014 – Kristen Humphrey

The opportunity to create art on the dance floor with each and every lead is one of my favorite parts of West Coast Swing. I love social dancing until the sun comes back up! I was so honored to win the Bob Preiss Social Dance Award for 2014.

Ive been dancing west coast swing for almost 5 years, traveling all over the world to dance, compete and teach, and Swing Diego is my favorite event for social dancing… Its impossible to leave the ballroom.

Thank you to everyone who shared a song dancing with me! 

Cant wait until the next time!

2013 – John Piper

I am so honored to be the 2013 recipient of the Bob Priess Social Dancer Award.Thank you to everyone involved with making Swing Diego happen. Your commitment to our community and to appreciating the never say no attitude of people like Bob Priess is a great example to us all.

This award has been the most validating acknowledgement of what I value most in this community: the relationships we share with each other. It is amazing how much better we can all make the world through something as simple as social dancing.

In the west coast swing community we get to meet and dance with so many different people from all over the world. In each of these dances we share a joyous experience where we create together and love each other. The positivity that comes from that exchange gives people the energy to go home and spread that positivity further. This cycle can be such a powerful agent for good in the world and is what makes our dance scene and our relationships so special.

So get out on the dance floor and love each other.

2012 – PJ Turner

I consider myself a good ol’ southern boy from the home of the UT Vols, Knoxville, TN. I started line dancing when I was 12, then learned how to country dance when I was 14. Learned WCS and that was all she wrote!!!!  2012 was my first time back to Swing Diego in 7 years.  I have traveled to many swing comps in the country, with my main purpose to social dance.  One of the most appealing things to me about WCS is the social aspect.  Meeting people from all over the country and the world is absolutely amazing!  Swing Diego is the world’s largest and busiest social floor on the circuit!! Dancing all night and into the early morning with dancers from all over the world – it never gets old!!  Last Year at Swing Diego was the 1st time I have ever traveled by myself to a Dance event! I had always traveled at least with a couple friends to every comp. Let me tell you it was a whole new AMAZING experience!! I truly enjoy everything about this dance and dance community!! It was such an honor to receive this award!! It is one of the most prestigious award on the circuit you can get!!! There is one secret that I have that I would like to share with all you leaders: Always make her Smile! This is my social dance formula, and it hasn’t let me down yet!!!!!!!

2011 – Jasmine Williams

2010 – Céline Sully

I was so excited I couldn’t stay still, I dance all night long until 9 AM !! I couldn’t believe that my feet would do that !!! ;o)

I dance salsa, samba de gafieira, but WCS is really different. I met a lot of very nice people, and I’d like to thank every single man I shared a dance with. It was great.

You can’t imagine my surprise when I heard my name for the Bob Preiss Social Award. I am so proud and I want to thank you all, I think it’s the best award ever ;o) I can’t imagine receiving anything better.

See you at Swing Diego 2011 : I won’t miss it ;o)

2009 – Anna Balcom

Swing Diego 2009 was my first American WCS event and it was fantastic, I danced my little feet off and was stunned to accept the social dancing award.

I’d like to thank every single person who introduced themselves, grabbed me for a dance and made me and my Aussie/British/South African friends feel welcome. For those of you I missed I was the short, smiley, blonde haired 31 year old Australian currently living in London where I’ve been fortunate enough to be introduced to West Coast Swing and the wonderful thriving Community here. In the past I’ve enjoyed Club Dancing, Salsa, Latin Ballroom and Modern Jive, but west coast swing has really captured my heart.

You can imagine the effect this incredible experience has had on my dancing, it was nothing short of inspirational! Add to this the huge honor and slight embarrassment (I was wearing a T-Shirt that said ‘I’m not short I’m fun sized’ !!) of winning the social dancing award and you can see why I’ll be heading back year after year! I think the event would be pretty hard to top so hope to see y’all there in 2010 for a dance!

2008 – Wendy Miller

This is my VERY favorite award! West Coast Swing is a social dance first and foremost. Yes I compete, (though I consider it performance) because I like to dress up and show off. Besides, a little adrenaline is good for you now and then. But when Scott and I choose a convention to attend, its all about the social dancing. Swing Diego understands that. It’s gotten much bigger since I first started attending in 2002, and the level of competition is very high, but the best part (for me) is still the social dancing.

Over the years, this community has become my extended family. The best events are like a big family reunion. What we really want is to spend time together. I love that at Swing Diego, EVERYTHING is in the main ballroom: the vendors, the bar, the COUCHES! a little practice floor, a video screen so you can easily keep track of what’s going on. It makes it easy to find people and spend time with them on and off the dance floor. It makes it so much more…you know, social! The fact that there is actually a social dance award really drives the point home. Scott and I have been to every Swing Diego reunion since 2002 and we’re not planning to stop!

2007 – Ben Morris

Born in Kirkland, Washington, Ben Morris began swing dancing at the age of 12 after moving to Denver, Colorado. He now lives in Orange, California, and is a graduate from UCLA with a degree is Business Economics and Accounting. Ben began teaching in 2003, and now travels all over California, as well as nationally and internationally, to teach, compete, judge, and perform.

Social dancing is what West Coast Swing is about…and it doesn’t get any better than it does at Swing Diego. Earl and Parker make sure everyone, pro or beginner, has a great time. Just don’t plan on sleeping much.

2006 – Will Shaver

My first introduction to partner dancing was a high school chemistry class. The teacher used the box waltz to illustrate atoms binding and separating as we traded partners and clumsiled around the room. I’ve been hooked ever since, dancing Ballroom, Latin, West Coast Swing, and most recently Blues.

Partner dancing is best done with other people. So come to San Diego and dance until sunrise, see you on the dance floor!

2005 – Justin Tobias

Justin learned to dance the Carolina Shag when he moved to Charleston, South Carolina to attend college. After a few years, he went to his first USA Grand Nationals event in Atlanta and was introduced to west coast swing. With new inspiration, he began traveling to swing events, including Swing Diego, across the country. He later moved to Boston and enjoyed the great west coast community and social dance scene there.

Justin attends Swing Diego every year and appreciates the continuing efforts of the event organizers to enhance the event. It has always offered an atmosphere that attracts and supports great social dancing. The event is held in a beautiful city that is a pleasure to visit from the east coast. Justin has the added benefit of getting to visit his brother and sister-in-law as well as other friends. Finally, for those interested, Justin enjoys walks on the beach, candlelight, and good slow dancing.

2004 – Paul & Melinda Booth

What a great honor it is to receive this award! Swing Diego has always been one of our favorite conventions.
We started dancing west coast swing in 1995, started competing in 1997. Conventions always provide the best social dancing, and Swing Diego is one of the very best conventions for social dance. We discovered this when we bought the first table at SD1 in 2002!

Since then we have both become certified teachers, certified judges and Paul is a Global Swing DJ. For the last six years we have held a weekly dance in Kirkland, Washington, at which we aim to provide the best social dancing available outside a convention! We hold Swing Diego up as model which we strive to emulate every week.

Every dancer on the floor is an interesting person, regardless of level of dance. Remembering this can enhance every dance you enjoy, whether you are with a pro or a beginner. The interpersonal experience that west coast swing provides is intense . every song is a chance to thrill your partner. Try making that your challenge . it is very rewarding!

2003 – Libbat Shaham

I love dancing, and as I was starting out, I loved it so much that I would just go up to people and ask them to dance. I think I asked pretty much everyone to dance that I can think of. How amazing it felt! Each person brought something to the dance or had something special to connect to. Even as a frank beginner, I felt I had something to give too, which is partly what gave me courage to approach others.

I’m honored to have received the Bob Preiss Social Dance Award. And in fact, it’s not only me who received the honor, but the whole community: a community whose openness to go out and dance with folks tall or new or old or bent over, whose willingness to have a great time dancing no matter what – this is what makes such an award possible. Swing Diego is a special event to me, because there is so much emphasis placed on social dancing, on making competitions warm and fun, and on adding special touches to give dancers a great event. What better place is there to make the Social Dance Award one of its highlights?

I hope this award will inspire people to forget about how good their own dancing is, and to just have a good time dancing with others! To me, the most compelling West Coast competitions are still those jack-and-jills that are about partnership, creativity, being in the moment, and joy. I wish many more such moments for all of us in the future.