Why Are No Longer Running a Vaccine Only Dance?

I recently announced that I was running a survey on whether or not to continue requiring vaccination for 5G (Now called Elevation WCS) .   We had 150 people fill out the survey and the results are conclusive.

Thank you to Judith Asem who helped me come up with the survey questions.

I’ll give the results in a second but I thought I’d just announce my decision now.

Effective April 23rd, we will no longer be requiring vaccination.

Everyone and anyone will be welcome to attend. We also will NOT be requiring masks, antibody tests, or that someone have prior Covid.

Note: If there is another covid surge, I may put restrictions in place or put the dance on hiatus.

In regards to the Ben Morris workshops in May ’22, we will put out another survey for the 70+ people who are pre-registered to see whether they’d like to keep the vaccination requirement in place. If we eliminate it, we’d offer refunds to anyone no longer comfortable attending.

My feelings on the matter are similar to Derek Newman (runs Westie Wednesday which no longer has a vax requirement): You’re more likely to die on the car ride to the dance then you are to die of Covid. And that everyone has had ample opportunity to get vaccinated and boosted if they choose to do so.

For those who are more comfortable dancing at a vaccine only dance, I would recommend the weekly Sunday dance at the Denver Turnverein and the weekly Thursday dance at the Avalon in Boulder.

The “Jonathan’s Free Late Night” next week (April 17) at the Turnverein will be vax only because the venue requires it.  Moving forward, the free late nights will be at Colorado Dancesport on 1st Friday’s.   The plan right now is to start the dance at 9pm and go until 1130pm or Midnight.

Without further adieu, here are the survey results for those interested in seeing them:

150 people had filled out the survey.

Approximately 20% wanted to keep the vax only requirement in place and 80% thought that everyone regardless of vaccination status should be allowed to dance.

Amongst the 80% in favor of allowing everyone, 76% thought that we should be dancing just like we did pre-covid (ie no masks, no antibody tests, etc).

42% of the vaccinated who hadn’t attended in the past 6 months indicated they’d attend if everyone regardless of vaccination status were allowed to attend. Note: Over the past year, I’ve gotten numerous emails from dancers who are vaccinated who would not attend because we were excluding their unvaccinated friends. Hopefully this is an indication that these people will start attending now that the vax requirement is being dropped.

In terms of who filled out the survey, 80% were vaccinated, 15% were unvaccinated but have had prior Covid, and 5% were unvaccinated with no prior Covid.

Why am I making this change?  People have had adequate time to get vaccinated and to obtain boosters.  Tests are also now readily available.  When you combine the people who are vaccinated with those who are unvaxed but with prior Covid (ie they have Covid antibodies), we’ve reached herd immunity in the state of Colorado.  The positivity rate is the lowest it’s been since June of 2021 and ICU beds are at 63% capacity across Colorado.  Because we’re at herd immunity, I feel like it’s a personal choice as to whether or not to get vaccinated/boosted.  

Derek Newman, who runs Westie Wednesday, recently decided to remove all Covid restrictions for his dance at the Mercury Cafe.  He made a post on Facebook that made a good case as to why they should be dropped and he backed it up with data from reliable sources that I trust.  I’ve included his research links below.  Here’s his post:

“We are tentatively planning on removing the COVID-19 vaccine requirement to attend our Wednesday night dances beginning in April. We will be monitoring COVID-19 cases (and particularly the BA.2 omicron sub-variant), and will most likely have to reinstate the vaccine requirement again during surges or drastic changes in the environment. Additionally, for those that do not feel comfortable attending dances without vaccine requirements, there are still other options in and around the Denver area (https://wcsmasterclass.com/west-coast-swing-denver/).
Below is a rationale for our approach and thought process. Two important caveats though: First, these are just the numbers that we are able to find (links provided). And secondly, we are not experts in public health policy, so there may be very important points and concepts we may be missing.
For the age group of 18-49 years old (you can look up data for your specific age group in the links below), the probability of death from COVID-19 in the US, if you are fully vaccinated and boosted is 0.014 deaths per 100,000 people per day (or 0.019 deaths per 100,000 people per day for fully vaccinated but unboosted). To put this in some sort of context, the probability of death from car accidents in the US is 0.032 deaths per 100,000 people per day. This approximately means the chance of someone dying from driving to the Mercury cafe to dance is more than double the chance of dying from contracting COVID-19 while at the Mercury Cafe. (For hospitalizations, car accidents are enormous with 1.91 hospitalizations per 100,000 people per day.) Additionally, the average rate of influenza deaths in the US per 100,000 people per day is about 0.028 (again double the above current COVID-19 death rate), of which we do not have any requirements to check for influenza vaccinations among attendees.
We understand that each individual will not necessarily fall into these “averages” (e.g. immunocompromised, or other comorbidities), may have to take special precautions due to living or interacting with high risk individuals, or have different personal risk tolerances. For those that fall into one of those exceptions, it is probably advisable to not attend large social dances regardless of vaccine requirements (of which many of those individuals in our community currently do not attend social dances due to those conditions).
We want to make sure that to the best of our abilities, we are taking a rational, intelligent approach to safety. It is likely we will again have to reinstate vaccine requirements when we have another surge in COVID-19 cases and the numbers are drastically different.


Original article from Spring of 2021.  Note: We are no longer requiring vaccination.  The info below is out of date.

Those who know me well know that I am one of the most inclusive WCS organizers in the community.

Through running Swingtime, workshop weekends, and free dances (Jonathan’s Late Night), I’ve always tried to bring dancers of all backgrounds together. This is regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, skill level, etc…. together under one roof to dance.

The public health situation has forced me, hopefully only temporarily, to run vaccine only dances.

This is for a few reasons which I’ll list below but here is the main one:
There are people who are fully vaccinated but not able to attend dances with a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated dancers.

Some examples: those who have kids at home under 12 who can’t get vaccinated yet (like me), those who are immunocompromised and may not have enough Covid antibodies despite being fully vaccinated (one of my friends falls under this), or they have high risk individuals living at home who can’t get vaccinated for one reason or another and they want to protect those people.

These folks were getting left behind which is why I started running these vaccine only options.

Throughout Covid, there have been lots of vaccine optional and mask optional dances available but no options for the group I mentioned above until a few weeks ago. It’s not fair to force those folks to dance in higher risk situations or tell them they can’t dance any more.

Here are some additional reasons why I’m doing vaccine only dances:

– By law, the state of Colorado still mandates that 6 feet of social distancing be maintained between unvaccinated individuals for mass indoor gatherings. I don’t see a conceivable way of doing partner dancing, which by it’s very nature is less than 6 feet apart, without violating that.

You can read the guidelines here: https://covid19.colorado.gov/indoor-events

– The CDC recommends the same thing as above. It’s not possible to follow their guidance without the event being 100% vaccine only.

You can read the CDC guidelines here:

– There are 5 to 6 dances which choose not to follow CDC and CO state guidelines on Covid. Those dances are already available to everyone. Vaccinated and unvaccinated. No masks required. I’ve got a list of them here.

Many of these dances have been running over the past year and a half.

The only group that didn’t have an option to dance are those who are only comfortable dancing with other vaccinated dancers. Those individuals have been waiting a year and a half to dance.

– We’ve got one of the top US epidemiologists in the WCS community. He’s the health advisor for the WSDC event Wild Wild Westie. He’s also stating that the only safe way to do large gatherings of social dancing is if it’s vaccine only.

You can read about Dorry’s recommendations in this Facebook group here:

– Kids at home who can’t get vaccinated yet (I have 3 under 12) are currently at high risk for Covid. Even vaccinated individuals (like me) can still bring it home and spread Covid to children. I would never forgive myself if I brought Covid home to one of my little ones and it killed them or caused a life long illness.

– There are those who have high risk individuals living at home with them who can’t get vaccinated for one reason or another and vaccinated individuals can still bring Covid home to them as well.

– The 70% herd immunity goal, which we’re not even close to at the moment, does not take into consideration high intensity partner dancing where we’re breathing all over each other. Doctors I’ve spoken to have estimated that you’d need herd immunity in the neighborhood of 95% (ie a room of 100 dancers where only 5 are unvaccinated) to be considered herd immunity.

The future of WCS in Colorado:

I’m hopeful that those with Covid antibodies, from being infected by Covid naturally, will help us reach herd immunity as I don’t see us reaching herd immunity with vaccines alone with how political it’s become.

Unfortunately, there isn’t yet peer reviewed research or double blind studies showing how long those individuals, who were naturally infected with covid, maintain Covid antibodies or how effective their immune response is to the virus.

In a nut shell, the situation sucks. I miss dancing with everyone regardless of whether their vaccinated. I just don’t see a safe path to do that at the moment. With that said, there are lots of options out there for dancers comfortable mixing with vaccinated and unvaccinated dancers.

Here’s a list of those dances which I put together (see link below). I’ve been helping promote all of these dances in Colorado get restarted regardless of whether or not I agree with what they’re doing.


Thanks for listening and reading my novel. I look forward to the day when I don’t even have to think about this anymore and we can all get under one roof again and dance together.

Jonathan Prichard
WCS Master Class

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top