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The Northwest Balboa Festival is back for its fifth year! Who thought we'd make it a whole half-decade? But here 2019 is, and our shoes are still slick, our steps still shufflin', and our music is still hot. This year's Northwest Balboa Festival will bring the best of what the Pacific Northwest's dance community has to offer.

Since its start, Northwest Balboa Festival has been about building community and making everyone feel welcome. This has been the underlying driver for every decision we make. We didn’t set out to create the largest event possible, nor did we set out to pack as many classes as possible into one weekend. This event has always been shaped and built by many members of our Seattle scene to provide a warm environment that encourages meeting new people and growing our regional dance scene in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Further, as our dance community at large evolves and grows, it is clear that we have entered a period in which consent violation and lack of personal safety have become problematic. With increasing awareness of these issues, we strive to provide a safe environment where we can all share this dance that we love. If you experience any such problems at the Northwest Balboa Festival, please do not hesitate to come talk to any one of us.

The Code of Conduct for the Northwest Balboa Festival can be viewed at the bottom of this page.

We feel so blessed that you have chosen to spend your time with us, sharing this dance that we love. Let's make 2019 the best Northwest Balboa Festival yet!

Full Pass

  • Regular - $105 ( Until March 15 )
  • Late Registration - $115

Beginners Pass

  • Regular - $85 ( Until March 15 )
  • Late Registration - $95

Student Pass

  • Must provide Student ID at check-in
  • Regular - $85 ( Until March 15 )
  • Late Registration - $95


  • Beginners
  • This track is for the aspiring Balboa dancer! If you're just getting familiar with your step-step-hold-steps, or you've just put on some dance shoes for the very first time, this is the track for you. We'll start with the absolute basics, and move quickly to get you shuffling your way across the floor. If you've already danced a little bit of Balboa but are still feeling a bit uneasy about dancing socially, come to this track and brush up on your fundamentals! We'll get you lolly-kicking like a pro.
  • The Beginner track is priced to encourage new and continuing dancers to enter the world of Balboa. To create the best learning environment, this track is limited to 10 leaders and 10 followers.
  • Learner
  • For those who are getting more comfortable with Balboa, but would like to review and refine their technique. You may already know how to out-and-in and swivel, but sometimes need some help nailing the moves. You're probably confortable with a couple different stylings, but would like to learn how to add your own personal flavor. This track is appriopriate for those with significant other dance experience, especially Lindy Hop.
  • Improver
  • This track is geared for dancers who are very comfortable with Balboa and Bal-Swing. You may be "that person that dances Balboa" in your local community. You can probably name a couple of the Old Timer Balboa dancers, do a Maxie Slide, and may have even traveled to an event just for Balboa. Classes will emphasize on refining technique, adding moves, playing with rhythm, and exploring musicality.
  • Perfecter
  • This is the track for those who are in a committed long-term relationship with Balboa. You're easy to connect with on the dance floor, and can likely both lead and follow. Some might describe your Pure Bal as "dreamy". You've probably competed at a couple different events, and may have even taught locally. Dancers in this track should be extremely comfortable with Balboa and Bal-Swing, with a strong interest in perfecting technique, musicality, and aesthetics.
  • Dancers interested in the Perfecters track should register for Improver and inquire further during registration. Perfecter track students are welcome to take classes in other tracks as long as it does not upset class balance.


  • Pro-Am Competition - $20
  • Ever thought about competing, but never pulled the trigger? Like the idea of dancing in a contest, but struggled finding a partner? This contest is for you!

  • Competitors sign up individually as a lead or a follow, and will be paired with a dancer from the Perfecter Track. Competitors will dance in heats, changing partners a minimum of 3 times. Only Amateur dancers will be judged.

  • This competition is meant for those who are new to competition, and may have never competed before. Dancers who have finaled in a Balboa competition may not compete.

  • Sunday Strictly - Free

  • Open to anybody!
  • This competition is for those who enjoy the element of surprise. As in, we can't tell you what it is! But we're certain you'll have a grand time, so grab a partner and join us for this free competition!



Evening Dance: Greenwood Masonic Lodge

  • 9pm-12am
  • Check in and Registration opens at 830pm
  • Invitational Competition at 11pm
  • $15 Cover for non-pass holders


Class Schedule TBD

  • Absolute Beginners
  • 12pm-2pm
  • Lowdown Ballroom
  • Learners
  • 12pm-2pm
  • Side Room at RCC
  • Improvers
  • 12pm-2pm
  • Main Hall at RCC
  • Perfecters
  • 3pm-5pm
  • Side Room at RCC

Guided Practice: Russian Community Center

  • 2pm-4pm
  • $2 Cover for non-pass holders

Evening Dance: Russian Community Center

  • 830pm-1230am
  • Live Music with Greg Ruby!
  • Pro-Am Competition at 1030pm
  • $20 Cover for non-pass holders


Class Schedule TBD

  • Absolute Beginners
  • 11am-1pm
  • Lowdown Ballroom
  • Learners
  • 11am-1pm
  • Side Room at RCC
  • Improvers
  • 11am-1pm
  • Main Hall at RCC
  • Perfecters
  • 1pm-2pm
  • Side Room at RCC

Afternoon Dance

  • 3pm-545pm
  • China Harbor
  • Competition at 415pm
  • $5 Suggested Donation

Evening Dance: Century Ballroom

  • 930pm-1230am
  • Not Included with Weekend Pass
  • $9 Cover


7910 Greenwood Ave N
704 19th Avenue East
628 11th Avenue East


Heather Ballew and Javier Johnson

Denver, CO and Hartford, CT

Heather and Javi

Heather Ballew hails from the lovely, landlocked city of Denver where majestic mountains tower over the skyline, sunny days are plentiful, and the name "Mile High City" has many connotations. As a participant of the 1990's swing renaissance, Heather Ballew swears she learned everything the wrong way first and has had to relearn and refine every bit of her dancing multiple times over the years. Because of this, she is keenly aware of what works and what doesn’t on the social floor. In the classroom, she strives to help her students gain confidence and realize their full potential as social or competition dancers but her biggest goal is to open up new avenues for creativity and communication within the partnership. She loves dancing with people of all levels and she is known for her connection, footwork and playfulness. She can be found teaching around the United States and abroad, talking passionately about scene-building, and starting zany and sometimes thoughtful Facebook discussions

Javier is a rocket scientist by trade, and he brings a powerful analytical sense which joins the mechanics of dance and the soul of expression. He is well versed in all the swing dances, but specializes in Balboa and soul. As an international swing dance instructor, he’s traveled around the world sharing his joy of teaching and his passion for jazz dances. He was the founding member of Lindy Circle (now Hartford Underground) back in 2007. He wanted to create a space where folks could get down and have some serious fun.

Jennifer Reed and Matt Mitchell

Austin, TX

Jennifer learned her first rock steps a long, long time ago from Valerie Salstrom and Joel Plys in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. After a foray into West Coast Swing and sparkly clothes, Jennifer returned to Balboa and Lindy Hop and began dancing competitively in 2010. Her most recent achievement is winning the Open Couples contest at Music City Shuffle with her husband Matt. When she's not traveling to events, teaching Balboa classes in Austin, or coaching the Capitol City Feetwarmers (Matt and Jen's dance team), you can find her writing technical documentation for Apple and researching pickups for her fantasy football team.

Since 1998, Matt has been honing his dance skills; starting with East Coast, he quickly moved into Lindy Hop and other Swing-era dances--with a very short detour into Ballroom. He's studied with top Lindy Hop and Balboa contemporaries as well being influenced by the original greats (Frankie Manning, Dean Collins, Maxie Dorf and Willy Desatoff). From 2007 through 2011, he was one of the lead instructors for Get Hep Swing (assisting the incomparable Valerie Salstrom) and helped choreograph Hustle and award winning Swing routines. He strives to bring solid fundamentals and just-the-right amount of connection to Lindy Hop and Balboa, while creating room for musicality and playfulness. In 2011, he relocated to his home town of Austin where he's enjoyed teaching Lindy Hop and Balboa for Four on the Floor, and is a contributing instructor for BalAustin. He's happy to be wrangling the talented group of DJs Austin is lucky enough to have at the Swing Syndicate.

Nationally and internationally, Matt has been an instructor at Boogie By The Bay, the Eastern Balboa Championships, Dance Renaissance, and the Canadian Balboa Championships. He competes regularly in Balboa, consistently making the finals and has several placements at ABW, EBC, Canadian Balboa Championships, ILHC, California Balboa Championships, Music City Shuffle, Empire City Swings, and Camp Hollywood.

He was also a stand-in for Kevin Bacon in Footloose. In his free time, he enjoys woodworking and coaching the Capitol City Feetwarmers with his wife Jen Reed.

Angie Weddell and Matthew Lam

Vancouver, B.C.


Angie and Matt both live in the Rain City of America's Hat. While originally from the USA, Angie went on vacation to Canada and for some reason never left. Matt hails from Surrey, for which there is no excuse.

By day, they both work as engineers. By night, they sit on the board of the Vancouver Swing Society, a non-profit organization that hosted the Balboa Mini-Fest — one of the original inspirations for this event. Showcasing fun, musical, and technical dancing, Angie and Matt are sure to bring a good time.


Greg Ruby Band


Composer and guitarist Greg Ruby is a distinctive voice in the Hot Club jazz tradition. His 2010 CD, Look Both Ways, celebrated the 100th birthday of gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt with 12 original compositions, and reached #1 on the Roots Music Review’s jazz chart. His compositions have appeared in both television and documentaries including NBC’s Parks and Recreation. As a former member of the group, Pearl Django, Greg spent five years performing and touring throughout the United States, Canada and Europe and appeared with the group at the prestigious Django Reinhardt Festival in Samois sur Seine, France. As founding member of the hot jazz string band, Hot Club Sandwich, Greg can be heard on all four of the band’s recordings and produced their 2010 release, And If Only, featuring legendary vocalist Dan Hicks. In 2014, he received an funding from King County’s 4Culture to create and record new work for a prohibition era Jazz dance band. The project was debuted at Seattle’s historic Washington Hall during the 2014 Seattle Lindy Exchange. Currently, he leads his own group The Greg Ruby Quintet, collaborates with New York and New Orleans musicians on a project called The Rhythm Runners, and performs European cafe jazz with the Bric-a-brac Musette Trio.

DJ Travis Whetman

Travis DJ

Travis fell in love with swing music early in his dancing life and has been collecting it ever since. A regular Seattle DJ since 2003, Travis focuses on swing music from the 1930s and 1940s and is comfortable playing songs for many styles of dance. Travis currently holds Head DJ roles at Northwest Balboa Festival, Camp Jitterbug, Balast Off, Rocky Mountain Balboa Blowout, and now All Balboa Weekend!!


Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)

The only airport in the area is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. From SeaTac, there is a Sound Transit Light Rail which runs approximately every 10 minutes, with a fare of $3. Don't forget to buy your ticket before you get on the platform! With a new station on Capitol Hill, you can get within 5 blocks of our classes venue with just one ride!


Once you have arrived in Seattle, there are many options for getting around town. If you choose to take public transit, King County Metro has excellent bus service around town. Their website also has a trip planner. One Bus Away is a must-have app, giving real-time and scheduled arrival information for busses in the Puget Sound Area. Alternatively, Lyft and Uber have strong ride-share presences in Seattle.

There's free street parking on Sunday; on Saturday there's a variety of paid lots nearby all of our venues. Pay attention to the posted signage, street parking is normally limited to 2 hours!


Airbnb has a strong presence in Seattle, with many different options throughout town. In past years, many dancers have successfully booked with them. You could even stay on a houseboat!

Code of Conduct

Hal and Marge Takier are nice, so we are nice.


Northwest Balboa Festival (NWBF) is an event that celebrates the joy of Balboa dancing, its heritage, music and history. The goal is to build, strengthen and enrich the Balboa community. It is open to all ages and promotes playfulness, growth, open-mindedness, creativity and a space where dancers are safe to express themselves.

Code of Conduct

Northwest Balboa Festival is dedicated to providing a safe and welcoming environment for everyone, regardless of race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, physical appearance, spiritual beliefs or any other factor. All attendees, instructors, organizers, and volunteers at NWBF are required to comply with the following code of conduct. We will not tolerate harassment in any form. This includes deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or video recording, sustained disruption of classes, inappropriate or unwanted physical contact, or unwelcome sexual attention. If anyone is found engaging in harassing behavior while at NWBF, the organizers will take appropriate action to address the situation. Anyone violating the code of conduct may be sanctioned or expelled from NWBF without a refund.

Help Make NWBF More Enjoyable

The following guidelines will help ensure the event is enjoyable for everyone.

Contact us for Assistance

If you are experiencing harassment, feel unsafe, or have any other concerns, please contact an event organizer immediately. We will be happy to help participants contact local law enforcement, provide an escort, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of the event.