The last roundup: Sundance Stompede's country dance weekend goes out with a bang

  • by David-Elijah Nahmod
  • Tuesday October 31, 2023
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A packed dance floor at a recent Sundance Stompede (photo: courtesy Sundance Saloon/Ingu Yun)
A packed dance floor at a recent Sundance Stompede (photo: courtesy Sundance Saloon/Ingu Yun)

Sundance Stompede, a popular country western dance celebration, returns to San Francisco from November 9-12. It's the Stompede's 27th year, and sadly, this year will be the last.

According to Ingu Yun, a co-founder and co-director of the Sundance Stompede, the event is now so large that it is no longer sustainable as an all-volunteer grassroots production. In addition, Yun pointed out that the organizers aren't as young as they once were.

Sundance Stompede co-founder and co-director Ingu Yun (photo: courtesy Sundance Saloon/Ingu Yun)  

"We'll still have our regular twice-weekly dance event, Sundance Saloon, to run," Yun said in an interview with the Bay Area Reporter. "Ending the Stompede will allow us to continue to make sure we have the resources to maintain the high quality of Sundance Saloon, which itself is an all volunteer non-profit project that takes a lot of time and energy all year round."

Yun and his colleagues wanted Sundance Stompede to go out with a bang, and judging by the schedule they've put together, it appears that it certainly will.

The Windy City Cowboys performed at the 2010 Sundance Stompede.  

The weekend actually begins a day early, on Thursday November 9 at Space 550, (550 Barneveld St.), with a kick-off dance that will begin with beginning and intermediate dance lessons from 6:45pm-8pm, followed by open country-western dancing until closing.

This will be followed by a Welcome Dance at the Golden Gate Holiday Inn (1500 Van Ness Ave.), the weekend's host hotel, on Friday Nov. 10 from 7pm-1am. The evening will include dance exhibition performances at 8:30pm, followed by three rooms of dancing.

On Saturday Nov. 11, from 7pm-11pm, attendees can party at Hoedown 2023, a gala benefit dance at the Regency Ballroom (1300 Van Ness Ave).

The final event, The Stompede Ball, promises to be the grandest of all, complete with a line dance marathon from 5pm-7pm, followed by open country-western dancing until 11pm. This happens at the Space 550. There will also be dance workshops and instruction throughout the weekend.

"If the Stompede was going to end, we wanted it to go out on a high note," said Yun. "It's something special we'll remember for the rest of our lives. And it looks like we'll succeed with this, with attendance over one and a half times what we had last year."

Those who attend Sundance Stompede will be doing more than just having a good time. They'll also be donating to a few good causes. Proceeds from the weekend will benefit the Positive Resource Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Trans Lifeline.

"The Sundance Association has raised over $460,000 for other non-profit organizations over the past 27 years, with the bulk of that coming from Stompede," Yun said.

Women at a Sundance Stompede in 2013. (photo: courtesy Sundance Saloon/Ingu Yun  

Yun spoke about why country western dancing is so popular in the LGBT community.

"It's a terrific way for folks to connect face-to-face in a way that doesn't happen in a regular bar or nightclub," he said. "That seems to be increasingly difficult to do in our society, with folks glued to the screens on their phones. There's something magical about holding someone in your arms and being swept across the dance floor to the music."

"It's a healthy way to go out and have fun, physically, mentally and emotionally," Yun continued. "And at least at Sundance Saloon there's a culture of welcoming and inclusiveness that you just don't find anywhere else, a place where everyone can feel they belong. I still find it amazing to look out onto the dance floor and see all ages, genders, races and ethnicities, and everyone mixing with each other so effortlessly. It's a real cross-section of our community and I think that appeals to many folks too."

And though this is the final Stompede, Yun doesn't expect the party to end on a somber note.

"If anything, I think it will lean towards highly celebratory," he said. "And a tribute to everything that led up to this moment."

Yun emphasized that their twice weekly event, the Sundance Saloon, will continue even after the Sundance Stompede takes its final bow. He's proud of the legacy that the Stompede leaves behind.

Men at a Sundance Saloon night in 2011 (photo: courtesy Sundance Saloon/Ingu Yun)  

"Over the decades I think the most important accomplishment of the Sundance Stompede was creating a global community," he said. "Each Stompede has felt like a reunion where this community comes back together and builds on itself. And while the Stompede will no longer serve that function, this amazing community it fostered will continue to live on, and that is really it's legacy in a nutshell."

"There are other country dance weekends around the country and hopefully and hopefully they will be able to carry on with the values of welcoming and inclusivity that have been so important to the Stompede," Yun added. "And if a new country western dance weekend emerges in San Francisco, I hope that it will also look to this aspect of the Stompede to further this legacy."

Sundance Stompede schedule:
Kick-off Dance, Nov. 9, 6:30pm, Space 550, 550 Barneveld Street, $15.
Welcome Dance, Nov. 10, 7pm, Golden Gateway Holiday Inn, 1500 Van Ness Ave, $40.
Hoedown 2023, Nov. 11, 7pm, Regency Ballroom, 1300 Van Ness Ave, $60.
Stompede Ball, Nov. 12, 5pm, Space 550, 550 Barneveld St., $15.
Dance instruction Fri. 10am-5pm, Sat. 9:30am-4:30pm, & Sun. 10am-4pm at Golden Gateway Holiday Inn, 1500 Van Ness Ave. $50 day pass for classes.

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