Making its start 15 years ago as a small event in the Palmdale Senior Center, the High Desert Dance Classic has blossomed into a national dance convention registered with the World Swing Dance Council and the Country Two Step Dance Tour event.

The annual event hosted by the USA Dance Antelope Valley Chapter takes place Friday through Sunday, at the Antelope Valley College gymnasium and cafeteria, 3041 West Avenue K, in Lancaster. The dance event will be held from 3 p.m. to midnight, Friday; 8 a.m. to midnight, Saturday; and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday.

“Our vision was to create a dance event that was affordable, with an excellent staff that reached dancers of all ages,” Event Director Lisa Sandoval said.

In addition, the event showcases the Dance Force Youth Ballroom Program, which features over 500 students in fourth grade through high school, competing in ballroom dance and representing their schools.

This unique dance event will be the 15th ballroom, Latin, West Coast swing, country two-step, bachata and salsa dance competition held in the Antelope Valley, with a wide variety of categories, including a cabaret, showcase division and Jack and Jill hustle.  

“We get close to 2,500 spectators throughout the weekend and have over 36 dance workshops for anyone of all levels to attend,” Sandoval said. “Each workshop is just $10 per class or day passes are available for $12, with children 10 and under free.”

Although a portion of the event is competition and performances, a large component of the weekend is the dance workshops from beginner to advanced levels, taught by U.S. Champions.

“We’re encouraging the community to come out and not only watch the event, but to participate,” Sandoval said. “No partner is needed for the workshops and the instructors will teach you everything you need to know.”

Friday evening will feature workshops from 3-6 p.m. and the finals of the sixth grade Dance Force Youth Ballroom Program  will be from 6-9 p.m.

Saturday morning events will feature dance workshops for all levels and finals of the fifth grade Dance Force Youth Ballroom Program from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

These fifth grade students have learned the foxtrot, East coast swing and the merengue and the sixth grade students have completed a 10-week dance program where they have learned rumba, East coast swing, foxtrot and merengue.

Sunday features additional dance workshops and the finals of the seventh-eighth grade and high school Dance Force Youth Ballroom Program by local school districts Kern, Palmdale, Lancaster and the AV Union High School District, with seventh through eighth grade and high school students who have been involved in a 10-week program, learning how to dance the Viennese waltz, East coast, cha cha and the bachata.

Sandoval said, with a total of 17 schools participating this year, it’ll prove to be their best year, yet.

“It’s a chance for them to come out and experience a different type of event — they get to dress up, compete and have fun,” she said. “They are learning more than just dance.”

For more information on this three-day event or to find the complete schedule, visit www.highdesertdanceclassic.com.

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