The West Coast Swing community has lost a treasure.
Lance Shermoen passed away Tuesday, February 4th, from a sudden unknown illness.
Goodbye dear Lance.
Thank you for your joy and love.
May you rest in peace.
“I am so very sad and stunned right now. Lance Shermoen … your bright smile and gentle soul will be so missed in our dance family. It was such a pleasure to dance with you and to be friends for so many years. You have left us with so many wonderful memories and your talent is forever etched in our minds … and preserved on DVD for those to come. You are now dancing up there with the angels that have gone before you. Say hello to my Bob (Robert), Kenny, Jack, Lynn and so many more. Dance on my friend … you were one of a kind! “
“You are the “Original Mr. Showcase!” You taught me so much on and off the dance floor. The way you always showcased your partner on the floor, and the way you always showcased your class off of it. You have left us with an amazing imprint of how to be a Man, Professional, Friend, and much more the details of your life and death will not be forgotten. “Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.” (Ernest Hemingway) Farewell Lance Shermoen, RIP”
“So I wake up in Europe to the sad news of the passing of my friend Lance Shermoen. It takes me back 32 years when I first got to meet you.
“We were on our way with a Latin dance team to compete at the World Championships. You were the elder statesman I was the young punk kid of the team.
“We called you “Lance Romance” because you were so damn good looking the girls all fell for you. Now looking back I don’t know if it was because of your looks, because you could dance, because you were so nice or all of the above. Back then, for me, was when you first gave to the world the gift of your passion for dance.
“At the time I really didn’t know you. I thought you were just another ballroom dancer like me. You hadn’t even won your first of many US Opens. You were just starting on your way to set the bar, to set the standard for all of us who would follow in your footsteps in competition, in performances and in the love and passion of dance especially West Coast Swing.
“We were on the bus going to the Championships with one of the German teams because we had the same coach. I remember how excited you were to show these kids this dance called West Coast Swing. You and Melody Cochrane dancing it. You would step into the row as she would side pass down the aisle. You did a Sugar Push and a Whip the same way. My first ever experience from someone who wasn’t doing ballroom swing. You planted this seed in my brain that day which I didn’t even realize until today when I started thinking back to those days, how much of an impact you had on me. We lost track after that for a short while.
“While I continued with Latin you went and took the West Coast Swing Dance world by storm. In ’85 I went to watch my first US Open. I saw you there we talked again. By now you were the King of the hill having won the first two Opens. You were still as humble and excited as when we first met. When I finally came into the West Coast Swing fold a few years later you greeted me with warmth and kindness. You may not know it but you continued to inspire to me to try and achieve just an ounce of your greatness. Not only in competition but in how you helped spread the dance and bring the same joy you got from it to the world.
“The world will never really know how many people you touched starting with that day in 1982. To all those that watched you at the US Open. To all the kids you used to toss around like beach balls on Lynn Vogen’s ” Bandstand” team. To all those who watched you in Invitational & Champion J&Js. To all those you unselfishly helped learning the dance or lifts, like me with the pinwheel lift which became my favorite lift in Showcase. To those you helped with your scoring, doing taxes. Everything you did you did with passion. You gave the world your biggest passion DANCE!
“Just know that today this is being paid forward in great part due to you and that young punk kid you met back in ’82. I’m just one of many who were influenced by the Great Lance Shermoen. Rest in peace my friend. Oh and don’t forget to say hi to Jack and Kenny and all the other dancers that have gone before us. You guys start the party without us we’ll be there eventually.”
“I’ve been thinking about Lance all day and I immediately thought about the very first time I met him.
“We were starting new routines at Lynn Vogen’s studio, and this was an especially exciting year. Lynn told us “I have a special treat for you girls, Lance has volunteered to come teach you all lifts and you’re going to perform “American Bandstand”with him in your next recital.”
“We all shrieked with excitement because we had only seen the routine in videos, but it looked like so much fun. And it was. He taught me how to fly. I will forever miss you and that sparkling smile. Thanks for teaching me how to fly, Lance “
“R.I.P. Lancer…you were one of the all time greatest in our community. I’m honored to have shared the stage with you, and I’m forever humbled by your example. A truer keeper of the dance does not exist. When I think of all the scoring rooms we’ve shared over the last 20 years, and the competition floors we shared for years before that…I’ll always think fondly of you and the friendship you freely gave everyone around you. I miss you already, my friend.”
“1991 Kenny Wetzel and I dared Lance Shermoen to see how many [propellers] he could do. A little while later, we jam and here comes Lance, the rest is history. A most amazing feat and I was fortunate enough to have a front row seat along with Kenny. So many wonderful memories Lance. Thanks for all of them.”
“I am completely empty. My dear friend Lance Shermoen is gone. He has been a huge part of my life for 29 year’s. He held me up in the air in his hand on the competition floor and on my wedding day, his incredible warmth, sense of humor and unlimited love for everyone made it so he also held my heart in his hand everywhere! Too soon, too soon, love to Lance ‘s family, friends and Mary Ann. Time to cry.
“Almost 5:30am and I just keep thinking about all the wonderful things about Lance. While I was just in LA we were supposed to get to together, it brought about a conversation with my son Ryan on how to “embrace” while dancing. I told him to pull up Lance and anybody he danced with on YouTube and just watch the way he held, looked at and admired each partner while still hitting his lines. Then I told Ryan about the time lances pants split, right down the back while dancing and well he wore undies but they were tiny tidy whities always the pro he finished the show. (someone else may remember the show, I remember he had on white pants and I believe that the routine was the Barry Manilow, jitterbug routine)
“Then there was the time we did gym for months because he wanted to be the oldest round off back hand spring dancer, and Debbie Ramsey just wanted to do a round off back hand spring like Lance! We both finally got it then couldn’t figure out how to use it in “Stuff like that there” Lance has it on video somewhere..
“He was the first person to call me when I was inducted into the hall of fame.
“We danced our Stuff Like That There routine at my wedding in 1995, in my full huge and heavy dress including the sit lift at the beginning and the butt slide at the end which caused my new husband Wesley much fun because at 2am that night he was using tweezers pulling splinters from my behind from the slide, made for a unique and often talked about honeymoon night!
“I have so many stories going through my head, I just want him here. He is smiling in every story, laughing, sometimes at me but almost always at himself.
“A sensitive man, we just shared a conversation a week after the open about some health issues my father is having and he offered me hope and the promise to get together and speak further, family is very important to Lance and as well to me and it was one of the things that tied us together as friends.
“Sorry for the rambling, but I am just realizing that I don’t have him anymore, but the other friends that I am tied to with the silly stories and moments that take a life time to make and what seems like a second to take away. Please, don’t just fb or Im, do like Lance and I, call. I got at least a couple calls from Lance each year, every year, and you that are special to me know who you are, so, call, some already do, I promise I l will always answer! I miss you all!”
Gary C. Johnson:
“Lance Shermoen was a unique lover of life. I was blessed to know him and he taught me more than how accounting is useful and challenging in this life. We talked of the exuberance of skiing in Aspen and the dance under the ocean just last summer. He taught me how to improve the dance. To embrace the dance with joyous lifts and drops, competetiveness with humility, sweeps and playing the breaks. Oh yes he was an amazing dancer. Yet more. Much more. To those close to Lance…we grieve together. Thank you Lance.”
“A flood of memories; a loss of words. Love you dear friend RIP”
“The passing of my friend Lance Shermoen is truly difficult for me to conceive… Here is a man, who at 66 years of age, still snow skied every winter, surfed and water skied in the summer, and as recently as 2 years ago ran competitively in a half marathon. The man was the picture of health and vitality. Let alone the fact that he was always in good spirits, supportive to new dancers, kind and generous with his time, and a pleasure to be around. Many people have been espousing his virtues today, and I don’t really need to continue. However, I do want to be sure that younger dancers are aware of the way Lance has touched their lives… If you’ve ever competed at Boogie by the Bay, Capital Swing Dance President’s Day Convention, Camp Hollywood, the US Open Swing Dance Championships, and many other Swing Competitions… You owe Lance a debt of gratitude. He was the scorekeeper for many events, and without his hard work, your hard work could never have gone recognized. His death will be felt acutely by many, but undoubtedly, everyone in the community will be affected in some way. Rest in peace my friend.”
“My heart hurts. We will all miss Lance Shermoen – such a wonderful example of humility and humor, expert and elegance , consideration and charity . His kind compassionate soul will live on forever. My prayers are with Mary Ann and his loved ones. Thank you Lance for giving so very much. You were a joy to be around!”
“Repose en paix Lance. Tu dances maintenant dans le ciel avec nos chers aimés.”
“It is with unbelievable grief and sadness that I inform you all of the passing of Lance Shermoen. Thank you all so much for your positive thoughts and prayers through these last two weeks. Lance is an amazing soul and his legacy will remain in the hearts of those who loved him forever. If you knew Lance dance one for him, if you didn’t. Look him up online, watch his amazing routines enjoy the life of a man who didn’t sit on the sidelines but lived life to its fullest with no regrets, and dance. Rest in Peace my friend you are loved. My heart hurts. I love you my friend.”
“I am so very sad and full of heartbreak hearing about the passing of a part of my dance family – Lance Shermoen. We have lost another great in the swing dance community. He was a gracious, classy, kind and decent man who always had a smile and kind word…he was so very talented and I will miss our talks. Rest in Peace and Dance like Hell”
“R.I.P Lance Shermoen. You were a giant in the swing dance community for more than 30 years. I learned so much from you about how to run fair competitions and how to keep an event on schedule. Boogie by the Bay wouldn’t be what it is today without you. My heart goes out to your family and friends, especially Mary Ann Mercer-Strafello.”
“A very, very sad day. Lance Shermoen is dancing with the angels. Sometimes some of our stronger, brighter lights go out. And they go out far too soon, often before their time. You fought a noble fight, Mister Lance. My heart goes out to those closest to him. Especially sweet Mary Ann Mercer-Strafello, who rarely left his side, Jack Smith, and Mary Ann Nunez. The three who most readily come to mind. The last I saw Lance was Monday morning after the US Open. After working tirelessly as scorekeeper for 5 days straight he was talking of scuba diving and skiing. Most people would head home and sleep for a week straight after working so hard. But not Lance. I’ll miss seeing Lance around, but I’m grateful there are so many videos out there that show the gift he shared with all of us. Rest In Peace.”
Jordan and Tat:
“RIP Lance. You were so much more than a champion to us. Growing up, he was larger than life…a superhero! Such a strong performer, yet a gentle human being with a kind heart. You gave us guidance, taught us what being a professional meant, and gave us the drive to be winners. We love you Lance. You will be missed!”
“I’m so devastated by the lost of someone who had such a HUGE IMPACT in my life. I just can’t believe this. ;-((( I just don’t understand this. The dance community has changed for me in such a big way in the last few years. Please anyone that got into this dance after Lance left the floor – take time to know what we have truly lost in the WC Swing world. Lance Shermoen you WILL BE MISSED MY FRIEND.”
“I’m so shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of my friend Lance Shermoen, a great man, fun, generous, always smiling, crazy intelligent, and strong. An amazing swing dancer who’s contribution to the swing World was incredible. I wish I could remember exactly when he started throwing me around. Lance, you were a great friend and dance partner, you will be missed very much. My heart goes out to Mary Ann Mercer-Strafello, one of the most gracious, friendliest, and selfless, ladies I have ever had the pleasure to know. RIP Lance.”
“One of my favorite things to do before I go to bed, is walk out on my deck and take a peek at the moon and the night sky. It’s always a humbling experience and truly makes me reflect on my day, my life, and what I am grateful for. Lance Shermoen, I am so grateful to have known you. Tonight, I looked at the night sky and saw that charming bright smile of yours shining through. Miss you lots. Rest in peace.”
“I’m overcome with grief. My dear friend Lance Shermoen passed away today. He was what I called a mid-timer, turned westie. He danced all dances exceptional well, he was a star. I’ve never had a night club two step that could rival him. More importantly, he was a fun and funny and kind and generous man. He was my friend and my ally. I loved dancing with him, Lindy hop, West coast, Balboa, night club, I always looked forward to spending half the dance night catching up with him in the judge’s room at events and we’d sneak out and dance in between his tabulations. I had so much fun practicing aerials with him, serious talent, and just zest for life. I’ll miss him dearly. My heart goes out to his family and dear friends. He had so much more life to live. I’m beyond grateful that I was his friend and got to enjoy his beautiful spirt. Mary Ann I am so very very sorry for your and all of our loss. Sending you much love.”
“We lost another true WCS Legend today. Lance lost his battle in the hospital tonight. Godspeed my friend! You will be missed.”
“Lance you will be missed. You were one of the first professionals to welcome me into this community and you made a lasting impression. You were always kind, full of life, considerate and ready to spread knowledge and guidance. I found this community to be a comforting home because of people like you. May your character continue to inspire us all daily.“
Francisco and Stacey:
“One of our favorite stories of Lance happened when he was late getting back to the ship on a cruise. On the dock, he paid a guy with a boat to let him water ski back to the ship. He got there just as they were closing the tender door. He jumped on the ramp, popped off the skiis and handed them back to the boat driver. That’s the Lance we all knew. That’s what makes this so hard to believe. Lance was a stud at everything he did: sports in college, skiing, aerials, dancing and even taxes. He’s left a hole in the dance community and it’s hard to get beyond the disbelief and shock. Loved you, Lance. Thank you for the 110% you gave of yourself to us, our family, and to so, so many whose lives you touched. With hurting hearts, Francisco and Stacey”
“OMG! I am seeing the sadness but i have not seen the latest news. I can’t believe it. NO!!!!! TEARS!!!! I love you Lance Shermoen!”
Marcia Gross Miller:
“So sad to hear that my dear friend Lance Shermoen passed away today. He was one of the GREATS in the swing dance community. He was a star athlete in almost every sport. He told me that he looked at dancing as a sport too. One year he even went to the shag convention and started learning the dance only 2 months before the competition. RIP Lance. The dance world mourns your loss.”
Blake Hobby Dowling:
“I feel so blessed to have known and danced with Lance Shermoen. A true gentleman. A good man. A wonderful dancer. My heart and prayers go out to his family, his friends, his dance partners, and the many who he has inspired and touched over the years. You will be greatly missed.”
“The dance world and the world at large lost a beautiful and talented man today. My friend Lance Shermoen passed away today and I just can’t imagine the world without his beautiful smile and charming, uplifting, childlike, bigger than life personality. He was pure sunshine and when you were in his presence the warmth of him enveloped you like a giant bear hug. I will always love you Lance, and I pray you’re teaching everybody to dance in heaven today.”
“May you dance with the angels and blast down the heavenly slopes on your hot skis. Lance, working with you has been the ultimate honor. You are already sorely missed. Please know we have the beautiful Mary Ann Mercer’s back.”
Deborah S Székely:
“The swing community has lost another Great. Lance Shermoen RIP my friend spread your wings and become the Angel you are meant to be. My thoughts and prayers go out to Mary Ann Mercer-Strafello and Lance’s Family. There are never the right words for times like this. You will be missed. I am almost positive you, Kenny Wetzel, Jack Carey and so many others that we’ve lost in the past 6 years are all having a party. LOVE YOU! Superstar. You were a great soul. Life is fleeting people. Love fiercely, be kind, forgive and enjoy your time.”
Tyoni Busch Martin:
“This is so heartbreaking. This just shouldn’t have happened. The dance community, his family and friends are in a state of shock. We were all blessed to have known him and he will be so greatly missed. He has joined a host of dance friends and I bet they are having a party. Thank you Lance for everything you were to so many of us. Rest In Peace.”
“We lost a member of the DanceFun family yesterday. “DanceLance” – Lance Shermoen . I first met Lance in 1994 and knew him as an exceptional gentleman and legendary swing dancer with a heart of gold. We always had small moments of levity through the years at many swing competitions. I cruised with Lance in Australia for the 2007 DanceFun swing & country sailing and learned much more about him…such as his love of life and the thrills it would give if you took a chance to attempt them. It was because of that cruise along with Lance’s suggestion, John and Anita took a chance on hiring me as the musical entertainment provider for the Panama canal cruise. I always thought I would get a chance to cruise with Lance again in this life, guess I’ll have to wait for the sunset sailing now. R.I.P. my friend”
LeAnn Best Norris:
“Absolutely heartbroken by the loss of this sweet man. I still have no words.”
Lance and Debbie Ramsey, Grand Nationals 1995:
Lance and Maryann, US Open 1983:
Lance and Michele French, 1997 Worlds:
Lance and The Dean Collins Lindy Hoppers 1983:
Lance and Sharlot, Dallas 1991 :
Lance and Mary Ann Nunez, “Dance Fever” 1985:
Lance and Michele French, Feather Awards 1993:
Lance and Mary Ann Mercer 2013 “Scuba Swing Dancing” in Hawaii:
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