Robert “Tom” Mattox will long be remembered in the Swing community as a great teacher who loved to party. He introduced thousands of dancers to West Coast Swing during the 25 years he taught dance in Southern California. Many Swing dancers took their first class with him and a number of them later became champion dancers.

Tom started dancing at age twenty and soon became one of the most sought after young teachers in Southern California. He was one of Skippy Blair’s protégés. She once said, “Tom always stood out from the rest of my students because his sandaled feet were always in perfect foot position.” He was a “quick study” and soon became one of the few teachers (at that time) authorized and credentialed to teach Teacher Training seminars.

In his early dance years he paid his rent by competing in dance contests two to three times a night. Tom’s biggest win was $10,000 in an open statewide dance contest in the late 1970’s. Tom danced on T.V. in “Le Disco”, two of Dick Clark’s American Bandstand midnight specials, and was amazed at the fan mail he received from being on those shows.

Tom opened Sundance Studios in 1977 that, at its height, had 27 of the top local teachers and supplied most of the child dancers for the Merv Griffin Show. In 1984 he sold the studio and moved his classes into several nightclubs and the campus of Cerritos College. He then formed the Sundance Dance Club, a social dance club known for their “destination unknown” parties, where Tom would load 40-50 people into a bus and take them to a location known only by himself and the driver. You knew when Tom Mattox was in the room, for he was the ultimate “party animal.” Dancers who attended his events, cruises, and parties enjoyed his quick wit and antics. His Labor Day Swing Festival was always a hit.

In 1986 he held the first Country dance event in Southern California. The rules he wrote for that contest formed the Western States rules that were then used as the foundation of the contest rules that created the United Country Western Dance Council. Tom also played a significant part in introducing West Coast Swing to the Country Western Dance Community. Tom’s Sundance Dance Club was instrumental in producing the Buena Park and Palm Springs dance festivals that were sanctioned UCWDC events back in the 90’s.

In 1991 Tom met his sole mate, Julie Weiskircher, whom he later married. He passed away in December of 2002.

Awards & Accomplishments:
  • Member of the Golden State Dance Teachers Association (GSDTA)
  • Member of the National Teachers Association, N.T.A.
  • Member of Who’s Who
  • A charter member of the World Swing Dance Council who helped write their competition guidelines
  • 1986 – Produced the first Country Boogie Dance Festival
  • 1988 – Produced the first Sundance Summer Dance Festival
  • 1989 – Produced the first Labor Day Swing Dance Festival
  • 1992 – Choreographed “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” line dance for Arista Records
  • 1993 – Spirit of the Southwest Award – for single handedly bringing West Coast Swing to the County dancing circuit
  • 1994 – Feather Award Recipient – for the person with the most Country Western impact
  • 2001 – WSDC National Swing Dance Hall of Fame Inductee
Bio information provided by Julie Mattox Ward, Sonny Watson, & the website /officeucwdc/mattox.htm - Photos courtesy of Julie Mattox Ward & Steve Sexton