Line Dance Connection:

What is the UC Star Awards??

Union Crew:

Each January, the UC Awards event recognizes and honors the previous year’s greatest line dance achievements, as determined by members of the line dance community. Members use a specific online regional ballot to indicate their selections in various categories.  These ballots are then tabulated via an online process and reviewed by auditors comprised of a committee of UC members as well as local business professionals to deter any unethical practices. The auditors maintain absolute secrecy until the moment the event’s presenters open the envelopes and reveal the recipients at the UC Star Awards Gala.


Awards are presented for outstanding individual and collective efforts in 5 primary and several minor categories. In addition to the regular annual awards conferred by the line dance community, the Union Crew is empowered to bestow Special Achievement Awards; for example, the Humanitarian Award, and the highest being the Lifetime Achievement Award.


This event, which was first a single night event, has expanded into a weekend event offering a Friday night Meet & Greet, beginners and advanced workshops, talk show, Instructors Forum, Man Cave, shirt cutting workshop, and more.



Line Dance Connection:

Why did you start the UC Star Awards?

Union Crew:

When the Union Crew first organized, we envisioned ourselves as an organization which would perpetuate line dancing as a cultural art form by hosting events, that would, in turn, allow others to experience the health benefits, social ties, and enthusiasm we were experiencing.   For us, a genuine connection and appreciation for line dancing had been established.   It was the suggestion of our visionary and president, Mike Womack, that we recognize and award those individuals and groups who were developing this experience into a much sought after and accessible practice, in addition to creating a platform on which others could also express their appreciation.   When this award show idea was first presented to some of the line dance community, we were confronted with much opposition. It was said that we were putting people against each other and were creating bad vibes. We chose to follow our hearts and vision. We went through with the UC Star Awards, because we felt that the community deserved to be recognized for their talents.  This was also an effort to generate a universal acceptance of line dancing, and; therefore, help to improve the lives of all who become actively engaged. 



Line Dance Connection:

When was the very first UC Star Awards event held and what were the initial categories?

Union Crew:

The first UC Star Awards was held in 2008 at the Forum Caterers with 200 attendees.  We started out with paper ballots. We used a “hands on” approach which was actually better; because it was very easy to maintain fairness. Awards were presented for outstanding individual and collective efforts in five primary categories, which included: 

·         Stepologist of  the Year

·         Instructor of the Year

·         Maryland Dance of the Year

·         Choreographer of the Year

·         Overall Dance of the Year


In addition to the primary annual awards, the Union Crew bestowed additional awards and honors as well; for example, the Dynamic Duo Award, No Sweat, Turbo Man, Turbo Woman and The Lifetime Achievement Award.



Line Dance Connection:

What has been your biggest accomplishment with the UC Star Awards?

Union Crew:

First and foremost, our greatest accomplishment has been to set a goal and achieve it with broader outcomes than originally proposed that include:

·        Affording us the opportunity to bestow scholarships to high school/college and/or students who’ve desired to continue or expand their dance experiences.   

·        Facilitating a professional forum, which is an initiative that generates discussions focusing on issues such as improving community outreach and leadership? (Maryland’s State Comptroller was our 2014 guest speaker who spoke on LLC licensing processes and procedures.)

·        Creating a weekend format that is becoming widespread in bringing attendees from all regions in the United States. As a result, we’ve gained regional coordinators who help to advance our cause by overseeing the acquisition of regional area information. 

·        Hosting a talk show, which include prominent guests who provide answers to questions that have influenced some individuals to become choreographers and instructors.

·        Being of interest to a local newspaper, The Afro American.  The 2014 UC Star Awards was the focus of a local newspaper’s entertainment section, having a lengthy article written regarding our event. In 2013, we had a representative from BET. In past UC Awards show we have had recording artists Maysa Leak, Plunky and Shadina perform.



Line Dance Connection:

What has been your biggest challenge with the UC Star Awards??

Union Crew:

A.)  As with all voting processes, processes have been formulated to alleviate the improper manipulating of voting outcomes.  These include: 

1.      including external witnesses to assist in tallying and validating the outcomes,

2.      incorporating a members voting committee to manage the voting process, and 

3.      reviewing and sealing the winner’s envelope to avoid tampering once the winners are known.

Although the Union Crew members aggressively monitor Award voting and have issued a directive regarding limiting voting to one ballot-one vote, we realize other measures must be put in place to ensure the integrity of the voting process and we are making changes to the voting process for the upcoming voting period to prevent ballot stuffing and/or fraudulent voting. We want to insure that the nominees and award recipients are fair. 


B.)  The Union Crew is an organization comprised of 12 members.  As our events grow, so does our need for volunteer assistance. Several volunteers were recruited, who assisted with registration, monitoring doors, answering question, etc.  Our volunteers worked tirelessly and are rewarded for their services.  We could not have done it without them.  This year the challenge is ahead of us once again.



Line Dance Connection:

Are there any changes planned for 2015 that you can share?

Union Crew:

For our upcoming event, we are currently making changes in the voting process, the program’s format, the entertainment and the number of external activities being offered to our attendees. 



Line Dance Connection:

7. What’s the biggest misconception about the UC Star Awards?

Union Crew:

It has been speculated that the UC Star Awards weekend event brings in a large profit that its members share in some way.  Of course, this is not so.  Monies derived from this event and any others that we have during the year are pooled into making the UC Star Awards weekend a success.  As overall US economic budget increases, so does our budget.  It takes various funding sources to meet the weekend’s budget expenses.


We have also heard the misconception that this is a money making business and we would not be having this event, if we were not making money. This event is a tremendous undertaking. It’s a lot of work and it takes countless hours to plan.  It’s all for the love of the art of line dancing and the people who keep this healthy addiction going. If we did not appreciate the art and love the people who contribute to the art, we would not put ourselves through all the work and hurdles that come with trying to please the line dance community. However, the positives far exceed any negativity. We just want to pass it forward by giving to the line dance community.


Another common misconception is that everyone who attends gets an award. There were several awards that were accepted on be hath of others.  We have in the past, personally delivered some of the awards to people who did not attend.



Line Dance Connection:

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Union Crew:

In spite of all the challenges and extreme courses of action hosting this event might bring, we would not trade hosting it for the world. Our patience has increased.  When there is a problem, we now look at the positive before we even consider the negative, understanding that problems are only temporary.  This venture has also made us realize keeping a level head in any situation will make a positive difference.


There has been some concerned express in reference to the quantity of minor awards we give. We personally feel that you can never give too much; however, we are trying to change the way they are presented to enhance our awards show. The minor awards are just as important to us as the major awards. These are unique and sometimes funny awards given to people who may never receive an award but yet they contribute to the community. These are people who may not teach or choreograph but they have positive impact and are a part of our line dance community. This is the time for someone to shine who may not always be in the lime light but are just as important as those who are in the lime light. This is an award show for everyone in the line dance community not just the nominees.   


This event is not a competition. This event is given from the heart and it is our intent to make it positive experience. Please continue to be part of making it better. We are always open to new ideas and/or solutions.  We would like to thank the line dance community for your continuous support.