My Story

Samantha Buckwalter

Samantha Buckwalter.

2019 marks my 23rd year dancing West Coast Swing. This dance was never something I planned to fall in love with nor pursue, like my mother, Kelly Buckwalter Casanova however I am so thankful I did. I have seen so many amazing places and formed amazing friendships due to this “hobby” of mine and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am so thrilled to be continuing this journey with Matt as he is not just one of my favorite dancers, but also one of my favorite humans 🙂

Music and dancing have surrounded Samantha her entire life.  Being the daughter of Kelly (Buckwalter) Casanova, meant that every week she was tagging along to dances and workshops, doing her homework and playing her gameboy, while her mother worked to support the both of them.  Halls, studios, and conventions became her playgrounds.  It wasn’t until she was 10 years old and attended her mother’s convention, Swingbreak, that she actually wanted to learn what her mother did.  It was at this event that she saw Jordan Frisbee and Jessica Cox perform a Junior routine and from that point on she wanted to be a dancer.

Samantha began competing in 2001 and traveling to more events out of state with her mother.  She danced her first Juniors routine at the US Open with Ben Morris in 2002 and the following year with Rickey Andrade in 2003.  At the time dancing was still a hobby as her passion was focused on martial arts.  She was the youngest in her dojo to receive 1st dan (Black belt level) at 16.  Her teaching career began at her dojo as she taught classes there to children and adults of all ages for 6 years.  

Samantha had no intention of teaching or pursuing West Coast Swing as a career until 2006 at Capital Swing.  It was there that she saw Kyle Redd and Sarah Van Drake perform their “How long can a fool go wrong” routine and truly fell in love with the dance.  From that point on she began mentoring under her mother, assisting her classes and shadowing her as a judge to learn everything and anything she could about the dance.  Samantha worked diligently to earn her points in every division up from the Junior, Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and AllStar divisions to her current position competing with the top Champion dancers around the world.

Starting in 2007, Samantha was fortunate to study under Mario Robau Jr.  She assisted him in workshops and intensives both in the US and abroad which she credits to her confident teaching foundation.  During 2009-2010 Samantha was presented a once in a life time opportunity by her dear friend, Mike Rosa, to re-locate to London.  It was there that she taught weekly classes, workshops, and events all over the UK and Europe in an effort to help the Swing community grow.  After her adventures in Europe, Samantha was convinced by her brand new friend at the time, Malia San Nicoles, to move to Southern California, which is where she now calls home.  Samantha was inducted into the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame in 2012 and continues to travel all over the world competing, coaching, and teaching with her partner Matt Richey.

One of Samantha’s proudest moments was becoming the first woman to final in a Champion’s division as a Leader, thanks to the help of Jennifer Deluca.  From her very first dance lesson, Samantha’s mother taught her to lead and follow at the same time.  This skill not only benefited Samantha’s teaching ability but also allowed her to be a role model to so many dancers wishing to learn the opposite role.  Samantha and her mother are proud to support the movement in the West Coast Swing community to allow anyone to learn and compete in any role they so chose.

My Story

Matt Richey

Matt Richey.

Matt Richey has been dancing Lindy Hop since the tender age of 11. His dance career started with a performance team, including dancing on cruise ships and at Disneyland. In 2004 Matt attended Camp Hollywood for the first time (he hasn’t missed a year since) and he quickly fell in love with what swing dancing can offer; not just Lindy Hop but all swing.

He won his first local competition at age 14 hosted by Nevada County Swing Society and was asked to dance for the local TV station to promote  NCSS.


Since then he traveled all over the world learning from some of the world’s best dancers such as Frankie Manning, Norma Miller, Jean Veloz, Sugar Sullivan and Chazz Young, and many others. Matt has also cross trained in several other dance styles including jazz, ballet, salsa and more.

In 2011 Matt started dancing West Coast Swing and knew this dance was just the added excitement he needed.  But it wasn’t until the following year when he joined a WCS team in Chico under the direction of Ben McHenry that he began to take the dance seriously. Soon after, he started dancing in the showcase division and brought home trophies.

In 2014 Matt worked in Europe with Samantha Backwater for the first time and his life was changed. He then knew he didn’t want to limit himself to one style of swing dance.

One of Matt’s accomplishments he is most proud of is the Juniors program he started in Nevada County, CA. Matt has gone around to teach at countless schools to spread the love of dance. Over the 7 years he ran the program he brought juniors to competitions and events in California and also brought teens to compete at the International Lindy Hop Championships 3 years in a row. His students brought home the 1st place award in the Junior Jitterbug Showcase at ILHC in 2018.

Over the years, Matt has won hundreds of titles in multiple styles of swing, including West Coast Swing, Lindy Hop and Balboa. He is becoming the most recognized crossover dancer in the circuit as well as being a familiar face on the social dance floor everywhere! In 2018 Matt was inducted to the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame. As much as Matt loves swing dancing, he loves teaching and sharing his love for dancing and music just as much! He currently teaches adults and kids in several local schools and studios in Orange County.

He is known for fun loving energy, musicality, showmanship and performance.

"Do it big, do it right and do it with style"

Fred Astaire