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Dragons love Swing Patrol

Posted on July 29, 2014

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web-swing-patrol-1Scott Cupit, the founder of swing dance company Swing Patrol, appeared on the BBC One show Dragons’ Den. His successful pitch received a £65,000 investment from one of the “dragons”, former Strictly contestant Deborah Meaden.

In the show, budding entrepreneurs pitch for investment from the millionaire dragons. In Scott’s case, the BBC pursued him, researching Swing Patrol’s 15-year success story and urging him to take part. He brought a group of dancers on to the programme, and got all the dragons up and dancing to demonstrate Swing Patrol’s friendly teaching style. “When I suggested that, the producer was saying ‘No, they’ll never do it,’ but they all loved it.”

Scott’s original pitch was for a swing venue, a home for classes and dances, including licensed bar. “When Piers Linney [one of the dragons] heard the word “nightclub”, he just closed down. They gave me a really hard 20 minutes over that!” Scott adjusted his pitch on the spot, to focus on classes and events over bricks and mortar.

He received three bids. Why did he choose Deborah’s? “She really understood what this is about. It was always Deborah who was nodding when I talked about dance. The programme was edited to focus on the business side, but for me it’s not just about that. I’m an artist – I left banking to go into dance and, though I want a successful business, it’s not about becoming a millionaire.”

Swing Patrol’s next move will be a series of swing balls across the UK. “We were already planning that, but the idea really snowballed with all the interest we’ve had. We’re working with local swing dance societies around the country, people who do in their cities what I do in London. Some of them were worried that we were coming into their territory – I understand that, I would be the same – but I want to work with them, to make swing bigger. I’ve been hearing from so many people, perhaps five per cent worried and the rest really happy and delighted at what this can do for swing.” See or our swing listings for details.

Picture: Scott Cupit, of Swing Patrol, dances with Trisha Sewell from Savoy Hop Hertfordshire

Photograph courtesy of Swing Patrol 

Nicola Rayner was editor of Dance Today from 2010 to 2015. She has written for a number of publications including The Guardian, The Independent and Time Out Buenos Aires, where she cut her teeth as a dance journalist working on the tango section. Today she continues to dance everything from ballroom to breakdance, with varying degrees of success. Her debut novel, The Girl Before You, was published last year in paperback, ebook and audiobook.

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