Photo by Jessica Keller: Boot Boogie Babes team members perform a routine in July in Queen Anne. DeAnna Lee, a former radio disc jockey, started the line-dance group for women in 2014 and began running it full time in 2020 after she was laid off because of COVID.
Photo by Jessica Keller: Boot Boogie Babes team members perform a routine in July in Queen Anne. DeAnna Lee, a former radio disc jockey, started the line-dance group for women in 2014 and began running it full time in 2020 after she was laid off because of COVID.
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As a disc jockey who worked for different radio stations in Seattle for many years, Queen Anne resident DeAnna Lee knows what it is like for women trying to carve out their own niche or create something for themselves.

To give women that place, Lee, a longtime dancer and choreographer started the Boot Boogie Babes, a line-dance troupe just for women in 2014.

As a long-time dancer, teacher and choreographer with a background that includes two-step, polka, waltz, East and West Coast swing, cha cha, jitterbug and line dancing, Lee said she wanted the Boot Boogie Babes to be an organization where any woman could come to learn how to dance, make friends and, perhaps, fill some need in their lives they didn’t know was missing in a safe, welcoming place.

Lee said Boot Boogie Babes lets women know that life is not over for them once they reach a certain age or experience some other significant life change.

“You can be empowered at any age, any size and from any background, and that’s our mission statement,” Lee said. “That is the culture of our organization.”

Lee said the nice thing about line dancing is anybody can do it, regardless of their age, size or dance experience. Members of the Boot Boogie Babes range in age from 21 to over 70 and are in all stages of their life, Lee said. No matter what, women can find their place on one of her teams. “If you give it your all, and you give it your focus, you are going to grow just naturally,” she said.

While Lee said she enjoys teaching women how to dance and choreographing new routines for them, she said her biggest thrill is seeing the positive impacts the Boot Boogie Babes can have on a woman’s life, especially if she is joining after experiencing a rough patch. Lee said women can come in shy and uncertain, but slowly they gain confidence and blossom with a little encouragement, friendship and their new skills.

“You know, that’s the beauty of this, and that’s why I do this,” she said. “That’s the biggest piece of it.”

Lee said the organization takes its mission to create a safe, judgment-free place for all women seriously, and she has even dismissed team members who did not meet those expectations.

“We make sure the women are always empowering one another,” Lee said, adding she has no tolerance for bad attitudes, gossip or derogatory comments. “And we have a culture now where that doesn’t exist, and that’s what makes it really special.”

While Lee started Boot Boogie Babes as a part time accompaniment to her primary job as a DJ, she shifted gears after being laid off because of COVID in 2020.

“It was a blessing in disguise because I had been wanting to give 100 percent of my time to these women and the Boot Boogie Babes,” Lee said.

Although her numbers went down because of the pandemic, Boot Boogie Babes has two chapters, the original Seattle chapter, with 45 members, and a franchise in Charleston, South Carolina with 20.

In addition, she offers Boot Boogie Babe boot camps for everyone, even men, all over the Puget Sound, including in Kirkland, Kent, Port Orchard, Bremerton and Tacoma. She has also started a program where people can learn to become a lead dance instructor and teach their own line dancing boot camps under the DeAnna Lee Dance umbrella.

“It’s my dream to have these Boot Boogie Babe camps all over the country and, ultimately, all over the world,” Lee said.

To accommodate the different dance skills and allow women to flourish at their own pace, the Boot Boogie Babes is separated into different teams: the Boogie Babe premier performance team, the Boot Girls, for intermediate dancers, and the Boot Chicks, which is the beginners team.

While all women will be placed on a team based on their skill level, everyone’s journey starts with an audition.

“It’s part of the transformation,” Lee said.

Pre-COVID, the teams practiced once a week for an hour and a half at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island, with some women coming from as far as the Kitsap Peninsula to participate. Lee said she hopes they can begin doing that again when it is safe.

They also perform at different events every summer, including concerts for different country artists, and they give community presentations, as well.

Last month, they danced in front of Trader Joe’s in Queen Anne and at the Queen Anne Farmer’s Market, and they perform at the Fremont Fringe each month.

“We’re just like a rolling party at a time when some people need some uplifting and some smiles,” Lee said.

Next month, the Boot Boogie Babes is hosting and will perform at Bootstock, a country music festival to benefit Aaron Crawford and Dakota Poorman, two country singers who were hit hard financially by the coronavirus pandemic. The event will take place from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 25 Pell Parties Ranch, 28832 180th Ave. S.E., Kent. General admission tickets cost $25 and can be purchased at deannaleedance.com/shop/boot-stock-general-admission/.

To learn more about the Boot Boogie Babes, go to https://deannaleedance.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/BootBoogieBabes.