Shawn and Gladys had been dancing together since their teenage days. Back then Shawn was taking lessons with Gladys' parents, Steven and Vivien Kok. Recognizing his talents and potential, Steven and Vivien asked Gladys to team up with Shawn to prepare for competitions. That started them down the road to international championships and professional judging, and picked up the endearing nickname Singapore's Dancing Sweethearts along the way.
Their first taste of success at a national dance competition came in 1982, when the couple sashayed their way to the top at the Singapore (Open) Ballroom Championship (Amateur Latin category). Following that victory, they went on to compete and conquer various local and international dance championships for the next decade. For twelve consecutive years from 1982 to 1993, they clinched no less than 12 prestigious championship titles across Austria, France, Germany, England, USA, Hawaii, Australia, Holland, Yugoslavia, Belgium and throughout Asia, including the 1985 Doris Lavelle Challenge Trophy (England) and the 1990 Asian-Pacific Ballroom Dancing Championships (Korea). By the time they retired from the competition circle in 1994, they have garnered no less than 20 prestigious international championship titles from all over the world.
Shawn and Gladys Tay have not only achieved worldwide recognition for their dancing prowess, they have also changed the landscape of ballroom dancing and dancesport in Singapore ever since they founded Shawn & Gladys DanceWorld in 1986.
Over the years, Shawn & Gladys together with their team of dancers have performed frequently on then-Television Corporation of Singapore (current MediaCorp) programmes and other creative promotions. These include National Day Celebrations, the launch of the Singapore Airlines (SIA) MegaTop, Merlion Week, Count Down Singapore, and Heartstrings, the Community Chest fund raising event. In 1992, Shawn & Gladys together with the Social Development Unit (SDU), organised the first-ever mass Ballroom/Latin-American dance item for the National Day Parade Celebrations.
After building a name for themselves internationally, they went on to become adjudicators and consultants for numerous international dance competitions for professionals and amateurs alike. They are also the few rare Asian adjudicators to judge at the World Championships, such as the prestigious World Youth Modern Championships (Germany), IDSF World Standard Championships (Japan), IDSF World Senior Latin Championships (New Zealand), IDSF World Latin Championships (Switzerland), United States DanceSport Championships (USA), and the German Open (Germany).
Singapore Lion City Dancesport Championship singapore dance-sport championship
Shawn and Gladys wanted to facilitate and promote dancing in Singapore and encouraged dancing as a competitive sport in Singapore, as such they founded the internationally acclaimed Singapore Lion City Dancesport Championship and has been organizing the competition for the past 23 years.