Home
Articles
Biography
Certification
Dance Dictionary
Terminology

History of West Coast Swing

HAWAII All Years

INTENSIVES
Lucky Armstrong
People File
Photo Gallery
Products
Schwimmer, Benji

Skippy's 2004 person of the Year

Studio History
Testimonials
Video Log

Click on:
West Coast Swing - for
WEST COAST 101

SKIPPY'S BLOG
  First Announced: JUNE 2010 - West Coast 101   
                                                                                                     Update 8-11                 

In an effort to preserve the fundamentals and characteristics of Classic West Coast Swing, the World Swing Dance Council delved back into formal Pattern Names & Lists, starting in 1950 - and followed the development & evolution up through 2010, in order to be able to sanction 14 BASIC PATTERNS in West Coast Swing. This process resulted in the presentation of 14 Patterns that could authentically represent the essence of West Coast Swing. 

We have had numerous requests over the past 20 years to clarify these basics.
  The timing is actually right on target. There have been growing requests, not just across our nation, but world-wide, to provide
authentic patterns
that would serve as a standard foundation for teaching, competing, or simply for basic social dancing of West Coast Swing.  The following is the current list for West Coast "101": 
The order is slightly different than on the original "101" DVD.  This suggested "Teaching Order" is based on the latest professional suggestions from
Certified West Coast Swing Teachers.
                 
 
 STEP PATTERN  (Teaching Order - June, 2011)               

1.   Triple Rhythm Break & Anchor 
 (8 Beats of Music)                                                

2.      Left Side Pass (from Front to Back, Man’s Left side) 
 (6 Beats of Music)              

3.      Underarm Turn
 
(6 Beats of Music)                                                                        

4.      Underarm with Hand Change
 (6 Beats of Music)                                                      

5.      Right Side Pass (from Back to Front, Man’s R. side)
 
(6 Beats of Music)

6.      4-Beat Starter Step
 
(4 Beats of Music)
 

7.      Throw Out (from closed “Slingshot” position)
 
(6 Beats of Music)                           

8.      Right Torque Turn 
 
(6 Beats of Music)                                                                     

9.      Turning Basic
 (6 Beats of Music)                                                                         

10. Basic Tuck (from Closed position) 
 (6 Beats of Music)                                            

11. Push Break (Sugar Push) 
 (6 Beats of Music)                                                          

12. Two Hand Tuck (Contra-Body)
 (6 Beats of Music)                                                   

13. Walking Whip (Selected form of Closed Whip) 
 (8 Beats of Music)                          

14.  Release Whip (Selected form of Basic Whip)
 (8 Beats of Music)                             

For "West Coast 101" Competitions, dancers should be able to dance at least 10
of the 14 Basic Patterns, which should include a Triple Rhythm Break.   A Triple Rhythm Break can serve as a "Thinking Step" for a Leader, or to complete a phrase, or mark time in place. for either partner ,whenever needed.

Original DVD available - at $20 -  Non-Profit Venture Detailing the 14 sanctioned Basic Patterns & Techniques for Classic West Coast Swing. 

Below are brief Descriptions of the 14 patterns PLUS Historical & Developmental reasons
for both Inclusion on this Basic List, and why each Pattern should be taught
in this particular teaching order.  (Technical Update: 8-5-11)
 

1. TRIPLE RHYTHM BREAK & ANCHOR.  
A. “Triple Rhythm Break”:  Starts in “One Hand” Open Position (Her
       Right to His Left Hand)  The “Triple Rhythm Break” is simply a matter
       of the Leader dancing Left & Right Triples in place, while he leads the
       Follower into Right & Left Triples in place.  (One Set of 8)
B. “Triple Rhythm & Anchor :  One regular Triple, followed by an
       Anchor Triple in place.
       Together  (A & B) - The entire pattern produces one full “Set of 8”. 
       This Pattern is: 3 standard Triples, followed by an Anchor Triple.
   HISTORICAL:  “Triple Rhythm Break and Anchor”
started being included
    in GSDTA lists about 1985, as Pattern #1. ”  It was designed to teach
    new dancers the art of anchoring, before learning too many patterns.
 
   Before that time, it was standard procedure to teach triples first, as a training
    aid, or Drill - but the Triples were seldom included on the printed Pattern
    List. Triples were usually taught as part of the Left Side Pass, or the Underarm Turn. 
    The Triple Rhythm Break & Anchor started showing up on general Pattern
    lists around 1990.  This process served to clarify the Anchor, and it’s
    important role in
WCS.    The term “Anchor” replaced the original  “Coaster”
    Steps of the 1950s.  (Details available from GSDTA)

2. LEFT SIDE PASS: Starts in “One Hand” Open Position (Her Right to
    His Left Hand)
Leader:
steps Back on count “1” (rotates Left on left foot on “&a” – steps Back
    on Right foot on “2” – “Forward & Together Forward” on “3&a4”  –  Right
    Anchor Triple on “5&a6”.
Follower
: walks Forward, Forward on “1- 2” –(looking left on “2”) rotates 1/4 turn left
    on Left foot on "2&a" - place Right toe base close to left heel on "3" and rotate
    another 1/4 turn left on right Toe-Base on "3&" - Left heel goes down on the "a" count,
    driving the body Back on count “4” of the Right triple – End with Left Anchor
    Triple on “5&a6.”
Historical
: Left Side Pass has been Pattern #1 or #2 since 1952.  Although not
included in many lists until the 1980s, it trains leaders to turn left, and introduces
“centering” and the “Flashlight Technique”  to both Leaders and Followers.

3. UNDERARM TURN
: Starts in “One Hand” Open Position (Her Right
    to His Left Hand)
Leader:
steps back on count “1” – Forward Right on “2” (rotating RIGHT on “2&a” - 1/2 a
     turn) -  steps Back on Left foot on “3” – and forward R-L on “a4”. - Ends pattern  with a
    Right Anchor Triple.  (Also: Leader lifts right hand on “2” for her to go under)
Follower: walks forward on “1- 2” –(looking left on “2”) rotates 1/4 turn left on the "&a" -
    step on Right "toe base" on Count "3" and rotates enough to be able to go straight Back
    on count “4” of her  Right triple – follows with Left  Anchor Triple on “5&a6.”
Historical: This was Pattern #1 or Pattern #2, in most lists, starting as early as
1952.
  This Pattern teaches the leader to rotate Right and teaches the follower to
look left whenever rotating left.

4.
UNDERARM with HAND CHANGE:  One Hand starting position –
Leader
: Steps Back on “1” leading her to his right side & underarm, without
    turning around. Hand change on count “4” of the 6-beat pattern.  She
    goes under her own right hand the same as an Underarm turn, winding up
    in “handshake” position with the follower behind the leader.
Historical:  Underarm with Hand Change:  has followed the Underarm Turn
in most lists since 1954.  Some listed this pattern as: “Underarm TURN with
hand change.”  Either variation is acceptable, but learning the pattern WITHOUT
the TURN for the Leader, creates a desirable, and additional, angle change for the Leader.

5.  RIGHT SIDE PASS (With Hand Change):  Starts in Handshake position, both partners facing
    forward, Follower is behind leader, in anchor position.  (Standard 6-Beat Pattern) 
Leader
: Short step forward on L foot on “1” - Larger step back on R foot on count “2” -
    then complete left triple, small "Back &, together Forward" – and end the pattern with an anchor in place.
Follower
: walks forward on “1- 2” –(looking left on “2”) rotates 1/4 turn on Left foot on "&a" -
    places Right "toe base" near Left heel on "3" and rotates another 1/4 turn Left on the "&"
    following "3" -  Left heel goes down on the "a" driving the body back to Receiving foot on "4" -
    - finish with an Anchor Triple on “5&a6”
HISTORICAL: Right Side Pass has appeared as Pattern #2 OR #3 since 1954. Note: At
Arthur Murray’s in 1954
, if you asked someone to do a Right Side Pass, they would
START
with an Underarm Turn - switch hands on "4"- and THEN perform the Right Side
Pass -
taking the Follower from behind the Leader -  (in hand shake position) to in front of
the Leader, switching hands again (on "3"- to finish with an anchor.  Today, we simply start the pattern in the Hand-shake position.  (a 6-Beat Pattern that does not have to be preceded by an Underarm.)  It can start following any pattern that finishes with the Follower behind the Leader, in Handshake position.

6. 4-BEAT STARTER STEP:  Both partners in closed position, preferably, both facing into the slot, in a V shape:
Leader:
Tiny Left Triple in place – then a “Back & Together Forward” on “3&a4”:

Follower:
Tiny Right Triple in place – then a “Back & Together Back” ending in Slingshot position, ready to walk forward into a Throwout or a Tuck.

Historical: 4-Beat Starter Step was introduced by GSDTA in 1958 as a “2 Unit Preparatory”.  It did not become popular as a “Starter Step” until the early 1980s. The 4- Beat Starter Step was necessary in order to lose the “Rock Step” on
“5-6”.  This allowed every pattern to start with the Double Rhythm, stepping twice, on counts “1-2” of each new pattern.. This eliminated counting the Rock Step as "5 6" from the old, and outdated Basic Step.

 This Starter Step became the “Get ready - Get set” (using 2 Triples) - as a preparation BEFORE the “GO” which had now become the “1-2” of the 1st pattern being danced.  Please Note: A Starter Step, particularly for Jack & Jill competition, should make the Follower feel comfortable, knowing that the Leader hears the same music, same beat, & is going to be a good Leader.  This is an important note for Leaders: Do not to try to dazzle the Follower by some exciting, new Starter Step.  Many of today’s Starter Steps, leave the Follower looking bewildered, unsure and does not present them as a capable Follower until much later.  Not a fair procedure for the Follower.

7. THROW OUT   (Slingshot Throwout):  Starts in Closed Slingshot Position, Follower behind Leader. Leader’s Left hand is gently holding Follower’s Right hand. Leader’s Right hand is holding Follower. above the waistline, just under the shoulder blade, in Slingshot Position.

Leader: Short Forward step on Left foot on Count “1” and longer back step with Right
foot on Count “2”. – “Forward & together, forward” on “3&a4” and finish with a Right Anchor Triple in place.

Follower: Walk –Walk on “1-2” – rotate left on Left foot on “2&a” – step on Right toe base on count “3” (rotate on the Right foot  ¼ turn left) X left by allowing Left heel to go down to send the body backward on the “a’ count – to arrive on the Right foot on count “4”. Finish with Left Anchor. End in Open position, one hand lead.

Historical: The Throw out has been Pattern #4 or #5 since 1954. It is important today for the Follower to walk forward on counts “1-2” of most basic WCS patterns, rather than do a “Rock Step” which today, is more frequently recognized as an East Coast or Lindy characteristic.

8. RIGHT TORQUE TURN:
Starts in One Hand Position (Leader’s Left Hand to Follower’s Right Hand).

Leader:
Step back L on count “1” – Forward Right (replace) on count “2” - rotating RIGHT on the Right foot, on “&a” AFTER the "2" – Leader steps back on Left foot on “3&” (3 Toe Base) – & Fwd. (replace) on the “a”- Fwd again on “4” – and Anchor on “5&a6”.
Follower: Walks forward on “1 - 2” with Contra-Body movement (Right hip & shoulder pulled slightly back on “&a” before “1”  - Left Hip & Shoulder are pulled back on the "&a" before "2")Pull the Right Hip and Right Shoulder back R, rotating right on the Left foot, one complete half turn. (Right big toe stays in place during "2&a", forming a spiral footwork) Immediately drive Right foot, upper right arm and right hip DIRECTLY SIDE, toward back wall, traveling “side & together side on the “3&a4” – rotate to anchor position before Anchoring on “5&a6”. 

Historical: Lady’s Right Torque Turn
- This pattern is actually a re-discovery of an old concept, which has been lost for quite a few years.  However, it fits neatly into the current Basics.  This move introduces the Follower to a Torque Turn.  It also teaches her to drive back w/ her right shoulder & Right Hip on “3&”, which becomes important in developing a good Turning Basic and Whip.  This latest discovery in the Learning Process turns out to be an amazing aid in producing great Turning Basics and great Whips – particularly for Followers. In the 2 year development process of this list, this particular pattern made short work of improving Followers skills in doing Whips. Specific students were sought out who had difficulty in making proper body contact on count “3” of either a Turning Basic – or a Whip. In every instance, the correction & development was almost instant. This pattern has become just one more important teaching aid in the evolution of West Coast Swing. (Re-Discovery 2008.)
Teaching Technique: On count "2" the Follower keeps her Right Big Toe on the floor, as she revolves right, allowing the feet to do a spiral wrap around before driving out on "3".

9. TURNING BASIC:
Leader:
Step back on count “1” - Forward Right on “2” rotating RIGHT on 2&a” - Back check on Left toe base on “3&,” Fpl R on "a"-Left foot slightly forward on “4” - End with Right Anchor. Leader catches partner with Right Hand, (He is facing back wall, on count “3”). Ends in Closed position. (Note: It helps if Leader looks over his Right shoulder at the back wall on Count “2”)
Follower:
Forward R-L on “1 2” –Torque Turn R on “&a” – “”Back & together Forward” on “3&a4” (stepping forward between his feet on count “4” ) – (rotating right on “4&a”). Anchor on “5&a6” in closed  Slingshot position, with Follower behind Leader.
Historical: Turning Basic
was introduced in the early 90’s by GSDTA, as a desired element for the follower to learn a “back & together forward,” and the leader to learn to catch partner w/ right hand on “3” while still using a 6-Beat pattern
Technical:  The Leader determines the difference in this pattern & a Whip, by how He leads the Anchor.  A Whip releases the follower to travel back on a "5 6." - If he is leading a Turning Basic, he will rotate his upper body to the right on "3&a4" - holding her  very close and not allowing her  to go back on "5."

10. BASIC TUCK (from closed “Slingshot” position) –
Leader
:  Forward, Back – Step together Forward – Anchor in place.
Follower:  Forward, Forward – rotate left on “&a” then Forward R, on “3&” –
    Together  L on “a”,  – rotating right on the “a” in order to step Forward Right
    on count  “4” (rotating right  to Anchor position)  – Finish with an Anchor in 3rd.  
    ( Think of the body turning left & then Right on counts “3 &a4”)
Historical
:  Another “time tested” pattern that’s been around since 1952.  The major change through the years is that today - West Coast Swing Followers start from Slingshot position with a “Walk-Walk” for the follower, instead of a Rock Step.

11. PUSH BREAK:
Leader
:  Back on "1" - Together in 3rd on “2” -  Small “Forward & together Forward”
    on “3&a4” (releasing her Left hand on “4”)  – Anchor in place on “5&a6”.
Follower: Forward, Forward – Forward on toe base on “3&”  Back in place on “a”
    and stronger Back on Right Foot on“4” – Anchor in place on “5&a6.”
Historical
:  under the name “Sugar Push” , the Push Break has been around since 1952.  Unfortunately, it has frequently been taught as Pattern #1, (too early for
anyone to learn compression.) Without compression, the  pattern is either too
rough, or no compression at all. Net result is that the pattern itself has recently
been being labeled dull & uninteresting, by the newer dancers.  The Name Change
came about when the old-timers swiveled in on every step of the Sugar Push. 
They claimed, (and rightfully so) that the pattern was named after the old Sugar
Foot.
  A Sugar Foot was (and still IS) 100% little tiny swivels. (Still a popular
move in Lindy). The name change was voted on at a huge turnout of the early
Council - and the name “Push Break” was adopted at that time. 

12. TWO-HAND TUCK:   Two-Hand Contra-Body Tuck –
Leader
:  (Same footwork as Left Side Pass): Step Back on count “1” (rotate Left on left foot on “&a”
     Step back on Right foot on “2” – follow with a Forward & Together Forward and a Right
     Anchor triple.  Leader pulls his Right Hand toward his throat area on “1” -  Pulls his Left Elbow
      toward the back wall on “2” – catches her Left hand in his Right, to stop on “3&” -
      & turn right on “4”.
Follower
: Walks Forward, Forward on “1-2” with slight contra-body movement, rotating slightly left
     on “2” – maintaining the rotation left on “3&” – presses against his right hand on the “3&”
     and rotates to the right in order to go forward on “4”.  Rotation on “4” takes her to Anchor
     position for “5&a6.
Historical:  Classic pattern - very popular from 1954 up through 1995, danced with Contra-Body
movement.  In recent years, the Two-Hand CROSS Strut Tuck has become an alternative
“Two Hand Tuck”   The Cross Strut  version finds the follower with the same shoulder forward
as the forward foot.  This pattern is allowed as a substitute for the Contra-Body Tuck, and is
included in WCS 101. 


13.
WALKING WHIP –  Walking Whip Is the Same Footwork as the Release Whip, only
       through count “4
” :
Leader:
  Step   Back on “1”, Forward in place on “2”, rotating Right on “2&a” – Step
    Back on left toe base on “3&”, Forward in place on “a” and Side Left on “4”.  
    Pull Right shoulder back on “4&a” as left foot hits the floor on ‘4”.   – Walk
    with the follower on 5-6 – and then Anchor with Right foot toward her, turning
    left to step in place Left, and cross Right foot forward into the slot.  (She is
    behind him in closed Sling-shot position.

Follower: : (Footwork Identical to Release Whip)  “Forward , Forward,”  on “1-2”
    (Torque Turn Right on the “&a” before “3” ) “Back & Together Forward”  on
    “3&a4” (Pivot Right on “4&a”)  - Drive straight back - Left -Right on “5-6”
    Anchor in place on “7&a8”.  Ends in Closed, Sling-shot position.
Historical
: In the 1950s, a Closed Whip was called a Lindy Turn.  According to
records, this pattern started being called a Closed Whip on most lists, around 1985.
The updated pattern includes the “Walking look” as both partners move in the same
direction on “5-6.” (This pattern currently appears under several different names
across country). 

14. RELEASE WHIP:
Leader:
In this version of the Whip, the man’s Right Foot stays in the same place
      from count “1” thru count “4.” 
Leader
:  Step Back on “1”, Forward in place on “2”, rotating Right on “2&a” – Step
    Back on left toe base on “3&”, Forward in place on “a” and Side Left on “4”.  
    Pull Right shoulder back on “4&a” as left foot hits the floor on ‘4”.  You are in
    a “Cross” Foot position when the weight changes to the Right foot on count”5.”
    Left foot takes a small Side step on “6”.  – then Anchor in place.
    Leader does not catch HER with his Right hand until count “3” – and releases his
    right hand after “4”.
Follower: “Forward , Forward,” (Torque Turn Right on the “&a”) - “Back & Together
    Forward”  on “3&a4” (Pivot Right on “4&a”) Drive straight back on Left foot
    on “5&6” – Anchor in place on “7&a8”..
Historical: The Whip has been taught much earlier in many lists.  However, based on
the psychology of learning, and other factors, this 8-Beat Pattern fits nicely into the
proposed progression where it is placed.  Because of the variety of Basic whips, we
selected the Release Whip as the easiest & most appropriate form for this project.
The Release Whip has the leader keeping his right foot in place throughout the first
6-Beats of the pattern - not releasing it until the anchor on “7&a8.”  This pattern
forms a foundation for the various whips that are available, and makes all of them
easier to learn. 

There is additional information on almost everything listed.  We have
tried to keep things as simple as possible for this initial presentation. 
The
DVD clarifies the patterns and techniques.  If there are still
questions – after reading these descriptions and viewing the
DVD,
feel free to email me personally at
:
       Skippy@Skippyblair.com   or Call me at: 562-869-8949
Purchase the
DVD for $19.95 plus postage. (This is a Non-profit
Venture)  Take advantage of a good deal: Buy 10 copies for $100.00
Sell them for $20 - or give them away as presents.  Spread the Word!


 
West Coast 101 competitions are currently “Jack and Jills”

 

To be eligible to compete in West Coast 101,  you  MAY be a Beginner.  You
MAY be a Newcomer.  You may already be a Novice dancer.  However, you
are NOT eligible for West Coast 101 - if you have ever PLACED in the TOP 5
in a World Swing Dance Council recognized Competition.

     -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We have tried to anticipate Questions - and provide as many Answers as possible. 
This plan has been in the works for over 2 years.  It was presented at the general
meeting of the World Swing Dance Council in November at the 26th annual U.S.
OPEN.
  It was met with favorable response.  Quite a few suggestions are already
being utilized.

 

We want to thank those who are cooperating in teaching this specific set of 14
BASIC patterns
, so that the World Dance Community will see some effort toward standardization in the way the West Coast Swing Dance Community teaches West
Coast.  We also need a reason for students to learn BASICS from their teachers -
rather than always insisting on the latest moves, before they should be doing them.

 

These patterns will be be available on Global Dance TV - New students will
be looking for teachers who can teach these patterns.  We hope to
interest thousands of new West Coast Swing students - and they will be looking
for teachers who are Qualified to teach these 14 BASIC patterns.
 

 

Those teachers will be recommended.  YOU can do this. Join the energy that is
being put into this great West Coast Surge. These patterns are being taught in Colleges, Parks and Recreation and many Public Grade and High Schools.
This list is currently being taught in Kona, Hawaii - at the University of La Verne
- and in Long Beach Parks and Recreation, as well as to children’s groups in
Pilot Programs in action - and doing well.

 

If you have questions about any part of this program, please call 562-869-8949
or email Skippy:   Skippy@Skippyblair.com
We would also like to know of
any teachers that you think might be interested in participating in this Universal
program.

This project has been “in the works” for  several years. Special Thanks to: Wayne
& Sharlot Bott, Jordan & Tatiana, Mary Ann Nunez, and Jessica Cox. for their
continuing contributions & support, along with over 100 other teachers who
continually use these materials and report back on the progress  of their students.
 Particular thanks to Torri Smith and Sean McKeever who did such a great job demonstrating the patterns for 101 on the DVD.

West Coast 101 Competitions were great in Kona in May '09 - and the
Jack & Jill O’Rama in June -  Miami Magic is next in July - and
France is in August 2009.   Halloween Swingthing in October.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - - -

Historical Odds & Ends OTHER THAN West Coast 101
ALL - Information on West Coast Material,
with dates included!  Feel free to exchange notes.

MAY, 2007 UPDATE:  Here at Dance Dynamics Headquarters, we get inquiries every day, asking for the origin of specific terms and techniques in West Coast Swing. Many of them are familiar, and a few are not.  We thought we should clarify those that originated with GSDTA and that we are responsible for, as well as noting some of the things GSDTA is NOT responsible for. We have listed a few of the more popular terms that originated in the teaching of West Coast Swing, through the efforts of:
                  
Skippy Blair's Dance Dynamics Program &
                  
Golden State Dance Teachers Association.

JAN. 2008 Note:   In Alphabetical Order: Center Point of Balance (CPB)  -  Centering Knob  - 

Dance Rhythms  - Downbeats & Upbeats  -  Flashlight Technique  -  Point of Connection  - Power Point  -  

Universal Unit System(R)  -  Rhythm Units (2-Beat Rhythms)  - Rolling Count  - Three-Toe Base  - 

(As they are pointed out to us, we will add to the list).  These and other terms are explained in the

 "Dance Terminology Notebook" that is contained online, here at www.Swingworld.com   -

Go to the Index on the front page and click on Dance Terminology Notebook.

 

West Coast Swing:  Everything listed below is for historical purposes. It

is a combination of Information gathered from early definitions (1965) - & forward

through the latest Dance Dynamics, GSDTA and WSDC  Educational releases

2006,  by Skippy Blair       © 2-24-06 - update:  8-12-06

 

West Coast SWING -  (1) West Coast Swing  is an all American Rhythm dance

consisting basically of  6 and 8-beat patterns, along with 4-Beat Rhythm Breaks

that are danced primarily in a slotted area on the dance floor.  West Coast Swing

 incorporates many variations of Underarm Turns, Side Passes, Pushes and Whips

plus Rhythm Breaks, Syncopations and Extensions of the same.           

 

Further Clarification of Identifiable Characteristics:
 

1.  At basic & intermediate levels, most dancers start the dance with a 4-Beat

     Starter Step, which falls into the category of  “Rhythm Breaks.” 

2.  MOST West Coast Swing teachers today (2008) teach the follower to walk
     forward out of a Starter Step, rather than to do a “Rock Step.”  (GSDTA
 
    started the dance, walking forward on "1-2" in 1958)

3.  Most notable, & one of the oldest evolvements: Anchors have replaced Coasters.

4.  Musical Interpretation: important ingredient, even at Novice level.

5.  Both partners have the freedom to “play” as long as they do not interfere
 
    with their partner’s dance. 

6.  Today’s definition includes:  WCS is considered a 50/50 partnership dance.

7.  Both partners travel frequently in the same direction, rather than rock away
 
   from each other  (as done in East Coast Swing and Lindy).

8.  West Coast Swing is basically a directionally slotted dance. (Not a "fixed" slot)

 

New moves are always emerging when top dancers interpret the music of the day. Swing Music of the 1940's gave birth to a wide variety of dances that we recognize today as various forms of  SWING. 

 

AUTHOR'S NOTEIn 2006 there have been so many styles emerging and overlapping, that there are those who feel that WCS no longer exists - that all swing is some sort of simply generic “SWING.”   There is nothing further from the truth. One needs to study the intricacies of the development of something, in order to learn how  to recognize an evolvement to a higher state.  It is much easier to recognize similarities - than it is to focus on differences.  The latest developments in WCS are easily identified by examining the “root base” of the dance.  When all else fails, try to identify what you see as something OTHER than West Coast.  Does it look like East Coast - Lindy - Shag - Imperial Swing - Hand Dancing?  If it won’t fit any of those, and the dancers are primarily upper level West Coast Swing dancers, then it is probably a variety and/or an evolvement of West Coast Swing.

 

It is also true that WCS is currently (2006) developing in two different directions. There is a new breed of slow swing that borders on a Ballet style “Pax de deaux.”  It is slow, sensual  and uses pattern entrances that have West Coast as their root base.   This form has a grace and style similar to Rumba and Ballet. The effect is dramatic, but lacks any feeling of rhythmic “swing.”  Neither the music nor the dance actually “swings.”   WCS patterns can be danced to totally different music and the dance can lend itself to many different disciplines.  However, if the essence of the original dance changes enough to create it’s OWN identifiable “essence” a new dance style is being born.  That’s how many Swing styles came into being.

 2008 - and the "swing" is back toward SWING.  (See article on ANCHORS as they have evolved in the past 20 years.)

 

Let’s examine the “ESSENCE” of WEST COAST SWING: 

 

(1) Both partners travel, a great deal of the time, in the same direction.  Most other forms of swing use more opposition moves - (Rock steps).  (2)  The follower has more creative choices, as long as she does not interfere with the Leader.  (3)  Follower walks into new patterns, rather than rocking back.  (4) Individual musical  interpretation creates excitement and new material erupts on the dance floor in a seemingly endless barrage of possibilities.  (5) There is an undercurrent in good swing music that makes you want to snap your fingers or clap your hands on the Upbeat.  (6)  Currently, Followers create  “Kodak Moments” for a fraction of a second, as they hit a great pose, coupled with good lines and a sense of body discipline that is beyond the scope of most other forms of swing.

 

WEST COAST SWING  -   (1)  A highly stylized form of Swing that is identifiable by two main characteristics:  (a)  it is a slotted dance that is distinguished by it's love affair with syncopations and musical interpretation.   (b) The lady does a "Walk-Walk" traveling forward on counts "1" and "2" of each basic pattern.   (2)  In the 1950's, this dance was called "Western Swing" and "Sophisticated Swing" in the Chain Studios, and even in most Independent Studios.  Many Studios still use those names today.  
(3)
  West Coast Swing was declared the official State Dance of California in 1988.

Teaching Note:  


West Coast Swing
is a dance that stays consistently “up-to-date!   Today, (2008) this dance still requires a "50-50" partnership.  It is an "educated" dance where the "follower" needs to know much more about the dance than simply “How to follow.”   West

Coast Swing reflects the social attitudes of the day:  Although the Leader sets the tone and direction of the dance, the Follower has the freedom to interpret the

music and use syncopations in patterns that he might not even use (or care to use).  This "Partnership" might be compared to a group of Jazz musicians.  One person goes off on a tangent while the other players keep the basic beat.  West Coast Swing is literally a "High Tech" GAME played to music.  At an intermediate level, one partner can play while the other keeps the basic beat.  Only very advanced dancers should try to juggle both partners “playing” at the same time, without disrupting the other.   
        

Historical Note: 

The name “WEST COAST SWING", didn't surface into mainstream Swing Circles until the late 1960's and early 70s.  In 1958, with the opening of Skippy Blair Studios in Downey, California, "Western" Swing was not a salable item in the city of Downey.  (actually, nothing

Western was really welcome in the city of Downey in 1958). We tried to explain to people  that “Western" really meant "West Coast," but it didn’t register with the average person.  Jim Bannister, editor of the Herald American newspaper in Downey, remarked:  "then why don't you SAY “West Coast”?   The new ads advertised West Coast Swing (1962).  When the GOLDEN WEST BALLROOM, in Norwalk, California, changed from Country to Ballroom dancing, the dance most advertised on the Marquee was West Coast Swing.  Years later, we would find that Arthur Murray’s actually had a hand book that used the term West Coast Swing.   However, Murray’s obviously preferred “Western Swing” - because that was printed on their student's charts.  That was probably in an effort  to conform to matching the term “Eastern Swing” which was their most popular form of Swing at that time - and was the predecessor of “East Coast Swing.”   The name of Eastern Swing naturally evolved into “East Coast Swing”  several  years after “West Coast Swing” became the accepted name for our dance.