West Coast Swing Defined

West Coast Swing Defined


Date added to ADN: Tue, February 21, 2012
Originally Published: Sun, January 01, 2012
by The AccessDance Network (About the Author)

West coast swing, an offshoot of another swing style dance called Lindy, is a dance that can be enjoyed in small spaces because of its 'slotted' nature.

HISTORY
The beginning of West Coast Swing was associated with the arrival of Dean Collins in Hollywood during the 1930s. Having learned to dance the Lindy Hop in the Savoy Ballroom, he brought this dance style with him when he went out west. Collins started doing movies in the 1940s and 1950s and incorporated the dance in his movies. For easier filming and to make the faces of the dancers more visible to the camera, they changed the circular movement of Lindy Hop into straight motion in a specific area called "slot". In the 1940s, Laure Haile, one of the dance instructors at Arthur Murray's studios, cataloged the dances she saw being performed in California. She named this style "Western Swing" and it was taught in Murray's studios. The name was changed to "West Coast Swing" by Skippy Blair, another instructor at Murray's, to differentiate this style of dancing from country and western dancing.

DANCE STEPS
West coast swing, being "slotted", the lady dances forward and backward along a single straight line on the floor while her partner stays in one place. There are turning figures but the lady never steps outside the slot. It is a dance that employs six and eight count figures. The six count figures are performed with two walking steps and two triple steps, counted as "1,2,3,4,5,and 6" (walk, walk, triple, step, triple, step), On the other hand, the eight count figures start with two walking steps and are flowed by a triple step, two walks and a triple step. It can be counted as: "1,2,3,4,5,6,7,and,8)" (walk, walk, triple, step, walk, walk, triple, step). The figure ends a triple step that is danced in place called the "anchor step". Its movements are graceful with twirls and pushes.

TYPE OF MUSIC
West coast swing, being versatile, can be danced to a wide range of musical styles and genres that are played in 4/4 time. This dance also works well with jazzier and 'bluesier' music.
Whether you're a beginner or an amateur in dancing, the west coast swing is a dance that perfectly fits you. It's not as strenuous as the other ballroom dances but it gives you the same fun and enjoyment that dancing offers. Do the west coast swing with us today and expect to have a wonderful time!


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