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West Coast Swing

History

West Coast Swing (WCS) is a partner dance derived from Lindy Hop. It is characterised by a distinctive elastic look that results from its basic extension-compression technique of partner connection, and is danced primarily in a slotted area on the dance floor. The dance allows for both partners to improvise steps while dancing together.

Typically the follower walks into new patterns traveling forward on counts "1" and "2" of each basic pattern, rather than rocking back. [5] The Anchor Step is a common ending pattern of many West Coast Swing figures.[1][2]

It is believed that the origins of the WCS are in Lindy Hop. In a 1947 book, Arthur Murray recognized that, "There are hundreds of regional dances of the Jitterbug type. Each section of the country seems to have a variation of its own." [3]

West Coast Swing (still known as Western Swing at that time) is the basis for the dancing in the rehearsal scene in “Hot Rod Gang” (1958).[7][8] Music is supplied by rockabilly musician Gene Vincent’s “Dance to the Bop”. [9] The song alternates between very slow sections and those with the rapid pace and high energy of rockabilly. Choreographer Dick DiAugustine includes recognizable patterns such as the chicken walk, swing out from closed position, etc, along with the classic woman’s walk walk triple step triple step at the end of the slot. On the final step of the second triple the women are weighted left with the right heel on the floor and the toes pointed up. Dancers also do classic Lindy flips at the end of the slot, as well as non partner, non West Coast Swing movements.

About the Dance

West Coast Swing is a slotted dance. The slot is an imaginary area, long and thin, eight or nine feet long if danced at a very slow Tempo, but shorter if the music is at a faster tempo. The follower travels back and forth in the slot dancing straight through the man. The leader consistently moves a minimum amount (at mid-way point) to her sides, barely out of her way. She lightly brushes against him each time she passes him.[22]
Socially, it is considered good etiquette (particularly on a crowded floor) to use a fixed slot, in order to allow dancing without incident.[23] Having danced the slot repeatedly, the couple "has a claim" on the area, and other couples usually cooperate and establish their own slot parallel with the dancers.[24]

There are urban myths regarding the origin of the slotted style. According to one version, it was an invention of Hollywood film makers who wanted “dancers to stay in the same plane, to avoid going in and out of focus”.[12][13] Wide angle lenses with adequate depth of field for cinematography had in fact been available since the 1920s. [14] A variation on the "Hollywood film maker" theme is that film makers wanted "to avoid filming the backs" of dancers. A viewing of films featuring the work of Dean Collins in the 1940s, and rock 'n' roll films made in the mid 1950s reveals the fact that dancers turn frequently and inevitably turn their backs to the camera.[25] [26] Although another unslotted swing dance, Balboa, became popular in the same area and under the same conditions, much has been made of "jitterbugging in the aisles" as a source of the slotted style.

Class Descriptions

West Coast Swing: Beginner Class

Learn the basics of West Coast Swing to get you started. This class covers the shuffle step, timing, basic turns and patterns and more. He'll guide you through the fundamental basics of West Coast Swing, even if you have no dance experience!!!

West Coast Swing: Intermediate Class

This class expands on the basics and timings and incorporates the Intermediate starter steps, various whips, turns and rolls. Melina will take you beyond the basics and show you the patterns that are essential for every West Coast Swing dancer.

West Coast Swing: Advanced Class

Spice up your West Coast Swing with two of the best! Ben and Melina will show you some of Ben's favorite moves along with Melina's favorite grooves and stylizations to add in.

Enjoy a free (with purchase of a group class) West Coast Swing Mini Social after the class!

Learn how to play with the Music. Learn Cool patterns you can use all the time! There more than the basic 4-steps to this dance!