Origins of West Coast Swing

Since the late 1920s, swing dancing has been a popular style of partner dancing. The original Lindy Hop is the inspiration for all swing style dances, including East Coast Swing, Balboa, and Shag. West Coast Swing was developed in the late 1950s and initially called Sophisticated Swing or Western Swing. It became popular with dancers who desired a smoother style of swing with the upright posturing of a traditional ballroom dance. What sets the West Coast Swing apart from other swing style dances is its interpretive nature. While it is a partner dance, it allows each dancer to move more freely and encourages movements in response to the music. The dance relies more heavily on spontaneity and is often characterized by elongated extension-compression techniques between partners.

How to West Coast Swing

West Coast Swing uses a slotted dance style. The dance slot is an imaginary rectangle where the leader generally stays in one place, and the follower moves back and forth from their partner. Some believe that slot dancing originated from Hollywood movies that were only able to film a small portion of the dance floor during dance scenes. West Coast Swing uses the basic step, step, rock step footing that is common to swing dances. However, while the East Coast Swing moves in a circular pattern, the West Coast Swing performs these steps in an elongated line style. The dancers push apart and pull back together in long, sweeping moves.

Learn to West Coast Swing

West Coast Swing is unique because it is less dependent on one person leading and encourages each dancer to create a visual interpretation of the music. West Coast Swing works well with medium tempo music, such as country, blues, soul, and rock.

Whether you want to learn how to dance West Coast Swing socially or competitively, Arthur Murray offers lessons for dancers of all skill levels.

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