West Coast Swing

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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.[4] The Anchor Step is a common ending pattern of many West Coast Swing figures.[1][2]

Contents

History

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]

Dean Collins, who arrived in the Los Angeles area around 1937 after learning to dance at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, was influential in developing the style of swing danced on the West Coast of the United States, as both a performer and teacher. When his wife, Mary Collins, was asked if Dean was responsible for the emergence of the dance, however, she said that Dean insisted there were "only two kinds of swing dance - good and bad".[4]

Lauré Haile, Arthur Murray National Dance Director, and an instructor of teachers[5] documented swing dancing as done in the Los Angeles area and used the name "Western Swing". Murray had used the same name, "Western Swing", in the late 1930s for a different dance.[6] Haile included Western Swing in Dance Notebooks she authored for Arthur Murray during the 1950s. Western Swing was also called "Sophisticated Swing" in the 1950s. [5]

Western swing, country boogie, and, with a smaller audience, jump blues were popular on the West Coast throughout the 1940s and into the 1950s when they were renamed and marketed as rock 'n' roll in 1954. Dancers danced "a 'swingier' - more smooth and subdued" form of Jitterbug to Western Swing music.[7]

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