West Coast Swing: The Scheme of It
Done usually to funky or bluesy music, west coast swing is danced at swing dances from coast to coast in the United States. It is the primary form of swing dancing in the western United States and it is the official State dance of California. Though west coast swing is quite in evidence in the swing dance scene in the eastern United States, lindy and jitterbug at present are the most common swing dance forms there. We are not sure of the swing dance mix in the middle States or elsewhere.
West coast swing is a slot dance. What is a slot dance? If you draw a straight line about 7 feet long, that's the line or slot that the woman will move along. Generally the woman will not walk (or dance) off of the slot. Back and forth she'll go.
Meanwhile, the man stays in the vicinity of the midpoint of the 7 foot line and does one of two things. He either
- Stays on the midpoint of the slot blocking the path of the lady and thereby signalling that she will not be moving to the other side of the slot; or
- steps off of the slot slightly to the right or left, thereby allowing the woman to walk past him to the other side of the line.
Graphically the slot may be represented as follows:
Woman Here-X---------------------X Man Here--------------------X Other Side of the slot
The man is kind of like a door. If the man is standing on the line (or slot), the door is closed and the woman approaches it (him) and returns (usually backing up). If the man is off of the slot (and thereby out of the woman's way), the door is open and the woman travels to the other side of the line. All of this will be much clearer when you see the videos in the pages which follow.
As mentioned, generally the woman stays in the slot. Depending on the movements ("leads") of the man, the lady will do various turns as she travels back and forth. While doing the moves or sequences, the man and woman step in a rhythm -- that is, in a series of quick steps and slow steps. West coast swing has 2 primary stepping rhythms called "6-count" and "8-count".
Chapter 1 looks at 6-count moves. Chapter 2 deals with 8-count. "6-count moves" and "8-count moves" is shorthand for "what the feet do during 6 counts of music", etc..
Chapter 3 will introduce some commonly employed moves. Chapter 4 will look at a few variations of the previous moves.
There is quite a bit of material in this course. If you stick with it, you will be more than ready to dance west coast swing.
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