What's the difference between East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, and
Lindy Hop Swing?
- East Coast Swing, also known as triple step swing, triple
timing swing, and jitterbug, has a basic count of 1&2, 3&4,
5,6. Some folks describe the basic as "triple step, triple step,
rock, step." It was the standard swing dance of 50's-era "sock
hops." The music speed is 140-175 beats per minute. This dance
has lilt (bounce) and energy. It is generally danced without strict
regard to any particular orientation or geometry. It's easy to learn.
When your parents talked about dancing the swing, this dance is probably
what they were talking about.
- West Coast Swing is danced in a slot (a linear pattern) to
slower music (generally 110-130 beats per minute). It's a smooth,
often sexy dance, and it does not have lilt and bounce. West coast
swing dancers consider their dance to be "cooler," more
chic, more sophisticated, and less barbaric than east coast swing.
West coast swing can be more difficult to learn because several foot
patterns are required and the patterns may contain 6,8,and 10 or more
counts. Common figures include 1) the push, 2) the left side pass,
3) the right side pass underarm turn, 4) tuck turn, 5) locked or "basket"
whip, 6) regular whip, 7) back whip, and 8) reverse whip. West coast
swing requires a very good sense of timing and connection.
- Lindy Hop Swing is the current rage with young people. Lindy
hop swing can involve lots of kicks and aerials (lifts and flips).
The dance uses six and eight count patterns. Common figures include
the "swing out," and the Charleston step. Lindy hop dancers
usually wear the black and white shoes and the guys might wear "Zoot
Suits." I dance the Lindy hop but I do not offer Lindy Hop Swing
The biggest problem is taking steps that are too large. Keep the steps
small, especially the "rock step." In addition, close the
feet on the "and" of the triple step. East Coast Swing is
danced almost exclusively on the balls of the feet and almost exclusively
in third foot position. The "triple steps" should be taken
by striking the floor with the inside edge of the ball of the foot.
The triple steps are also a "digging" action as opposed to
a "bouncing off the floor" action. As a triple step is taken
to the left, the hips remain to the right. As a triple step is taken
to the right, the hips switch to, and stay to, the left. In the "rock
step," the spine stays in front of the "rocking" foot.
The lilt comes from straightening the knee rather than from jumping.
Lilt and energy are important. Also, do not over-extend the arms or
jerk arms from their sockets. Keep the dance compact.
West Coast Swing requires an exceptional sense of timing and connection.
Developing the "connection" may require many hours, perhaps
years of practice. Almost all beginners rush the beat and move forward
automatically before the "one" beat. This often results from
dancing a "coaster" step (that is, a back-together-forward
step) on beats "5&6" rather than dancing an "anchor
step," as should be danced. Developing the feel and the connection
is difficult without private instruction. Another problem: too much
bounce. West coast swing DOES NOT have the lilt of east coast swing.
It's a much smoother dance than east coast swing.
<< Back to top