The Differences of the West Coast Swings

Now I know I have spoken a lot about ballroom and very little about West Coast Swing (WCS), so I will give you a brief run down of what WCS is so you a general idea of what I am talking about. For those of you who don’t know what WCS is, it is a Swing dance, hence the name, that came from Lindy Hop and/or the Jitterbug. East Coast Swing and eventually Jive also were born from these dances, but we won’t go into that dance. WCS, just like all the other swing type dances, has a set of triple steps set in the basic patter. In WCS’s case the pattern goes walk, walk, triple step, triple step (or 1, 2, 3&4, 5&6 for those who are more musically or mathematically inclined). But WCS has something very different from the other partner dances that makes it completely unique, and that is its connection and anchor step. Compared to the Latin dances or the other swing dances, WCS has a very elastic connection. It goes from extension to compression and back again throughout the entire dance. The anchor step is your last triple, or 5&6. This step lets you settle back into the extension of the connection, and allows you to be steady and prepped for what ever is coming next. I will include some links down below so that you can see real WCS in action.

Now, with that being said, there are varying ways that pros go about teaching West Coast, and varying ways that people go about learning West Coast. One way some people learn is by learn a few basic moves, such as pushes, tuck turns, hammer locks, whips, and passes, but mainly learn the technique that goes behind the connection and the anchor step and how you use them to make a flowing dance. Another way people learn how to go about dancing is learn figures, or patterns as we refer to them in the WCS community, and more figures, and very little technique in the beginning. Now there isn’t inheretly wrong with just learning patterns and building up your knowledge base of moves, however WCS is still dancing, it is still an art form, therefore there is still important technique to do said dance properly.

The biggest problem I have, is that, particularly in the Ballroom Dance community, people think they have ballroom technique so they don’t need to bother with learning WCS technique. This makes me want to rip out my hair. Ballroom technique can help you learn the technique for WCS, but it is not the end all and be all of dance technique. The conection is completely different, and there is nothing like the anchor step in ballroom anywhere. It’s kind of like saying, just because you take draw means you can paint. No! Sure drawing helps painting, and sure the ideas of composition change, but dry and wet media react differently with the surface to which you are applying them too. You still need to learn painting techniques if you want to be a good painter.

And there is huge problem with people just wanting to learn patterns and no technique. However, this dance without the proper connection or anchor step is not West Coast Swing. That is what makes this dance different from all the rest. Those two concepts are what disinquishes West Coast from East Coast swing, or from Jive, or from lindy hop.

If you just want to learn this dance for fun, fine! Have fun with it. But don’t come looking to me if you expect me to praise your technique. I have no problems if WCS is just a hobby on the side of ballroom. I know a lot of people do that, but don’t get upset about something we might point out if you ask us for help or arrogant about something you don’t know about.

If you have any comments or questions please leave them in the comment section below!

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_i_IzBEunOE <– This is a video of pro Participating in a Strictly Competition. Strictly’s are usually with a set partner, but dancing to an “unknown” song, meaning it is all improve or lead follow. There is no set routine, you just kind of go. In this particular instance, the pros decided to mix it up and dance with people who aren’t their normal partners. My favorite couple was Benji and Tatiana. 🙂 Enjoy!

 

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