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West Coast Swing

Swing is one of the liveliest social dancing styles that involve some well orchestrated lifts, spins and flips. It’s not surprising that couples with the biggest smiles and having the most fun are swing dancers. Swing is a quick, fast-paced dance where couples hold hands, which is a complete contrast to ballroom dancing where partners place hands on the shoulders or around the waist. The term ‘swing’ refers to a number of styles that includes the Lindy Hop, Jive, East Coast Swing and West Coast Swing.

The origin of the West Coast Swing

One of the smoothest, sexiest versions of the swing dance family is undoubtedly the West Coast Swing. It is danced to moderate tempo blues, R&B, and contemporary music. What’s most intriguing is that it can adopt many steps from other dance forms, which makes the West Coast Swing most versatile. The dance form originated somewhere in the late 1930s along with the some of the other styles in California and on the west coast of the United States. During the 1970s, it was known as the California Swing and was danced to contemporary music of the time. By the end of the decade it was known as West Coast Swing while it was officially made the state dance of California in 1988.

A versatile dance form

Since the late 1980s the West Coast Swing is widely pursued and recognized as among the most versatile dance forms. Many dancers across the US enjoy swinging to the blues, R&B, rock & roll, cha-cha and other popular and contemporary music. Several shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” have many contestants choose the West Coast Swing for their repertoires. When it comes to music, a large variety suits this dance form both in genre and tempo. Music with beats ranging from 80 beats per minute to 160bpm has many West Coast Swing dancers hitting the floor. From rock & roll’s ‘Stagger Lee’ by the Fabulous Thunderbirds to Ray Charles R&B classic ‘Touch’, Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon and the legendary Michael Jackson’s ‘Way You Make Me Feel’, the West Coast Swing can be done to many genres.

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A style for all ages

In the West Coast Swing, the leader is the center point of the dance while the follower goes from one point to the next in a straight line in 6 beats. The basic rhythm is Walk, Walk, cha-cha-cha (Triple Step), or a quick-quick-slow feel. For the first beat the leader walks backwards with the left leg and the follower walks forward with her right leg with smooth, not bouncy movements. Of course, there’s much more to the West Coast Swing. It’s a highly engaging dance form that’s moderately challenging but a great style for almost all ages and abilities.