Ballroom Dance Club – slowing it down with West Coast Swing

Steve Holdener

After dancing a few East Coast Swing (ECS) numbers it’s nice to slow it down with a West Coast Swing (WCS). There is a big difference between the two swing dances even though they are both social partner dances. ECS is danced with fast swing music with random but tight floor spacing, while WCS is danced with slow swing music in a slot. Neither swing dance is like dances such as a waltz or foxtrot which go counter-clockwise around the dance floor.

WCS as the name would imply originated in California. It’s also been called a whip or push in its various forms, but in any case has its roots in Lindy Hop. When dancing a WCS it looks much like the follower is moving back and forth in a slotted track as if she was tied to a rubber band. The leader gets out of her way as she makes the pass. Although improvising is the norm there are some pretty basic patterns such as the sugar push, left side pass, right side pass, touch turn and whip. Usually the anchor step is a common ending pattern.

A person named Dean Collins influenced the development of this style of swing dance and it was quoted that he said there were “only two kinds of swing dance – good and bad.” Nowadays WCS is not to be confused with Western Swing which is a very different dance, although at one time this was not the case.

My favorite WCS numbers are Sixteen Tons by Tom Jones, Wade in the Water by Eva Cassidy, as well as Glory of Love by Keb’ Mo.’ Each tune has just the right pacing to allow the couple ample time to make all the pass patterns listed above. By the way, in 1988 West Coast Swing was pronounced the Official State Dance of California.

Our first dinner/dance party of the season was on November 14 with 64 dancers and our next event will be on December 27, 2014. The big one will be our January 16, 2015, Dance-A-Thon dinner/dance hosted by SBDC and Let’s Dance with club members invited from the Partners Western, Latin Rhythm, SaddleBrooke Line Dance and Argentine Tango. The menu will feature a Fajita Buffet and we will have an open bar with festive cocktail and dinner music in the background followed by a rotation of dance tunes selected by each club as we move to the dance hour(s).

You are very welcome to join us and meet new and old friends and share in the joy of dancing at our first Tuesday gatherings at the SaddleBrooke Clubhouse as well as the weekly open dances/practices. Future dinner/dances are the Let’s Dance hosted event on February 7 followed by SBDC dances on March 20 and April 11, 2015. Please visit the new Facebook page that we share with Let’s Dance for more information and feel free to share your own favorite dance story by writing me at [email protected]