Swing Discussion Boards > East Coast versus West Coast versus Jive

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Br0nze, Aug 9, 2009.

  1. Br0nze

    Br0nze Active Member

    Out of general curiosity, what would be the main difference between the three? Is it the technique alone with which the steps are executed or is it something else?

    And also, what are you more partial to dancing, and why? What is the easiest of the three (in your opinion), and what is the hardest?
  2. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I find west coast to be more relaxed and sexy, very little up and down...jive is certainly fastest and it is harder to get alot of swing in because of the speed...IMo there is something to love and something to hate about each of them...but they do strike me as three fairly distinct creatures moving from jive to ecs to wcs...w/ecs having elements of both in it...just my very lay-persons view on it
  3. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    So the question made me curious how many swing styles there are. I asked Google for 'styles of swing dancing', and it gave me (among other things) this:


    (I suppose that the description there of "Rock and Roll" as a European street dance somewhat correlates with the treatment it gets in Victor Sylvester's book.)
  4. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    There are variations upon a theme ( musically speaking ) that have evolved over the yrs.. from Lindy to Jive.. and in between, here,s a few..

    E. and W. Coast swing... Texas Push.. Shag.. Balboa.. Bop..

    Styles evolve due to musical changes.. going from 2/4 to 4/4 was a major paradigm shift..
  5. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    The three derived differently from Lindy Hop, which was the original swing dancing of the 30's and 40's.

    ECS is a simplified form, which some accounts descibe as being what the studios came up with to teach swing dancing. Mainly 6-count moves.

    As Lindy spread, regional differences began to develop. The history of Jive that I heard is that it was what Europeans developed as they learned Lindy from the American GIs and which then was assimilated into ballroom. Ballroom is infamous for over-exagerating features of a dance that it assimilates, almost to the point of creating a caricature of the original dance. When I've seen Jive danced, I could still identify some of the Lindy moves, but it's all so jumpy and overblown that it's simply not the same.

    The regional differences increased as the music changed. The better known regional dances that evolved out of Lindy are Carolina Shag, Texas Push, and West Coast Swing (in So.Calif.). WCS still has the 6-count and 8-count basic rhythms of Lindy and a number of moves are still similar (eg, whips), but it no longer swings (since the music it's danced to doesn't) and it's also danced differently. The most noticable difference, besides the dancers' stance and attitude, is that the leader rocks back while the follower steps forward on 1 -- in Lindy and ECS, both leader and follower rock back, though Lindy has the rock-step on 1 whereas ECS has it on 5.

    WCS has a number of very active communities and is still going strong -- whenever any event or organization is simply described as "Swing", it's most often WCS. ECS is a popular form for casual social dancing. Jive appears to only exist in the ballroom world.

    WCS is considered to be the most difficult form to learn, though that does not match my own experience. Because WCS is danced almost entirely in one-hand open position, that means that connection much more important and that the follower must know her part of the dance. For this reason, WCS is referred to as an "educated dance." Because ECS uses closed position a lot more, it is possible to dance with a complete novice follower (someone who had never before tried to dance ECS) and be able to lead her through most of the dance, whereas it is virtually impossible to do the same with a complete novice in WCS. One of the unfortunate things that develop from WCS being an educated dance is that too often teachers and students will concentrate more on learning moves and routines than on developing good lead-and-follow technique.

    ECS tends to be the easiest form to learn. I cannot speak for Jive.

    But might I suggest that you try learning Lindy? ECS has been incorporated back into the dance, but it offers so much more than simple ECS.
    ocean-daughter likes this.
  6. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Aside from the difference in steps, a key difference among the three is the music.
    East Coast Swing: usually '40's big band music, '50's rock, or classic rock
    West Coast Swing: usually blues, R&B, or current pop music
    Jive: usually faster swing, rock, or rockabilly

    Also, Jive is a ballroom Latin competition dance and isn't done much socially, whereas East and West Coast swing are more social dances (although you could compete in them if you want). My personal favorite is West Coast Swing because I like the music the best, and the dance is so versatile and lends itself to a lot of personal style and interpretation. I would say that WCS probably involves the hardest lead-and-follow skills.
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    The url DL listed


    is a pretty good summary for a pretty big subject.

    Jive a "Street Dance"?

    American soldiers brought [[Lindy Hop]]/[[Jitterbug]] to Europe around 1940, where this dance swiftly found a following among the young. In the United States the term Swing became the most common word used to describe the dance.
    How to become a Good Dancer by Arthur Murray 1947 Simon and Schuster. revised edition. page 175.

    In the UK variations in technique led to styles such as Boogie-Woogie and Swing Boogie, with "Jive" gradually emerging as the generic term.
    Let's Dance. Paul Bottomer. 1998. Black Dog & Leventhal. page 157. ISBN 1-57912-049-0

    "Street Dance" is a pretty "odd", ill defined term, in the sense that even Lindy Hop was taught by early Savoy dancers. You don't read that very often because it flies in the face of what everyone "knows" to be true. Those early Savoy dancers, DID, however create the dance, and many people learned by watching, etc.
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Lauré Haile, Arthur Murray National Dance Director in the 50s (and 60s?) was the first one to document swing dancing as done in the Los Angeles area and used the name "Western Swing". In her written materials for the Bronze lever she included single, double, and triple timing, and Lindy, or Turn, Rhythm.
    To me it seems obvious that she was well aware of the complexities of swing, and included it in this "Bronze" level.
    She even writes that the student should be able to dance all patterns in each of the timings before going on.

    Blair simpified the dance along with changing the name to West Coast Swing.

    The 1971 "Encyclopedia of Social Dance" includes the following "Western Swing is for the advanced dancer rather than the beginner or intermediate student. This is the answer for "What to do after advanced Lindy"." Butler. page 140.
    (Bulter was based in New York, based on who published the book. Blair, et al, had already been making chages, including the name change to "West Coast Swing" by 1971, making the dance more accessable.)
  9. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    Jive can mean different things. There is Jive as in Latin ballroom, and there is Jive as in Modern Jive. They are very different in style. The first is a very formal dance, maybe the most formal of the dances derived from Lindy Hop (swing dances). The latter is perhaps the least formal of all. I think Modern Jive is mostly danced in Europe, but I'm not an American so I might be mistaken. However, my impression is that East Coast Swing has the same place in America as Modern Jive in Europe, as the simplest most informal of the swing dances.

    Modern Jive comes in many different variations. Some totally informal, and some are trademarked like Ceroc.

    I could speak some more about differences in style, music and so forth between East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing and Modern Jive. But with so many people here knowing so much more than me about WCS and ECS, I don't really dare. :)

    While talking about ambiguous names, Rock'n'Roll also means two different things. One is acrobatic Rock'n'Roll, which is a competition dance with lots of acrobatics, and not much swing (not usually performed to swing music). The other is more related to Modern Jive and ECS, but danced to 50's rock'n'roll music.
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    And, just because I've looked for this before, and came across it, and want to get it out there.
    Haile wrote (this was in the 50s) in the description of "Western Swing"...
    "Altho' triples are taken to 2 beats, they should not be "equalized" - they slould (sic) still have a feeling of "syncopation" similar in count to "quick-quick-slow".
  11. Br0nze

    Br0nze Active Member

    This is proving to be quite informative, if I do say so. Thanks, guys.

    My knowledge of ECS and WCS is rather limited since I've only been trained in Jive as a result of my years of International Latin dancing. But recently I've been introduced to the "American Style" and as a result of said introduction to Swing. I was pleasantly surprised, at lease I suppose I can say I was, at the similarities of Triple Swing and Jive, but since my knowledge is limited, I do not hesitate to turn to those who know more than me :)p) in finding out more and more.

    I've never danced Lindy, but I am aware of its influence on most of the 'Swing Dances.' Turns out it's far greater than I imagined, and there are many more variations than I ever heard of (Carolina Shag, Balboa, Bugg, etc) but it's good to know.
  12. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    And a further variation of Bugg is "Double Bug", in which one man dances with two women at the same time. Story we heard was that in 80's there were a lot more women than men dancing, so they started doubling up. Now they have Double Bug competitions.

    Hasse and Marie, two instructors from Sweden, would teach it at Camp Hollywood -- I haven't seen them listed as instructors for the past couple years. Sylvia Sykes would join in as the second woman and, since each woman's role is a bit different, they would refer to blonde Marie and brunette Sylvia by hair color during instruction. After that, the running joke is that it wouldn't work if you get two partners with the same hair color. And if you get a redhead, then all bets are off!

    During our 24-hour Lindy danceathon this year, I saw somebody dancing Double Bal. But just as I realized I should have been filming it and got my camera out and ready, they switched to something else. Looked interesting, especially the lollies and the throwout -- as the girls were turning as they came back in from the throwout, they would switch places.
  13. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I think you are totally right from a dancer's perspective. Who would have imagined one fun dance could get groups so upset with each other that they would each take that same dance, give it their own name, and go set their own rules for how to do the same thing? Those dancer battles must have been something to see. Steve has a constant stream of weird book quotes from before I was born explaining each groups correctness. Uncle Joe is still raging mad about battles that happened before the Korean War????? Go figure ...
  14. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    One clarification: East Coast Swing is NOT Lindy Hop. Not by a long shot. Lindy Hop is closer to WCS, in reality. ECS tends to be more circular and while Lindy is somehwate circular and not as slotted as WCS, the movements and timing are closer to WCS (whips, etc). A WCS dancer will be able to follow Lindy Hop easily, but someone with only ECS training will not.

    Lindy Hop; East Coast Swing; West Coast Swing; Jive
  15. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    The only thing to be "right" about is who wrote what when, and who did what in what film.
    There, we can measure things more or less objectively.
    I believe that Haile took a generally more slotted "Western" or "West Coast" dance, (more so than Lindy Hop) as done in the LA basin, and added words/ "rule" using NEVER and ALWAYS, she picked a subset of everything that was going on.

    If you've read about the Haile (I found an article from Dance Teacher magazine that details her life), you realize that she was very talented and able to explain complicated things. (Most of the stuff currently on line doesn't do her justice.) She wasn't made National Director for Murray Studios for nothing.

    But, I doubt that she would say that other people were "wrong" if they danced Lindy Hop, or East Coast swing. She certainly didn't write that. Of course if you didn't stay in the slot, you weren't dancing "Western Swing", I guess.

    So, like Skippy Blair wrote, ""The only problem that exists in SWING is when someone decides there is only ONE WAY to dance it. There is never only ONE WAY to do anything ..."
  16. LindyKeya

    LindyKeya Member

    Uhm, I don't really agree. All Lindy Hoppers know "East Coast Swing." I don't know of any Lindy Hoppers who do not include "East Coast Swing" moves (we'll say the 6 count basic and things like that count?) in their dancing. Not all "East Coast Swing" dancers know Lindy. BUT a good lead can lead a good follow with only training in ECS or WCS to do Lindy (and all the opposites). And Lindy is certainly more circular than ECS, although it can be done more slotted (esp. if we want to dig into old/tired/dead Savoy vs. Hollywood debates). While a swingout is similar in pattern to a whip, it certainly feels more like ECS than WCS.

    And quite frankly, I challenge anyone to give me the line where ECS separates from Lindy. It's fuzzy for WCS and Lindy, but I bet 50% of WCS dancers/ Lindy hoppers would agree on the general demarcation.

    And Jive is, well, ECS with different technique and different names for turns (but then in ECS - not specifically Am. Style Swing - everything has 9 thousand different names, so that's neither here nor there).

    Your "Lindy" video example is much faster than the average lindy hopper is happy dancing. Your "ECS" example is a rather sad example of Am. Style Swing (the music, was, well, not a good choice, even if it was doable). Your WCS example is show WCS, and is faster than most WCS dancers are happy dancing.
  17. LindyKeya

    LindyKeya Member

    I've found myself a few times in something to the effect of Quadruple Bal - it works, up to a point. You have to make sure to keep the follows in order of arm/leg length. You can't be short and at the end of the line of follows.
  18. Nybz

    Nybz New Member

  19. Br0nze

    Br0nze Active Member

    Pivots? ;)
  20. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    Are you talking about something like Four-Play? A WCS routine in which two couples repeatedly swap followers. When a third couple joins in, it becomes Mass Confusion. I've been in one consisting of six couples.

    I also learned to dance WCS with two partners. Never quite got the hang of the whip, though. At one point after having led them in an underarm turn and side pass so that my arms were crossed in front of me, the teacher told my partners, "Make a wish!"

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