Swing Discussion Boards > How to dance a 6 count WCS to 8 count music?

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by rawtothebone, Dec 26, 2007.

  1. rawtothebone

    rawtothebone New Member

    Hey. I have a question. I have been told that wcs is a 6 count dance. Rock step, triple step, triple step. That is a six count right?

    But most music that it is danced to is 8 count I am pretty sure. It confuses me because I am used to doing salsa where I step forward with my left foot every 1 count. With WCS being a 6 count, the rock step can be on any note which feels, I guess the only way I can put it, wrong. It doesnt feel natural to not rock step everytime on the 1.

    So can anyone explain to me how the 6 count dance can be danced to an 8 count and still feel natural?
  2. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Keeping in mind that "natural" doesn't necessarily mean easy...

    The short answer is that we express the eightness of the music with things other than our basic footwork.

    There are longer answers in the links in my signature.
  3. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Hi Raw, there's a lengthy discussion of timing in this thread.
  4. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Here's a middle answer...

    Disclaimer: most people associate rock-step triple triple with east coast swing, rather than west coast swing (typically walk-walk triple triple when working in units of 6 beats). If you did mean east coast, the answers below may not be relevant.

    The problem of six against eight is one of the things that gives wcs a steep initial learning curve. In practice, it means that there are two counts that one worries about; the pattern count and the music count. (A few other dances share this problem; e.g hustle, Fox trot). The good news is that you only need to worry about the pattern count while learning the pattern - once it becomes second nature, you can focus on the music like you would in every other dance.

    Note: that west coast swing uses both 6 count and 8 count patterns also contributes to the initial learning curve. Classes typically start with 6 count patterns first, then introduce the 8 count patterns.

    To connect the pattern to the music, we play with the dynamic expression of the pattern. If you like, you can think of our 6 count basics actually being four different patterns - one expressing no accent, one expressing an accent at the beginning of the pattern, one expressing an accent in the middle, and one expressing an accent at the end. Which one you use depends on where you are in the music.

    As it happens, there are a couple of interesting advantages available to us. Most of the time, the principle dynamic accent falls on count 1. If we were only dancing 8 count patterns, that accent would necessarily fall on count 1 of the pattern. We also have the option of using six count patterns to move where that dynamic accent will fall (relative to our pattern count), which gives us a more options for The Big Drama [tm].

    Another advantage: in the wcs world, not all of our songs are in 8s all the way through. 4s, 6s, and even the occasional 2 pop up in the middle of the song. Because our pattern count is not locked into the music count, we can make the adjustments we need to on the fly.

    Does that help?
  5. bjp22tango

    bjp22tango Active Member

    Welcome to DF rawtothebone

    As well as the two threads above - WC is not only 6 count patterns. It's just the count most used to start beginners. There are many 8 count and more count continuous patters/actions that will help you keep with the phrasing of the music, but will come after the basic actions are taught.
  6. chandra

    chandra New Member

    I second dancelf's post. I think you have your coasts confused!
  7. rawtothebone

    rawtothebone New Member


    Wow! You are all extremely helpful. This totally explains what I am looking for.

    I am very new to music and dance and beats and accents etc. I never knew it was so complex. I understand it though, and yes, I am talking about wcs. Not east coast.

    Thanks for the 6 to 8 thread and others. There is such as wealth of information here. I was really impressed by that john lindo and blake video. OMG! She was amazing and for a big guy, john can really move. It was nice to see other wcs videos other than doug stiliton, myles and tessa and jordan and tatianna.

    I will definitely be hanging out here. Thanks again guys!
  8. chandra

    chandra New Member

    k, if you dont have your coasts mixed up, I have a concern:

    The timing of WCS is generally walk walk triple triple (for the 6 count patterns) Although I hate to use an ultimatum in anything WCS related, I'm having a hard time thinking of an example in which a rock step would be used.
    I hate to be abrupt, and obviously I cant see what your being taught, but if you are actually being taught a "rock step" in basic WCS, I might look for other options in instruction.

    The 1 2 of WCS is typically two walking steps forward for the lady, two walking steps back for the man. (of course, generally speaking, in basics, etc.)
    Is that what your being taught?
  9. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    I'm with Chandra, I've learned two differfent variations on a "basic" for WCS (and of course there are a lot more than that), but there's no rock step in either. Either walk, walk tap step triple (coaster) step, or walk walk triple triple (coaster on second) step. And don't exactly remember how second works. WCS was one of last things I dabbled in before I moved, and so it isn't really set well in memory. :)
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Skippy Blair, who has been teaching WCS since the 50s, and others, state that one of the big differences between WCS and all other kinds of swing is the absence of that moving away from your partner that you get with the rock, or back step.

    WCS used to have a coaster step, rather than an anchor step, which is another defining characteristic. The coaster step is still taught and used, however, but usually not by beginners. Maybe whoever told you this saw someone doing coaster steps and is calling them rock steps???

    And sort of in line with what Dancelf wrote, "natural" usually means what you are used to doing. There arer lots of things that will feel "natural" after you have done them enough times.

    There has to be a way to educate people about music without them getting locked into 4s, 8s, etc. What we seem to end up with, to a large extent, are people who know how to count the steps in a pattern, but don't know how do it in time to the music.
  11. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    That would be a pretty strange mistake to make, given that a coaster step has the wrong number of weight changes and happens on the wrong end of the pattern.
  12. chachachacat

    chachachacat Well-Known Member

    Sometimes an EC Swing basic with a tuck turn release is taught to beginners to get them started. Yes, it does confuse the heck out of newbies, but that's mostly how it's taught here on the west coast. They call it a "Starter Step."
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Oh, yeah!
    It confused the heck out me, too!
  14. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    Basically, the music is phrased in 8 beats, but the dance has its own count. I've seen others get confused by the fact that there are two different counts going on.

    There are different classifications of dances depending on how well they fit those 8-beat phrases and how they divide up the beat -- no, I don't really know that part of theory. Salsa and merengue and nightclub two-step only consist of 8-count steps, so they stay on-phrase from start to finish. ECS only consists of 6-count steps, so it's almost constantly out-of-phrase (at least that's my understanding of ballroom ECS; I learned ECS through Lindy, which has much the same mix of counts as WCS has).

    Now, WCS not only has 6-count moves, but also 8-count (eg, the whips), 10 or 12 counts, even a 4-count that I can think of (a cut-off underarm turn). And a move can be extended. So part of the training of the leader is to figure out what-count moves to use to get back on-phrase. Part of what comes into play there is that the music contains major phrases, groupings of the 8-beat minor phrases, usually in groupings of 4 (32 beats), though that can vary. Plus bridges of odd (ie, not a multiple of 8) size between major phrases. Not normally something that beginners are expected to worry about, but know that it's there.

    For example, one teacher teaches a "basic 32" which will end with you right on-phrase. Four (4) 6-count moves followed by a whip (8-count) which is 32 beats. You start it on the 1 and your next move will start on the 1.

    BTW, I met a good friend in Lindy class and helped her move on to WCS. She had had years of experience dancing salsa and the rhythms of Lindy just drove her crazy. She told me that it's so different than salsa and so much more complex. So if you're having trouble transitioning from salsa to WCS, don't worry. You're in good company.
  15. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    Do you remember Tom and Julie Mattox? They taught some rather elaborate starter steps with turns, cut-offs, bumps, etc. The simplest that Julie taught was for the beginning class: in closed position triple forward, then she triples back as he continues forward and he places her right hand into his right, a "put her behind you" that sets up for a side pass.

    One teacher teaches the simple triple-triple that you're refering to, but as an 8-count move so that you'll start on-phrase. Instead of the standard even-odd-even-odd rhythm, we do a even-even-odd-odd. For the two evens, we substitute holds (zero steps taken, but still marking time). So it's hold-hold-5&6-7&8.

    BTW, since I learned ECS through Lindy, we'd always slow-dance during the intro (what Frankie Manning refered to as "jockeying", basically both partners getting onto the same beat) so that for the first step we'd have some place to start from, and then start with a rock-step on the 1 -- in Lindy, most all moves start with a rock-step.
  16. rawtothebone

    rawtothebone New Member

    Thanks guys, maybe I heard it wrong from my friends. It may not be a rock step after all I will check again on that.

    I was at my friend Lucky's party tonight and they had some amazing wcs dancers there. Spins, drops, whips the whole 9, very amazing. Something interesting I noticed is that they didn't seem to be too concerned about starting on the 1 like I am talking about. Mostly what they were concerned about was having fun, and moving their feet to the beat. As long as their feet were on beat, it seemed to work out. I guess as a beginner they teach me more patterns and standard stuff so I can free flow later.

    Also, I have been reading a lot of replies about the different counts and beats, 4s, 8s, etc. Can anyone point me to a good basic thread for me, someone who has no idea about the basics of movements. I have been listening to songs more by counting the beats, and seeing where the accents happen on. I actually don't even know what an accent officialy is so any thread that describes basic terminology would be helpful also!
  17. RickRS

    RickRS Member

    This is the beginner in me, but HOW do you know you're on beat 1 and not beat 3 of 4/4? The reason for the question I don't see a difference between 4/4 and 2/4 on the accent of the beat the way pop music is played. So any downbeat becoming my yardstick for staying on time (altho as a beginner just staying on time with the beat and the steps is a problem in itself :)). From this, 6 count steps vs. 8 count steps don't mess me up. Ignorant is bliss :D
  18. chuck4788

    chuck4788 Member

    My wife is a musician and the mismatch of WCS patterns to music phrasing drove her crazy. A dance instructor had her practice WCS patterns using 1 2 1 2 1 2 and that helped her a lot.
  19. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    RickRS, fi you search, there a lot of threads on DF here about finding the downbeat (or 1) in a vvariety of styles of music. Having been around music (choir, band, etc) all my life, I just do it without even thinking, but I know it can be really hard for a beginner. The other threads answer your question a lot better than I ever could though, so they're worth looking for. There's at least one in here and one in salsa forum, both pretty recent.
  20. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    I grew up in a musical family. I was trying to explain the WCS 6-count pattern/8-count music mismatch to my mom, a music teacher. In exasperation, she exclaimed "but what happens to the 7-8?" :grin:

    Finally she got what I was talking about. She said in music, that sort of mismatch usually only happens in complicated styles such as advanced jazz improvisation.

    I also have found that thinking of the patterns in two's helps me a lot.

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