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. Gypsy Wishing

    Gypsy Wishing New Member

    Dancelf - you're right, I was disoriented.
    I read your 6's and 8's stuff, great information, best advice, listen to a lot of music.
    Do you consider right brain listening (analytic) or left brain listening (intuitive) more useful.
    Do I have the right and left mixed up. like the right and left coast.
  2. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    I don't know, because I'm not convinced that I understand the distinction you are trying to draw. That is to say, while I'm fairly comfortable discussing the progression of an analytic approach, I haven't the foggiest idea what an intuitive parallel would be.

    Because I understand the analytic approach (and because it works for me), I'm inclined to guess that is the more useful way to go. But one of the best followers I know clearly demonstrated to me that she had learned to match her movement to the music without the analysis.

    In terms of endgame, I can't persuade myself there is a difference; I don't know of anything that would appear in the music that an analytic dancer would get that an intuitive dancer would miss, or vice versa. The difference, if there is one, would maybe show up in the intermediate stages.

    d nice? Can you help me out here?
  3. Dance Pizazz

    Dance Pizazz New Member

    I was taught WCS by a Masters Champ in the UCWDC who I partnered with for a very short time in the beginning of my ballroom career.

    The thing I've observed is a difference between the ballroom circuits and the swing/ucwdc circuits, in how the dance is processed mentally, emotionally and sometimes the tempo of music and resultant movement characteristics you get from that.

    Think of the music as the water....you dancing are the boat. Do what the water tells you to do. Is it choppy? Is it calm and rising?

    Please chime in and let me know what you guys have observed but here are mine:

    Ballroom types typically dance WCS to a faster tempo swing than Swing/Country swing people, and the dance seems a bit more choppy/poppy than the WCS I see socially at the Swing Clubs.

    The lesson my former partner taught me was that there really is no specific "time" you as follower would step forward...except when you are invited or led to do so, by your connection to your leader. Otherwise, you follow the last lead given, which was probably to return to your anchor step/coaster step. I find that the good dancers don't anticipate another "walk-walk"...but rather are focusing on my lead and are being sensitive to what I'm about to ask them to do...

    Hope that helps. Very nice thread too, everyone.
  4. kayak

    kayak Active Member


    I think it is really fun how the UCWDC and Swing Dance Council work so well together. Yea, I think it is really really fun that the two groups like to dance slower tempos. Along with WCS, the tempo of Night Club 2-step and ChaCha are generally slower than the ballroom world as well. One thing about going slow is it really makes me work on my controlling my body motion.

    For me, I find it a lot easier to play with the slow rhythms by taking footwork out than I do playing with faster rhythms by adding extra steps. I can choreograph extra steps, but hitting them on the fly is something I will have to play with more. Maybe that could be my New Years resolution :)
  5. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    This to me (and I expect most improvisational dancers)is rather like explaining how you catch a ball when it is thrown to you.

    When you start the six and eight beat patterns have to be engraved in head so you know exactly where you should be at any point in the in the dance.

    This will produce the 'pulsed' look that is so important to all Swing dances.

    As the other posters have said, forget about the music at this stage, just concentrate on getting in out of the pattern or move on time.

    When you are at the point where you stop counting in 6 and 8's and know instinctively when to anchor its time to start listening to the music.

    You've learned how to catch a beach ball thrown directly in front of you while standing still - now you've got to catch while you are moving.

    As the music progresses you alter and change the patterns, extending, and mixing them so they intersect perfectly with what is happening in the music.

    This is as easy as catching a baseball thrown at high speed across the front of you above your head while you are running downhill.

    Now I'm sure someone could explain how to do that - but that is not how we learn to dance or catch.

    The reality is we practise and practise till we get it right, we don't know exactly what we are doing with our feet we just know that they should be a point B when the music is at point A, we don't think about details of what is happening anymore than you think about the details of where you are putting your feet when running across a baseball field.

    It's just intuitive. . . .but getting that intuition takes endless practise
  6. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Seeing as you are a " late comer " to the genre, you need to know that was quite the opposite many yrs ago .

    Up tempo swings on the W coast, were usually reserved for E.C.S. and, if you taught in Chain schools on the E.Coast, chances are that you would have vey little exposure if any, to WCS . So.. when finally it did make a transition to the East, they were conditioned to slightly faster tempos .
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    We touched on some of this in the "original music..." thread.
    For me, ECS with a triple, triple, is no harder than WCS and its triple. (What made WCS hard for me was the "open postion" and the woman "waiting for a lead" at the end of each pattern making me feel like I was "on the spot") But, when I first learned "East Coast", I learned two slows and a rock step. Now, that works better with fast music. But I've come to find out that many people learn ECS with the triples.

    Yeah, let me sort of echo tt's comment(s).
    WCS has been danced to music slow to fast and everything in between.
    I've learned a lot about Bill Black, first mentioned (to my knowledge) in this forum by tangotine in the "original music..." thread.
    Bill Black is best know, perhaps, as one of two musicians Elvis was teamed with in July 1954 as Sam Phillips searched for saleable music. Although he played western swing and country, ELVIS PRESLEY SCOTTY & BILL became known as "rockabillies". Bill played bass for Presley until about 1957? Then he started his own group - The Bill Black Combo. The music they played was pretty much R&B.
    (Ha! I just hit MSN, and they label them as "instrumental rock" "Memphis Soul" http://shopping.msn.com/specs/best-...st-of-bill-black-s-combo-the-hi-records-years) Er, but what do you call "Tequila"? Well, let's say they sold well in the R&B market. Their music was also popular with strippers (sorry for the juxtaposition!).

    As it was for musicians, so it is for the dance. Fast, to "Dance to the Bop", slow to the Bill Black Combo, back then.
    I hate to see people generalize about "speed" in WCS
    because my experience at a country western dance halls tells me that people (still) dance WCS to a wide range of tempos. But, I have to admit I never see "ballroom types" dancing.
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    The most popular by a long "chalk ".. students seem to prefer the syncop. rhythms (but not in the UK )
  9. sababa

    sababa New Member

    Salsero a bit confused


    I am a social dance Salsero.
    Recently, i took a Swing workshop and i found it a bit difficult to adapt to the 6-beat basic step while dancing to music which is 8-beat cyclic. AFAIK, in Latin dance styles the basic step is always coherent with the song's rhythm, so it felt very strange to not end the basic at the end of the music's bar.
    Is this a common problem with people like me? Any tips on how to overcome this?
  10. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    First thing to understand.. not all dances are constructed rhythmically the same way. This " 6 beat " situation also occurs in some of the Smooth dances .

    After you complete your 2nd basic, it will complete a 3 bar " cycle ".

    One has to look at the bigger picture in dance, when making musical comparisons .
  11. Ithink

    Ithink Active Member

    I know several excellent salsa dancers who have been confused by this "phenomenon" in swing. It's hard for them to make the switch...
  12. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    this made me crazy, too, until I figured out to think of the steps in a longer phrase, i.e. several step patterns put together. I've noticed the good leaders are able to do this, in order to be able to hit the break or the end of the musical phrase. I'm not a leader but I would think it takes a while to develop that skill.
  13. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Yes, it's a common problem. "Get over it" is the only practical advice I've heard on the topic.

    One observation that may help: we don't ignore the bar in the music; but the pieces don't fit naturally. So what ends up happening is that we play Tetris, turning things about so that the accents in the patterns naturally fall with the accents in the music.

    Although we normally only teach one "sugar push", it's not entirely wrong to think that there are four different ones to be learned (starting on counts 1,3,5,7 of the eight beat "mini-phrase").

    As a rule, though, it doesn't make sense to start worrying about that until you can perform the desired movements without thinking about them.
  14. basicarita

    basicarita Member

    You know, it's always seemed to me -- full disclaimer, musician first before dancer -- that it's precisely the combination of those two things which creates the problem(of people having trouble doing steps/patterns in time to the music).

    If most dance combinations were taught in groups of 8 counts instead of 6, it would match perfectly with most music used for swing/ballroom/latin* dance because most of that music is composed in 8-count phrases.

    There are times when I wonder if whoever made up these 6-count sets in the first place just did it to complicate things unneccessarily. They certainly seem to cause more timing/rhythm problems than they solve.

    (*Yes, even latin - the music feels like something other than 8 because there are so many additional contrapuntal rhythms inside. But that's another entire subtopic.)
  15. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    Good advice dancelf.

    Another thing to point out is that you can do stuff with the anchor step and the length of the slot, both of which can be extended or shortened.. . . but as you point out, that comes after you've grasped the basic principles.

    And of course its the 'Tetris' game that makes swing so much fun :)

    In fact its the discovery that there is a 'Tetris game' involved that makes you a Swing dancer
  16. BLong206b

    BLong206b New Member

    Counting Swing

    I believe swing should often be counted to 2, not always to 6 or 8.
    Look at what weight changes happen every 2 beats.

    for east coast swing as an example: Rock Step, Tri ple step, Tri ple Step would be counted 1 2, 1 and 2, 1 and 2.

    Forgoing for the moment a delayed action of 1 2, 1 (and) a 2, 1 (and) a 2
    or a pure rolling count.

    Counting to 2 won't immediately fix the 6 beats to 4/4 time music concern but will lead you down an excellent path to make future progress in your understanding of the swing count.

    Reference Ms. Skippy Blaire's Rhythm Units as part of her Universal Unit system.


    It's not that i'm unaware of the differences between East Coast, West Coast, Lindy Hop and Jive.

    For this point, it isn't relevant.
  17. tsb

    tsb Well-Known Member

    actually it *is* for WCS & lindy - once you get past doing the standard basic beginner steps, the length of a figure is actually determined by when the next figure begins. this allows both the lead and the follow to follow the phrasing of the music, the lead by delaying initiating the next figure by adding a pause for styling, or the follow by hijacking and styling until the end of the musical phrase.
  18. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Thinking in terms of two beat chunks has been important for me learning to break away from "class" patterns to creating my own. At any upbeat, there are only so many options I can lead depending upon which foot the lady is on and where she is relative to myself.

    This is a ways beyond the intro. class. By working in sets of two beats, I find it a lot easier to play with the musicality.
  19. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Can't let this one go - not useful for sababa, I'm afraid.

    I don't think you'd get a lot of support for this at the top levels of WCS, and I would anticipate a similar reaction in Lindy.

    1) Speaking in very broad terms, figures (patterns) in WCS are understood to start from the beginning of the followers walking movement for count 1 to the end of the anchor triple. Inserting extensions is totally reasonable - but I don't know of any top instructors who describe the extension as part of the figure. In other words, I never hear anyone teach an 8 beat sugar push... what I hear is instructors teaching a 6 beat sugar push with a two beat extension.

    In short, if thinking about extensions this way works for you, go with it; but my strong suspicion is that learning to isolate the extensions from the figures will be rewarding in the long term.

    2) Using extensions for phrasing is a crutch - the dance is quite capable of phrasing without resorting to extensions; the appearance is much more natural (organic) when you do so.

    3) Cracking the standard figures into two beat increments is inherently useful on its own, partly for movement and centering, partly for identifying substitutable elements in figures. I believe this is what BLong206b was referring to, and as far as I can tell is pretty universal to all of the dances commonly done to 4/4 music.
  20. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    I've learned this by dancing with inexperienced followers. :)

    Keeping the flow of the dance going with inexperienced followers can require a lot of improvisation and "restructuring" patterns as I go along. :)

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