Swing Discussion Boards > Just started learning WCS

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by sync, Feb 5, 2005.

  1. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    Welcome aboard sync. :D

    I began learning WCS at this time a year ago; after saying I never would. Now, my evening isn't complete without doing some WCS and to the surprise of those who've know me for awhile.
  2. sync

    sync New Member

    Hello Spitfire. Why did you once think you would never learn WCS?
  3. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    It did not appeal to me at first and I attempted to do so after getting back into dancing some ten years ago, but when I realized that I might do better with it having danced other styles for quite awhile I decided to give it a second try and sure enough it was easier to get it down pat then it was ten years ago.
  4. Swingolder

    Swingolder New Member

    Trying to get a west coast dance in during an evening of dancing was discouraging. It would take me a while to switch gears from east coast or whatever to west coast. So I never felt I really got in the groove. Kept trying to rock step.
    Then I went to a dance where the whole evening, practically, was west coast and what a difference that made! It was like the light bulb going on - and so much fun!

    But, too, I don't get much out of watching a lot of the competitive west coast. They are doing very little that is familiar to me and somehow, flips and stuff seem more lindy and not very west coast.
  5. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    I kind of went the opposite way. My wife and I took a few beginning ECS classes in the very beginning, but that was before I could follow the music (that took me well over a year to develop) and so I'm not sure how much we can count it. We started WCS some months later and it was there that I finally learned to hear and follow the beat. Then after that is when I moved on to Lindy and the associated ECS (ie, rock-triple-triple).

    So I consider myself to have started with WCS and have a little difficulty with everybody else talking about how much more difficult WCS is to learn than ECS -- I can understand and agree with it intellectually, but it goes against my personal experience. And still, with over two years of Lindy instruction and experience (no broken time) and about 1.6 years of West Coast (8 mo, 1yr hiatus, then 1 yr), plus a lot more Lindy open dancing experience, I find WCS a lot easier to dance than Lindy and ECS -- after my 1 yr hiatus, I could still do well-executed whips from just about anywhere in an open dance, whereas I still choke on the swingout on the dance floor. The only thing I do better in ECS than WCS is to invent new moves on the fly while dancing -- "accidental inspiration".

    The dance club where I learned WCS had always been heavily WCS/Country/Hustle-oriented, but she decided to offer Lindy for a while. I remember a lot of the people from WCS attending the first series. I also remember that the women had a lot of trouble with it, because they weren't used to rock-stepping all the time. Needless to say, they lost interest rather quickly.

    Of course, for the men the transision is a lot easier, because we rock-step in both dances. And the rhythm is identical, so having learned it in WCS made the transition to Lindy a lot easier in that respect.
  6. sync

    sync New Member

    This brings up a point that I keep thinking about. I find myself wanting to use some part of my body to keep track of the beat, but that isn't appropriate with partner dancing. Are there any tips for following the beat?
  7. heartgrl2k

    heartgrl2k New Member

    My experience is similiar and I agree with what you're saying. I think WCS is easier to dance to -- I mean REALLY dance to, not just count the steps and do patterns. But I think I find it easier because I have a musical background and freestyle danced for years before I tried to learn WCS.

    I think the hardest thing about West Coast is mental. It requires so much more of you mentally while learning it (though not while dancing, where you shouldn't think about it at all :twisted: ). I think other dances (ECS, etc.) are pretty easy to get the basics down.

    The light turns on earlier - you see what the dance is supposed to look like, and it's pretty easy to imitate it. What is WCS 'supposed' to look like? We can tell what aspects the dance should have, but there is so much improvisation that two couples can be dancing WCS and look completely different.
  8. heartgrl2k

    heartgrl2k New Member

    I don't know if this is 'recommended' or not, but for the longest time while I was learning I counted out loud. My partner/instructor did this for me sometimes as well, which was very helpful. I suppose this would get on some people's nerves while you're dancing, but count in your head. Eventually you'll know what beat you're on (or are supposed to be on) and you won't have to count.

    EDIT: I guess first you have to know how to find the beat. Can't help you there - I just hear it and can't understand what the problem is there!

    I had a nasty bounce in my step for the longest time too, but this was because I learned East Coast first and couldn't get it out of me. Smooth was so hard!!
  9. dTas

    dTas New Member

    like heartgrl2k said... counting is a great way to find and maintain the beat. first count out loud and then progressively count quieter and quieter until its just in your head.

    i find now that i keep the beat more with my center with various "ticks" forward, back, side to side. i'm not keeping the beat with any one thing; like the hand, or foot, or head... i might do the 1 with a shoulder, the 2 with the other shoulder, the 3& with with my feet, 4 with my hip, and 5&6 with my rib cage. or mix it up some other way.
  10. sync

    sync New Member

    I'm usually good at hearing the beat. I guess it's a matter of knowing the moves so well that you don't have to think about them. Then your attention is free to listen to the music.
  11. leftfeetnyc

    leftfeetnyc New Member

    When I first started learning WCS, I found the best way to ingrain the steps was to practice them constantly. Under my desk at work, on the subway, while cooking dinner. I would swtich between 6 and 8 count steps just to get the very basics committed to muscle memory.

    I still count a bit in my head to keep myself on track as I have only been dancing a year. And some pros I know have admitted to counting still, although now it's more inline of singining with music, or as dTas wrote, using the body to tick off counts.

    Listening to music a lot and counting along with it will also help in being able to hear the music while dancing and knowing where in the song you are. A basic knowledge of musicality can go a long way.
  12. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    First, sorry for doing a "me too". I used counting to get there and I will still resort to it at times when I'm having to think my way through a move. I was also taking piano at the time (and had already had a semester of music theory in college nearly 30 years before), so I was already involved in using counting to divide up the beat and to keep track of where I was within a measure (in piano) or a phrase (in dance) -- though it did take me somewhat longer in dancing before I started hearing where the phrase begins, ie "the one".

    I have made the mistake, one time that I was really getting into the music, of moving my hand with the beat. My left hand. The problem is that that generates a lot of "line noise" that makes it very hard for your partner to detect your lead. As much as is possible, you need to keep your lead hands (the right in closed position and left in open) completely steady so that they only move to indicate a lead. One cure for bouncy hand (especially in open position) that I've seen various instructors offer is for the girl to follow: so when his hand is bouncing up and down, she needs to jump up and down with it -- that's such a clear clue that even a guy will get it immediately.

    But count silently in your head without moving your lips.
    Two sea stories:
    1. When I was first learning Balboa, I absolutely depended on keeping the count, so I was counting the beat all the time. Then one day in class, my partner asked me, "Could you count a little louder, please?" I hadn't realized that I was muttering the count to myself instead of keeping it silent. So I replied, "But of course; glad to oblige." But I did resolve to make sure to keep my counting silent from that point on.

    2. After I had been learning Lindy for about a year, I was practicing a bit after class. When we finished she complimented me on being very easy to follow; all she had to do was to read my lips to see what count I was on. OK, I immediately resolved to make sure to not move my lips while counting silently to myself.

    BTW, in the more complex moves, it also really helps to break them down into terms of what you are to do on what count. Not only does it keep you from feeling rushed to get everything done, but it also helps you to keep track of what foot your partner is on so that you can turn her at the right time and so keep the turn comfortable for her.

    Yet another sea story:
    When I was first starting intermediate salsa, the instructor had given us the routine which involved guys' double turns, cross-body leads, head loops, etc. It was a fairly involved routine with a lot going on, but we had basics inbetween to give us a chance to think and get ready for the next move. Then he took all the basics out. At first, I was ready to panic along with everybody else, but instead I had an epiphany: just take it one rhythm unit at a time (ie, 123hold) and don't worry about the others; just think about and do what is to be done at that particular point in time. As a result, I could do the entire routine correctly and didn't once feel rushed or panicked.


    20. You are a child of the rhythm no less than the planets and the stars; stay within the pocket.
    21. And whether or not the rhythm is in your soul, the music does have a beat. Therefore be on time with the music and your partner, even if you have to count.
    25. Strive to hear the one.

    From Dizzy's Desiderata, http://members.aol.com/dwise1/dance/dizzys.html
  13. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I love #21, DWise1. In your signature line, of course. 8) :D
  14. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    Thank you.

    I hand-craft those "signature lines" by selecting the items that seem to fit the post best.

    Though my personal favorite is still #17:
    Nurture skill in several dances so you can go dancing and still avoid your ex.

    But then that's just because of what I'm still going through. One more week and we'll have come to the six-month point since the separation started.
  15. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yep. I noticed that #21 was completely and totally relevant to the thread and to your post. Cool.

    And on the other thing ... it takes time, sometimes a lot longer than six months. You'll be okay... I swear. Hugs. :friend:

    So you count under your breath, huh? I count loudly ... if Idon't get it, or my partner needs/wants it. Pretty hilarious, sometimes. :roll:
  16. sync

    sync New Member

    I've found that when I get to the point on a move where I can count in time, then I no longer need to count and I can get the beat from the music. But if I need to count, then my counting usually doesn't stay in time.
  17. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    Well, it's not so much doing an actual count anymore as it is doing a mantra for the rhythm. Like when Lindy one move we were taught and our mantra for the rhythm was "ya ta-da-ta-da-ta-da" (you'd have to have heard it for it to make sense). Or like another WCS move (underarm turn starting with a delayed double): "1&2 3&4 5&6" (1 is a pointing of the foot whereas &2 are the two actual steps, kind of like a kick-ball-change only with a toe-point instead of a kick). Doing that particular count or "ta-da" was part of the learning process and so it stayed with us.

    It's kind of like the value of ritual for remembering the exact sequence of a complex activity. Remember the movie, Dragonslayer? In the beginning, the wizard is preparing a potion (a viewing bowl, actually, as I recall). Instead of just doing doing the preparations, he mumbled some incantations and made some magic hand gestures. However, from the manner in which he did them -- very casually and kind of carelessly and absent-mindedly as if from decades of habit -- you could tell that the preparations could have been done without them. The reason he did it was because that is how he had learned it as an apprentice and by following the ritual he ensured that he remembered everything, left out no step, and did everything at the exact time he needed to do it.
  18. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yup. Understood. Those dadburned music theory classes kick in when you least expect them, too. :? :oops: :lol:
  19. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    Just as an update, since I don't know if I had mentioned it yet. Bought a place (have been living in same house as my x2b in the meantime) and escrow should close around the end of the month. So about three more weeks and I should be out on my own away from the stress at home and finally getting my new life started.
  20. chandra

    chandra New Member

    Hey, crazy, sync is from my town!

    Hi sync!

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