Swing Discussion Boards > "Original" music West Coast Swing was danced to

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Steve Pastor, Jul 13, 2006.

  1. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    It's obvious in the sense that if you wanted to a slower version of the Lindy you would choose the slower Swing music of the era - such as Frenesi and Adios.

    Giving away my age a bit here, my brother who was 15 years older than me and in his late teens in the late 1950's was an avid collector of Glen Miller and Swing music - He also had an interest in European Jazz in the style of MJQ, - so Swing music was still flourishing and widely available in Europe amongst young people in the 1950's and even 1960's. (although there was no WCS)

    Young people were still dancing to Big Band Music in Scotland in the 1960's and locally had evolved their own variant of ECS known as 'Glasgow Jive'.

  2. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    Or another way to look at it is to start dancing Lindy to a fast Swing track then change to progressively slower tracks and see what happens to your dancing style.

    WCS is a natural adaptation to slower Swing music
  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    If you go back through this thread you will find this link...
    Apparently no one told Choreographer Dick DiAugustine that WCS was done to slow music, because "Dance to the Bop" doesn't sound slow to me. And they were doing "Western Swing" in "Hot Rod Gang" in 1958.

    Lauré's list has slow music, because she is reccomenting songs for teaching/learning. I learned to "Black Velvet".
    It makes a lot of sense to use slow songs for people who are just learning. But, it is very clear to me that you can also dance WCS to fast songs. But, most people aren't good enough to move fast enough for the fast ones. The same is true, however, for really slow songs.
    Everyone has been guessing so far what music people danced to originally. Most people have guessed "blues" or R&B. I think it's because that's what they dance to now. But 99.999999% of people have no idea what music was popular in the LA basin in the late 40s and into the 50s. I know I was surprised at what I found.
    And yet, none of what I found actually proves anything, although I think it's suggestive.

    That list in Lauré's book for Murray was the first time I saw a list of songs from someone who was there. The "Western Swing to a rockabilly song" I've known about for a while. That was a surprise!
    Again, Lauré's list was for teaching/learning, and "Dance to the Bop" was used by a choreogrpaher in a 1958 film, but no one has brought forward any other actual examples from that time that I am aware of.
    (BTW, a Bill Haley song "Hook Line and Sinker" was used for one dance in "Don't Knock the Rock", which many people have said has WCS in it. I disagree, but think it's interesting that Haley isn't often mentioned when the film is discussed.)
  4. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    Well yes - as I tried to point out, 1940's big band was popular into the 1950's and even 1960's. . . .

    And you're trying to set rules about how people dance - like I said, I can go to Lindy venue and I've got to work out a way to do WCS with Lindy Dancers - I do it quite regularly.
  5. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    I struggle to comprehend this thread. It almost presupposes that on one day there was no WCS and on the next, voila, WCS happened. But if, as is generally believed true, it evolved over the years, tracing its roots through Dean Collins on back to the Savoy Ballroom, one could easily argue that the original WCS music was Chick Webb, or whoever your favorite Savoy dance band was.

    So I guess the real question to ask is: on what day did WCS suddenly exist, and therefore whatever the Dean Collins /LA Swing style people were dancing to on that day would be the original WCS music.

    Perhaps what might be more readily answered is the question of what has been the preferred music over the years of its evolution.
  6. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    There are a few sort of known dates: Haile publishing her "notes", supposedly in 1951, after watching people dance in LA for how many years?, the anchor step replacing the coaster step in 1958 according to GSDTA, Skippy Blair advertising West Coast Swing rather than Western Swing in 1962.
    This spans more than a decade and popluar music changed a lot during that time.
    Does anyone care?
    I do, because I don't much care for simplistic, probably wrong answers based on incomplete information.
    So when I read something on the web or in a book that doesn't seem right, and I have an interest in the subject, and the resources to check it out... I do.
    Has anyone come forward with examples of people dancing Western Swing/West Coast Swing during the time period of concern?
    The answer is pretty much, no.
    I submit this information to this community for your evaluation, discussion, and maybe just as a learning thing. At the vey least, I hope it will help people think more expansively about West Coast Swing, and other dances.

    Regarding Dean, again, and WCS/Western Swing, I would not go back that far because I have yet to see him dance primarily in a slot, although he did do slotted moves just like most dancers.

    Like I said, here it is challenge it, argue with it, present additional information, or ignore it completely. Your call.
  7. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    I agree with you Tangonevuo. . . . . and Steve is making the assumption that 'the music changed' when in fact it was running in parralel, Swing didn't suddenly disappear and RB take over, there was a long several decades transition period that lasted (in the UK at least) into the 1960's.

    I don't know the situation in the USA, but partner dance of any kind more or less disappeared in the late 1960's, early 1970's in Britain so perhaps when we talk about 'West Coast Swing' we are talking about a dying, dwindling dance form (in the 1960's70's) that was at that time confined to small, rather isolated group like Glasgow Jive. . . .

    It would perhaps be of more interest to discover how the WCS competition scene developed - that would surely give you start dates to when there was a 'definite' form - you could then work backwards from there.
  8. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    Things I've seen often put Dean and his dancers totally in a slot. In fact, the Lindy "style wars" a few years back had a huge "Hollywood style" contingent, originating in LA, that was generally based on Dean Collins "smooth style" Lindy. I remember dancing at old Memories in LA with everyone in slot, music classic 1930's 1940's swing (Ruben Brown DJ), and tempos 150-200 bpm. Smooth style Lindy, not WCS. Slots were like a foot or two apart.
    But having said that, I don't even get the difference between WCS & Lindy. How do you know what is, or was, WCS and and what is, or was, Lindy???? I mean, I am not even clear on a definition of WCS that makes it distinctly different from Lindy.
  9. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    One of the main differences is that WCS/Western Swing is primarily slotted, and the slot doesn't move around. I just watched Dean and Jewel McGowan in "Buck Privates". and, although they did slotted moves, they also changed the orientation of the slot several times. They also did one big extended (over several bars of music) of Jewel "switching" as Dean and Jewel rotated as a couple.
    Another difference is the WCS starts with the woman walking forward. Other forms of swing (I hesitate to write Lindy) start with the woman rocking back away from the man.
    Finally, WCS now has the anchor step. (Western Swing had a coaster step.)

    As with most forms of dance, and practically anything else you care to discuss, there are shades of gray. For instance "predominately" slotted means what exactly? How many times can you leave the slot before it's not WCS?
    How many times can you not anchor before it is no longer WCS.
    Don't know. And you and I may have a different answer for any particular dance.
    In fact lots of people think Dean was doing WCS. Others don't think so.
    You've probably seen the Peter Collins thread about Hollywood vs Savoy?
  10. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    So at Memories we were clearly dancing Lindy albeit 100% slotted because the dance floor demanded it. I even saw one couple "danced off the floor" (yes that was rude, but it was the the LA/OC Lindy crowd after all) because they couldn't maintain their slot!!

    Recently I was at a local bar where a great blues band was playing. Very crowded dance floor. Lots of boogie dancers, a tango couple!! (me and my partner dancing tango as a migrating spot dance), and a number of the best of the local westies. The boogie dancers have NO concept of floor-craft and wander all over the place. In response, and to avoid confrontation, the westies also wandered all over. Slot rotated, translated, vanished, reappeared, you name it. Does that mean that they were not dancing West Coast Swing?? Sure as heck looked like amazing WCS to me!

    I think that this division makes no more sense than the Milonguero/Nuevo division in tango. I believe that only when you are talking about the codification associated with ballroom competition do you get to draw strict boundary lines. So perhaps the question is: When WCS first appeared as a codified, competative ballroom dance, what did the competitors dance to?

    My guess is that otherwise the answer is so messy as to defy any effort at resolution.
  11. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    Peter Loggins???
  12. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    Right on TN. . . . .we're singing from the same songbook here. . . . . and like you I would start at it looking backwards, as in the sense of when did WCS become competitive dance.

    The very act of competing changes the dance, any dance, completely. Folks dance how the judges want to see them dance - not how people dance in the real world.

    In the real world I go to a Lindy club and start doing my own WCS influenced version of Lindy (Windy) its different, followers like the novelty, its stylish.

    That's why I dance - its what I can make up on the dance floor, its the difference between improvising in a Jazz or Blues group and following music as concert violinist or pianist.

    Some people feel you need sheet music to be able to play music, just as some people think you need codified steps and patterns to be able to dance.

    A lot of us manage - want to manage - without any codification at all.
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Popular music changed hughly during this period in the US. As far as the general population was concerned, there was no such thing as rock n roll in the first part of the 50s. Yes, black musicians were playing what is commonly called "jump blues". Yes, white musicians were playing Hillbilly Boogie and Western Swing.
    But, culturally, these two kinds of music were in backwaters, not the main stream.
    Many people use R&B as a synomym for 50s rock n roll, but that leaves out people like Bill Haley and His Comets, who had the first really big rock hit, and guys like Carl Perkins who did "Blue Suede Shoes". There are many more, oh, like Elvis, Gene Vincent, etc.

    On April 12, 1954, Haley with his band (now known as Bill Haley & His Comets) recorded "Rock Around the Clock" for Decca Records of New York City. When first released in May of 1954, "Rock Around the Clock" made the charts for one week at number 23, and sold 75,000 copies. A year later it was featured in the film ''Blackboard Jungle'', and soon afterwards it was topping charts all over the world and opening up a new genre of entertainment. "Rock Around the Clock" hit No. 1, held that position for eight weeks, and was the #2 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 1955.

    Regarding the 60s... "Lindy was adapted to meet the challenges of the new Rock 'n Roll musical influences; however, by 1960 it was known as Swing. Adults kept Swing alive during the Sixties. Teenagers preferred to wiggle through a constantly changing succession of discotheque social dance fads".
    Social Dance.John G. Youmans. Goodyear Publishing Company, Inc. 1969. page 25. Library of Congress Number 69-17984

    And so, it looks to me like the studios, and adults, who were probably still dancing to their music in particular in the LA basin, were the ones who kept WCS going.

    tangotime has written that WCS was not taught on the East Coast in the 60s, although there is one woman in Maryland who purchased Haile's Silver book with Western Swing in it.

    Hutchinson (1998) wrote that, "Buddy Schwimmer from California took the West Coast Swing all the way to Blackpool, England in May 1986, but the English are ignoring it as they did the Hustle."

    Maybe you can fill us in on when in caught on over there, Albanaich.
  14. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Oops, too much cuervo last night.
  15. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    Partner dance in the UK more or less died out in the late 1960's and did not appear again until the 1980's with the arrival of 'French Jive' or 'Ceroc' (C'est Roc)

    A few isolated areas, the UK and Australia maintained a tradition of social partner dance that is/was known as 'Glasgow Jive' which is a combination of East Coast Swing and Ballroom Jive - done well it is a strikingly impressive dance, and is on my 'wish list' of dances I'd like to learn. It has the high speed elegance of Ballroom Jive and improvisation of Swing.

    Scotland managed to retain a familiarity with partner dance that was largely lost in England so was much quicker to take up on the revival that began in the late 1980's with Ceroc and Ceilidh dance.

    Modern Jive sought to re-introduce WCS into the UK from its inception, and its generally thought of one of the dances you 'graduate to' from Ceroc - the other is the Argentine Tango.

    I honestly don't know the history of WCS in the UK, other than that all that all the major teacher have come from Scotland in the last 6 or so years.

    The reintroduction of Lindy to the UK has to do with Helen Tennent and The Swing Doctors in Edinburgh, and that comes from an association of Scottish culture with Ceildh dance and Highland dance.

    Scotland - unlike Wales and England never lost its tradition of dance - they did Scottish Ceildh dance at my wedding in the 1970's - they did it at my son's and daughters weddings - and there are still lots of Ceildh clubs in Edinburgh.

    Once you've felt the exhilaration of dance - you want to do so much more.
  16. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    Spoken like a true Scotsman! And what of Simon Selman and the Londen Lindy Hop people? I remember attending the London Lindy Hop festival (held in Acton the year I went) several years (7? 8?) ago. Seems they had been dancing Lindy there for quite some time.

    I also remember dancing to the Jive Aces at Monsters of Swing in Santa Barbara CA maybe 10 years ago. Aren't they London based?
  17. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    Well London has a bigger population than the whole of Scotland. . . . . .

    Lindy in Scotland (like Lindy in Scandinavia) goes back a lot longer than that. Scotland is, culturally, more closely linked to Scandinavia than Europe.
  18. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    There is a company called Thumbs Up video that has an amazing collection of historic WCS films. I don't know how far back their collection goes, but friends have some of their videos going back at least to the mid-80s?

    There are two reasons I mention them.

    First, as a possible source in Steve's quest for the roots of swing. The WCS in their videos looks much like our current dance.

    Secondly, the music WCS was danced to in the 80s was much faster than we normally dance it now. However, the style and pattern of the dance is still very clearly WCS. I mention this because it clearly shows WCS is not just Lindy slowed down.
  19. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    A couple weeks ago, someone posted about the GlobalDanceTV site. Pick the Country 2009 Worlds channel and the opening WCS clip is Benji and Kellese dancing to a very fast song. Again, it doesn't look anything like Lindy to me? The site is kind of fun and worth playing with.

    PS: If you pick the main channel, they have different material daily. Lots of it is WCS oriented. Today's M&D Keihm portion is all about the connection and how much pull there should be.
  20. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    US Open Videos go back to 1983. If you want to see the evolution of the dance up to 2001, the 20th Anniversary "Time Capsule" is your bet.

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