Swing Discussion Boards > "Real" WCS Music

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Spitfire, Jun 21, 2013.

  1. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    A week ago at our local WCS club dance I was in a discussion with one of the other members who mentioned that the music selections were just not real WCS music. Mostly contemporary pop.

    So what is considered to be "real" WCS music?
    thanh1234 likes this.
  2. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    As I talked about in another thread, WCS music should have breaks and other dynamics to give you something to interpret. It should also have a swung rhythm, which I can't explain but I know it's been discussed on here before.
    thanh1234 likes this.
  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    You would like to think that people would dance West Coast SWING to music with a "swing feel." That includes songs with a shuffle feel.
    I DON'T think that is limited to swing/shuffle, because there are other things going on in music that can produce that feel.
    (One day I will post my best/most authoritative reference on why shuffle is swing.)

    I just saw (again) a paper that states there is a very small diffence in the intervals between beats when someone is playing a backbeat "in the pocket: backbeat delay."

    The first identifiable "Western Swing" I have seen on film is to Bill Haley and His Comets. The next example is to Gene Vincent. The people dancing in these films don't seem to have any problem dancing to this "rock n roll" / rockabilly.
    I wonder if anyone thought, "that's not swing."

    Now, ideally we should have what Skippy Blair calls a rolling count in our swing, and especially in how we dance our triples.
    I can't find it on line, but I know she has written that the rolling count is a third level of counting, and to not worry about it if you are just starting out.
    While Skippy writes that professional (ie advanced) dancers can do rolling count to "straight count" music, How many of the rest of us are "rolling" our triples, and how many of us have a "rolling count" look to how we move. And do we even have that when it is in the music? Based on what I see, where people can't even dance to the basic beat, not many I think.

    I CAN remember one time (in the 90s) when people danced WCS to just about every song that came on no matter what it was. It was when a "swing club" decided to all show up at Mr. B's Lounge at the Burns Brothers Truck Stop in Troutdale.

    I don't listen to popular music, but I can tell you that even though country is for the most part indistinguishable from pop/rock now a days, the occasional song with a "swing feel" DOES still get recorded and played. Thank goodness. At CW places swing is part of the mix, kinda like it was back in the day even during the swing era.

    I wonder if the proliferation of swing festivals, with their need for hours and hours of music hasn't contributed to dancing West Coast Swing to music without a swing feel.

    Like I tell people, you CAN do West Coast Swing to just about anything. But I'd much rather do it to songs that make me WANT to do it.
    tangotime and manteca like this.
  4. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    AMEN to that.
    manteca likes this.
  5. Generalist

    Generalist Active Member

    In my area it doesn't seem that people care whether the music feels like WCS or not -- they just dance to anything. In fact, it sometimes seems that people are enjoying a rebellion by dancing to music that doesn't swing. It's all very frustrating to me -- especially when younger dancers start playing that lyrical stuff. Yeck!

    I have searched for websites that do a good job of describing what constitutes good WCS music but I haven't had much luck. I have seen a few that make the case for good Lindy or ECS, but not much specific to WCS.

    Steve -- you are a dance scholar so I'm wondering if you can provide sites with more information. I would like a site that describes to my musician friends what makes music feel like WCS. It would be even cooler if they also broke it down for several other types of swing. Skippy talks about rolling count but I'm not sure that helps musicians figure out what is WCS, and it confuses me.
  6. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Gee, golly, you know, there are lots and lots of words written about swing. What it seems to come down to though, is a feel.

    You may have seen the limited list of songs that we know WCS was danced to in the 50s and 60s. And there are threads where we've talked about songs that people think are good for West Coast swing.

    If you can REALLY work with musician friends have them listen to some songs you think are good, and talk about swing and shuffle. The music books I've been looking at talk about that, so maybe they'll be familiar with it.

    What songs do YOU think are good for WCS?

    I don't usually look too much at web sites. I think books are much better for what I'm interested in. So, the only list that comes to mind is Craig Hutcinson's 1988 Swing Dancer's Manual, which, in typical 80s fashion leans heavily towards his stated favorite rhythm & blues.

    When it comes to dancing, swing is swing. Skippy first used the rolling count for samba. In her 1978 Disco to Tango and back, she did not use Rolling Count &a1 etc for West Coast Swing. In 1994 it was applied to West Coast also. So, if it took SKippy that long...

    I'll think on it though, with regards to web sites, because I know I've seen a bunch; but I don't think I've seen anything specific to WCS (that I can recommend).

    And, oh, hey, I like to think I'm learning something and sharing it with other people who might be interested. Yesterday I bought some new old books including a 1938 booklet by someone who did a 21 page description of how to do Lindy Hop in 1942. I want to see if he had Lindy Hop in the earlier book. Because, "everyone knows" that you couldn't take lessons anywhere at that time. Actually, Arthur Murray studios were teaching it if the written, nearly contemporary sources are correct. And, tomorrow I'm going to scroll through microfilm of New West magazine, 1980, to see if I can find the month that and ad for COWBOY DANCING! West Coast Swing ran. After Urban Cowboy came out I'm guessing. So, I asked myself, what the heck am I doing? And it's good to know that someone has noticed that I'm working on something.
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    In regards to swing in general, but also shuffle feel, see this recent post

    In recent decades people have preferred slower music for WCS. Note though, that based on early (60,61) written sources, and the dancing in the rock n roll films featuring Bill Haley and His Comets, and Hot Rod Gang, it is clear that a much wider range of tempos was considered appropriate for what was then called either "Western Swing" or West Coast Swing.
  8. Generalist

    Generalist Active Member

    I attended a WCS convention in Phoenix (Desert City Swing). ALL of the music was contemporary, from the first social dance to almost all the competitions. I would describe the music as a slow hustle or maybe "thump thump". It's the type of music that could be produced by anyone with a home studio and a sequencer. The music had almost no swing content and for the most part was very repetitive. Worse, it lacked energy and didn't swing. No other styles were played -- although earlier in the evening there was perhaps 1 blues tune for every 8 contemporary. Later in the evening the music was almost all hip hop.

    I asked a DJ why there was so little variety in the music and he replied that's the music young people want to dance to. As the music went hip hop the crowd got younger.

    Hmmmmm. :( I'm not young and many other participants weren't either, but apparently our taste in music is irrelevant. It's hard for me to believe that contemporary is the only music the under 30 crowd wants to dance to, but that DJ is very seasoned and does many conventions. I don't know if the DJ made a self fulfilling prophecy but without a doubt the older dancers left later in the evening. So, is that DJ right?
  9. Generalist

    Generalist Active Member

    Phoenix has a large community of young Lindy and East Coast Swing dancers. Most of the music they dance to is 1940s big band or neo-swing. So, how could two crowds of young dancers be so different as far as what they dance to? I don't see much variation in the music of Lindy hoppers so it seems that both groups (WCS vs ECS) prefer to dance the entire evening to one or two music genres.
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    WCS convention in Phoenix (Desert City Swing)
    home grown non Westies who dance WCS?

    There are people who identify themselves as "Westies," travel to "conventions" and such, and dance only "WCS" (or so it seems to me).

    No doubt my perspective is my own, but if you want every song to be "a West Coast Swing" you end up dancing to a lot of non swing, and in that includes the slower, but still swing, shuffle rhythm.

    I face this at the CW place I frequent. If I say "yes" to someone, and get out there and realize, unh, I'm just doing steps here, and I'm not really feeling it in the music, it's unlikely that I'll do that again.
    But, I've never considered myself a "Westie," and I'm not exactly young.

    Recently returned from a trip abroad where nearly all the music was US pop and thump thump thump thump. I don't listen to pop at home, or even the current crop of CW music. Thank goodness the country people still manage to get a decent song for WCS in the top 40 rotation every now and then.

    In Munich one of my biggest thrills was listening to a Canadian band that started their show with the Bob Wills/Tommy Duncan "Time Changes Everything," (not a song I'd do WCS to, but hey! old skool country!) and did a whole slew of older country songs. I have to go to Europe to hear our older music?
  11. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    This you Rob?

    Had a great time there!
  12. Siggav

    Siggav Active Member

    The groups of young WCS dancers and lindy hoppers are usually completely different. Quite often the young people who dance WCS dance it instead of lindy precisely because they don't like the 1930-40s swing music.

    ETA: There are obviously people who dance and who like both but you'd struggle to try to run both dances at the same time in the same room because the music people expect is very different. That's even with ignoring the speed part of it.
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Heard an interesting report on the effect of mp3 on how musicians have been making music. On my recent trip I listened in vain to hear anything other than beats and a vocal.

    I've come to believe that what we like is to a large extent determined by what we become familiar with. (Argentine Tango was a welcome relief after endless guitar solos in comtemporary blues, but Western Swing, a throwback to a rural past with high pitched fiddle playing and Ah Ha's, became an unlikely favorite.)
    Maybe, with higher resolution digital recording and "delivery" becoming a reality, music will become a bit more nuanced, and young Westies will have more alternatives of music to dance to.
  14. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    that is why I go to GPSDC over the 4th of july instead.. I was in phx that weekend( desert city swing) to work with my smooth pro who loved WCS also.. heard about the music from someone who went the night before... passed on it in favor of more sleep before lessons:D
  15. Generalist

    Generalist Active Member

    The Desert City Swing event was worse than I first described. An acoustic guitar player named Leify Green was given a large amount of floor time to strum his guitar and sing. If that isn't bad enough he gave a class in musicality.

    I haven't seen a post of Leify at DSC yet, but here is one that does WCS to his music:

    Search for youtube:

    Swingtacular 2 JnJ - Ben McHenry and Joanna Meinl

    I'll give the dancers credit for faking something that looks like WCS despite hideous music.

    I find it puzzling that Leify is being invited to multiple WCS events. What is going on with that?
  16. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    I wont attend events he is scheduled at thanks for the tip!!!!!
  17. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I love Leify Green. I actually enjoy dancing to his music.
  18. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    to each their own I guess
  19. Generalist

    Generalist Active Member

    Are you a Ceroc or Modern Jive dancer?
  20. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member


Share This Page