Swing Discussion Boards > WCS Following question?

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by jennyisdancing, May 10, 2007.

  1. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I think once a dancer moves beyond 6 and 8 count patterns to something more like the green light, yellow light, red light ideas, it wouldn't be at all hard to adapt to one partner being a bit off beat.
  2. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Really? Happens to me at least once a night. If it's a beginner leader, I can understand, though. And yes, it's possible to have your body movement follow the off-time leader and still get your feet to do something nice with the rhythm. Not the most fun experience to do that, however.

    p.s. Multifaceted, thanks, but I think you were replying to a post I made three years ago. I'm glad I have learned some things since then. :D
    Though I still stand by saying that WCS requires followers to know certain steps, techniques and conventions. If you've never done any other dance with compression and leverage, for example, you aren't magically going to know it.
  3. ash_sk8s

    ash_sk8s Member

    Wow, I'm so glad this thread got bumped up. I read the first couple of pages and will definitely read the rest tomorrow. As someone who has done little "formal" WCS training, I find it often difficult and frustrating to go social dancing (and WCS is pretty huge here) because I just CAN'T follow the lead more often than not, if it's not a pattern I am already familiar with. It's making me hate WCS, unless I'm dancing with DP.
  4. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    The thing is WCS has a lot of features that aren't present in other dances, and it's not a "mirror" dance. Almost all the leader's and follower's steps are unique to their role. So you can't get in a closed position and basically do a backwards version of whatever step your partner is doing, nor can you get much in the way of visual clues by looking at your partner either.

    WCS requires a specific set of leading or following skills that have to be taught. If you know those skills, then you can indeed follow patterns you've never done before - but it takes a lot of lessons to learn that technique.
  5. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I have a very good friend who is a very skilled dancer, and she will NOT do West Coast Swing. (I tricked her into doing it once, briefly, by switching from triple two step to a "linear" triple two.)

    I'd been doing the dance since the early? nineties?, and had plenty of lessons, but not "formal" or "studio" lessons. I recently tried to dance with someone who had TONS of "formal" training (and teaches social dance at a college). It was a train wreck.
    Why? My opinion (after dancing that same day with several other women) is that there is no one way to teach or learn West Coast Swing, and those differences have been there from the very beginning of the written history of the dance, and probably go back to the days of Lindy hop and jitterbug.

    Still, as Jenny points out, there are basic things that will go a long way in getting comfortable with the dance.
    Staying on time with the music is a very important, very neglected skill for leaders!
    Learning to "anchor" in the "anchor step" is a big one.
    Curious where you have gone to dance? A place like Bushwhackers has pretty forgiving clientele, from what I see and hear.
  6. ash_sk8s

    ash_sk8s Member

    I go to Lenora's. And the guys are plenty nice enough, for the most part, I just don't like to constant screwing up myself.
  7. chandra

    chandra New Member

    Yah, it's what you said. Body movement follows their movement, but my rythm is still "on time".

    Steve: I say "on time" in quotes, because in no way is it on time in the "walk walk triple" sense. I'm not following traditional west coast timing, nor am I generally doing normal things like walking forward on my right foot. However the rythm that I am keeping with my feet is still the rythm of the song, or some syncopation there in. <shrug> You've got to sacrifice something. I choose to sacrifice traditional timing and footwork for "on time" and "still following".

    Not a conscious decision I made by the way. I think the longer you dance WCS (Gosh, it's been what, 6 - 7 years for me now), the less things like actual footwork matter. There is basically a linear flow with anchors at the direction changes. I do with my feet what works at that point, and is musically interesting. Because our patterns are built off of a base of walks and tripples, I generally stay in that frame work. But it's not something I'm conscious of.

    So then following someone who is off time, it's just natural to syncopate the he** out of my footwork to make the body motion I need do-able.
  8. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Yep - if you are dancing hex-rhythm, you are going to hit the beat with something.
  9. chandra

    chandra New Member

    lol. (wouldn't it be oct- rythm??)

    That does bring up an interesting point though, about what we percieve as being on time - a pattern that's rythmical within a beat, as opposed to a pattern that's completely arythmical. (or no decievable pattern)

    for exp. Someone that steps consistantly between beats is "off time"
    But Someone that steps between beats occasionally to accent something is syncopating.

    Not being a musician the actual technicalities of off-time sorta escape me. It's something I can easily percieve and experience, but not so much quantify.
  10. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    It's actually pretty easy to quantify. Music has a mathematical basis. For example a whole beat can be divided into a half beat, quarter beat, and so on. For WCS, if the whole beats go "1,2, 3, 4", you could divide that to be half-beats of "1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and". It can be broken down further, but that's a basic example.

    So if someone is purposely stepping on the "and" count for a syncopated effect, that's fine, and would not be "between beats". If some is randomly stepping without any relationship to the beat, or part of the beat, then they're off time.
  11. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Straight count (and one and two) gives you quad rhythm (ball-change/ball-change).

    Rolling count (and a one and a two) gives you hex rhythm.

    To get to oct rhythm, you have to syncopate up from straight count (based on eighth notes) to a count based on 16th notes (y and a one y and a two). I'm an old man, I don't even like to think about moving my feet that quickly.
  12. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I think this is basically the green light, yellow light, red light idea I mentioned. There are certain ways to initiate a movement, cool things to do in the middle and ways to end the pattern.

    With experienced dancers, this creates the fun part of WCS. With an experienced dancer used to playing with rhythms dancing with a less experienced dancer, I think we can use those same skills to fit with what they can do.
  13. chandra

    chandra New Member

    Yah, I don't know anything about music, so I was just thinking a straight relationship between oct and 8...

    :eek:ops! That was a post without research!
  14. chandra

    chandra New Member

    well, but that's where it gets tricky to me. I do understand that music can be subdivided, with quarter notes, eigth notes, etc.
    So if someone steps between two notes, chances are it is at some regular interval. (imagine you have two lines about a foot apart. Randomly draw a dot in between them - that dot probably can be described within a descent margin of error as 1/3, or 2/3, or 1/4, or 5/8, etc.) That's what I was trying to get at - is I think it's the relationship of the steps to each other than makes us percieve someone as off time. Ie just because you can be described as stepping halfway in between the beat once, and 1/4 the next time, doesn't imply that you are necessarily either on time, or off time. Greater context is needed.

    Does this make sense? I may be totally over complicating this, and it's actually simple. But the simplification of it is escaping me.
  15. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    According to Schild, the author of the 1985 "Social Dance" from the Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, "quicks" (as in quickquickquick -your triple steps) are danced on the quarter notes in swing. And yes, she includes West Coast Swing in the swing chapter.
    The "slows' have the same duration as half notes, or two beats.

    A half note is the same as two quarter notes.
    At 120 beats per minute (bpm) there could be 120 quarter notes per minute, or 60 half notes.
    Note that "Quarter notes" have no one standard duration.
    Each beat would come at 1/2 second intervals.
    A "West Coast Swing Basic" is 6 beats, and would take 3 seconds to dance.
    In general if you take anything other than 3 seconds to dance it, you are "off time" with the music.

    Usually, only every other beat is accented. Accenting a normally unaccented beat is one form of syncopation. For dancers stepping on an unaccented beat is one form of syncopation. (also found in this text and in spite of what you read all over the place)

    And this doesn't even get into "Swing" in music and dance. (or does it? heh!)

    P.S. Give a listen to Captain & Tennille's version of the R&B song "Shop Around", which runs at 125 bpm. This song was listed as music for swing, including West Coast Swing, in this 1985 text, and was #36 in the nation in December 1976 according to Billboard.
  16. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    I'm almost certain something there is very broken, as this is the first time I have ever heard anyone claiming to be an authority suggest that a triple step spans three quarter notes.
  17. chandra

    chandra New Member

    That doesn't work as a definition for me. Saying that if you complete a basic in the same amount of time as the pattern should canonically contain is NOT a catch all container for being on time, nor is it a necessary condition.
  18. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Hmm, let's see if I can clarify.
    No, that's not the case. If someone randomly steps between two notes without any purpose, it is just as likely not at any particular interval. Or perhaps it is at an interval which does not fit with the music.

    If you have music which is in four (i.e. the repeating rhythm is one-two-three-four), and you want to syncopate, it is easiest to start with beats that are an even mathematical subset of that. Later on, you can play with the music in more subtle ways but the point is to deliberately express something.

    Stepping randomly is sort of like that saying about how, if you get a bunch of monkeys in a room with typewriters, eventually they produce Shakespeare. ;)

    I hope that helps?
  19. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Well, the same author has "triple time" which is quick 'n quick, quick 'n quick, or three steps taken in the count of two.

    Hey, it was late in the day and I was concentrating on the math part.

    And, there IS something funky there, because Figure 5.1 shows the q & q q & q covering a 4/4 measure with 6 quarter notes!
  20. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    I have no objection to ruling that this particular authority is broken.

Share This Page