Swing Discussion Boards > WCS Tap Step vs. Triple Step

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by kayak, Mar 1, 2007.

  1. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    In my area, we have several groups of instructors that teach a sugar push as walk, walk, triple step, anchor step. There are a couple other instructors that insist the basic should be walk, walk, tap step, anchor step. What do most of you think?
  2. DancinAnne

    DancinAnne New Member

    It's my understanding that the tap step is more of a ballroom style of teaching WCS and that it is also an older technique that was replaced by the triple.

    I've seen ballroom dancers do the tap step, but my swing coaches triple.

    I'm curious myself to hear what others have to say on this...
  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    It doesn't have to be one or the other. Why not learn to do both, then mix it up?
    One advantage to the tap step version is that the weighted leg (that would be your right leg) gives you more stability to handle the compression you should get by staying in the slot as the woman walks forward. This compression allows you to then do the Push part.
    Of course some of us notice, and miss, the compression that doesn't happen when the woman doesn't walk straight into you ("she owns the slot"), but stops a short distance away when she sees you haven't moved out of the slot.
    If you are doing a triple while she is pushing on you...
    Maybe that's one of the reasons women don't compress enough now a days.
    Maybe these are the same people that have taken it upon themselves to rename the Sugar Push the Push Break. ("Oh, Sugar Push is the old fachioned name for it.") Just kidding. Maybe.
  4. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    I much prefer the triple step to the tap step.
  5. QQS_Girl

    QQS_Girl New Member

    I'll second that, as I have seen it with my own eyes! I think that the only reason I don't find the tap step instead of the first triple appealing is that it usually accompanies the other funky, weird styling of a ballroom dancer trying to WCS. Take the tap out of the other stuff, and it's just another way to style your basic. :p
  6. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Where is your area? Where are the various instructors from?

    After all, Houston Whip (one of the many regional derivatives of wcs) uses a tap step as the basic footwork almost everywhere (or at least, I remember that it did when I was taking my first classes back in the dark ages - things evolve, so that may no longer be true).

    My own thinking - in the main, it doesn't matter particularly much. An odd number of weight changes is an odd number of weight changes. Teaching a triple helps ingrain the double-triple-triple footwork that gets used almost everywhere else.

    There are about a zillion different patterns that start out looking like a side pass, and two that start out looking like a push break (the other is a tuck). Since the tuck action fits better with a tap step, it may be more effective to teach the push break using the same footwork action.

    The tap step may also be a more effective way of lifting an accent that occurs on beat three of the pattern.

    And in conclusion, it seems likely to me that anyone with a strong opinion on this one way or the other is kidding themselves.
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I've never had a West Coast Swing lesson in a "ballroom". I first learned at a bar in a truck stop. I also had lessons at a country western place called the Drum. Then I took lessons with an evening extention program. Then I took lessons at another CW place here in Portland.
    All places taught a tap step for the Sugar Push.
    Then, all of a sudden just a few years ago, one couple who does competitions tried to get people to not do the tap step.
    It seems to me that when people want to discount something in WCS, they slam it with the "ballroom" thing.

    Ask yourself where "West Coast Swing" (first called Western Swing") was between the time it was first written down by Laure Haile in 1951, and the time that name was accepted by "the mainstream swing community" in the late 1960s.

    I have watched about a dozen films from the 1940s through 1961 looking for signs of WCS. I have yet to see any couples stick to slotted moves.

    My guess is that people like Skippy Blair and the much maligned "franchise studios" kept the flame alive even through the 1960s when young people rejected most of what their parents had been doing. Almost no one danced partner dances by the end of the 1960s and into the 70s when "touch dancing" came back through disco.

    If anyone can fill in the blanks during those decades with reliable, verifiable info, please share with me and others. (There are lots of web sites that don't count as verifiable.)

    Oh, and don't forget that there is no right or wrong with the tap step issue.
  8. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    The tap step instructing couple teaches at a CW bar. They have been teaching for 20ish years. They carry the tap footwork even in things like whips.

    The other instructors come out of the current competition world. They show the tap step and use it on a few patterns, but focus on the triple step.

    I had not really thought about the guy getting knocked off balance by the lady coming to him in something like a redirect. I grew up with contact sports. So a lady would have to really whack me to knock me out of balance that far.

    The triple step seems like it has a closer conformity between different styles of swing. It seems smoother to me.
  9. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I've always seen they guys dance with a tap (at least for the sugar push), but I've seen ladies dance with either/both a tap or the triple step. I don't know about the ballroom styling of it, or not. I know one of my teacher started out in C/W, so maybe it's not as ballroom-ized. His partner will alternate between using a tap and a triple in the same song--I haven't found a pattern as to when/why she switches it up.

    With only the barest knowledge of WCS, I much prefer the triple step (as a follower). I find myself coming into the guy with what feels like a good bit of energy, and when I run into the wall of his hands, my feet usually still want to go forward (just like my upper body*). The one time I tried using a tap step, it was a very unpleasant feeling of a jarring stop to my motion. I didn't like it, so went back to the triple and never looked back.

    *I tend to get really really close to the guy on the &2&3...should I not be? How do I keep from doing that, if it's bad? Granted, this is if I'm dancing with a guy who has some connection and can give me a wall. Lots of guys don't, and I don't really dance with any energy...which is harder, and boring...but it's the only way I've found to actually dance with them.
  10. chandra

    chandra New Member

    me too, I even bump stomachs/chests with them by accident sometimes!
  11. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Yea, I get that bumping from time-to-time too . . . esp after working with my latest Pro who told me to take normal ct1 and then a small step ct2 . . . holding nice compression . . . the follow comes in real nice and close . . .
  12. DancinAnne

    DancinAnne New Member

    I didn't 'slam' the tap step into a category nor did I call it wrong. (Why would you assume the term 'ballroom' to have a negative connotation?) I, too, use it for variation. I merely stated in regard to the question asked that in my experience ballroom peeps have taught it one way (some of them) and my swing coaches, who are strictly swing peeps, have taught it another (triple). Mostly, I've seen the basic taught with the triple. I only expressed my experiences.
  13. Kortgawain

    Kortgawain New Member

    In Houston where Whip is integrated into WCS moreso than many regions, the tap step is used frequently. For example, in exits from the Hitch and Bump, it is common to use a tap step on "3 and" for styling. Of course, the tap step is part of the basic Hitch and Bump steps, so it is ingrained into that move (whether closed or open).

    In the Sugar Push, depending on the timing, a tap step with the LF may be used for timing such as LF-Tap Step on "1", then LF back on "1 and" and then RF back on "2". It is also used in Teepee Turns (e.g. 1-lf back, 2-rf back, 3 and-tap step with lf, 4-lf forward, anchor steps). Otherwise, I do not see the tap step on "3 and" being used by any of the teachers I have used (either Ballroom background or other).

    Sometimes for example in a Left Side Pass, a tap step may be made by the LF to the right in front of the RF on "and", and then a Ronde step with the LF to the side of the slot on "1" (or "1 and") and then a step back with the RF on "2". There is a very different feel to WCS when the steps and timing are changed to rush the downbeats and slow the upbeats. My wife and I are trying to learn this for the feel, but we have a way to go to make it a feel natural to us.

    On the comment regarding the Sugar Push jarring on "4" or the step forward by Guy with lf, I have found as long as both keep frame in their arms and do not allow their elbows to go past their sides, there should be no jarring effect. There should be a pressure buildup on "3 and" that is released when the Guy steps forward on "4", but it is a body move (keeping arms in frame), not a arm push. If there is a jarring effect, the Guy is probably using his arms to push forward or it is a timing issue (pushing too early) or there is no frame and pressure on "3 and" to allow a good connection for the body lead forward by Guy.

    I am sure we dance WCS much differently from other regions, since we really interchange between 6 and 8 beat patterns and between Whip and WCS frequently. It sure makes me have to think ahead, but is has been easier and easier as time passes to be able to use muscle memory instead of brain memory.

    There are some really good Whip/WCS dancers in Houston. Most of the western dances are very conducive to the WCS dancing (as long as we don't try it in the LOD while there are Western Swing, Two Steps, Waltzes, or Polkas playing (a cowboy boot up your butt is a lasting memory). I hope to be an adequate WCS dancer one day, but my age is a real limitation. l am happy (and my wife is thrilled) that we started when we did (48), even though we are some of the older people dancing many times.
  14. DennisBeach

    DennisBeach New Member

    We have had ballroom west coast lessons and also use videos from country style west coast. All include the tap step as a valid option. We try a new move both ways and go with whatever feels best for the move.
  15. danceislove

    danceislove New Member

    At our "ballroom" studio it is taught as a triple step not a tap step. What is this "push break" nonsense? I just heard that terms used the other day at a wc event...i just thought the guy forgot what the actual name was lol
  16. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    Okay steve -- what do you need verified ?-- Knew Laurie for over forty yrs.

    As you know from my previous post, worked for the " chains ", in Calif. among other places. They sure did more to promote w.c.s ( among other dances ) than any other entity .

    I,m guessing many of the posters are way too young to remember their dance program on t.v. , where at some juncture, w.c. was featured .

    I believe the " chains " still teach the same format.
  17. SlowDancer

    SlowDancer New Member

    Welcome to DF, Kortgawain! My husband and I moved to Houston, for a brief period, in 2005, but I didn't say there long enough to become a "good" wcs dancer. It certainly wasn't for lack of great instructors, though. I'm happy to say that I was able to improve my country western dancing before moving back home, however.

    Where do you dance wcs in Houston?
  18. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    This sounds like a description of a delayed double rhythm synchopated footwork, especially if that pair of steps is a "ball change", rather than a full weight transfer onto the left foot during the "and" count.

    This doesn't add up for me at all - there just aren't very many patterns that expect you to step with the same foot twice in a row. Had you written tap on 3, step LF on 4, you'd have a perfect match for the delayed single rhythm that most of the others have been discussing.

    On the other hand, had you written 4-RF forward, you'd have a bitchin' footwork synchopation, as most folks aren't quickly comfortable with the idea of changing the parity of their footwork (replacing an odd number of weight changes with an even number).

    Mind you, I still haven't guessed what a Teepee Turn is - follower turns right under both hands?

    On the other hand, I wouldn't expect anyone to guess what a Pterodactyl is, even if I gave the hint that it was taught in the opening month of beginners' classes. Pattern names are very regional.
  19. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    "I tend to get really really close to the guy on the &2&3...should I not be? How do I keep from doing that, if it's bad? Granted, this is if I'm dancing with a guy who has some connection and can give me a wall. Lots of guys don't, and I don't really dance with any energy...which is harder, and boring...but it's the only way I've found to actually dance with them."

    I was taught that there should be compression. I also find that it's a heck of a lot easier to lead something out of that position when there is compression.
    That means you more or less have to get close to the guy. (One time my patner got so close that we touched noses. I thought that was pretty cool.)
    Without the compression it is boring. I totally agree with you there.
    Just like a guy can't make a woman walk right into him, the woman can't make the man be stable enough to feel like a wall.
    One variation of the Sugar Push theme that I used to do a lot involves starting from a hand shake position. As the woman walks forward the guy ducks down and wraps the woman arm around the back of his neck. The man's "free" left hand goes down to the woman's hip/upper thigh and stops her forward motion. The "Push" comes from the left hand against the hip / thigh. It pays to be careful with that hand placement. You want to be toward the outside of her leg, not the inside.
    I guess I don't use it much because too many times the woman doesn't get close enough to make it worthwhile. I guess it feels like there will be nothing to stop them when they feel their right hand going up and behind the guy's neck.
  20. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    In the mythology of West Coast Swing, many people have written that WCS was a "street dance" that was "tamed" by the franchise studios, but later "broke free" to advance on its own. Or at the very least someone wrote it, and though the miracle of cut and paste, it seems to be all over the internet.
    The dance has a history that is almost sixty years long now. I just can't figure out when this stuff happened.
    See, so, free spirited, creative individuals vs the deadening effect of the franchise studios that teach ballroom style.
    After dancing in country western places, taking jazz, hip hop, and salsa lessons, and then learning Argentine Tango, I tried taking ballroom lessons. I found out that it is way too restrictive for me at this point.
    There are some pretty distinctive ballroom things that show at the country western places, too.
    Anyhow, I hope you can forgive me for using certain comments as a reason for writing about things that are important to me. This is a discussion thing, after all.
    I think it's becoming apparent that different instructors teach different things, no matter where, or what "style" of WCS they teach.

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