Swing Discussion Boards > West Coast Swing 1960s

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Steve Pastor, Oct 30, 2010.

  1. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Just heard from someone that he used to dance western swing to the song "Sugar Shack," which came out in 1963.

    Here's a couple of fast forward bonuses - an item from 1976...

    Jazz fiddler Joe Venuti has recorded an album for Flying Fish Records that high-lights the close ties between swing jazz and the “western swing” country music tradition.
    Can't figure if the album, or cuts from it , was ever released.
    And... I have found a 1980 ad for West Coast Swing as a Cowboy Dance.
    Go figure.
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    B.F. "Clinker" Hall, a rail road engineer from Kansas City, won a West Coast Swing contest after taking dance lessons. He took second place in the Mambo.
    It was June of 1965.
    I had been under the impressiong that "West Coast Swing" was confined to the West Coast the first few decades it was in existence. Then I found one of Laure' Haile's books owned by someone in Maryland. Then I noticed that the author of Swing Manual wrote that he had learned West Coast from a ballroom instructor in Colorado in the early 60s.
    Meanwhile Heaton and others kept using the name Western Swing. And Skippy Blair wrote in 78 and 94 that the name Western Swing was still being used.
  3. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Well I can tell you Steve that, I coached/taught on the E.Coast from Boston down to Miami and many towns/cities in between,in the early and mid 60s , and I really dont recall any one teaching WCS, in fact, the "charts" I dont believe ,didnt have it on them.

    As to the term"western" swing being used over WCS, the only time I heared that was from those dancing country style swing ; now, thats not to say,that there were not pockets, in areas that did teach WCS, I just never came across it until a later date ( around the early 70s ) .And. I have little knowledge, of what the west coast was doing after '65 , dance wise .
  4. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Blame it on Google, and Libraries!
    That item comes from a newsletter put out by a railroad!
    It has a picture of two women, who are identified as dance instructors, on either side of a largish man. Together, they are holding trophies.
    This is stuff I could NOT make up, since I'm not that creative!

    There are many people who made up their minds about the history of West Coast Swing years ago, probably going back to the 80s when the swing revival hit the first time. But they were working with very incomplete information. And they keep repeating the same stuff. And don't seem abe to process newly uncoverd old material.

    The Western Swing - music - revival of the 70s, before disco and threfore before the 80s swing revival I might add, added to the confusion in many peoples minds. One writer in Texas wrote about a "California style swing" just before Urban Cowboy, and that must have been West Coast/Western.

    Once again, though, as in LA in the 40s and 50s and the early 60s (in Seattle the Spanish Castle went to a "western dance" theme in 1963 and Bob Wills played at Golden West when it opened next door to Downey) people have to state the "fact" that Western Swing had nothing to do with Western Swing!

    I just hope that, as I continue writing up the piles of information I've been collecting, that it all makes sense.

    At least now we can see that "West Coast Swing" was as far east as Kansas City in the 60s. (although maybe that guy took dance lessons and won a contest somewhere else, which seems a bit unlikey)
  5. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Asleep at the Wheel was one of the first bands (along with Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen) of the long-haired hippie generation to look back to American roots music traditions like Western swing and boogie-woogie, but the world wasn't quite ready when they released their 1973 debut on United Artists.

    The following year, they switched over to Epic for their self-titled sophomore release, and began to really make a name for themselves. Their twanged-up version of the old Louis Jordan R&B tune "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" became a minor country hit, giving the Wheel their first-ever chart placement. (written by Vaughn Horton, Denver Darling, both of whom were "hillbilly" musicians, and Milt Gabler)

    They also recorded Count Basie's "Jumpin' At the Woodside." Anyone think of another group recording swing songs around then?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2017
  6. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    The english band, leader Ted Heath , played pretty much all swing style music ( a lot of copies ) .I grew up dancing Bop to his music ( often, live ) .
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2017
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Found a source for what was happening at the Golden West where Skippy Blair taught, among other dances, West Coast Swing in the 60s and 70s...

    Gentlemen must wear coats and ties after 8:00 PM
    the young people come in now and then. Some of them even try to dance, but they don't know how.
    you may dance to the big band sounds ... with Memo and his men of music...formerly with Jan Garber
    Tex Beneke and the Glen Miller Sound
    Tommy Dorsey Night ... Bill Tole Orch.
    Les Brown and His Band of renown
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Recently found another article featuring Skippy Blair and what was going on in the "Southland" in the 70s, specifically 1976.

    Skippy talks about the Universal Unit System and the flexibility it has.

    THIS flexibility, she claims, is also a reason for what she believes to be a growing interest among young people in the big band limes that ushered in the swing era, she said.

    "The popularity of the hustle and the corresponding rebirth of disco dancing, Ms. Blair says, has created a renewed interest in "contact dances" -- the waltz, fox trot, swing and cha-cha.

    "There's a growing, solid-citizen, younger generation coming up that wants standard big band music with a rock beat," she adds. Golden West, featuring two of the largest ballrooms in the Southland, offers both disco and standard dance bands. The grand ballroom, featuring the big band tunes, accommodates about 1,000, while the swing and disco floor accommodates 400 patrons.

    only two other locations in the area offer both instruction and dance bands -- both on a smaller scale and mainly for middle-aged singles. In Anaheim, a single's club that meets Mondays at the Phoenix Club, 1566 Douglass Road , teaches "western swing," which, according to instructor Gerry Martin, is a mixture of jitterbug and the fox trot.

    Instruction at the Golden West covers a wider range of dances, Ms. Blair says, accounting for the different age categories. SUNDAY is swing night, Monday is Latin and hustle night, Tuesday is swing and hustle, Wednesday is swing, Latin and hustle, Thursday is an off night, Friday offers a variety of Latin dances and Saturday provides Latin and hustle instruction during the first intermission.


    This is one more article about swing dancing in Southern California (note the mention of western swing, and the fact that Skippy includes "West Coast Swing" ... "Golden State Swing" in her 1978 book) with no mention of "blues."

    Also note that a few years later a masters thesis includes western swing as one of the common dances at country western places in the Los Angeles Area.
  9. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Add another song to the known to have had West Coast Swing danced to it list (wow, that's awkward)

    I thought it would be interesting to look at some early Lawrence Welk shows to see if was anything else of note. In 1962 Barbara Boylan and Bob Burgess did a routine that was similar to the one they did to Calcutta, dancing to the Welk orchestra version of "Runaway," which was a big hit in 1961.
    I couldn't find this one YouTube, but it's on the Lawrence Welk classic episodes. Volumes 1-4 dvd set.
  10. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    You have a knack of coming up with names in the past , with whom I have had some association ! :D . I watched him compete in the very late 40s and 50s at the Hammersmith Palais in London, the mecca for BR dancers..

    Bob was often a finalist in the British championship. I last saw him in 1983 on a visit to the UK . I also know Barbara . Can't remember when I last saw her( or where ).. I hope I'm not delusional on this , but, I believe she and her partner ( who were I think Junior UK champs ) came to LA and that was my last prof comp against them. It was just us 2 couples at a medal ball in Long beach T.Puente played.... I came 2nd. A world class dancer later told me I got robbed ! ..
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
  11. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    Bobby Burgess? He was a Mouseketeer in the US, on TV in the mid 50s - born 1941. I think u are thinking of the OTHER Mr. Burgess. BUT both are awesome dancers...
  12. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    I thought that was strange !!.. Good catch..

    I also knew the teacher that trained him ( a very dear friend, who recently passed on ( Sheila Webber ) She worked out of the Pasadena AM as their DD.
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks for getting that straight.
    I'm guessing a lot of people will recognize the Del Shannon version.

    It just so happens that there's a line dance to this song that goes back to around the late 80s. I may have the old step sheet at home. They still do at Bushwhackers.
  14. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    And here's that pesky old swing tune "A String of Pearls."

    I've asked myself if what they are doing isn't simply what has been called "Hollywood" style. If you watch Jewel McGowan, et al, you might see that their "one" isn't a step forward, it's pretty much in place, followed by an often large step forward on their left for two. Barbara pretty consistently, but not always, walks forward on her right on "1."

    There's also a routine they do on to the theme song of My Three Sons.
    I don't know. Feels like the musicians are swinging it.

    Not everything they do can be found in the step sheets from the 50s (and again for those joining us late, "West Coast Swing" was used in the dated 1953 step sheet by a DD here in Portland) but a lot of it can be.
    tangotime likes this.
  15. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


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