Country and Western > West Coast Swing "breaks"

Discussion in 'Country and Western' started by Steve Pastor, May 24, 2006.

  1. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    A female friend with whom I dance West Coast Swing wrote the following...
    "I'd love to have an opportunity to learn more about west coast swing ... I have most of the basics down, but don't have a clue how to do any "breaks" or different things ... and I'm way too self conscious to be comfortable trying to figure out a break on the dance floor ..."
    When I asked her what the heck she meant by a break, she replied,
    "The way I've heard it used is when you do some move at the end (like after the 6) & before stepping forward into 1 2."
    It's been pretty easy to figure out a few things that she might do, but I've never actually followed in WCS, so I thought I would ask you guys for some of your favorite "breaks".
    Any good moves you'd like to share?
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Looks like I get to respond to myself. Is it because no one else knows what my friend was talking about?
    I came across this in another thread...

    from, but it applies to non-ballroom dances as well.
    Break: A unit of two steps where the second step is taken in exactly the opposite direction from the first.

  3. It's Wonderful

    It's Wonderful New Member

    Maybe try posting on the swing forum? I lot of that crowd doesn't glance at this forum.
  4. It's Wonderful

    It's Wonderful New Member

    Personally, I've heard about breaks (in the swing community) in the music, and hitting a break is simply stopping or drastically changing your dancing to accentuate that change in the music. Maybe I'm way off here, though?

    As for my favorite foot-work add on:

    (From the face off) Step Left on 5, cross Right in front of Left on 6 down the line, so you end up in a kind of lunge away from your partner, hold 7, replace Right with Left on 8 and sort of ronde the Right out of the way to start normal on 1.2.

    More of a lindy feel, but another favorite:

    (From the face off) Step Left on 5, step Right on 6, step Left on 6& (all down the line, but not traveling too much), cross Right in front of Left in hopping motion while kicking Left to the forward from behind the Right on 7, replace Left while kicking Right forward on 7&, replace Right kick Left forward on 8, replace L kick Right on 8&, start like normal on 1.2.

    Wow, that's hard to understand in writing. But they're both quite simple, one just takes away footwork and the adds some on.
  5. chandra

    chandra New Member

    A break for me in WCS is something that happens in the music. In the simplest scenario, When, ussually on 1 or 5 the music stops for 2 or more counts. Think of heart attack and vine. The break happens on the 1 8 counts before a phrase change.
    *shrug* Thats just what I think of as a break.
    So something I would do to hit that? I am a personal fan of legs shoulder width apart, feet turned out, solid hit. Nothing fancy - but it looks good and clean, especcially out of a spin or whip. I dunno... I dont ussually think about what breaks to use... just do feels right at the time.
    I agree on posting this in the swing forum. I dont dance C&W btw.
    eh, just me.
  6. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    More than you wanted to know . . . Hitting the Breaks

    My thanks to "Victor."
  7. SuzieQ

    SuzieQ New Member

    This is one of the fun/difficult parts of WCS for me. I have learned to do a body roll, freeze "with an attitude," sometimes the leader will just bring us close together and we'll wiggle together, maybe just some fancy footwork--I'm not very good at describing, but it's really just a kind of free-style in reaction to the music. Maybe kind of like a shine in salsa?? Once at a comp in a 2-step Jack & Jill one of the "requirements" was that the couples hit the breaks in the music.
  8. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Um . . . remind me to practice this you . . . ???
  9. SuzieQ

    SuzieQ New Member

    Where and when?
  10. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    When . . . our first WCS together . . .

    Where . . . The rest of our schedule this year (which is all tentative - with our work):
    -Aug 3 - 6 . . . Fountain Valley, AZ
    -Sep 1 - 3 . . . San Jose, CA
    -Oct 27 - 29 . . . San Diego, CA (this will probably be canceled)
    -Nov 10 - 12 . . . Dallas, TX (also questionable)
    -Dec 7 - 10 . . . Las Vegas

    Doing any of these???
  11. SuzieQ

    SuzieQ New Member Gretchen will probably be at Dallas and Las Vegas...maybe she can be my proxy...better than me anyway!

    Maybe next year we'll do UC instead of ACDA. Problem is they're all farther away for us...except maybe Chicago.
  12. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    I don't think so . . .

    Look at Memorial Weekend in Fresno CA . . . it's one of the best UCWDC events going . . . four days of FUN, non-stop dancing, partying, and oh, did I mention dancing . . . all night long . . . the hotel goes out of it's way to accomodate the dancers and the theme of each year. This year, it was "Biker Leather and Lace," and a bunch of Harleys came in the front door of the hotel and rode through the middle of the dancing and went out the back door! Crazy? Absolutely! Everyone dressed as "bikers" this year.

    There are dancers that attend from almost every state . . .
  13. SuzieQ

    SuzieQ New Member

    I'll keep this in mind for next year---Gretchen said it was one of the best events she'd been to--we've never been to CA---
  14. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Kewl . . .

    If you like to get more than your fill of dancing . . . social, workshops, competition . . . you'll get it there! Great food, great bar, lots of parties, a thanks to all the "Vets" and their families (the Vets go up to be recognized - as a group - it's a tear-filled eyes affair), no sleep, meet new frinds, etc.

    We make sure we've booked a room early . . . and that we've booked vacation time for those days too!

    Hope to see ya' before that though . . .
  15. SuzieQ

    SuzieQ New Member

    I will practice hard until then in order to be worthy...
  16. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    . . . you ARE already worthy . . . it's me that has to make you happy!
  17. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    The word Break, when used by a westie, covers a couple different ideas (hey, we're street dancers - ignoring the constraints of a regimented vocabulary is one of the perks).

    Most commonly, break is used to describe a particular kind of musical accent, typically marked by a very sharp edge starting with the entire band playing at high energy and ending with perhaps one instrument finishing out the phrase.

    Classic example - Mustang Sally: You've been running all over town 6 7 8 BREAK!

    You'll occassionally hear westies refering to other similar accents as breaks (example: the peaks during the harmonica solo in "How Long Can a Fool Go Wrong"), and the entire art of expressing the musical accents with music as "Hitting the Breaks". Like I said, it's a perk.

    Less commonly, break is used to describe a kind of step, typically used as bridge between patterns. When people are being careful, they'll use the phrase "rhythm breaks" to describe these - they break away from the rhythm pattern that typifies the dance.

    The most common rhythm break in WCS is probably dropping a pair of triples after an anchor to bring the dancers back into phase with the music.

    Given the description provided by Steve's friend, this one seems the likely fit.

    Not really, no. There's just not enough meat there.

    Which is to say that any four beat fill that leaves your follower on the correct foot will work, in any dance position.

    If partner just finished her anchor, then you want an even number of weight changes during the next four beats, so some variation on left triple right triple will be your best bet. (Note that if partner has gotten herself wrong footed, a rhythm break is a nice place to clean that up, if you are comfortable with leading footwork).

    But if you want to experiment, look for patterns that naturally fit well with rhythm breaks.

    For example, consider following the anchor with a pair of hook triples. So your (the leader's) left triple moves to the right, then the right triple brings you (and hopefully partner) back into the slot.

    Now, if you dance that just anywhere, it's going to look choppy (walk walk, triple step, anchor step, where'd they go?, now they're back! walk walk...)

    But there are patterns where that rhythm break can be made to look like a natural consequence of the pattern you are dancing.

    For example, if you lead a tuck turn, or a left side underarm, then the follower will be moving left naturally on her anchor. The leader will be moving right naturally as he moves into the slot. So the hook triple rhythm break follows the direction those movements were already going anyway, and everything smooths out.

    (The general rule being that the hook triple is going to flow smoothly for the follower if she is rotating right going into the anchor; that will help you find other patterns that combine well with this rhythm break).
  18. adi008

    adi008 New Member

    nice topic budYYY!... ;)

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