Swing Discussion Boards > West Coast Swing: Can all steps be lead?

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by MintyMe, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. MintyMe

    MintyMe Member

    Happy New Year everyone!

    Question for all the experts:
    I'm having a discussion with a fellow dancer. We're both ballroom dancers and relative novices (a few years for me) when it comes to WCS.

    I say "all" WCS steps can (should) be lead and if he has to give his partner a verbal heads up about what he's going to lead next, he's missing something in class. Meaning, he's being taught the foot pattern but not how to lead it.

    I've danced with partners who give verbal directions while on the floor and I find it distracting--I can't hear them over the music for one thing. And what if I might not know the "hammerlock with headloop roll out" by name?

    He disagrees, and says he has to give advance verbal warning on a lot of steps or the women "don't do it".

    Then we go in circles: they're not following, you're not leading, everything can be lead, no not everything, etc.

    And then a thought occurred to me: maybe... I'm... wrong...??
  2. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    A few answers...

    Westies don't audible. Pretty much the only time you follow with your ears: when patterns are being called out by somebody other than your partner (ie - the instructor). I've heard rumors that Carolina Shag (a mid-Atlantic cousin to west coast swing) includes audibles for various tricks, but don't know of my own knowledge.

    Not everything in wcs is leadable - watching choreographed routines at the highest level, you will normally see a few moments that require the follower to know what's coming. Hijacks may or may not count as leadable -- depends on the definitions you choose to use.

    I can't think of anything appropriate for the social floor that's not leadable. If followers "don't do it" without an audible, then either it's not being led, or it doesn't feel safe. Best guess is that he's not properly positioned to deliver the lead unambiguously.
  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Hope dancer with experience is enough to qualify!

    If we are really talking about "patterns" for social dancing... yeah, pretty much.

    I just wrote about a "swango" lesson I took once, and it required the woman to do a cruzada (cross), or step her left foot across her right as she moved backwards as the man moved forward. Maybe some gal somewhere would do that, but even in Argentine Tango class women will take two steps to "get on the right foot" rather than cross.
    Hey, swango move is next!
    What I got out of that class was, putting AT and WCS together isn't so easy, and I never tried it socially because I was pretty sure it wouldn't work.

    There are, though, some basic things I think (and some people teach) that the woman should do on her own. For instance the man leads the first step, but the woman takes the second step on her own.

    Leading things that the woman hasn't learned yet is really problematic. I see in older books that hand signals "use your right hand to guide her" were once common, and even "audibles" in CW swing. West Coast Swing, and before that "Western Swing," no.

    There's a message there for him, but... be diplomatic.
  4. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Any WCS pattern done on the social floor should be leadable. That's the whole point of the dance. If the girls aren't following what he's trying to lead, there are two possibilities: A) He's not leading them right or B) they're not following/dancing right.

    It's a common perception that anything that goes wrong is the leader's fault. That is mostly true, but I say there are exceptions. If the leader leads a pattern correctly but the girls aren't following, it could be a matter of them not learning to dance and follow properly. I've led in classes where I couldn't even accomplish a decent sugar push because the girls wouldn't take two proper steps to achieve the needed compression. Or I try to lead something and they ignore the lead and go the wrong way, literally fighting the lead and not figuring out why it's not working, disconnected from the connection, etc.

    So, I suppose it's possible the leader in question is only dancing with clueless followers. If that's the case, he should only be leading basics they can get through following without verbals (that's where the "everything is the leader's fault" part comes in). Good leaders figure out what their partner can follow and lead that. Really good leaders lead something, and if the girl misses, make it look like it wasn't a mistake.
  5. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    I've been doing the WCS for a quarter of a century. I'm not aware of any patterns requiring verbal cues. Certainly none that I do.

    The only verbal cues I give are when the woman drops the connection. And then it's to assure her that I won't injure her when I reattempt the pattern, my neck wrap won't choke her, my hammerlock won't break her arm. Then if she doesn't drop the connection on a revisit to the pattern, there's no further talking required. And if she still drops the connection, time for me to back off and try something simpler.
  6. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    LOL agree ,my only verbal cue is "we are gonna west coast this song okay?"
    jennyisdancing likes this.

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