Swing Discussion Boards > What is west coast swing

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by missjojo, Aug 29, 2005.

  1. missjojo

    missjojo New Member

    I'm an Australian gal, learned lindy hop and east coast swing in seattle some time ago. i just joined this discussion board and saw all the posts about west coast swing. what is it?

    Miss Jojo
  2. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    Smooth Lindy :D

    I'm not a westie, so if I write something erong, feel free to correct me.

    WCS is a dance evolved from Lindy. If you take Lindy as a starting point, stop bouncing and smooth it out, dance more erect with more of a ballroom look, dance in a slot (keep the moves on a straight line) and replace jazz/swing music with contemporary music you should get the idea.

    As long as you keep away from the charleston stuff, the moves are mostly the same. But because the style and feel is different, the choice of moves, and how they are performed will be a bit different. Also WCS seems to me to be more spin-oriented.
  3. bjp22tango

    bjp22tango Active Member

  4. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Welcome to the DF missjojo!!! :D
  5. leftfeetnyc

    leftfeetnyc New Member

    http://jordantatianaswing.com/media.php their stuff tends to be more contemporary this is a good blues WCS

    These are top performers, so it doesn't look quite like this socially, the Boston Tea Party clip in the first link is social dance in a competitive format (random partner, random music..now comepete).

    That's a great place to get an idea for what WCS looks like

    It's done to old standards like Sinatra, blues like BB King, R&B, Hip Hop, Top 40.

    As mentioned it's an offshoot from Lindy Hop and there are lot of stories about why/how it got started. One is that a groovier form of swing was needed for slow jazz, another was that it was designed for early TV so you could see the dancers faces.

    There are some dances that look very similar, slow lindy and wcs can look the same, som boogie woogie and shag clips look like wcs. There's a lot of ability in all the swing dances to share moves, so certain elements can look very similar.
  6. chachachacat

    chachachacat Well-Known Member

    The West Coast Swing story I heard here in CA, (where it is the state dance) is that it was invented during WWII, to fit more people on the crowded dance floors.
    WCS is danced in a slot instead of a circle, so it takes up less space, and you can fit more couples on the floor.
  7. leftfeetnyc

    leftfeetnyc New Member

    I've heard that one as well.

    Plus there's:

    It was made so that prostitutes in bars could dance and entice drunk sailors

    When Lindy was banned from bars it became the dance du jour
  8. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    The version of the "drunken sailors" story that I heard was that it enabled the drunken sailors to "dance" with the "ladies" by requiring from them the minimal amount of movement, whereas the "ladies", who were much more sober, did most of the movement.

    This was to explain how the leaders' part could almost literally consist of nothing but just standing there and supporting the followers. My WCS instructor, female, loves to joke with us and will often first show us the woman's part of a new move and then show us the guy's part, which is to just stand there holding his left hand out there for support and watching what she's doing. In another forum, a WCS leader told how he would sometimes, just messing around, place a rotating bar stool on the dance floor and dance with his girlfriend while sitting on the bar stool (of course, this means there are two slots, one on either side of the stool, and at the end of each move he has to lead her to whichever slot he's going to use next).

    However, as the swingdiego link above shows, there's also lots that the guy can do too.
  9. leftfeetnyc

    leftfeetnyc New Member

    I've danced with guys who are sitting before. It's a little weird at first, but pretty interesting too. The two slots add a lot of variety.
  10. hepcat

    hepcat Member

    You make it sound like all lindy is in a circle. Untrue. Hollywood style lindy is in a slot. I think Flat Shoes pegged it in the first reply.
  11. jon

    jon Member

    You're inverting the timeline. The basic story is that WCS came about in part as a result of Lindy being put into a slot. Whether that was a result of Jack Carey choreographing for movies, or because there were crowded USO nightclubs, or whatever other reason, is a secondary matter. It is awfully hard to substantiate any particular story at this temporal remove, but there are enough similar variants to lend some credence to the notion of WCS evolving out of slotted forms of Lindy in the 1940s.

    BTW, in the 1990s revival of Lindy, at first it really all was Savoy-style, circular stuff. There weren't any sugar pushes happening on Lindy floors 10-12 years ago, at least in my recollection. In some ways contemporary Lindy dancers seem to be recapitulating the evolution of the dance - I can dance quite happily with many Hollywood-style dancers by finding a medium between their Lindy and my WCS.
  12. hepcat

    hepcat Member

    Yeah, I've had similar experiences with a couple WCS'ers who showed up at one of our swing dances. One woman I danced with seemed surprised and commented on how good of a dancer I was. I found it a little awkward in places because she allowed her arms to rotate where I didn't expect them to.

    As far as timeline goes, I'm not sure or have never queried about the relationship with WCS. I was simply saying that modern lindy is not necessarily circular. I'm no historian and have never really tried to piece all the little tidbits of knowledge I've learned together before, but I'll attempt to do so now (against my better judgement :? ). Most of what I know is from the mouth of Frankie manning or from various workshops. If I get anything wrong, don't blame my sources, but rather my poor memory. (Also some I've learned has been contradictory, so I try and make sense of it as best I can.)

    On the east coast, lindy primarily evolved in the Savoy ballroom in harlem. Lindy came from a dance called the "break away" (according to Frankie) where the closed connection was opened up. There was no swing out at first. Jitterbug (a separate development) came about as a dance and a term from a movie that Frankie was in. The scene was called "The Jitterbugs".

    On the west coast, it was more crowded and the music (which only came in the form of written music) was played much faster. This is how Balboa came about which was a conversion of 20s charleston to a closer closed position. For awhile, it was just lindy on the east coast and balboa on the west coast. The west coast was eventually exposed to lindy hop, but savoy style was too wild to catch the dancers' faces on film, so they developed the slotted version called hollywood style.

    Please correct me if any of this is way off. I'd like to know.

  13. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    I believe that Dean Collins is a major player in bringing Lindy to the West Coast and, I think, in developing Hollywood Style. He learned at the Savoy and then went to Hollywood and worked in the movies. His dance with Jewel [sorry, I forget her last name] in Abbott & Costello's "Buck Privates" is considered a classic.

    What his role in WCS was I do not know. My first principal WCS teacher had been a student of Dean Collins. And yet, I have seen a quote from Dean Collins disavowing any and all involvement with WCS.

    So this might be a direction someone would like to pursue. I've got to go now to learn and to dance it, rather than to discuss its origins.

    Though I could ask my current teacher, the widow of my former teacher.
  14. bjp22tango

    bjp22tango Active Member

    Jewell McGowen



    Note Dean Collins real name 8)

    If he were starting up today, he would probably keep it!
  15. luh

    luh Active Member

    Welcome to the DF missjojo!!! :D

    i got no clue about wcs, though it just seems to be another branch of lindy.
  16. dancin/dj

    dancin/dj Member

    yep i started in calif-theres no doubt about it-sure it was a offshoot of another dance,but it stands on its own .welcome missjojo i hope you learn this really cool/hot dance- 8)
  17. HF

    HF New Member

    WOW - these guys can dance!
    I did not know that there is a dance style like that. Very inspiring.
  18. HM

    HM New Member

    There look awesome!
    A pleasure to watch.

    Thanks fpr the link :D
  19. luh

    luh Active Member

    sure enough - swing is inspiring. :D

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