More About the Evolution of Swing

Just so you know where I'm coming from, I took my first dance lesson in 1949 and left the dance scene and Hollywood behind in 1963. For the next forty years (36 to be exact), I wandered through the wilderness (like Moses). When I returned to the promised land in 1999, I was invited as a guest speaker to the 2nd Camp Hollywood event at the Hollywood Palladium. And for the first time in forty years (36 to be exact), I was again exposed to Swing dancing. A month or so later as I was standing on the sidelines watching about 800 dancers crowded on the Satin Ballroom dance floor, I was asked by a stranger, " What is the difference between the dancing today and the dancing in the 1950's?" It took me three years of observing 2-3 dance classes per week before I was certain of my critique, and decided to open my big mouth!
I had a unique background for a frame of reference, because I stopped dancing and stopped listening to music when the 'Twist' and 'Disco Dancing' became the craze in the early 1960's. The only concepts I had about dancing were locked in a mental time capsule, unadulterated by an evolutionary influences that took place in the past almost forty years. In fact, when I knew I was ending my dancing profession\on in 1962, I described all the ballroom dances with techniques and illustrations in two separate volumes which I still have in pristine condition.
So what is all this dissertation about? When I elucidate on the Swing of the 1950's, I have a very clear memory of what was be performed in the Hollywood area. From 1949 to 1954, I danced and taught a very defined dance called 'Studio Swing' as opposed to a style Dean Collins' elite group of less than 100 dancers called, 'Street Swing". Studio Swing has not evolved into West Coast Swing as many pundits would have you believe; It is exactly the same dance form today as it was in the 1940's and 50's in Los Angeles. There are still some old timers around who can easily verify this fact. Adding a few new moves here and there do not evolve the dance. Almost any dance form I can think of has AN INFINITE number of different moves within its integrity.
'DANCE STEPS (PATTERNS) DO NOT IDENTIFY A DANCE FORM! I have read commentaries on the Swing where the commentators are distinguishing the differences between WCS the LINDY (ECS) by the step patterns used; this is an absurdity! I did the same steps when I changed from the WCS style to the Street Swing (ECS). It is the dance techniques that make the difference. You can do swivels or switches or swing outs or pivots in almost any ballroom dance. As a specific point, the Mambo uses many of the same moves as Swing and several other ballroom dances use the same exact foot patterns, e.g. Foxtrot, Rumba, Samba, Waltz ; the differences are (1) in the rhythm (2) the body movements and (3) the mood of the dance is strongly influenced by the music genre. But steps do not distinguish WCS from ECS Swing. And I don't mean this in a bad way, but it is an absurdity to advocate that step patterns are a defining factor of any dance. Anyone who has training in the other ballroom dances would be knowledgeable of this important fact.
One last word about techniques: Many of the techniques used in Classical Lindy Hop (ECS) have been borrowed from Tap Dancing and Ballet. My contribution though admittedly modest, has introduced a few new acrobatics, e.g. the Back Flip, The Lanza Flip and the Triple Jumping Jack. But I did not EVOLVE (change) the dance; I just added a few new moves within the rhythm, and integrity of the Lindy Hop *(ECS).
Fortunately for posterity, I have time capsuled the techniques used in the Lindy Hop so the future dancers will have a choice of either the Savoy Lindy Hop or dancing the evoluted, convoluted, and I don't mean this in a bad way, the somewhat polluted version of the Lindy Hop called by many other names.
Check my web Site for vintage photos and stories of Hollywood the way it was: .

See you at Suzy Q's Friday night,

Black Sheep

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