Partnering across swing dances


Active Member
I kind of love that that within the swing dance familiy a lot of the dances are still related enough so that people can dance together without having to fully learn the other dance.

This is really obvious with lindy hop and west coast swing. WCS evolved straight out of lindy and while it has changed a lot and is now quite different from lindy, the very basic building blocks of the dance are still similar. I think of it as people speaking the same language but very strong and very different accents and with some regional vocabulary thrown in that is mutually incomprehensible, however they're still speaking the same language.

I don't know if any other dances ever do the type of mixed dance jack and jill that happens at events like Boston Tea Party where in the invitational top level WCS and lindy international teachers mix it up and goof off together.

Nick Williams and Nikki and Jordan and Tatiana ended up basically partner swapping for the jack and jill.

To be honest I think most of them have done some of the other dance at this point since this has been an annual competition for a while now.

I've also seen crossover jack and jills in events involving boogie woogie, lindy and/or rock 'n roll type jive (not ballroom jive)

To go back to my accent analogy there are very obvious differences in how you're supposed to do the dance (overall styling and pulse etc) in addition to some different vocabulary (notably charleston stuff in lindy, and I would say tricky spins in west coast but I am less familiar with WCS myself so grain of salt here please) and that's in part how you spot someone crossing over to their non primary dance. It is pretty cool though that you can try out crossing over from your main dance


Well-Known Member
Would the difference be like Spanish/Italian/Portuguese, or are the differences there starker than what you'd get in LH/WCS?

I danced Lindy with a Westie (is that what they call themselves?) last week, and would probably have never have guessed that she was anything other than a Lindy Hopper.

Steve Pastor

Staff member
Ahhh, well, not everyone who dances WCS calls themselves a Westie. For some of us there are connotations we don't want to be associated with.

West Coast Swing and Lindy Hop used to be a lot more similar than it is now. That can be seen in the step sheets and in early performances on film dating to the mid and later 50s. (And, I am convinced that not everyone danced Lindy Hop like Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, even at the Savoy.)

There was Lindy Rhythm, and swivels as two examples right off the top of my head. What was left out even then were nearly all references to Charleston, and "authentic jazz dance" stuff. As the years went by other things that were part of the early dance fell out of favor and/or were not taught any more.
I asked Skippy Blair about this at one time, and she said, "You understand why" (with maybe a hint of a question in her tone). Skippy has written about some of this.

"Lindy Hop" never caught on in Portland, OR, although one instructor announced that it was going to be the next big thing here in 1932. "Jitterbug" did, though, eventually. (That seems to be pretty much the case throughout the US.) In the mid 50s, the director of the Arthur Murray studio(s) here said that he could sell "swing," but not jitterbug. (At the same time he had youth classes for jitterbug going on!)
And, "jitterbug" itself had many bad connotations. There are accounts of bannings and even one law suit that filed from someone who was injured by jitterbugers. . Western Swing, West Coast Swing, Sophisticated Swing, and probably earlier, smooth swing, filled the bill for many people.

If you look for the similarities, they are there. And if you are interested in variations in the styles, and make an effort to learn them and use them in your dancing - say, based on venue or the music being played! - you can be chameleon like.

Imaging how amused I was, though, to be stepping forward rather than rocking back on count 1 in a Lindy class, when Skippy has been working for years to eliminate the rock step from West Coast Swing.

I think Siggav already wrote this, but the differences between the swings are more like regional variations in the US. We use many of the same words, but pronounce them differently. Spanish / Italian I think, the differences are more pronounced. Gracias vs gracie.

"..., when someone tells you that he or she can't dance with because you do East or West Coast swing, which ever be the case, rest assured that that person can't swing dance.Secondly, Swing is Jitterbug is Lindy Hop."
Dean Collins 1977


Active Member
Of course those pros can make any dance go with any other one.

At the recreational level it's unlikely that somebody that only knows wcs will be able to dance with somebody that only knows lindy. The music is usually way different for each dance, which makes the problem even worse.

Take some novices from each community and throw them together in a j&J? Major trainwreck!


Active Member
Yeah, if you do the "full spectrum" of Lindy or WCS, they have a fair bit of overlap, but the "typical" approaches don't necessarily.

Lindy can be very smooth... you can lead in on 1... and you can do "whip" style swingouts. They're just not necessarily the commonly taught defaults.

WCS can be bouncy, though it's usually because of funk/hip-hop music rather than swing. And pros are used to changing up the way they dance in numerous respects for different types of music.

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