Starting ECS with rock step? Opinions??

Hi.. I'm looking for opinions from folks teaching ECS as to why some teach the dance by starting with the rock step? Others teach it starting with the triples (in the case of triple swing). I learned it first by doing the side actions first. I also notice the the DVIDA syllabus also starts with the rock step.

Are there good reasons for one way over the other??



Well-Known Member
As I recall I've seen it taught this way as option; don't know how common it is to do it by starting with rock steps. Don't see where one has any advantage over the other.


Well-Known Member
I've never heard of it beginning with the rock-step. The way I dance it, most of the turns/moves are done on the two slow counts, so it makes sense to me to begin there rather than on the quick counts.
It makes sense if you do ECS with triple steps instead of slow single steps. Then the rhythm becomes 'rock-step triple-step triple-step' instead of 'rock-step step-wait, step-wait'

The triple-step version then makes it easy to transition to 8-count swing, aka lindy hop, which is based on 'step-step triple-step, step-step triple-step'. Then the rock-step of 6-count corresponds to 'step-step' of 8-count -- generally speaking, when you're doing 8-count figures (ie, the swingout), the first step-step is not a rock-step, but two steps backward for the leader and two steps forward for the follower (I believe that's similar to west coast whips)

So, in a nutshell, if you're interested in eventually learning 8 count moves, then starting your ECS with the rock step, and eventually doing triple-steps, will greatly help the transition.

Steve Pastor

Staff member
Just about every book I've seen, and I've been looking at lots of them, starts with the "side" steps, not the rock step. We MAY be seeing the influence of West Coast Swing being echoed back in into "East Coast Swing". (Still haven't found an "early" written source for that name.) "Counting" for West Coast Swing switched to the "Slow Slow", equivalent to the rock step, as the "beginning" of patterns when you went into an open position.
(This "counting" of steps can get very confusing.)

Bottom line, I think, is it works either way.


Active Member
Isn't this the basic issue Uncle Joe kept bringing up? Instead of triple-triple-rock-step, he likes rock-step-triple-triple ...
In my opinion this is like the question "Which came first? The chicken or the egg?". Either way the dance has to flow into the next part.


Angel HI

Well-Known Member
Adjudicating, we really do not care.

Traditionally, of course, ECS begins w/ thr triple step sidewards; Jive... w/ the rock. Since Swing steps do not phrase anyway, it just doesn't matter except to accentuate one beat over another.
Are there good reasons for one way over the other??
There aren't very many places where westies use a side to side triple step. The most common movement to use it is the "4 count starter step", so called because it is a good fit for beginning a dance with a partner (it's a bit easier to get synchronized with your partner, and to find the groove of the song, with lateral movement rather than jumping directly into the dance.

It also makes sense to me (in the context of starting a dance in ECS) that leading partner to travel with you is going to provide a gentler start than leading partner to travel opposite you

Musically, it makes no difference (to first order) - starting with the rock step now might fit the music better, but eight beats from now you'll be doing a triple to the "same" cycle in the music.

I agree with jhpark, in that regardless of which way you dance it, it may be easier to "think it" as starting with the rock step (double rhythm), as that makes the beginning of your six count patterns match the beginning of your eight count patterns.

My guess is that if you were to trace the evolution of the movement back to Charleston (which might not be the right place to trace it) then the answer would be to move side first.

None of these are the answer to the question: which way gets newcomers to have fun more quickly. My guess here is that you want to start with the lateral movement here - only a few dances have rocks, but kids at their first 7th grade social dance can figure out how to sway.
I love this forum!! :notworth:

I knew this was the place to come for answers. In the physical world, this question has been met with blank stares and non-answers. "because"?!?!

I prefer starting with the side action because I like to move with and connect to my partner. I start my Rumba the same way for the same reason. I was mostly looking for affirmation that I wasn't missing something.

I do like the reasoning of starting with the rock step as a foundation for a later transition to 8 count. I love to think of every piece of learning dance being a building block..


Well-Known Member
I prefer starting with the side action because I like to move with and connect to my partner.
Interesting...I would imagine that the "opposition" connection required by a rock step is easier than the "cooperation" connection required to lead a side triple.

Larinda McRaven

Site Moderator
Staff member
Arthur Murray and DVIDA syllabus start ECS with a rock step. FADS, USISTD, and NADTA start with the triple step. Starting with a rock step may have some influence from WCS and there may be some from Jive. Either way once you get going it is the same.

Steve Pastor

Staff member
Arthur Murray and DVIDA syllabus start ECS with a rock step
Wonder when Murray changed?

I've got copies of a few pages on what ever he was calling swing/jitterbug/lindy from editions of "How to Become a Good Dancer" from 1947, 1954, and 1959, and they all start with the side step. Ditto for Haile's descriptions of Western Swing written for Murray and with the Murray title on the front page, and written sometime in the 50s.


Well-Known Member
Interesting...I would imagine that the "opposition" connection required by a rock step is easier than the "cooperation" connection required to lead a side triple.
I dunno. Seems like if you're struggling with connection to begin with (how to create it, how to maintain it, how to use/interpret it) it would seem that one is as difficult as the other. Or alternatively, if you are already comfortable with connection then it would be equally easy to do either one.
I teach starting with the rock step because it is easier to teach beginners an open position a compression lead. When in closed position it is often easier to start with the triple steps because the close body connection transmits the travel of the triple step easily.
As has been stated before, once you get going it really doesn't matter.
It's basically whatever is easiest to for the leader to connect to the follower.

the rock step beginning does harken back to the lindy hop and charleston. There isn't any side step in a charleston basic.
When I first learned swing in college, the instructor taught it starting with the side steps and this September when I took a ballroom class we learned it starting with rock steps. I prefer the second way just for stylistic purposes; I think it looks nicer.
I personally believe that you can start it the way that you are comfortable with. When we've choreographed our ECS showcases, we've strung together lots of different things--measure to measure. We've done the same with, for instance, Tango, too: Like doing 6 steps in Promenade, and mixing and matching things in general...

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