WCS Following question?

Steve Pastor

Staff member
Anyone who was interested in what we dance to enough to keep looking at this thread...
Rather than start a new thread...
I just came across this "tidbit" that swing was "new" only in the sense that it was "new" to the average musician/person when it became popular in the 1900s, but had been important in music in previous centuries.
Something ELSE I didn't know, although syncopation, too, was not "new".



Well-Known Member
Yes, "step on my" blue suede shoes is a good example of quarter note triplets. But the point is - although the music has this element, the dance steps typically do not. I mean, sure, you could occasionally choose to dance out that part with quarter note triplet rhythm in your feet or body, if you really wanted to emphasize it. But normal WCS steps don't have that.

The confusion comes in because some of the steps are called "triple step". It's only called "triple step" because you are stepping three times. It's not a parallel of music notation, so it's important not to confuse the two. "Triple" in music usually means dividing up a musical note into three shorter notes of equal duration. "Triple" in dance usually means three steps during two beats of music, but the three steps are not equal in time duration (i.e. "quick-quick-slow").
in some vintage dances, there are instances where dance steps reflected duplets (dividing what was normally 3 beats in 3/8 or 6/8 time into 2 beats) in the music, but none where a step reflected a triplet figure in the music.

going back to the modern period, what further complicates things is that in some cases, the timing of multiple steps/movements within a single beat is not symmetrical - instead of just eighth eighth quarter, you can also have a dotted eighth, sixteenth note (such as in kick/ball change timing).

asides from waltz, all other common dances are done to music that is generally played in groups of four beats per measure (there are a few exceptions, such as a song by the manhattan transfer that's often played as a chacha, that usually reflects a quirk by the arranger who has stuck a 2 beat measure in the music).

going beyond WCS, i prefer to describe steps using beat count vs. using quicks and slows. the reason is that quick quick slow translates to quarter quarter half musically, where an actual movement is more accurately described as quick quick quick, and a beat where no step is taken, such as in salsa (on 1). 1-2-3 (wait) 5-6-7 (wait), whereas quick quick slow more accurately describes the feel of something like NC2S.

Hi folks,

My problem is this: Most of the leaders at my local social dancing events are guys who insist on attempting to lead me through complicated patterns that I don't know, even when they know I am a beginner. Then they get frustrated with me because I screw up or stop dead in my tracks because I can't follow them. Then, I don't get asked to dance again because the leaders think I'm a lousy dancer. Frankly, my ego is taking a battering and I am not having fun.


Any thoughts/opinions/suggestions? Should I be learning to be able to follow a crappy leader? Or just stick to my lessons and eventually find somewhere else to dance?
I'm going to answer your story with a story. Years ago I was at Toronto Salsa Practice. I asked a guy to dance with me (in salsa, when you are a 260 lb woman of colour, and not cute pert and blonde, you have to do the asking *grin*)

The guy acquiesces, begrudgingly, but before we start he turns to me and asks, "What level are you?"

What LEVEL am I?

My reply? "I do cha cha, rhumba, WCS, East Coast Swing, Lindy Hop, American Standard, Medieval and Renaissance Dance, some contra, English country, Scottish Country, a working knowledge of Egyptian Bellydance and American Tribal, flamenco and kathak, plus 8 years ballet training with a Ballet Mistress (RIP) who was trained at the Bolshoi. I've performed on stage with the National Ballet of Canada. AND I salsa on 1 and on 2. What level? You tell me."


I'm going to let you in on a secret. The best leaders - in WCS or any other social dance - can make a follower look good doing nothing but the basics. They assess what you can do based on the first 16 bars of music and go from there. Plus they dance to HAVE FUN, not to perform to an unwitting crowd. THAT, and not a plethora of patterns, separates the good leaders from the dross. I've danced with some of the best - Mike Topel, Mario Robau Jr., Angel Figueroa and in the lindy hop world Frankie Manning (RIP). Am I a great dancer? Hell no but they made me feel good and that's what counts.

And to be fair I am sure that there are leaders out there who have to deal with the same sort of nonsense from back-leading followers (I lead on occasion so I know what that's like).

My suggestion? Stick to the lessons. Learn your basics well and get to know your leaders in your classes. Classes are the best way to build up your community. If you can, go to workshops outside your area.

Do not let bad apples into your pie, sweetie!

Dance Ads