West Coast Swing Basic?

#1
I know absolutely nothing about WCS. I am trying to get a few basics down before an event in January, Help!

Is the "Sugar Push" considered the basic step? I have seen it danced/explained a few different ways from side steps to brush taps for the lead. I have danced some ECS if that matters.

Any insight or links to some of the basics would be a huge help… Thanks
 

bookish

Active Member
#2
Depends on who you ask, but WCS is commonly considered to have 4 basic patterns: side pass, sugar push (a.k.a push break), whip, and starter step (a.k.a 4-count rhythm break).

Sugar push is sometimes taught as the first step in classes, but my impression is that people are moving away from that because doing the sugar push over and over, especially with beginner technique, is not the most fun the dance can be. See also this Skippy Blair "teaching order" list of basics ( http://www.skippyblair.com/wcs.htm ). The sugar push is down at #11.

If you have limited class availability, YouTube has quite a bit of WCS moves if you search for the name of a step. Of course it's not a substitute for class instruction. Many moves have more than one name, e.g. sugar push/push break. I had never even heard of a torque turn before looking at the link above.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#3
Is the "Sugar Push" considered the basic step?
Many people think it is.
One of the leading authorities on West Coast Swing - Skippy Blair, who has been involved with it since 1953 - disagrees.

Her opinion is based on the history of the dance - including early step sheets - and her belief that "it is far too early for anyone to learn compression. Without compression, the pattern simply keeps time... "
Her 2010 step sheet lists a variation of the Sugar Push - the Push Break - as pattern # 11 !
She writes that a list of THINGS TO FIX had Sugar Push as #1 in 1985.

Have you been doing the triple steps in your East Coast?
 
#4
Have you been doing the triple steps in your East Coast?
Yep. I have danced some Lindy and Jitterbug so the transition shouldn't be too taxing. I have tried google and searched here but what a hodge-podge of information. I also peeked at Skippy's web site before posting and I think her site sums it up for me. What a mess to filter through...
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#8
Your first vid is, sort of, Skippy's 4 beat starter step.
I've been using something like this since I took Skippy's intensives.
I "mark time" with this until I hear (hopefully) the beginning of a phrase, whereupon I will anchor on the "2nd" triple - the one to the right - then rock back onto my left foot to start the woman's walk walk.
And THAT is listed as Triple Ryhtm Break & Anchor.


The second vid is, sort of, Skippy's 4 beat starter step. They take it a bit farther and show you how you "open up" for the first walk walk for the woman.


Many people still do the two triples and a rock step, then repeat it and lead the woman out from there.
I'm pretty convinced that Skippy has led the campaign to eliminate the rock step!

Note the difference between "starter step" and "basic." Right off the bat here we have several ways of getting started. None of them are "wrong" if you get you and your partner moving in time with the music. (Although you may find that they are unfamiliar with any particular way of starting and look at you funny.)
 
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#9
Note the difference between "starter step" and "basic." Right off the bat here we have several ways of getting started. None of them are "wrong" if you get you and your partner moving in time with the music. (Although you may find that they are unfamiliar with any particular way of starting and look at you funny.)

I think I will observe the first few dances until I get an idea of how to start. I don't need any funny looks, I'll get plenty along the way - nothing funnier than a Standard dancer trying to another style!

I gather I can't go wrong if I read through and practice Skippy's stuff?
 

cornutt

Well-Known Member
#10
I haven't been any place where they didn't use the sugar push as a basic step... IMO it pays not to over-complicate things when you're first starting out.
 

vit

Active Member
#11
When I started attending WCS classes last year, first thing we did was practicing the starter step solo (version from the 2nd video above), then we started with sugar push, following with other basic moves like left side pass, underarm turn, whip. Then we added the starter step (in the couple) at the beginning of the dance, followed by rotation (as in above video) and left side pass. Then started adding ladies turn on entry or exit of the whip, tuck turns and other similar stuff, gradually adding complexity and various moves that are actually not part of the core of the dance, but imported from various genres I suppose and became usually danced moves ...

If you are coming from other genre (standard as I understand), steps won't be a big problem for you. What is quite different than what I danced before (ballroom, salsa) is the way of leading in WCS, which is probably not that visible in the video clips, you have to feel it dancing with someone who is a WCS dancer. It is a kind of rubber-band feeling - mostly pull-type connection is used. Sugar push is a bit different, somehow out of this rule, that's probably the reason why Skippy is trying to introduce it later (her stuff is well systematized in my opinion). Type of the leading and role of the anchor step is probably something that needs time to settle-down
for someone coming from other dance genre (here you quickly see who is dancing WCS slightly longer and who just learned the steps)
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#12
I gather I can't go wrong if I read through and practice Skippy's stuff?
I haven't had any complaints since I started doing WCS the way she teaches it. Being an older guy myself (Skippy told me she has a son just about my age!), I buy into the thinking that having 60+ years of experience at something is kinda helpful.

With that open starter step, they look at me funny sometimes until I anchor in preparation for that 1st back step at the beginning of a phrase. At that point they feel the "stretch" in our connection. And when I rock back, leading the first walk step, there is usually a smile - especially from the gals who listen to the music.

One other place in Skippy's West Coast 101 that many women find unusual is the Right Torque Turn. I don't use that one much, but at least one of my partners has learned to have fun with it.

nothing funnier than a Standard dancer trying to another style!
Shoulda seen me in the African dance classes I took. There IS a secret video on YouTube, but I was careful to keep myself out of the picture. But I loved that class!
 

bookish

Active Member
#13
One other place in Skippy's West Coast 101 that many women find unusual is the Right Torque Turn. I don't use that one much, but at least one of my partners has learned to have fun with it
So since I mentioned never having heard of it, I managed to find a video of the torque turn (actually, all of Skippy's 14 basics). Turns out it's what, from Lindy Hop, I would call a passby or a right side pass (WCS uses right side pass for a different move though). It's taught in mostly intermediate Lindy to get followers to not stop early in a swingout, and it probably helps with the turn and footwork too. Sounds similar to the reason it was added to the WCS list (help with the whip).
 

leee

Well-Known Member
#14
Shoulda seen me in the African dance classes I took. There IS a secret video on YouTube, but I was careful to keep myself out of the picture. But I loved that class!
Steve, you've teased us DFers more than a few times with this tidbit, and now it's stoking my curiosity! :D
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#15
I'm going to check up on their version of RTT, (I've looked at the step sheet, reading it carefully, but want to see the videos of it before I comment) but, if you don't want to shell out the $20 for Skippy's dvd, that's a good resource. (might want to use the mute button, though)

leee,
OK. Watch out for General Dance video, although I'm cringing here as I think about making this public - sometime... "soon."
 

leee

Well-Known Member
#16
Steve, I was just teasing you! :eek: Please don't feel like you're under any obligation to fulfill my request that was made purely in jest!
 
#17
Steve, I was just teasing you! :eek: Please don't feel like you're under any obligation to fulfill my request that was made purely in jest!
lee's request was in jest, mine is not… C'mon. Do it!

I can not figure out how to order Skippy's DVDs, I think their cart system is messed up. I have tried two computers and three browsers, could still be me but usually don't have a problem spending money… If I get a chance I'll call and order but wow, that site needs an update.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#19
yeah...soon...

Just Because (Elvis recorded that one when he was at Sun Records) Skippy made me feel sort of like one of the family, an dbecause she's been so good about answering my quesitons, I just picked up the phone to let them know about it. It's been "a mess" for 6 months. Not surprisingly, Skippy doesn't maintain the site. I know I would probably be out of my depth if I tried to do one. (I did once, not much, but enough to know it's not as easy as ... Turbo Basic or MiniTab in case some of you were around back then.)
And, Skippy told me she will be celebrating her 90th birthday in March.

Linda, who picked up the phone, said a phone call would result in a mailing within one day. Not that I'm a shill or anything like that.
 

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