West Coast Swing Basic?

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#22
I DID look at the West Coast Swing 101 Basics dvd, and, I was seeing what I thought I was seeing in the YouTube vid.

Skippy's instructions for the follower are to "Walk forward on "1 - 2" -rotate right on the Left foot, on the "&a" leaving right toe forward, on the floor" on the RIGHT TORQUE TURN.
The woman has already turned 90 on "2" in the YouTube vid.
Although the wirtten instruction is a bit vaugue, it's clear from the Skippy dvd that the turn happens on the &a AFTER "2."


Also note that HE steps across, on 2 rather than doing a straight forward. While that isn't "wrong," but it's different than both partners moving straight towards each other on "2."

So, close, but no cigar on this one. For what it's worth.
 

bookish

Active Member
#23
Well, it's the only video labeled torque turn I can find on YouTube. I Googled for more info, and this thread came up on the first page! So I've been comparing the written description with the YouTube vid.

The written description omits notes about connection and just lists steps, which makes it harder to understand what's going on. Why does the follower use CBM on steps 1-2? (Which the one in the YouTube video doesn't -- that's why she seems to turn early, though it's not quite 90 degrees "on" 2). Is the leader supposed to create additional stretch on the &a of the previous anchor?

If the follower does use CBM on the second step, does that mean there is supposed to be compression there? That would completely change the nature of the turn.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#24
My initial thought here is that this is how things change. Someone takes a class, sees someone do something, looks at written directions, etc, and ends up doing something that is similar, but not the same.

This couple has taken Skippy's material, and made their own videos and posted it on YouTube. I've got two of Skippy's dvd sets: 101, and the 22 patterns. I haven't looked at the Torque turn on the 22 pattern dvd, but would guess that it's the same as on 101, and in her written directions.

I've got a bunch of 50s era step sheets, and it's interesting to note the things that are left out or added, the mispellings, underlining or not, where the carraige return was used, etc between the copies that were most likely made by creating a stencil with a typewriter.

Their version of the Torque Turn is the video equivalent of those retyped step sheets, changes and all.


So, let's see...

Why does the follower use CBM on steps 1-2?
I think because the Torque turn, as taught by Skippy is pretty much something new. Again, I'd never been exposed to it before (not that "I've been very where, man").
What she is doing is what most followers would do, based on everything they'd been taught.

Is the leader supposed to create additional stretch on the &a of the previous anchor?
No. This starts out like any other move.

does that mean there is supposed to be compression there?
Although the directions don't talk about it, yeah. it does.
On "2" her center should be over her left foot,
and his center should be over his right foot,
and you are pretty much toe to toe.

This is contrary to the "get out of the woman's way thing" that has been drummed into dancers from "my time." And, the man in the video does exactly that, by stepping across his body with his right foot.

That would completely change the nature of the turn.
Sure does.
And, remember, I've learned to use this move sparingly, for exactly that reason.

So there you are toe to toe, face to face, practically. Now where do you go?
Well, for the woman, it's "right shoulder back."
Skippy's definition of a Torque Turn is "A turn in the opposite direction of the forward foot. (the body continues to travel in the same direction) ex: Her "&a" - following Count-2 in a WCS Whip.
 

bookish

Active Member
#25
I think because the Torque turn, as taught by Skippy is pretty much something new. Again, I'd never been exposed to it before (not that "I've been very where, man").
What she is doing is what most followers would do, based on everything they'd been taught.
OK, I was just comparing to the other step descriptions.

I still don't quite get why CBM would be normal in that case. WCS seems to be big on anchoring in third position, which means the follower's left side is back. And WCS dancers commonly dance out to near-full extension of the arm connection. So where is the follower supposed to get the room to bring their right shoulder back in CBM for step 1?

(There are several ways to do CBM. The same shoulder can go back, the opposite shoulder can go forward, or both shoulders can rotate around the center. The step list specifies that the right shoulder goes back on the &a before the step.)

Thinking about how we do this in Lindy, there probably would be CBM, but that's because the follower would usually be doing swivels or a rock step. Stepping forward without swivels, I don't see it happening. Time to check more (performance) videos and watch step-1s. In the ones I've watched so far the follower's right shoulder is normally forward on 1, a position maintained from the anchor. Or is it really just a small internal movement of the shoulder back?
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#26
WCS dancers commonly dance out to near-full extension of the arm connection.
They aren't supposed to do that. That goes back a long way, at least into the 50s.

right shoulder back
Note that in my post, she is supposed to turn right shoulder back on the "&a" following "2."

If you try it -
weight on left foot -
now move right shoulder back
and continue turning on that left foot until you've gone 180.
At that point you transfer weight onto your right foot for count "3."

It's easier if you have some momentum from the walk walk - right left for the woman.

Feels weird I bet.
Right Torque Turn
Based on the video you found, you might not find an accurate representation of this.
 

bookish

Active Member
#27
They aren't supposed to do that. That goes back a long way, at least into the 50s.
Really? It seems to be what the "top" WCS dancers commonly do. I even did a quick search for a 90s clip and came up with this one, in which they commonly (not always) anchor with a shoulder-level hand connection and she apparently steps forward on 1 with a right shoulder lead when in a "normal" open hand connection.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#28
Top WCS dancers, just like any "top" dancers have different priorities than social dancers. Take a look at the two videos I posted in another thread to see what social lindy hop probably looked like, vs what you see in most films with Whitey's Lindy Hoppers.
I could go through all my stuff and provide a list of all the times people have written to have a near 90 degree bend in the arm on the anchor.
Time consuming!
But, you can just chalk it up to evolution of the dance.
Or, consider that you can't keep your partner from running into someone if she goes all out all the time and isn't matching the resistance in your arm; as on example of how it's supposed to work.
 

bookish

Active Member
#29
Top WCS dancers, just like any "top" dancers have different priorities than social dancers.
That makes sense. You would know better than I if this is apocryphal, but supposedly the slot in WCS was one way of dealing with crowded floors, right? (Another being close-embrace Balboa.) I would want a short connection there too. Whereas performers have the whole floor and it looks elegant to stretch.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#30
This is actual text from a step sheet sent to me by a former AM teacher.

"The slot simplified teaching by insuring definate foot positions to achieve a pattern. Also a large group of people may dance in a swing line without dancer of collisions so prvalent when a definate direction is not used. This is one of the reasons Swing is now allowed in the better hotels and night clubs on the West Coast."

What I see is there that the benefit was noted AFTER the slot was implemented rather than being implemented to produce the benefit.

I noted a long time ago the development of Balboa in the Los Angeles area. Balboa, though, came before swing. Western Swing aka West Coast Swing came after swing became popular. Balboa is in several ways very similar to the "close embrace" style of Argentine Tango that developed in crowded milongas in central Buenos Aires.

(I've been trying to pin down the early songs and bands that had "swing." Although it almost feels like a fools task, it looks to me like there wasn't much in the way of swing - except in solos - until the "early thirties," even in Harlem.)
 

vit

Active Member
#31
Bookish, as about right torque turn, I suggest not going too technical, this is not ballroom so you can always do the same move several ways. Correct is what feels nice for you and the partner.

I checked video recordings from our classes. We learned slightly more complicated version after about 6 weeks of attending classes, with hand change behind her back (called it Texas Tommy) and lady had 1 1/2 turn (instead only 1/2 in this basic version). First 2 steps were pretty much the same for the lady as on youtube video of the torque turn, first straight forward and the second turning. I think that this move is rarely danced in this basic form, so I suggest paying more attention to other moves. We even rarely used mentioned version after that - it was intro for doing the hand change in the whip (which is nice to change to R to R hand hold)

As about bringing the shoulde back/forward/whatever, my WCS teacher is also sometimes using these terms. I don't like to think that way - for me there is only a rotation, just that center of the rotation can be in different positions inside (or outside) the body
 

Spitfire

Well-Known Member
#32
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.)

Of these two, the first is what I think I was taught and then opening after the first two triples rather than doing so on the second triple as shown in video 2. This is what I use when starting a dance this way, but often don't do so. And I've noticed that many follows don't seem to know what I'm trying to so unless they are familiar with ECS. So maybe they are expecting the video two version or have not learned. I'll give no. 2 a try next time and see.
 
#33
Update;

I was lucky enough to get several lessons with Mike Konkel this past weekend. WooHoo… Great guy, wonderful teacher and dang that boy has some smooth footwork. I could learn to like this…

Thanks again for all of your help, I have the feeling that my WCS journey began here a about a week ago…
 

Hedwaite

Well-Known Member
#37
This is why when we teach WCS, we intro with "WCS has many different variations and is constantly evolving. For the sake of clarity, we're teaching it this way, but don't be surprised if you see it another way. For courtesy's sake, please don't correct anyone doing it differently. It might not be wrong, it might just be a variation." Bob Ross, I owe you so much.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#38
I could go through all my stuff and provide a list of all the times people have written to have a near 90 degree bend in the arm on the anchor.
Just came across this

"Man and girl should never be a extreme arms length in Open position.” Lauré Haile DanceNoteBook Western Swing undated materials 50s?
 
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Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#40
Just yesterday I found a recent (2012) Masters Thesis that stated that the Sugar Push is the basic step of West Coast Swing.
So, although Bookish already posted a link to this material in this thread, here, just to be clear, is what Skippy Blair had to say about it.

Under the name “Sugar Push” , the Push Break has been around since 1952. Unfortunately, it has frequently been taught as Pattern #1, (too early for anyone to learn compression.)Without compression, the pattern is either too rough, or no compression at all. Net result is that the pattern itself has recently been being labeled dull & uninteresting, by the newer dancers.

In materials from one of her Intensives (1-28-2010 update of Nov 2009 materials) she added,
"Being taught as pattern #1, is the result of an early "Step List" of 5 patterns that was prepared ONLY to be used as a "Fix-It" list. It was prepared for the original Swing Dance Council, for those traveling around the country. The year was 1985. The list was never meant to be a set of basics - simply a set of patterns for teachers to fix.
 

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