West Coast Swing to "Country" - How long ago?

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#1
I've only been dancing since the 90s, and at that time people were doing West Coast Swing in Country Western places. I heard "Black Velvet" a lot during lessons.

In the 50s there was a break between Country Western music (including Western Swing music) and Western Swing the dance. (This assumes that you are open to the possiblity that the two were associated in the first place. See the "Original music WCS was danced to" thread. That would be the later half of the 1950s that the
name West Coast Swing started being used in public. (People swear that Arthur Murray used the name in a manual earlier than that. But Skippy Blair, who taught for Murray writes that we (the teachers) never saw it.)

So, Sonny Watson has text about WCS being banned in Country Western places.

I know some of you have been around long enough that you may have first hand knowledge about this. Or, maybe you know someone who knows someone.

Please be a specific as you can with the dates.

When and where were people dancing West Coast Swing to Country Western music?

When and where were people told not to do that here?

Thanks everyone.
 

tangotime

Well-Known Member
#2
A / M

As skip said, " we never saw it "-- he meant that in the litteral sense. No one , and I mean no one, was ever allowed to read the dance manuals , other than the d.d.. They were always locked away , and in many schools, still are . He and I both worked under the same National d.d. in L.A.( Barbara Paul, and Nana Sameniago ) and they were both using the terms " w.c.s . " in the middle to late fifties .
When moving among the e.coast schools in the middle sixties (99% taught only e.c.s. ) the reference to w.c.s. was often misquoted as " western swing " , I guess as a reference to its locale .
 
#3
As skip said, " we never saw it "-- he meant that in the litteral sense. No one , and I mean no one, was ever allowed to read the dance manuals , other than the d.d.. They were always locked away , and in many schools, still are . He and I both worked under the same National d.d. in L.A.( Barbara Paul, and Nana Sameniago ) and they were both using the terms " w.c.s . " in the middle to late fifties .
When moving among the e.coast schools in the middle sixties (99% taught only e.c.s. ) the reference to w.c.s. was often misquoted as " western swing " , I guess as a reference to its locale .
You and who worked together? I thought you were referring to skippy, but you said he??
 

tangotime

Well-Known Member
#4
OOPs,-- meant she !--- I did not say we worked " together ",I said we both worked under the same nat. d.d. ( there were 32 a / m schools in the s. cal. area ) As I re call she was in the long beach area ? and I was in the Wilshire and Crenshaw studios.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#5
It is written... (invoking Fair Use Policy here)
"In 1958, with theopening of the Skippy Blair Studios in Downey, California, "Western" Swing was not a salable item in the city of Downey.(Nothing Western was welcome in Downey in 1958). "
"new ads advertised West Coast Swing (1962). When the GOLDEN WEST BALLROOM, in Norwalk, California, changed from Country to Ballroom dancing, "
http://www.swingworld.com/wcs.htm

So, Western Swing and Hillbilly Boogie goes out of favor in the LA basin. Big city folks now, I guess. And there was this little thing called rock 'n' roll that became pretty big in the later half of the 50s.
When did WCS get back with county?
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#7
Here are two examples of inaccurate writing in these sites:l
Lindy Hop brought West by Dean Collins in the 1940's
Collins arrived in the LA area in 37 or 38.
American Bandstand introduced a dance called the "Slop" which was just another term for West Coast Swing.
I have a book about Bandstand, and the description of the dance they give is nothing like WCS. Here is some text from the book.
"The Bop was very important because it was the first dance to lean toward those sixties dances where partners usually did not touch. Instead, they gyrated athletically a few paces apart from each other. In the Bop, the partners faced each other and jumped up and down in place, grinding their heels back and forth each time they landed. It was a physically demanding dance so holding hands was virtually impossible for more than a few moments into it.
(One of my now retired co workers, Steve Olhausen, says he won a grade school dance contest in 1957 doing the Bo. Steve is pretty good at WCS and would know if they were the same dance.)
"Betty Romantini recalls a dance called "the Slop-can you believe it? I have no idea how it got that name, but it probably had to do with the fact that the moves were a sort of sloppy version of the Bop."
According to Ed Kelly, "Just after the Bunny Hop began to decline in popularity, Pat Molitierri reinvented it by combining it with the Bop." "

In walks a dance called the "Twist" and no one had to learn anything, just "twist the night away". Other freeform style dances would follow ...

If you watch the 57 57 59 rock 'n' roll movies, you will see that not touching your partner started well before the Twist. I believe it had something to do with Be Bop, which is mentioned often in those films. But that is hardly proof.

Sonny Watson has given me a date of 1983 as a year the WCS became accepted again. That's pretty different than the 1960s in this article. Well, that paragraph starts by referencing the 60s, but However after awhile everyone wanted to do it ... Huh? How long is a while?

The text on this site is almost the same as that on other sites. Again, the "magic" of cut and paste. Note that there are no references or sources cited.

I appreciate you pointing it out, Kayak.
 

kayak

Active Member
#8
I don't think the article was intended to be a definitive text on dance history. It is a "Get out and start dancing" site. In that context, the difference between 1940s and 1938 is zip. Still, if I was looking for solid information about Country or Swing dance, Myles and his brother,Toby, would be a good starting contact point.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#9
Old thread...
Just found one part of the answer to the question..

When and where were people dancing West Coast Swing to Country Western music?
I figured out how to contact someone who was country when country wasn't cool. That would be BEFORE the Urban Cowboy craze started in 1980 following the release of the film in June.

She and her husband ended up teaching at the Marriot Inn Del Rey Cafe north LAX.

She told me that people would "trickle in" and do West Coast Swing in 1978 and 1979. They did not teach swing, and she personally had learned what we would call "East Coast Swing" step tap step tap rock step in the 60s, and would recommend private lessons for anyone who wanted to learn "swing".

She and others did not call it East Coast Swing, or any kind of swing. Just "swing".
The people that did West Coast called their dance "West Coast Swing".

So, we can see people dance Western Swing/West Coast Swing to a Gene Vincent song in "Hot Rod Gang" in 1958, and there is a personal account that it was done to country in 1978/1979. In 1949 someone breaks out swing moves to Spade Cooley in the film "Everybody's Dancin'".
 

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