Why WCS can be done to contemporary music but not lindy?

#1
As a lindy hopper, I know why the dance is inappropriate for modern music, mostly having to do with the syncopathed triples. Can someone explain to me what it is about West coast Swing, stylistically or rhythmically, that does make it appropriate for modern pop music?

Are triples not that emphasized? Is the rhythmic interpretation more freer?
Just wondering because WCS and lindy shared a common lineage from way back and then split off. As far as my knowledge of WCS is concerned, it was mainly danced orginally to R&B and then later to modern music. Historically, were there stylistic shifts that made it adaptable to other types of music?

Where I'm going with this is whether (for better or for worse) lindy can be "evolved" towards dancing to modern music, or is the faithfullness to the era/music part and parcel of the dance? Is WCS basically the end result of that?
 
#2
normalized said:
As a lindy hopper, I know why the dance is inappropriate for modern music, mostly having to do with the syncopathed triples. Can someone explain to me what it is about West coast Swing, stylistically or rhythmically, that does make it appropriate for modern pop music?
Nothing. The important factor is that there is less love of any particular kind of music in the WCS world, and as a result, the dance community as a whole shifts more readily to incorporate new types of music.

Historically, were there stylistic shifts that made it adaptable to other types of music?
Just in the 15 years I've been doing WCS, it's gone through phases of using music and movements from hustle, Carolina Shag, country, and now hip-hop. Music tempos these days are reaching down into the 90s and 80s, they were near 130 when I started. You ask a chicken-and-egg question, my take is that the music getting played and the "stylistic shifts" coevolve.

Where I'm going with this is whether (for better or for worse) lindy can be "evolved" towards dancing to modern music, or is the faithfullness to the era/music part and parcel of the dance?
Of course it can, and often has been. But many people don't want to call the result "Lindy Hop". This is a perennial argument on the Lindy boards.

Is WCS basically the end result of that?
It is one possible result, there are others. I can dance with Hollywood style Lindy dancers a lot more easily than I can with the Savoy style/styles that were common a decade ago. But despite being able to dance with them I wouldn't call them WCS dancers, and I'm sure they wouldn't call me a Lindy dancer. We are just more readily able to find a reasonably compatible intersection of our dance knowledge.
 

blue

New Member
#3
jon said:
normalized said:
Where I'm going with this is whether (for better or for worse) lindy can be "evolved" towards dancing to modern music, or is the faithfullness to the era/music part and parcel of the dance?
Of course it can, and often has been. But many people don't want to call the result "Lindy Hop". This is a perennial argument on the Lindy boards.
I know people who dance very similarly to swing and to rock music, saying - I can't talk music in English so the terminology might be wrong - "if the stress is on 1 & 3 it's lindy, if on 2 & 4 it's boogie woogie".
 
#4
As I recall, Jeanne Veloz said that what we call Lindy Hop today *they* called WCS? I'll have to go back to the Hollywood Weekend tape and see if that was where she said it. The funny thing is, when watching her, she *is* dancing WCS to Lindy music....

My husband and I dance Lindy moves to WCS all the time. I just pick and choose what feels right with the music that is playing. I don't think it's so much about the steps, I think it's more about what the music tells you to do.....

But then what do I know.... I'm just a lowly ballroom dancer, lol!
 
#5
DancingMommy said:
As I recall, Jeanne Veloz said that what we call Lindy Hop today *they* called WCS?
Debbie Ramsey told me that when she started dancing WCS, around 25 years ago, it looked very much like Lindy as well. If so then there was a good deal of change during the 1980s.
 
#8
jon said:
Where I'm going with this is whether (for better or for worse) lindy can be "evolved" towards dancing to modern music, or is the faithfullness to the era/music part and parcel of the dance?
I second that! I can use a lot of what I've learned about moves and connection and improvise to different kinds of music. But I'm not dancing Lindy when doing it. It does not have the Lindy feeling.
 
#9
I'm betting that the Lindy "feeling" is directly related to the music because the (basic) steps are pretty much the same. If I dance WCS to Lindy music, it grooves a certain way. BUT it still "looks" like Lindy Hop.

Once upon a time, when Surya and I were dating we were out dancing at a swing night. I'm mainly ballroom/wcs and he is pretty prficient in Lindy Hop, so I danced WCS and he danced Lindy. An older (maybe 70-ish) couple complimented ME on MY Lindy Hop. :shock: I told them thanks, but I wasn't dancing Lindy since I didn't know it that well.... I was told in return that it looked like what THEY used to call Lindy Hop when they were young. :shrug:
 
#10
jon said:
The US Open 20th anniversary DVD collection might reach back far enough to provide some insight.
The open video does give you the first couple routines by Lance Shermoen and Mary Ann Nuñez, which are blistering quick by westie standards; but I haven't found that you can get much insight into the progress of the dance without being able to see what else was going on.

You could probably get the answer by looking at the full event videos from that time (to see what other styles placed, what the J&J and Strictly events looked like, etc). But that's a bit expensive - it's probably more economically efficient to buy drinks for the old timers and get them talking.
 

Vince A

Active Member
#11
DancingMommy said:
. . . so I danced WCS and he danced Lindy . . .
I can relate . . I asked a girl to dance one night, and she said that she did not WCS, but could Lindy, and I said, "Let's try it."

Now, I've only had a few lessons from "d nice" and a few group classes in Lindy, and thanks to those instructors, I knew enough to "drop the slots" - making the patterns more round, and to throw in a lot of whips and rock stepd out of them - almost every other pattern.

She was a great follower . . . following me very well . . . the music was a rather fast/up tempo WCS, but she did her Lindy thing quite well at around 140 bpm, and I worked at doing the WCS that fast. It was great fun!

We've danced a few dozen times since then . . . a WCS/Lindy Hop, and it went well! By the way, I've been told you can do the Lindy at any speed from slower music to over 300 bpm.
 
#12
DancingMommy said:
I'm betting that the Lindy "feeling" is directly related to the music because the (basic) steps are pretty much the same. If I dance WCS to Lindy music, it grooves a certain way. BUT it still "looks" like Lindy Hop.
It has a lot to do with the music. But different music also changes how I dance. Music are more or less bouncy. Some music are playfull, other types are sexy. So I will change how much I bounce, I will change what moves I do, and I will change my posture. Also one can stop dancing to the beat, and just do patterns from Lindy to the melody, while changing the tension and flow of the patterns to go with the tension and flow of the melody.

For example, when the singer draws out a note, I can do the same with the part of the move I'm in. This is possible because you have this necessary good connection as part of dancing Lindy.
 
#13
I think we are agreeing here?

I think that Lindy/WCS are so intertwined, that unless you are dancing "Disco WCS", you should be able to dance it to Lindy music with a Lindy feel and be OK.

Likewise, when we dance L:indy to more modern music, it ends up looking like WCS but a little less "ballroomy" if that makes any sense whatsoever?
 
#14
I think a good Westie and a good Lindy dancer can dance to a lot of different music, and adapt and change style when appropriate. At least as long as a lindy lead stays away from all that charleston-stuff.

Whether the result should be called Lindy, WCS or not, could be a heated debate. And it's also not really important, at least not for the sake of having fun and a good time.

I don't know WCS, but I have been taught a couple of differences. Like WCS is always in a slot, and you always lead the girl in the direction she's going at the beginning of a move. Lindy can be more back and forth and everywhere else.

Edit: lost ->slot :oops:
 
#15
Heheheheh.... Then I must be a WCLindySwing dancer. Our slot doesn't always stay "slotted" (have to dodge other dancers who have no concept of slot or floorcraft). :)

I just like to dance to whatever music is playing. :) Give me some rope and let me have fun. :) My favorite music to dance WCS to is hip hop/Will Smith/funk stuff. It gives me just the amount of groove I need.

Anything that remotely smacks of early R&B (pre1950s) gets a Lindy treatment from me. :)
 

Vince A

Active Member
#16
Besides the music, how do the clothes make you feel???

I know when I'm dressed up enough in Swing pants, nice un-tucked shirt, tango shoes), I do either very "straight-up" swing dancing if the music calls for it or very, very funky and sexy - getting into my partner and the floor.

However, I can do either of those if I'm dressed, say in very baggy carpenter jeans, a baggy polo or T-style shirt (no collar), and of course, dance sneakers.

Dressed this way let's me do most "feeling" style of dancing, AND, I get a lot of Lindy (bounce) in my dance - even though that bounce goes against everything in 12 years of WCS dancing that I've been taught - like BE SMOOTH and DON'T BOUNCE! I had a hard time in my my Lindy privates because of this one point.
 
#17
Vince A said:
Besides the music, how do the clothes make you feel???
I dress the same no matter the form. But I don't see why the sloppy clothes would correlate to Lindy particularly - when it evolved people wore suits and nice dresses and dress shoes to dance in, not today's informal semi-athletic wear and tennis shoes.
 

Vince A

Active Member
#18
jon said:
Vince A said:
Besides the music, how do the clothes make you feel???
I dress the same no matter the form. But I don't see why the sloppy clothes would correlate to Lindy particularly - when it evolved people wore suits and nice dresses and dress shoes to dance in, not today's informal semi-athletic wear and tennis shoes.
Hope my words didn't sound like I was calling the clothing styles of Lindy dancers as "sloppy?"

Quite the contrary . . . I find that most of their outfits are very striking, most are retro - that I've seen - and the older Lindy dancers are, as you say, in suits and dresses.

I would say that most of the WCS dancers have become very informal, as evidenced by the latest places that we've been to . . .
 
#19
So, the upshot is that there isn't that much difference between lindy and WCS when WCS is danced to pop/hip-hop? Nothing in the steps, rhythm, stance? Therefore technically one can dance lindy to modern music but culture/association/history has the dance more tied in to big band/jazz/blues, etc. while WCS has no ties and therefore dancers are free to break free of that? But there are fundamnetal differences in the basics, no?

I ask because I have danced with WCS follows and at the end of the dance the both of us has the "hey that wasn't all that different" look on our faces and I can't say I did anything different except:

1) stand up straighter
2) cut down on my charleston
3) stay in a slot

And I know I'm still not exactly doing WCS but a "WCS"-ized version of lindy just as probably the follows are doing a more "lindy"-ized version of WCS.

Therefore if I were to start taking classes in WCS, at which point to the differences come in, more at the intermediate level? Seems like the basics are fairly similar even if the moves are not exactly the same.

Furthermore, at what point did "smooth" or Dean Collins lindy turn into WCS. I know Dean was invovled in the WCS community in the later years, as was Sylvia Sykes who started as a student of Dean's. That's the history I'm a little fuzzy on.
 
#20
I think of "WCS" and "Lindy" as labels for two big fuzzy blobs in a very high dimensional state space of music, patterns, technique, styling, etc. - with lots of overlap and even more non-overlap. After a while I lost interest in asking what WCS "is" or "is not" in favour of "do I like this, and can I lead it well".

Therefore technically one can dance lindy to modern music but culture/association/history has the dance more tied in to big band/jazz/blues, etc. while WCS has no ties and therefore dancers are free to break free of that?
Fewer ties, anyway. I think of WCS as dancing to blues and R&B music, but that's probably mostly because that's what I was exposed to when I started doing it. Had the currently-popular music been used back then, I doubt I would have stayed with it.

Still, the number of musical absolutists in the WCS world is much smaller than in the Lindy world, and you don't find many people concerned about "authenticity" and "street culture".
 

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