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West Coast Swing - What Is It?

The name “West Coast Swing” didn’t surface into the mainstream until the late 1960’s.

Before we can define West Coast Swing, it is important to take a step back and understand what “Swing” is.

“Swing” is an All-American Rhythm Dance, consisting of primarily 6-beat and/or 8-beat patterns. The following dances all fall into the “Swing” family: Lindy, Dallas Push/Houston Whip, Carolina Shag, East Coast Swing and, of course, West Coast Swing.

West Coast Swing has certain characteristics which define the dance and differentiate it from other forms of Swing:

1. It is a “slotted” dance. Partners move back and forth in a vertical slot, or lane, or trade places in the slot.
2. The follower walks forward on 1,2.
3. Basic patterns consist of both 6-beat and 8-beat patterns.
4. Patterns end with an “anchor” (usually a triple rhythm).
5. It is a Lead/Follow dance.
6. It is danced to 4/4 time music.
West Coast swing continues to evolve and is defined by the professionals who compete and teach on the West Coast circuit today. This is one of the biggest reasons why people fall in love with the dance and the reason they stick with it over time. West Coast Swing is truly the most versatile and interesting of the social dances. It is a great dance for persons of all ages.