In Los Angeles
in the year 1946
, swing dancing
and the Lindy Hop
were so popular that the the more acrobatic
Lindy moves made dance floors a hazard
. Out of this, the West Coast Swing
West Coast Swing (sometimes abbreviated to "WCS") is a slotted dance, where each partner moves back and forth along an imaginary line drawn between them on the floor. There are no acrobatics, no high kicks or jumps. West Coast Swing is performed to slower music than the Lindy Hop, about 28-32 measures per minute, and the dance and music typically has a sexier, "slinkier" feel to it. The basic step is done in six beats, so six-measure blues music is often ideal for this dance.
The basic step is called a "sugar push", and for the leader it involves holding the follower's right hand in his left, about one arm's length apart. He takes two short steps backwards, starting with his left, on the first and second beat; does a triple-step with his left foot behind his right and then stepping forward on his left in the third and fourth beat; and does a second triple-step behind his left foot and then stopping with his feet together on the fifth and sixth beat. The follower matches her steps to the leader's, stepping forward with her right as he steps backwards with his left, but travels further along the slot towards him. On the second beat, the leader holds up his right palm to press against the follower's left, then "sugar pushes" her away on the fourth beat.
The beauty of the dance comes in its syncopations -- the variations each dancer takes in rhythm using their feet and bodies. Many popular syncopations are compatible with the swing-out in Lindy Hop, even though that dance is done in eight counts instead of six.
The recent swing revival of the 1990s focused on East Coast Swing and Lindy Hop, leaving West Coast Swing on the side with its less-energetic style of dance and music. In my opinion, though, this dance is just as much fun -- if not moreso -- in its own way. There's less sweating going on, so you can West Coast all night long with fewer breaks. The "sexier" feel to the dance is a joy to watch when two people truly know what they're doing -- and even more fun when they don't mind being a little outrageous.