On East Coast Swing

Embed from Getty Images

 

Click for some appropriate background music. Notice the beat – especially the percussion.

Swing Introduction

When one things of swing dancing and the accompanying music, many minds will go back to the music of the 1920s and 30s in the USA – a time known as the Big Band era (which continued into the 1950s).

From the likes of African-American giants as Louis Jordan, Cab Calloway, and Louis Prima to Big Band icons as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman to the new generation of swing of Elvis, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard, then onto the more contemporary sounds of Brian Setzer, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, swing has maintained a presence for many years.

Swing dancing goes back to New York City’s Harlem community as the Lindy Hop took hold. Life was buzzing due to Charles Lindbergh’s successful so transAtlantic flight. Because the Lindy Hop was fast and acrobatic, developed a different dance style for the music that would be simpler and danceable by more people. That was East Coast Swing, yet today we also have West Coast Swing, Jive, Shag, Boogie-Woogie, Jitterbug, and Lindy.

This post features East Coast Swing – also known as East Coast and Triple-Time Swing. Here’s my past post about a broad overview of Swing. East Coast Swing came about because Lindy Hop’s speed and acrobatic nature – so East Coast Swing is slow and not acrobatic. For those needing a refresher, here’s a classic Lindy Hop.

Introducing East Coast Swing

East Coast Swing – classified as a Rhythm Dance (not a Smooth Dance)

East Coast Swing – a spot dance (does not move around the floor in a circle or line)

East Coast Swing – one of the most versatile dances for many settings

East Coast Swing – a ballroom competition dance

East Coast Swing – a dance popularized by Arthur Murray Dance Studios

East Coast Swing – whose name refers to swinging hips

Basics Steps

East Coast Swing – a relatively fast dance at 145-170 beat per minute in 4-4 time

East Coast Swing – feature a basic pattern of 6 counts

East Coast Swing – featuring triple steps (3 steps over 2 counts) acting as the dance’s pulse

East Coast Swing – for triple steps, think side-together-side

East Coast Swing – the repeated six-count pattern of triple step (2 counts), triple step (2 counts), rock step (2 counts). (Note: Some teach the rock step begins the pattern)

Watch the video for East Coast Swing’s basic steps.

 

Suggestion: Now that you watched the basic steps, return to the music that opened this post to see if you can hear the pattern (triple step, triple step, rock step).

Other steps include Turning Basics, Open Breaks, Underarm Turns, Tucks, Sugar Push, Swivels, Peek-a-Boo, Kick Ball-Change, Shoulder Spin, Toe Heel Spin, Lindy variations, Promenade Walks, Whips, Kick Breaks, Pretzels, Cuddles, Tunnels, and more.

Other music to listen for the basic pattern: Michael Buble, Huey Lewis, Boz Scaggs, Fats Domino, Bobby Darin

Conclusion

As the opening pop song indicates, East Coast Swing music is lively, fun, and energetic – so dancing East Coast Swing should match that feeling. It’s music provides a bouncy feel, which can be found in a variety of music genre – including today’s pop music!

The closing video below is from a competition. A reminder: East Coast Swing is not acrobat as Lindy and what others may think as swing dancing. Because multiple couples are on the floor, you will see many variations – but all are dancing East Coast Swing. Enjoy!

On Bolero

For appropriate background music, click the video above for. You will have to stop it for the other videos.

 

Bolero – a style of music that is not music for Bolero the dance. For instance, Ravel’s Boléro is not meant for dancing a Bolero

Bolero – a slow dance to Latin music

Bolero – a dance with expressions through the arms, hands, legs, feet and face

Bolero – a fluid, slinky dance with rise-and-fall plus contra body movement (the upper and lower body slighting twisting in opposite directions)

If Cha-Cha is the tease and Rumba is foreplay, Bolero is the act of love

Image from ballroomdancers.com

 

History
Dance historians credit Spanish dancer Sebastian Cereza for creating Bolero in 1780

Bolero originally danced in 3/4 time

When Bolero music reached Cuba in the mid-1800s, it fused with African music and the timing changed to 2/4 or 4/4

Bolero originally a dance for a couple, but later adapted for large group choreography (which helped spread its popularity)

Bolero introduced America in the mid-1930s

Spanish and Cuban Bolero forms still exist today

Cuban Bolero (aka Bolero Son and International Rumba) is similar to American Ballroom Rumba, that is slightly faster than Bolero

 

Basic Steps
Bolero – a popular social ballroom dance, but also a competitive dance in American Rhythm ballroom

Bolero – danced in 4/4 time, usually at 96-104 beats per minute (slow than the Cuban Bolero in the previous video)

Basic pattern consists of six steps over two measures of music (eight beats)

Bolero’s basic pattern is as follows: (Note: Slow = two beats, Quick = one beat) Slow-Quick-Quick-Slow-Quick-Quick … (repeat)

1) Partners facing each other in standard ballroom hold

2) Bodies lower before a large, lunging step to the side (lead to the left, follower to the right), then raising on the second beat after the weight transfer (2 counts, slow)

3) Two rock steps follow (1 count each, quick-quick) that are smaller than the large side step. (Lead goes back then forward, the follower forward then back). Lowering for the next sequence occurs on the second small step.

4) Repeat the large, side step in the opposite direction.

5) Repeat the two rock steps (also opposite as below).

Watching this video will make more sense to the abbreviated written instructions.

 

When danced well, Bolero is a beautiful dance. With its long, fluid motions to go along with the music’s slow tempo, Bolero is full of expression, drama, and passion. The smooth, gliding, twisting actions, and accompanying rise and fall help make Bolero the beautiful dance of love. Enjoy the high-quality Bolero in the video below.