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