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 Let’s Swing

When thinking about the emerging music of the 1920s and 30s in the USA, swing music come to mind. The initial craze led into the Big Band era that 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, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, swing has maintained a presence for many years.

Even within a generation, not all swing music is the same. Different music with different rhythms at different tempos also means different dances. Swing dance broke the rules of dance as it was fast, loose, and free … so the purpose of this post is to examine a few of the mainstays of swing dance.

Lindy Hop
Lindy Hop’s roots a traced back to the Harlem community of New York City, and influential dancer George “Shorty” Snowden. Life was a buzz with Charles Lindbergh’s successful solo flight over the Atlantic, and his name became attached to many things.

The dance, a fusion of Charleston and Foxtrot, moved out of Harlem and became popular – and also took on another name – the Jitterbug. Interestingly, this dance remains popular today – especially in clubs specializing in Lindy Hop/Jitterbug. Enjoy this classic movie clip that includes dance legend Frankie Manning.

 

Jive
As a variation of Lindy Hop, Jive became popular in the late 1930s, then American GIs took the dance to Europe. Although variations as boogie-woogie, swing boogie, and modern jive exist, today’s jive is a competitive ballroom dance.

 

East Coast Swing
East Coast Swing evolved as a simpler version of Lindy – that is, East Coast was easier to do and easier to teach. Arthur Murray Dance Studios were instrumental in popularizing this dance, which also became part of the competitive ballroom dance circuit.

Because of tempo variations in the music, one could subdivide this dance into single-time swing (fastest music, slower steps), double-time swing, and triple-time swing (slowest music, fastest steps).

 

West Coast Swing
With a Lindy style that was more anchored and whippy, dancer Dean Collins left Harlem and took the Lindy Hop to the California. From this, West Coast Swing developed into a slotted dance where dancers are either on or off the slot (track). West Coast Swing music is typically slower than East Coast Swing music with more of a smooth, blues, R&B, cool jazz sound. This video involves two good dancers dancing improv (not choreographed).

 

Shag
As another variation of swing that developed from the upbeat music of the 1930s. Shag developed in the African-American communities of the Carolinas, and then spread across the country. DIfferent variations include Collegiate, Carolina, and St. Louis. This video is interesting because is uses multiple dancers.

Swing dance isn’t limited to the above as other variations include Balboa (Bal), Rock and Roll, Western Swing, Imperial Swing, Jazz Dance Swing, Rock and Roll Swing, Acrobatic Rock and Rock, Washington Hand Dancing, Push and Whip, DC Swing, and Charleston. Even in competitive dance, American Style Ballroom Swing is different that International Style Ballroom Swing.Swing dance is also the foundation other modern dances as disco and country line dancing.

Speaking of line dances, let’s end the post with a classic. Shim Sham originally appeared as a tap routine in Harlem during the 1930s – but it morphed into a swing dance, then into a line dance for today’s swing dancers. Let’s bring back the great Frankie Manning for some Shim Sham.

Any favorites? Which of these do you wish you could do? Better yet, can you dance any of these swings?

Which of these dances should have its own dedicated post?

On a Lindy Monday

The weekend is over – but that’s not sad because there are days ahead leading to another weekend – and for we in the USA, next weekend has an extra day. How was your weekend? What did you do?

Ours included two nights of ballroom, errands, dinner with my father-in-law, dinner with friends, work, (while my wife attended a neighborhood car show).

Act 4 of Meals: The Musical provided bacon, barbecue, beef, burgers, cheeseburgers, chicken, chicken wings, hot dogs, meat, meatballs, pork, pork chops, ribs, steak, t-bone, and turkey while including sides as beans, carrots, mustard greens, and potatoes. Meanwhile, I’m researching the next act’s theme.

Celebrations for Your Week

(Week) New Friends – Old Friends Week, Bike to Work Week, Pickles Week, Safe Boating Week, Emergency Medical Services Week, Dog Bite Prevention Week, Medical Transcription Week, Stationery Week, Heritage Breeds Week, Trade Week, Backyard Games Week, Educational Bosses Week, Coaching Week, Healthy & Safe Swimming Week, Police Week

(Mon) I Love Reeses Day, No Dirty Dishes Day, Bike to Work Day, Mother Whistler Day, Museum Day, HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, Visit Your Relatives Day, Accounting Day, HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, Cheese Souffle Day

(Tues) Devil’s Food Cake Day, Send an E-card Day, Boys Club Day, May Ray Day, Hepatitis Day, Autoimmune Arthritis Day, Bake Sale Day

(Wed) Turn Beauty Inside Out Day, Be a Millionaire Day, Pick Strawberries Day, Weights & Measurements Day, Eliza Doolittle Day, Emergency Medical Services for Children Day, Employee Health & Fitness Day, Quiche Lorraine Day

(Thurs) Rapture Party Day, I Need a Patch For That Day, Strawberries & Cream Day, Memo Day, One Day Without Shoes Day, American Red Cross Founder’s Day, Humus Day, Wait Staff Day, Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue & Development, Meteorology Day, Chardonnay Day

It’s time to start your week with a smile. Because I know you enjoyed the Caldonia clip from an old movie, I hope this Lindy Hop scene from Hellzapoppin’ (1941) makes you smile. Have a wonderful week.