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West Coast Swing Dance Lessons 

Here are Dr Matt's lessons for learning West Coast Swing:
Archive    1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10    pics

Aloha West Coast Swingers!

The rhythm for a West Coast Swing Basic can be described in a few ways:

              S S qqS qqS   (Slow Slow,  quick quick Slow,  quick quick Slow),  OR
              1  2,   3 & 4,   5 & 6 ,  OR 
              Double,  Triple,  Triple. 

The following explanation of a West Coast Swing Basic by Leslie Sack will help the ladies learn and practice the Basic Sugar Push footwork. The Instructor in the video is doing a Ronde in leau of the Anchor Step (which is the 2nd Triple Step).

Important Note: The majority of my explanations are given from the Follower/Lady's perspective. It is important for the excellent Leader to know what the Follower is doing—even at the beginning level. This means, I'm encouraging the Guys to read through all of the explanation for the Ladies part. Below, I will give more details on what the Guy is doing from his perspective.

Leslie comes forward with two slow walking steps and then does her 1st Triple Step in 3rd Position—this is a style worth imitating. Then, notice the ending foot position for the 2nd Triple Step at 0:40, 0:47, and 0:52 — this is precisely right position for the Anchor Step. In this foot position Ladies do a Triple Step In Place (minus the Ronde).

The only thing Ladies need to learn beyond this, is what it feels like to push off your partner on the "S" (Slow) of the first Triple Step (this is count "4"). You will feel tone in the frame of your partner, while the Leader gives energy to step backward on count "4," just before you do your Anchor Step.

Here's another short video that will teach the Ladies how to do the Underarm Turn (which is one of the 2 Basic "Pass" Steps) in the West Coast Swing—Leslie calls it a Right Side Pass. In this video, you can see the Anchor Step danced in an attractive foot position at 0:34, 0:47, 0:55, 1:06, and 1:11—it's called 3rd Position.

Once you learn footwork for the Basic, the Pass, and the Whip . . . most all other steps are variations of these three. Here is Leslie Sack demonstrating West Coast Swing basics:

0:26  The Sugar Push
0:34  The Left Side Pass
 (#1 Pass Step) 
0:42  The Underarm Pass   (#2 Pass Step: Lady's footwork is same as Left Side Pass) 
0:58  The Cuddle Whip 
1:06  The Standard Whip
Styling variations by Leslie in leau of the Anchor Step at 1:17, 1:24 & 1:34. 

Along with the Cuddle Whip and the Standard Whip, there are two other commonly danced Whips: Whip with Inside Turn AND Whip with Outside Turn.

Here's a description of what the Lady is doing during the Whip with Inside Turn
              Walk Walk-(Forward),  Triple Step-(Turning Right 180)  
              Walk Walk-(Forward),  Triple Step-(Turning Left 180).    

WHIP STEPS have an extra Double Step (Two Walk-Walk Steps):
& Pass Steps:   Double  Triple  Triple  
              All Whip Steps:          Double  Triple  Double  Triple 

So, the rhythm for Whip Steps can be described three ways:  
        Double  Triple  Double  Triple  OR  
        1  2,  3 & 4,  5  6,  7 & 8  OR 
        S S qqS S S qqS   (Slow Slow, quick quick Slow, Slow Slow, quick quick Slow) 

Here's Beata Howe demonstrating a Chest Push & Turn

Once the Ladies get the Basics down, there are many videos by Beata Howe that are worth viewing, to pick up excellent styling techniques. Here's Beata shaking her WCS Booty—she's free styling this dance. Here's another video where Beata is costumed-up and doing choreography—you can see the difference.

The Leaders Part

Now here are some explanations of how to do the Basic Sugar Push, the Pass, and the Whip from the Guy/Leader's Perspective.

Again, the rhythm for a West Coast Swing Basic is described thus:

              S S qqS qqS   (Slow Slow,  quick quick Slow,  quick quick Slow),  OR
              1  2,   3 & 4,   5 & 6 ,  OR 
              Double,  Triple,  Triple. 

Guy's Basic Step Explained

Walk, Walk   (Two small steps moving backward),
Triple   (First two step IN PLACE, then a large step forward on the last count),
Triple   (Anchor Step = Three Steps in place, with feet in 3rd Position).

Here's an explanation of the West Coast Swing Basic for the Leader—except the demonstrator does not show the preferred Anchor Step in 3rd Position—which position was pointed out previously for the Follower. Differently, the Leader's Left Foot points forward, while the Right Foot is tucked behind and aiming diagonal right during the Triple Step/Anchor Step.

The Guy's Part for the Underarm Pass is explained in great detail by Michael Kiehm in the West Coast Swing Lesson #2.

The Whip Step footwork for both guys and gals has yet to be taught in class. Look for future postings for the West Coast Swing.

Dancing By Yourself: Get Used to It!

When you take International Ballroom Dance Classes at Brigham Young University, the Man's part and the Women's part is taught and practiced separately, so you end up dancing BY YOURSELF about 50% of the time. When you master each Step on your own, THEN the partners dance it together.

If you don't KNOW your part, it's a waste of time trying to fake it with a partner. International Style Ballroom Dance is a very precise art form—no faking allowed. While West Coast Swing is NOT an International Style Dance, you can still learn from the exacting dance practice approach used in teaching International Style Ballroom Dance

Good news! You can get good at the Basic, the Pass, and the Whip . . . without a partner! Just watch the videos and practice, practice, practice!

Finally, watch two of the best West Coast Swingers on the Planet: Benji Schwimmer and Tatiana Mollman. Notice how they do this dance smooth, with no up and down bounce. Also, their triple steps flow effortlessly to a pretty fast tempo (starting at 1:50)—the tempo is 120 bpm.

Also, check out the girl with the red top at 3:25—she's totally dancing with a glass of water on her head, smooth as buttah!


Dr Matt will always connect you to the coolest steps!

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