Coloring with Length

West Coast Swing Online Styling

Another easy way to add color to the dance is by changing the length of the slot. Although it is easier for the leader to control this aspect of the dance, the follower can request a longer slot or shorter slot by changing the length of her step immediately before the anchor.

Length changes can create different looks, depending on the energy of the patterns. In general, longer patterns look more energetic whereas smaller patterns look quieter. However, this is not a rule. Long flowing movements can bring out the lyrical quality of songs. Conversely, short slots can enable tight and fast footwork, which makes the dance look more energetic.

The Drill: With or without a partner, dance your basic patterns to establish a neutral length. Then, repeat with a longer slot. For leaders, take your step immediately before the anchor slightly towards the follower in order to encourage the follower to travel further. For followers, take a slightly longer step on the beat immediately before the anchor in order to request a post further down the slot.

The same modifications can be applied to make a shorter slot. For leaders, the step immediately before the anchor should move slightly against the follower’s direction in order to set the post closer in the slot. Followers should take a smaller step immediately before the anchor in order to encourage the leader to post closer.

Once you are comfortable with dancing both distances, try applying the changes in a song. Adele’s “Set Fire To The Rain” (Amazon affiliate link) contains great contrasts that can be brought out with this method.

With or without a partner, dance basics to this song. During the verses, keep your dance at a short distance. When the chorus downbeat hits on the word “fire,” begin dancing with a longer slot. Continue the longer slot through the chorus, then immediately come back to the short distance beginning with the 1 of the verse. This set of changes brings out the vocal energy of the chorus, while dramatically taking the energy down for the verses.

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