Top 40 music is extremely popular in WCS. Whether it’s mid-afternoon and you’re ready to rock, or 3am and you need a pick-me-up, pop music has a high-energy vibe that gets you moving.
In this post, we’ll talk about some strategies for dancing to top 40/pop music. As always, remember the caveats for styling any kind of music.
- Practice your phrasing. Most pop songs stick to the standard 32-beat structure to an almost formulaic extent. The one twist that’s common is to use 4, 8, or 16-beat “tags” in a song, such as between the verse and chorus.
- Hit accents with sharp motions. Freezes, dips, and strong taps are great tools because top 40 songs tend to contain bold accents.
- Use staccato footwork. Pop music has distinct, crisp notes rather than legato sounds. Let your feet show off this texture.
- Add volume changes to your dance. Top 40 songs tend to build in volume before having an instrument drop out, or start quiet and add instruments into a raucous climax. Changing the height and length of your basics is a great way to bring out the volume changes.
- Play to the phrase. Whenever you play, try to end the play with the end of the phrase. This is good advice in general, but it’s really important for top 40 songs, which have strong downbeats to start the new phrase. To really understand phrasing for WCS music. Check out our “Ultimate Guide to Musicality”
- Use funky movements and body isolations. Lots of pop music is influenced by hiphop, krump, and other street styles. Use crisp isolations and sharp angles rather than elegant lines to show that heritage. Check out some styling options here.
- Dance the verse-chorus structure. Because so many top 40 songs have a verse-chorus structure, aim to create similarities in the look of your verses, and create a distinct look for the chorus. Again, length and height are great variables to use.
- Leave yourself somewhere to go. Lots of pop songs keep building throughout the song. Make sure you incorporate quiet moments into your dance so you have somewhere to go when you need to dance a build.
Jump to the next style of music
Return to: West Coast Swing Musicality – 4 Styles of Music