Acknowledging the 1 in Patterns

West Coast Swing Online Musicality

WCS patterns don’t neatly fit into musical phrases. We dance six and eight count patterns, yet our songs have accents on the first beat of each eight beat phrase. Being able to acknowledge those accents when they occur in the middle of a pattern is thus an important skill to develop. This drill is the first step in acknowledging those accents; you will learn to dance your basic patterns while recognizing the start of each phrase.

The Drill: Put on a WCS song with clear phrases and that doesn’t have tag-on beats (e.g., Craig David’s Fill Me In (Part 2) or I Got the Blues by Brother Yusef [Amazon affiliate links]), and dance push breaks. Every time the 1 of the phrase occurs, simply point your finger in the air. The timing of the point will move as you continue this drill: if you start the first push break at the start of the phrase, your finger will point on count 1 of the first push break, count 3 of the second push break, and count 5 of the third push break, before returning to count 1 of the next push break. Don’t try to actually count how many push breaks you’ve done; simply use the 1 of the phrase as your guide.

Bonus Variations: Once you are comfortable acknowledging the 1 of the phrase at various points in the pattern, try dancing to a mix of your basic six and eight count patterns. Again, simply point on the 1; your goal is to become comfortable acknowledging the start of the phrase regardless of where you are in the pattern.

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