Although all lead-follow dancing in WCS is based around the ideas of leverage and compression, there are many ways to implement those concepts. The two most popular connection methods are one-beat leads and constant connection.
Watch – one beat leads for leading west coast swing
This post will focus on the fundamentals of one-beat leads.
The idea of a one-beat lead is that the leader should initiate the follower’s direction and momentum on 1, but let the connection shut off entirely (i.e., go to neutral) by beat 2. The partners re-establish connection on the post/anchor, or whenever a redirection is required. This method of leading can create a light, airy feeling and can give the follower a lot of freedom. It’s definitely worth having this tool in your toolkit, because it is great for relaxed movement, for independent styling, and for accentuating the elastic look of the dance. However, it is difficult to lead complicated moves with this method, and you lose the ability to work off of your partner’s connection. There’s always a tradeoff. This method of leading is also sometimes taught as a corrective for overleading. To that extent, it’s good for making sure that the leader is not dragging his partner through the pattern. However, it is important not to overcorrect and eliminate connection entirely. There are many situations in which you want to be able to lead your partner in the middle of a pattern, so it’s important to distinguish being connected from dragging your partner to the next beat.
With a partner, do side passes with one-beat leads. You should be connected through the anchor and beat 1, but physically break the connection on beat 2 by letting go of your partner. The follower should maintain the momentum and direction of the movement, but must power herself through the side pass. Reconnect at the other end of the slot for the post/anchor, and repeat. Once you and your partner are comfortable with what it feels like to physically break connection, do the same thing but continue holding hands. From beats 2 through 4, your connection should be in neutral; it should feel as if you had let go, although you are still physically connected. Practice both the shift to neutral at beat 2 as well as the reestablishment of connection on the post—both should feel smooth rather than abrupt.
One-Beat Leads Within Patterns
The previous post introduced the concept of one-beat leads in side passes. Side passes are relatively easy moves for one-beat leads because they require no direction changes. So how do we apply the one-beat lead concept to moves that do have redirections? Within patterns, the concept of one-beat leads remains the same. Before the redirection, the partners will re-establish connection just like on the post. Then, the follower will be redirected for a beat, at which point the connection will again go to neutral until another change of momentum is required. TAKE ACTION> Check out this video “5 Ways to Lead WCS”
With a partner, dance a push break using one-beat leads. The pattern begins with the same connection technique as the side pass. By count 3, the leader should begin to reconnect with the follower by absorbing her energy into compression. This absorption continues through 3&, so that the follower’s momentum can be redirected as she steps into count 4. As soon as the follower is redirected, the connection goes back to neutral until the post begins at the tail end of the 4, with the same slowdown and settle through the anchor as in the side pass.
The same principle applies to all redirections within a pattern. With a partner, practice your tuck turns and whips using the same reconnect-absorb-release-neutral process. When those patterns become comfortable, you can experiment with even more complicated patterns, such as roll in‑roll out moves. PB, tucks, whip. Reconnect on 3&, slowing partner until redirection on 4. After 4, again shut off the connection.