10 things good west coast swing dancers do differently

There are a lot of things that separate good dancers from poor dancers and great dancers from good dancers. Background, physical talents and years in the game are all factors that come into play. As a teacher I live in a world  where I’m consumed by getting the most out of what I have without making excuses. That being said here are 10 things that you can and should be doing if you want to take your West Coast Swing dancing to the next level.

1. Commit to getting better

Nothing starts without a goal and the commitment to follow through. You have to know where you are going and be willing to stay the course. Committing to getting better is a both a mindset and a process.

2. Learn to dance by yourself

Too many people in West Coast Swing are limited by ‘needing a partner.’ Hogwash! Learn to dance on your own and practice on your own. All serious dancers do. Learn to practice alone in this article.

3. Take music seriously

There is no way around this one in the West Coast Swing world. We are so driven by different kinds of music that if you don’t become a bit of a music nerd you are giving away a step to the dancers who do. Struggling with musicality? Our ultimate guide to musicality has everything you need.

4. Learn to love drills

Learning to isolate techniques to drill them is a fast track to better learning. I personally use drills before most lessons and practices and have for almost 10 years now. They are very valuable. Read – 5 drills to improve your wcs in 30 seconds

5. Develop a relationship with a coach

Notice I said relationship? Too many people in WCS run around taking random lessons from random coaches. While each coach has something to offer I think this process is flawed. I don’t have time to fully cover my thoughts on the subject but does Tiger Woods take lesson from different golf coaches ever week? Right! Find a coach that you can develop a long standing relationship with and it will pay off in spades. Learn the key to finding a good coach.

6. Develop a work ethic

You have to develop a consistent approach to practice if you want to gain momentum. Just like going to the gym or eating healthy, it doesn’t really show results if you only do it once in a while.

7. Learn to cope with self doubt

There are ABSOLUTELY going to be periods of self doubt. Know that they will come and do your best to work thought them when they come.

8. Take overall physical fitness seriously

Sometime it shocks me when people want to move like hight level dancers yet they let their basic physical fitness get away from them. Things like Yoga, Pilates are great for dancers. As we get older some form of resistance training is helpful as well. Combine these with a healthy diet and you’ll be in much better shape to take your dancing seriously as well.

9. Realize that learning curve is not a straight line

Bad dances, bad competitions, bad lessons and crummy days are just a part of doing business. Learn what you can from them and come back smarter the next day. Don’t get discouraged. Learn the lesson and move to be better next time.

10. Learn to dance with different partners.

One of the best things you can do is to cultivate the ability to dance with a wide range of partners. Not only partners that are brand new but also partners that are far ‘out of your league’ Its good to be able to the the skill and courage to dance with everyone on the spectrum of abilities. Its the essence of social dance, the essence of West Coast Swing.

30 thoughts on “10 things good west coast swing dancers do differently”

    • Hi Fran,
      Thanks! I would be honored. Please let me know if there is anything you need from me. All the best,
      Brian B

  1. How do you define “good dancer” from “great dancer”?
    What you are suggesting is it for competition dancers and/or social dancers?

    • Hi Carlito,
      I’m just talking about moving from whatever level you are to a higher level. Good vs Great could be defined many ways but think of it as “how can I get to MY next level” This can be applied to social dancing (become a proficient lead or follow) to competitive dancing (becoming the champion of your division). Ultimately its just a good list of things to use to improve your dancing!

      All the best, Brian

  2. I’m going to post this on my club’s Facebook page, thank you! Love your tips and instructional videos!

    Adela Su, Charlottesville Swing Dance Society, Charlottesville, VA

    • Thank you! I’m honored. Thanks for the support. Happy dancing to everyone! -Brian B

  3. Brian B, we spoke briefly at MMISL 2015.I was telling you how good I thought your “tip of the week” clips were.You mentioned that you were working on some cool new things and improved production.Well,you’ve certainly delivered with wcs online.Production and content is always on point.
    Keep up the outstanding work!

    • Hi again! Great to hear from you. Yeah I’ve been working hard on this project for a while now. I’m so excited to be able to share with everyone. I’ve had so many great stories of people using the website to help their dancing. Its especially true of beginners and people who do not have access to any west coast swing teachers. I’m so happy with how its gone so far and I’m excite to bring more value to everyone! Come up and say hi again in St Louis! Or visit us in Louisville at http://www.DerbyCitySwing.com All the best, Brian B

  4. Great tips…as a dance coach and CHEK holistic fitness/nutrition practitioner your tips are applicable to life…thank for articulating the challenges we all face….kisses Q.

    • Thanks so much! Yep we all go through these as coaches and students. I hope people can learn a bit from them. Keep up the good work! -Brain

  5. you are a real good teacher this is my first week on wcs the only thing we learned is sugar push then I look at your lessons I learned 6 moves thank you .

    • Welcome to the WCS family! If there is anything I can do for you please let me know. -Brian

    • I love the fact that you send the patterns directly to my e-mail. If I join the monthly program that will continue ? It pops up and then I don’t have to go anywhere else to look for it. Thanks for the input

      • HI Darlene,
        I’m not exactly sure what you mean? Yes we send emails out about every other week. You will of course have access to that info and a WHOLE lot more as a member of the site! -Brian

  6. This article has great points. I would encourage you to have someone spell and grammar check your work before it’s published; especially in being a professional. Spell check tools and proof-reading are easy writing tools to utilize. The writing mistakes were noticed after the 2nd paragraph in the intro section. They got worse after that and as you can see, that is what stuck out to me most.

    • Ahhhh thanks Sarah! I agree…you are right on. Sometimes in my haste to get content online, I forget to proof. I spent too much time goofing off in the second grade and turned out as a lousy speller. Good thing I can dance 😉

  7. Brian: I have danced socially for a long time but never took any kind of lessons until recently. I am looking forward to eventually competing (I hope and my instructor feels that I can). The main problem I am having is knowing how to incorporate proper hand/arm movement (and look graceful!)while spinning/turning. It is so important to the dance. I haven’t found a specific video/lesson that can help me with that. Would it be best to work with a coach specifically for that technique or should I just depend on my instructor to help with that?

    • Hi Carol,
      I feel that arms in turns are what I call a “pass or fail” type of technique. Here is what I mean….If you ‘fail’ at it then it can really detract not only ascetically but it can effect your balance. If you ‘pass’ then they are not detracting from anything and they kind of disappear from the dance. Rarely do we comment on WCS dancers great arm lines but its possible for a lower level dancer to look strange.
      I would not stress about it. I would just run it by your coach. Once you find a good coach… stick with them and trust them! They will be your best resource.
      If you’re looking to improve your spins in general this is my favorite tip! https://www.westcoastswingonline.com/3-turns-master-west-coast-swing/

      Best of luck in your dancing and competition goals!
      Brian B

  8. I think one of the most important things you mentioned is zhe fact thst many dancers think that taking privats with as many pros as possible is thee key to success. Wich is not bad but you need to have a coach that helps you to get all the information in order and helps you to keep your Fokus as well as telling you where the priorities should be

    • Absolutely! Developing a relationship with a coach can be VERY valuable. Far more valuable than a lot of random lessons with different coaches. The learning process takes time and there is no shortcut or ‘magic’ answer that some special teacher has. A long term relationship with a coach is the best way to go!

  9. I’m the newsletter editor for the Desert Swing Dance Club based in Palm Springs, Ca. I would love to put this article in our newsletter of course with your permission. I would give proper credit, eg. , “This article was taken from the ‘West Coast Swing Online’ website, or any other working you require. Many thanks!

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