The Closed Position Arm

West Coast Swing Online Connection

In closed position, the leader’s right hand is on the follower’s back while the follower’s left arm rests on the leader’s right arm. This position can be tricky when the follower is going into closed from a spin because her left arm can be trapped by the leader’s right arm. This pinned-arm position, with the follower’s left stuck to her side, can be one of the most awkward positions in all of dancing. This drill will help you avoid that situation.

The Drill: With a partner, do an inside roll into closed position. The leader’s right hand should make contact with the follower’s back as soon as he can see her back during the spin.

There are a couple of things each partner can do to make it easier for the follower to get her arm over the leader’s right arm and into the closed position.


  • Get your hand on the back early. The sooner the follower knows that she is going into closed, the easier it is for her to get the arm over.
  • Start your hand lower. Especially when there is a height difference, it can be hard for the follower to get her arm over if your arm is high on her back. Make contact with the middle of her back instead, and slide up to her lat muscle once her arm has cleared yours.


  • Keep your arms off your sides. You don’t want your elbows to be pointing out, but having a little space between your arm and your side makes it much easier to avoid getting pinned. Think of having a softball under your armpit—that mental image will give you about the right amount of space.
  • Move your wrist. When your wrist is up, your elbow is down. Try standing with your left elbow by your side and your forearm parallel to the ground. From that position, lower your wrist slightly as your rotate your hand right. That drop and rotation causes your elbow to sneak up an inch of so: just what you need to clear the leader’s arm.
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