What is West Coast Swing?

What is west coast swing? West Coast Swing is a popular form of swing dancing that has spread across the world. Although it’s history and roots come from lindy hop, part of the appeal of WCS is that it is an adaptable dance; it can be danced to a variety of musical styles and genres! In addition, the dance itself creates room for improvisation and interaction between the partners. Combine these elements with the ethos of a street dance—most west coast dancers resist the urge to formalize the dance into a ballroom-like curriculum—and it’s easy to see why west coast can be so hard to define but so easy to love!

Get to know a little more about what West Coast Swing is below.

Characteristics of West Coast Swing:

  • WCS is a lead-follow partner dance that emphasizes the conversation between the partners. The leader is responsible for selecting the patterns of the dance, but is encouraged to create opportunities for the follower to shine within the dance. The follower is responsible for carrying out the intention of the leader, but is encouraged to play and interpret within the leader’s overall structure and connection. Learn beginner west coast swing patterns here.
  • WCS is generally danced in a linear slot, with the follower moving to either end of the slot and the leader remaining in the center. Although the slot can rotate or travel on occasion, WCS is not a circular or progressive dance.
  • Every pattern in WCS ends in an anchor; the leader and follower are stretched away from each other. This stretch, or elasticity, creates a smooth and relaxed look for the dance. In contrast to other forms of swing, west coast settles into the end of each pattern through the anchor. Need some style in your anchor step? Learn our 6 anchor step variations.

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Why do people love WCS?

One of the greatest parts about west coast swing is that the dance is highly personalized. So what is west coast swing? There is no “one way” to dance WCS, and dancers are encouraged to develop their own style within the basic framework of the dance. Although it is a ‘lead and follow’ partner dance with the follower traveling up and down the slot, it allows for a vast amount of freedom, expression and individuality! Read why you should learn west coast swing. I think you’ll find a reason to love it.

What does it look like?

This ‘viral’ video of two high level west coast swing dancers is a great example of what is possible with this style of dance. There is no choreography in this video, just 2 dancers using the music and improvisation to create a fantastic and hopefully inspiring dance. If you want to be inspired to learn this dance… watch this then hop back to our website and get started learning for FREE!

Want to improve your west coast swing?

Our website has some really cool information for beginner though advanced dancers. I wanted to share some of our best resources with you. With hundreds of blog posts and video on the site it’s hard to know where to start. So with that in mind we created 3 main resource pages. Each has all of out best stuff in one spot! So without further adieu here they are…

Are you a Beginner?  We have a page where can learn the basics of west coast swing including the whip. Check out our Beginner Resource page for more helpful tips.

Need help with Musicality?  Learn everything about musicality for west coast swing in this great article. Check out our Musicality Resource page for some helpful tips.

Want to add some Style to your WCS?  Get some ideas for styling on our west coast swing styling checklist. Check out our Styling Resource page

Interested in the History of the dance? Read the history of west coast swing or check out our interview with a dance historian about the past, present and future of the dance.

How is west coast swing similar (and different) than other swing dances? Read about the different types of swing dancing and how WCS is different that East Coast Swing

Want to learn the Basic Patterns of West Coast Swing?

You can learn all the beginner moves in the video below. The sugar push, side passes and whips. All of the 6 and 8 count basics you’ll need for WCS.

 

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5 different ways to
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A guide to our best Free Resources:
Musicality, Spins & Turns, Footwork, Practice tips, Beginners, Connection, Anchor Steps, more... 
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