I’ve danced West Coast Swing to just about every musical style there is. Pop, rock, blues, ballads, disco, funk, house, hip-hop and everything in between. The one style of music I don’t hear a lot of, is erm, ‘swing’. So where does West Coast Swing fit in the swing dance family?
The swing dances are a group of dance styles, developed with the swing style of jazz in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. At the time there were hundreds of different styles of swing dancing – and some like the Lindy Hop, Balboa, Shag and Charleston are still danced and celebrated today.
Perhaps the most influential of the original swing dances, the Lindy Hop is considered to be the great grandfather of all swing dances. As a keen but rusty Lindy Hop dancer, I can clearly see the influences of the dance in West Coast Swing.
But while the Lindy Hop is still danced to the big band swing music of its birth, West Coast Swing is a living dance that has constantly moved with the music of the day. As the music has changed, so has the dance. At a West Coast Swing social today you might not hear a swung beat very often, let alone classic swing.
So where does West Coast Swing fit? Well, if Lindy Hop is the great grandfather of swing, then West Coast Swing is the rebellious, carefree great granddaughter. And fun history lessons aside, we love it – whatever it is!
To read more on the history of the dance, check out Sonny Watson’s excellent streetswing.com website.