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Introducing A Dance

East Coast Swing

Swing dance is a lively style of dancing. In social forms, a dancer often lifts, spins and flips his or her partner. Considered both hip and cool, swing dancing is a favorite among social dancers of all ages. In competitive forms, it is a very energetic standardized form of dance.

When the Lindy Hop became very popular in 1927, the American Society of Teachers of Dancing (ASTD) and the Dance Teachers Business Association (DTBA) denounced the Lindy as "a fad and would not last out the winter, and its devotees were victims of economic instability." This turned out not to be the case.

Lindy Hop was, however, never standardized and later became the inspiration for several other dance forms. Laurie Haile is credited with determining the different swing styles in the early 1950s by documenting the distinct styles we use today:
Lindy Hop: Perhaps the most popular swing dance, this dance originated in Harlem.
East Coast Swing: Seen often on club or tavern dance floors, this dance was influenced by the Foxtrot.
West Coast Swing: A slotted dance in which the follower travels back and forth along a rectangle, or slot.
Jitterbug: An umbrella term generally referring to swing dancing.
Jive: Jive is a fast-paced variation of the Jitterbug.
Boogie-woogie: This dance is usually danced to rock music or blues.
Carolina Shag: A dance performed to beach music.

Subsequent to the Lindy Hop popularity in the 1920s, all forms of swing were grouped under the umbrella term "Jitterbug". Technically, we did not have, for example, the term "East Coast Swing" until there was a "West Coast Swing", and vice versa. However all styles can be danced with each other.

Sometimes a dancer asks what style of swing is best. There is no best style. The best style would depend on what type of music is playing at the time, the theme of the dance being held, the speed in which the music is played and the dance knowledge of the dancer and/or the partner. If the partner only knows one style of swing, then his/her style would be the best style to dance at that time.

History

The East Coast Swing is an offshoot of the Foxtrot or syncopated Two-Step. East Coast Swing is an "invented dance", i.e., a non-folk dance, modified from a prior original form (Lindy Hop) by the American Society of Teachers of Dancing (ASTD) in 1942. At that time, the ASTD and DTBA were already teaching this style to stock movie dancers well before 1942, but in 1942, it became official to the public as a dance. It was, however, not named as such.

It has been referred to by many different names in different regions of the U.S. and the world: Eastern Swing, Jitterbug, American Swing, East Coast Lindy, Lindy (not to be confused with Lindy Hop), and Triple Swing. Other variants of East Coast Swing that use altered footwork forms are known as Single Swing or "Single-step Swing" (where the triple step is replaced by a single step forming a slow, slow, quick, quick rhythm common to Foxtrot), and Double Swing (using a tap-step footwork pattern).

This form of swing dance is strictly based in six-count patterns that are simplified forms of the original patterns derived from Lindy Hop. The name "East Coast Swing" was coined initially to distinguish the dance from the street form and the new variant used in the competitive ballroom arena (as well as separating the dance from West Coast Swing, which was developed in California). While based on Lindy Hop, it does have clear distinctions. East Coast Swing is a standardized form of dance developed first for instructional purposes, and then later codified to allow for a medium of comparison for competitive ballroom dancers.

It can be said that there is no right or wrong way to dance it; however, certain styles of the dance are considered correct "form" within the technical elements documented and governed by the National Dance Council of America (NDCA). The NDCA oversees all the standards of American Style Ballroom and Latin dances.

In practice on the social dance floor, the six count steps of the East Coast Swing are often mixed with the eight count steps of Lindy Hop, Charleston, and less frequently, Balboa.

The East Coast swing gained acceptance with DJ Allan Freed in some of his Rock and Roll movies of the 1950s.

Swing Music

Many musicians say that there is no such a thing as swing music; there is only music that "swings." Swing dance music is as varied as the many styles of swing dance. The development of swing dance styles was heavily influenced by the popular music of the time. Swing music may include styles such as jazz, hip-hop, blues, rock-n-roll, ragtime, R&B, funk and pop. The chosen music style typically determines which swing dance should be danced. Swing dancers enjoy dancing to many different rhythms, as slower beats allow them to have a break from the fast-paced swinging.

Basic Steps

East Coast Swing has a 6 count basic step (1&2, 3&4, 56). This is in contrast to the meter of most swing music, which has a 4 count basic rhythm. In practice, however, the 6-count moves of the East Coast Swing are often combined with 8-count moves from the Lindy hop, Charleston, and Balboa.

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