Learn this dance in an hour and start having a blast at the local swing dance club! East Coast Swing is easy, intuitive, and not terribly structured. It fits perfectly with jukebox swing tunes. The basic step is triple step, triple step, rock step.
When your mom and dad talk about swing dancing to the music of Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry back in the 50's, this is the dance they were doing. Also called The Jitterbug, East Coast Swing is the official "sock hop" swing dance for jump blues. East Coast Swing is a circular, rotating swing dance that has many wraps, tunnels, and turns. The basic step is: triple step, triple step, rock step. The music is diverse and includes oldies (Elvis and Chuck Berry), jump blues, country, big band, and top 40. East Coast Swing is a versatile dance suitable for both the ballroom and the bar room. With a wide range of music to choose from you can swing to almost anything. Swing music is written in 4/4 time with a tempo of 145-170 beats per minute. Since this is a quick dance, the steps should be small and light. The basic step is tough at first. Fortunately, it's like learning to jump rope: initially it's awkward, but eventually it becomes smooth and nearly effortless.
The Dance Store offers a great 90-minute instructional video
for East Coast Swing that contains a truckload of great patterns for social dancing.
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East Coast Swing can be danced to jump blues or to country swing songs. For beginners, the best tempo range is 135-155 beats per minute. You can’t go wrong with jukebox tunes from Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry.
Click on the link below for helpful examples of East Coast Swing songs and CD's contaning East Coast Swing music.
East Coast Swing Music Examples >>
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East Coast Swing was derived from the Jitterbug, which grew out of the dance halls of Harlem during the
1920’s. Essentially, the terms East Coast Swing and Jitterbug are synonymous.
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Beginner's Mistakes in East Coast Swing
The biggest problem is taking steps that are too large. Keep the steps small, especially the "rock step." In addition, close the feet on the "and" of the triple step. East Coast Swing is danced almost exclusively on the balls of the feet and almost exclusively in third foot position. The "triple steps" should be taken by striking the floor with the inside edge of the ball of the foot. The triple steps are also a "digging" action as opposed to a "bouncing off the floor" action. As a triple step is taken to the left, the hips remain to the right. As a triple step is taken to the right, the hips switch to, and stay to, the left. In the "rock step," the spine stays in front of the "rocking" foot. The lilt comes from straightening the knee rather than from jumping. Lilt and energy are important. Also, do not over-extend the arms or jerk arms from their sockets. Keep the dance compact.
What's the difference between East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, and Lindy Hop Swing?
- East Coast Swing, also known as triple step swing, triple timing swing, and jitterbug, has a basic count of 1&2, 3&4, 5,6. Some folks describe the basic as "triple step, triple step, rock, step." It was the standard swing dance of 50's-era "sock hops." The music speed is 140-175 beats per minute. This dance has lilt (bounce) and energy. It is generally danced without strict regard to any particular orientation or geometry. It's easy to learn. When your parents talked about dancing the swing, this is probably the dance they were talking about.
- West Coast Swing is danced in a slot (a linear pattern) to slower music (generally 110-130 beats per minute). It's a smooth, often sexy dance, and it does not have lilt and bounce. West coast swing dancers consider their dance to be "cooler," more chic, more sophisticated, and less barbaric than east coast swing. West coast swing can be more difficult to learn because several foot patterns are required and the patterns may contain 6,8,and 10 or more counts. Common figures include 1) the push, 2) the left side pass, 3) the right side pass underarm turn, 4) tuck turn, 5) locked or "basket" whip, 6) regular whip, 7) back whip, and 8) reverse whip. West coast swing requires a very good sense of timing and connection.
- Lindy Hop Swing is the current rage with young people. Lindy hop swing can involve lots of kicks and aerials (lifts and flips). The dance uses six and eight count patterns. Common figures include the "swing out," and the Charleston step. Lindy hop dancers usually wear the black and white shoes and the guys might wear "Zoot Suits." We dance the Lindy hop but do not offer Lindy Hop Swing videos.
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