West Coast Swing at Arthur Murray Dance Studios
West Coast Swing Dance is an evolving social dance. Its emphasis on musicality and connection makes this California ballroom swing dance stand out among other swings. For those looking to get a bit of fun exercise or to get out of the house and meet people, the West Coast Swing dance provides the best opportunity. This “slotted” dance has gained enormous popularity in dance studios across the world as more and more people explore it. The dance gets along with just about any music with a 4/4 time signature.
If you want to excel at swing dancing, plan to attend a West Coast Swing Dance class at Arthur Murray Dance Studios. The feel you get from West Coast Swing Dance can be observed in the use of “compression” and “leverage”, the rubber band-like, in-and-out movement that creates the energy for multiple spins as well as the texture of sensuous passes. Once you have mastered the steps of this swing dance, you will realize the addictive elixir of the West Coast Swing dance that not only carries away the dancers, but also completely mesmerizes the spectators.
What’s so Special about the West Coast Swing?
West Coast Swing is a “slotted” dance. The slot represents an imaginary area whose length depends on the tempo of the music you are dancing to. Where the tempo is low, the slot is approximately 8 to 9 feet long, but shorter at faster tempos. The dance involves the follower moving back and forth along the slot and dancing straight into the lead. On his part, the leader constantly moves a limited distance to his sides, barely out of her way. She lightly brushes against him each time she passes him. At Arthur Murray, our instructors pay attention to the kind of music, and then customize some moves for the West Coast Swing we teach.
The follower starts with the right foot, while the leader starts off with the left foot. On the next beat, which is a down beat, the follower counts one or three of a measure. The leader simultaneously adjusts his movement according to the location of the follower. In the first two beats of every pattern, the follower walks forward, then steps three times at the end of each pattern, the Anchor Step. Most dancers, (especially those in the basic and intermediate levels) start the dance with a 4-beat starter step.
Present West Coast Swing Dance styles vary considerably. Modern-day West Coast Swing styles can be more conservative, with an upright posture, or smooth and warm, or a funky, hot, partnered jazz dance. West Coast Swing is performed to almost any music written in 4/4 time at speeds ranging from very slow to very fast, say 15 to 45 measures per minute, and ideally at 32 measures per minute. The dance changes with the music, with the dance exhibiting sexy, “slinky” walks for the lady, and a slight backward leaning poise at the full extent of the connection at very slow speeds. On the other hand, the partners become more upright and the connection shortens with more of a “push and pull” feel and look at faster speeds.
The History of the West Coast Swing
West Coast Swing started as the ‘Official State Dance of California’, and most people believe it originated in the Los Angeles area. West Coast Swing roots hearken back to an earlier dance known as the Savoy Style Lindy, formally performed at the Savoy Ballroom in New York in the early 1930’s. Many prominent dancers and dance instructors spawned the growth of the West Coast Swing Dance throughout the decades. Among those at the forefront of the dance’s development were the Arthur Murray instructors, who wrote many instruction books for the dance. Today, Arthur Murray Dance Studio instructors incorporate some of the oldest techniques and modern inventions in their instruction. The guidelines of the West Coast Swing dance may have varied slightly from the original form. However the basics remain the same at Arthur Murray Dance Studios.
Arthur Murray Wrote the Book on West Coast Swing
As in almost every other dance genre, Arthur Murray instructors have played a central role in the development of the West Coast Swing dance (Western Swing), and even have a claim to the first codification of it. In fact, no other dance studio can lay a greater claim over contribution to this dance than our instructors. What we teach at Arthur Murray Dance Studios is an art we have developed over a period spanning decades, and we’ve mastered every aspect of it.
Whatever your ability level, you are welcome to visit our studios, where you will learn the hidden magic behind the West Coast Swing. Today, our studios remain a haven for this exciting dance style. What sets us apart from the other studios is the pool of talented and experienced instructors who have researched and experimented everything pertaining to the dance. Our spaces are roomy, and can accommodate large crowds dancing in slots, and spectators who want to see the style in person.