June 20, 2014

The Basics of WCS

The Slot of WCS
The dance of West Coast Swing (WCS) is extremely unique in the world of ballroom dancing. If you've ever taken a class for any kind of partner dance, like East Coast Swing, Waltz or Cha Cha, you'll remember that you were taught one basic step at the very beginning.

That "basic," as we teachers like to call it, or "basic step pattern" to be technical, became the foundation of all the other steps you learned. Let's say, for example, that you took a Salsa class. Once the class mastered the beginning basic you were then taught little "extras" to throw into that basic pattern - like an outside turn or an open break.

But always, when you were done, you returned to that basic pattern. That one single solitary basic. How nice. West Coast Swing? Not so nice.

One basic? Try eight! I personally believe a student can succeed on any floor if they master the following 8 patterns:
  • The Starter Step
  • The Tuck Out
  • The Push Break (aka Sugar Push)
  • The Left Side Pass
  • The Tuck
  • The Underarm Turn
  • The Right Side Pass
  • The Whip

Yeah. That's a lot of basics! Now, not all of them are always taught in beginning classes. Some save the harder steps, like the Whip, for intermediate classes. It depends on the teacher and the ballroom. One teacher eliminated all rock steps, the tucks and added a bunch of others saying, at the end of it all, that there are 22 basics!

But the creators of WCS and the legends of the dance all teach and dance the 8 basics above, which is why, with them, you should succeed on any true WCS floor!