Swing, the all American dance. This is a great dance for many different social situations. I have taken it out everywhere, to every kind of music in 4/4 time. Swing is extremely versatile, moving from an eye-catching first dance to a super social dance for all situations.
The first recorded swing dance was the Texas Tommy, which appeared in 1910 in a San Francisco publication. This was a short lived dance, and quickly disappeared. The name swing was first used to describe big band music. Swing specifically described what the musicians were doing with the beat as they played it, swinging or syncopating the eighth notes. Life magazine in 1943 ran a cover story on Lindy Hop swing as the native all American dance. The American swing we do today was a simplification of the Lindy Hop and the foxtrot. It was developed by Arthur Murray in 1940’s to help the average student enjoy swing dancing. Swing then saw a decline between the years 1944-1947. It was a result of the 30% tax on ballrooms passed by congress that forced many of the big band and ballroom venues to close. Signs were posted, “No dancing allowed” (you can still see these signs posted and enforced at the El Chapultepec in Denver today) and the big bands started to go out of business. Swing then saw a revival in the late 1950’s-1960’s with the rise of rock and roll. Shows like American bandstand featured swing dancers dancing to tunes like Rock Around the Clock. Dick Clark banned all outlandish stunts and kept the moves small and simplified to fit in the stage and camera lenses. In 1961 the New Yorker named it the, “East Coast Swing” and the name has stuck ever since. Swing’s latest revival was in in the 1980’s to 1990’s with the movie Swing Kids. Truly, this is a dance for all ages.
East coast swing is danced in two main rhythms, both equaling 6 beats. The first is the rock and roll rhythm of Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, to music at about 176-208 beats per minute. The second is with a triple step rhythm of 1&2, 3&4, 5, 6 or Triple step, triple step, rock step. This is done to the standard tempo of 136-144 beats per minute. The music is played in 4/4 time, with two patterns of 6 counts equaling 3 measures. This does create a challenge for phrasing, but the use of breaks can somewhat easily overcome this challenge.
East Coast Swing Overview:
- A Native All American Dance
- Versatile, fun and light-hearted
- Danced to 4/4 time music
- Danced with two rhythms
- Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, 176-208 beats per minute
- Triple step, triple step, rock step 136-144 beats per minute
- a dance for all ages.
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