The month of January we're featuring the East Coast Swing! All classes are drop-in @ $10 per person and beginners are always welcome. Check out our Groupon special going on now for all Dancemasters Group Classes!
East Coast Swing, most commonly known in its simplified 6-count triple step form, is not a street dance - it is a ballroom studio adaptation, derived from various street swing dancing patterns and styles (especially LINDY HOP) at the height of the Swing Era. The American Society of Dance Teachers, a group of independent instructors (many of whom were former Arthur Murray teachers) debuted the Jitterbug aka Lindy aka American Swing syllabus in 1942. East Coast Swing is its most modern name, appearing on the scene decades later than the dance itself, as it was being taught to movie dancers quite a bit before 1942. Since its inception, this ballroom-style dance been variously called, by ballroom studios: Eastern Swing, American Swing, Lindy, Jitterbug, and Western Swing. And in various quarters, ALL those names are still used today to refer to the same. (The modern related ballroom style, INTERNATIONAL JIVE, is a British Ballroom Studio creation.)
SIX COUNT? - East Coast Swing's 6-count basic pattern has 3 variants: Triple Step, Touch Step (double Lindy), Single Step (Single Lindy). Ballroom instructors tend to favor the triple step pattern, hence that is the most common form seen in the ballroom, and at swing dances attended by some ballroom-trained dancers. But note: 8-count patterns, with Lindy footwork, make up over a third of the Bronze East Coast Swing Syllabus (see below).. Most beginners in ballroom, as with other dances, don't continue with lessons beyond basics, and hence never get to the 8-count patterns. They may enjoy dancing, and show up at dances, thus contributing to the false impression, especially among many Lindy Hop enthusiasts that East Coast Swing is a 6-count dance.
The Triple Step itself is derived from the Chassé or Chase or Sashay Step, also used in Polka - it moves freely around the floor; it is not stepped in place, nor is it a line-of-direction dance. However, if space is tight, it can morph into a virtual spot pattern, but that is only out of bare necessity of the moment.
MOTION - The triple step East Coast Swing basic pattern moves smoothly either forward and back (in closed conversation partner position), or side to side (in closed facing partner position, and open partner positions). It also naturally circles freely around the floor. It is meant to mimic the "all-over-the-floor" characteristic of what we now call Lindy Hop. A not uncommon dumbing-down of Triple Step Swing makes its default pattern into a tedious spot dance (Rock Step - Step three times - Step three times) - beginners look like they are squashing grapes, pumping the legs up and down in place. The side to side or forward and back variants are actually much easier to learn at the outset than stomping in place, and have a natural rhythmic emphasis of the even beats, because of the strong weight shift at the change of direction.