West Coast Swing

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West Coast Swing
Technology: smooth
Type: Couple dance , ballroom dancing
Music: Swing , disco , pop , hip-hop , blues
Time signature : 44- stroke
Tempo: ≈20-35 TPM
Origin: United States
Creation time: 1940s
List of dances
Two dancers in a strictly competition in France

West Coast Swing is a couple dance from the swing dance family .


The dance originated on the west coast of the United States . It is the official dance of the state of California .
Dance in public is a reflection of the respective society, popular music currents, fashion and conventions regarding clothing and behavior. The origins of West Coast Swing go back musically to the 1920s, when swing began to establish itself from the first jazz movements. The clothing became much more unconventional from the previously Victorian shape. "Social dance", the form of couple dance for entertainment purposes, began to establish itself all over the USA and, due to the lack of sound carriers, was danced to live music in public bars.

The forerunner is usually the Lindy Hop , especially the so-called "Hollywood Style" by Dean Collins . Some dancers and swing dance researchers contradict this interpretation very clearly, for example Nick Williams: “Another misconception is that Dean was responsible for West Coast Swing. This is not true and, in fact, Dean was not entirely a fan of WCS. Lastly, Dean and Jewel are often associated with Hollywood Style. Hollywood Style is Erik Robison and Sylvia Skylar's style and interpretation of the Southern California dancers in the 1940's. Dean and Jewel were not their main influences. "

The stamping of regional swing directions intensified after the Second World War. With the return of the US GIs via the eastern parts of the country, often New York, they brought the music and dance of the US east coast (compared to Lindy Hop and others) to their homeland and transformed them into their social classes. In addition to the jazz music currents that are widespread throughout the country, regional characteristics were added:

  • New York: Lindy Hop
  • Washington DC and Surroundings: The Hand Dancing
  • South East Coast, North and South Carolina: Carolina Shag
  • Chicago: Jitterbug
  • St. Louis: St. Louis Shag and St. Louis Imperial
  • Texas: Dallas Push and Houston Whip
  • California: Balboa and forerunner of today's West Coast Swing

In contrast to these swing dances, the West Coast Swing is less oriented towards the original classical, strongly rhythm-oriented feeling (type of musical interpretation). West Coast Swing has continued to develop since its introduction, taking up elements from these dances and adapting their characteristics to the dance movements and figures. In contrast to the "ballroom dance" (including Lindy Hop ), which was usually danced in specially built halls, many of these styles are characterized by their space-saving execution, because they were used as "social dance" mainly in narrow spaces, in bars and the like . a. m. danced. With the implementation of large, national dance events, the exchange among these swing dance styles increased even more. Major national competitions began to be held. The winners of these events inspired WCS. The adaptation of other styles became almost programmatic. Today, WCS attaches particular importance to "contemporary" styles of music at the events organized by the World Swing Dance Council, as well as at the US Open Swing Dance Championships, and is now often danced to disco , modern pop music and hip-hop music, but of course also to classical swing music . WCS also inspires other dance styles. The tournament form of " Jack 'n' Jill " (freely assigned pairings, but with individual evaluation of the dancers and elimination in the KO system) is now also held in the Discofox and the special form of leading and following is used in Disco Swing in Teaching mediated.


In contrast to the originally very free swing dances, the West Coast Swing is stationary, i.e. it is danced in a narrow, elongated area, the slot . The follower (usually the lady) moves along the slot, while the leader (usually the gentleman) remains stationary in the middle of the slot and only leaves it to let the follower pass. Since the slot is mostly retained, the space required on the dance floor is relatively small and predictable.

The leadership movements of the Leader are done with sensitivity and without jerky maneuvers, whereby all figures in the West Coast Swing appear soft, fluid and gliding. At the advanced level, the dance is characterized by vivid improvisation and interpretation of the music using body movement. The rhythm of the music is mainly emphasized with elegant body movements as an expression of the whole appearance of the dance couple. The rhythmic footwork that is common in other swing dances, with which the beat of the music is transferred from the leader to the follower , the bounce , is completely missing. Great importance is attached to the posture of the dance couple that is characteristic of the swing dances - the so-called A- and V-shape : The A-shape (posture in the shape of the letter A with a slight forward inclination) is assumed when the dance couple stands close together and the body tension is built up to retreat, whereas the V-shape (body posture in the form of a V with a slight inclination backwards) is adopted when the maximum distance is reached and the tension is built up to approach.

In the United States, there is a large competitive scene in West Coast Swing. Nevertheless, a lot of emphasis is placed on the social aspects of dancing. For example, Jack 'n' Jill (approval of the dance partners) is the largest competition category with the most participants. Dance is also becoming increasingly popular in Europe: West Coast Swing is now the topic of more than 16% of the workshops at Europe's major dance festival, the Euro Dance Festival .

Competition categories

There are basically four different competition categories, which are divided into open classes and classes with different skill levels.

There are no uniform rules in West Coast Swing, only the rules of ascent for Jack 'n' Jill are set by the World Swing Dance Council . The rest of the rules may differ from tournament to tournament. However, most organizers recognize and use the rules of the US Open or Swing Diego.

Jack 'n' Jill
This is the type of competition with the largest number of participants. Here you register either as a leader (men) or as a follower (women). You only get your partner drawn on the dance floor. In the preliminary rounds you usually get a new partner per song and are evaluated individually. In the final you get a fixed partner and are rated as a couple. There are the skill classes Newcomer, Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and the Invitational class, which can be called differently depending on the event (points are only awarded by the World Swing Dance Council from Novice).
Here you register as a permanent couple and dance to the various styles of West Coast Swing music according to the principle of lead and follow.
There are the same divisions here as in Jack 'n' Jill .
This is an open division. That means, there are no skill classes here, professionals dance against beginners.
At Classic, the dance couple can present their own choreography to a song of their own choosing, whereby each partner must keep contact with the floor, lifting figures are prohibited. Classic is the supreme discipline for West Coast Swing dancers, as it must be clearly recognizable that it is West Coast Swing, and therefore a great deal of technical knowledge must be available. In addition, there is the expectation that every figure or movement, no matter how small, fits the song perfectly.
In this category, which is very similar to the Classic category, the recognizability of the West Coast Swing is not so important. The biggest difference is that a certain amount of lifting figures is required in the showcase. This amount can vary depending on the tournament.

German championship

The German championships in West Coast Swing are organized in Germany by TAF Germany .

year leader Followers
2020 --- --- not applicable due to COVID-19
2019 Alexandru Tanasoiu Sahra Gottwald Bonn, November 16, 2019
2018 Cliff Pereira Laura Wenger Bonn, November 17, 2018
2017 Carlo Testa Sarah Wiener Dusseldorf
2016 Ronny Hörig Laura Wenger
2015 Carlo Testa Gillian Kespohl Düsseldorf, August 2nd, 2015
2014 Thomas Wurmseder Giulia Kohlrusch

Web links

Commons : West Coast Swing  - Collection of Images, Videos, and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. Nick Williams: Dean & Jewel: The Legacy. In: Swingnick. November 16, 2011, accessed on November 2, 2015 (blog article).
  2. ^ Robert White: Practice Swing - The Swungover * Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Guide To Improving Your Dancing . 2016, ISBN 978-0-692-65536-8 .
  3. Timetable. In: Euro Dance Festival. Accessed on January 8, 2016 (where the 16% probably refer to an older version of the event).
  4. TAF German Championship West Coast Swing 2019 results. Retrieved November 21, 2019 .
  5. Cliff Pereira & Laura Wenger - 1st place J&J Level 2 - TAF German Championship 2018. Accessed on August 4, 2019 .
  6. ^ TAF German Championship West Coast Swing. Retrieved August 4, 2019 .