Welcome to West Coast Swing
Evolution of Swing from Charleston to West Coast Swing
It’s hard to imagine, it all started with Tango in Argentina at the beginning of previous century. America was always torn between the bohemian seeking of freedom of expression and the puritans attempts to stifle what was “morally reprehensible”.
Hence Americans fascinated with Argentine Tango danced Tango styled moves to big-band music. At first local variations of a new style of dancing were being named after where they were danced. Here we have the Baltimore.
Having playful dance names like Turkey Trot already in the popular culture, Harry Fox just nailed it when he came up with his Vaudeville stage passing move. His combination of forward and back walks interlocked with a waltz like side together done in an unusual 6 bits to regular 4/4 timing spread all over as the basic pattern. The term Fox Trot has been created
Some simple moves done on the spot just to mark the rhythm, while you were being held in place by a crowd that doesn’t move to eagerly, started live their own life… Here’s Charleston
And another version with even more flashy creative footwork that influenced couple dancing becoming precursor to Lindy Hop.
Lindy Hop in its hay days influenced decades of dancing. In this footage we can see the original founders of the style from Savoy Ballroom including Frankie Manning.
Lindy Hop was the starting point for the whole Swinging dances family.
When in the 50’s teachers were showing triple step of the current swinging moves, they most likely had to explain things in the following way…
“First you rock your body onto a foot, then you roll the weight all the way over, then repeat in the other direction, first rock then roll, rock and roll, rock and roll…
Sooner or later the new name was coined… The Rock’n’Roll.
So the Rock’n’Roll era started, it was fun while it lasted…
Then in the 60’s the puritan streak in society won for a decade, ironically strongly instigated by Elvis’s gyrating hips… WASP older gentlemen deemed America’s teenagers dancing a threat to good morals, and suddenly couple dancing was was no longer as present in pop media… Suddenly we could see more solo and line dancing rather then couples holding hands.
The 70’s kids did not experience couple dancing when they were growing up, and suddenly dancing started to look like that….
Couple Dancing took refuge in Ballroom Style.
Some swing dancing made it to the 80’s in Country Western style. And it was in the 80’s that swing dancing started to go through the real Renaissance.
Some more 80’s footage…
And here we have the “Old Timers” Frankie Manning and Norma Miller strutting it some 40 years later…
So we made it to the 90’s and the truly modern times, here we have some Jack and Jill competition in mixed Lindy and West, Grandpa Manning would be proud 🙂