About West Coast Swing
West Coast Swing is a slotted partner dance that places a huge emphasis on musicality and improvisation within the dance.
This page will be dedicated to the introduction of West Coast Swing and will include a table of contents to other major elements of the dance. When complete, this page will outline the following or link to larger, detailed articles.
- About the Dance
- Core Patterns
- Compression & Extension
- Playing & Improv & Freestyle
- Leading & Following [vs. Gender Roles]
- Types of Music
- Dance Etiquette
West Coast Swing Basics
We explore the basics of West Coast Swing to help you start on the right foot. (Or left!)
All of the awesome and slick moves you see the pros do are variations of a few core patterns: the sugar push, left and right side passes, and whips. Understanding the basic steps of West Coast Swing is the first part of becoming a Westie! We always suggest that you find a group class or private instruction to get the fastest progress in the beginning. However, here we share the overview of the basic patterns, as well as a video and playlist of each pattern.
Leading & Following
Leading and Following are the primary “roles” within West Coast Swing and other partnered dances in swing, ballroom, and latin. In partner dances like West Coast Swing, the leader’s role is to guide the follower into various patterns. The follower’s role is to feel and interpet the leader’s intent and carry out the pattern.
In West Coast Swing, the roles between leading and following are blurred more compared to most dances. In some instances, the follower can “take over” the leading aspect and perform his or her own interpretation of the music. This is where improvisation and “play” take place.
While it’s common for males to lead and females to follow, in WCS it’s not uncommon to see the roles reversed. We encourage Westies to pursue the role they are interested in, rather than feel locked into the standard gender-based role.
Play & Improv