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West Coast Swing

The West Coast Swing dance style is similar enough to East Coast Swing to allow for a considerable crossover: You can dance either one to the same dance tunes, and you’re likely to see both versions on the same dance floor.

But West Coast Swing has a greater range of sophisticated, jazzy, off-the-beat improvisation that really works best when both dance partners are exactly in tune. (Little mistakes can be covered up much easier on the East Coast side of the swinging fence.)

For those up to the challenge, the musical genre that lends itself best to West Coast Swing is the blues. It fits in well with the dance’s personality: more of a cool, world-wise LA sophisticate, less of an earnest and perky Sock Hopper.

The basic form of the dance is significantly more complex than the basic form for other dance styles, with pairs of triple-steps and underarm turns that allow the man to revolve around the lady and lead her through a series of twirls back and forth, in an imaginary slot.

The man’s lead must be timed perfectly, and while dancers have a lot of flexibility to improvise, they also have a lot of opportunity to get their timing off.

But West Coast Swing devotees, like those addicted to the nuances of Tango, are as dedicated to their art as fly-fisherman, and they probably wouldn’t have things any other way.

Here are a few examples (some of which also work for East Coast Swing)

Brown Sugar by The Rolling Stones
Celebration by Kool & the Gang
Chain of Fools by Aretha Franklin
Dream a Little Dream by Louis Armstrong
Fever by Peggy Lee
In the Midnight Hour by Wilson Pickett
Mustang Sally by Wilson Pickett
Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye
Stayin’ Alive by Bee Gees
Sweet Dreams by The Eurythmics
The Thrill is Gone by B.B. King

Listen to a music sample

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