How Did East Coast Swing Start Out?

Jul 12th, 2017

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Category: Dance Studio

How Did East Coast Swing Start Out?

Of the many dance styles you’ll learn and practice at Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Fort Worth, TX, East Coast Swing has a certain sentimentality to it. This form of dance was actually pioneered by our studios in the late 1940s. Deriving its roots from classic swing dancing and incorporating elements of rock-n-roll and boogie-woogie, East Coast Swing is upbeat, fast-paced, energetic and a whole lot of fun!

A piece of our history

Arthur Murray Dance Studios are almost universally recognized as the birthplace of East Coast Swing. Originally, studios wanted to teach dancers the Lindy Hop, another popular form of dance from the turn of the century. Unfortunately, the Lindy Hop proved to be very complicated for new and seasoned dancers alike. Students just couldn’t get the hang of the Lindy Hop, due much in part to its complicated and unstructured routine.

Despite the Lindy Hop being nearly impossible to teach to large groups of classes, there was still a huge demand for swing dance lessons. Swing was the hip music of choice during the time period and people were clamoring to learn the steps to their newest big band favorites! Seeing the demand, Arthur Murray instructors decided to create a new form of swing that scaled back from the Lindy Hop. The result was East Coast Swing!

The evolution of East Coast Swing

Though its roots are in the Lindy Hop, East Coast Swing borrows heavily from step-based dances like the Charleston. Instructors made the dance dramatically easier to learn thanks to a codification system. The system teaches dancers the steps in rhythm, in patterns of six and eight steps, so they can be memorized and strung together easily.

As people began to learn and master East Coast Swing, the dance became a popular favorite on dance floors all across the country. Its widespread accessibility did more than just make it the face of swing dancing, however—it also encouraged people to innovate. In just a short time, new varieties of East Coast Swing were taking form, including:

  • Single swing is a variety of the dance that replaces triple-step movements with single-step movements. It slows the dance down and creates dramatic emphasis on each movement.
  • Double swing uses a tap-step footwork pattern to add pizzazz to a swing routine! This version of the dance is more complicated, but is flashier and more enthralling to watch.

Of course, since East Coast Swing is a partner dance, there’s always room for improvisation! Often, partners will plan elaborate moves and leverage showmanship right into the rhythm of the dance, adding a level of difficulty and flash that give the dance a whole new dimension.

A timeless style of dance

The best thing about learning East Coast Swing at a dance studio in Fort Worth, TX is that it’ll never go out of style. Sure, the days of big band clubs may be gone, but if you look hard enough, you’ll see that swing dancing is still alive and well around you! Join a swing dancing club, visit a dance competition or attend a wedding and you’ll see people rocking and reeling to a variation of East Coast Swing, guaranteed!

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