East Coast Swing Learning Center
A Description of East Coast Swing
When talking about swing dancing to the music of Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry back in the 50's, this is the dance they were doing. Also called The Jitterbug, East Coast Swing is the official "sock hop" swing dance for jump blues. East Coast Swing is a circular, rotating swing dance that has many wraps, tunnels, and turns. The basic step is: triple step, triple step, rock step. The music is diverse and includes oldies like Elvis and Chuck Berry, today's country, 40's big band, Madonna and Michael Jackson and America's top 40. East Coast Swing is a versatile dance suitable for both the ballroom and the bar room. With a wide range of music to choose from you can swing to almost anything. Swing music is written in 4/4 time with a tempo of 145-170 beats per minute. Since this is a quick dance, the steps should be small and light. The basic step is tough at first. Fortunately, it's like learning to jump rope: initially it's awkward, but eventually it becomes smooth and nearly effortless.
East Coast Swing can be danced to most anything from jump blues to country swing songs. For beginners, the best tempo range is 135-155 beats per minute. A tune like "Kansas City" would be a suitable tempo for beginners.
East Coast Swing was derived from the Jitterbug, which grew out of the dance halls of Harlem during the 1920’s. Essentially, the terms East Coast Swing and Jitterbug are synonymous.
Tips & Info
The biggest problem is taking steps that are too large. Keep the steps small, especially the "rock step." In addition, close the feet on the "and" of the triple step. East Coast Swing is danced almost exclusively on the balls of the feet and almost exclusively in third foot position. The "triple steps" should be taken by striking the floor with the inside edge of the ball of the foot. The triple steps are also a "digging" action as opposed to a "bouncing off the floor" action. As a triple step is taken to the left, the hips remain to the right. As a triple step is taken to the right, the hips switch to, and stay to, the left. In the "rock step," the spine stays in front of the "rocking" foot. The lilt comes from straightening the knee rather than from jumping. Lilt and energy are important. Also, do not over-extend the arms or jerk arms from their sockets. Keep the dance compact.