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August 24, 2011

Ballroom Dance Explained: The Difference between East and West Coast Swing Dances

ballroom dance clubs of atlantaWhen people see that we teach both East and West Coast Swing at Ballroom Dance Clubs of Atlanta, their first reaction is often, “What’s the difference?” Because a lot a beginning dancers assume that “swing dancing” in itself is a singular dance style, they don’t realize that there is more than one type. There are in fact many types of swing including Lindy Hop, East Coast, and West Coast Swing.

 

The Lindy Hop was named after Charles Lindbergh’s flight (hop) to Paris across the Atlantic Ocean and originated at Harlem, NYC’s Savoy Ballroom in the 1920s. The Lindy Hop evolved as jazz music progressed during the 20s and 30s. In its current form, it’s characterized by fast music, kicks, and wild arms movements. For experienced dancers, striking aerial flips and throws are also a part of this style of swing.

 

East Coast Swing goes by other aliases like “jitterbug” and is said to have evolved from Lindy Hop during the 1940s. It is generally performed along with swing music, though modern dancers can arrange it to fit along with everything from rock and roll to boogie-woogie. East Coast generally holds a circular pattern, as the dancers move around and around and use a lot of space on the dance floor. This dance also includes lots of energetic turns, twists, and tunnels.

 

West Coast Swing is generally seen as a slower, more formal swing style than East Coast, although they are both fun dances. Unlike the circular patterns of East Coast Swing, West Coast dancers often staying within a specific rectangular slot on the dance floor, moving in an up and down section. Where East Coast is spirited and wild, West Coast Swing is more sensual. Much like the East Coast Swing, West Coast can be performed to music other than swing, including pop, country, and blues music.

 

Other types of swing dance include Charleston, Jive, and Carolina Shag. Whether your interest is in swing or waltz, Ballroom Dance Clubs of Atlanta provides dance lessons and ballroom coaching tailored to all levels—beginner to professional. If you’re looking to improve your technique or just pick up a fun new hobby, contact us for more information on our dance services. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter for news, updates, and fun dance facts.

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