East Coast Swing

If swing is your thing, learn the East Coast dance. This six-count, standard ballroom dance is the easiest to learn of all the dances in the swing family. It is perfect for a beginner, and best suited for dancing with big band music. Characterized by its energetic twists and turns, East Coast Swing blends well with soul music, rockabilly, and blues. You will enjoy the energetic and refreshing feel of the dance, which carries you away as you dance across unlimited space.

This is a fundamentally simple dance, meaning once you’ve mastered its simple steps, you are ready to embark on learning more complex swing dance styles. The level of expertise you want to achieve in swing dance is really up to you, but the East Coast style is the best prerequisite to any other swing dance, be it West Coast, Lindy Hop or Jitterbug.

What is the East Coast Swing?

East Coast Swing is a rhythm dance with six-beat patterns. It has some of Lindy Hop’s styling, but less overall movement and fewer timing variations. The dance is performed to music with a wide range of tempos, traditionally big band swing from the jazz era. It usually follows a circular form, unlike the slotted West Coast Swing which is predominantly linear.

At Arthur Murray Dance Studios, our instructors give you a wide range of music options to swing to. The dance comprises three basic steps: triple step, triple step, rock step. The music best for East Coast Swing is diverse, and includes oldies (e.g. Elvis and Chuck Berry), country, jump blues, top 40, and big band. Swing music is written in 4/4 time with a tempo of 145-170 beats per minute, meaning the dance is relatively fast. The steps are therefore supposed to be small and light. The East Coast Swing dance is no different from rope skipping: awkward at first, but effortless later.

We categorize East Coast Swing as a “rhythm dance”, not a “smooth dance”. Plenty of hip movements among men and women are normally present. Most people find problems when taking steps, and some take steps that are too large. For good moves, keep the steps small, especially the “rock step.” Close the feet on the “and” of the triple step too. When dancing the East Coast Swing, take the “triple steps” by striking the floor with the inside edge of the ball of the foot. In the rock step, keep the spine in front of the rocking foot. The rock step consists of six beats during which the “lead” and the “follow” both take different postures.

1. On the step beat 2, the lead steps forward (to where he began) with the right foot, while the follow steps forward (to where she began) with the left foot. 

2. On step beat 3, the lead steps to the left with the left foot, and the follow steps to the right with the right foot. 

3. On step beat 4, lead begins to shift weight back to the right foot while the follow shifts weight to the left foot. 

4. On step five, the lead steps to the right with the right foot, while the follow steps to the left with the left foot. 

5. The dancers complete the sixth beat with the lead shifting weight to the left and back, as the follow begins to shift weight to the right and back. 

Don’t worry if it sounds too complicated, we’ll teach you everything.

The History of the East Coast Swing


The origin of the East Coast Swing dance can be traced back to the 1940s as an offshoot of the Foxtrot, modified from a prior original form – the Lindy Hop. In an effort to tame the growing popularity of the street swing, the American Society of Teachers of Dancing (ASTD) – many of whose members were former Arthur Murray instructors – debuted the American Swing syllabus in 1942. In the 1950s, the East Coast Swing Dance gained popularity across the Arthur Murray Dance Studios.

Come to Arthur Murray Studios and Swing the Night Away

Nobody can claim more knowledge of East Coast Swing than our instructors. In fact, the dance style was the brainchild of Arthur Murray Dance Studios, along with other dance studios in the 1940s. Arthur Murray and his contemporaries passed this information down to our current instructors. Old as it is, not many studios teach the dance, and very few can claim expertise.

The dance normally requires a large space that can allow couples to circle freely around the floor (much like the “all-over-the-floor” characteristic of the Lindy Hop). Our studios are ideal for this style of swing dance. 

The East Coast Swing dance is the perfect dance for a beginner who wishes to pursue any other style of swing. The dance distinguishes itself by its basic form and ease, and remains one of the best ballroom dances. You have a pool of knowledgeable instructors at Arthur Murray Dance Studios, who are more than willing to assist you as you sharpen your skills. Sign up with us, and grab your chance to learn an incredible classic dance.


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