West Coast Swing

West Coast Swing is an evolving social dance. Its emphasis on musicality and connection makes this California ballroom swing dance stand out. For those looking to get a bit of fun exercise or to get out of the house and meet people, the West Coast Swing provides the best opportunity. It has gained enormous popularity in dance studios across the world as more and more people explore it. The dance gets along with just about any music with a 4/4 time signature.

If you want to excel at swing dancing, plan to attend a West Coast Swing class at Arthur Murray Dance Studios. The feel you get from this dance can be observed in the use of “compression” and “leverage”, the rubber band-like, in-and-out movement that creates the energy for multiple spins as well as the texture of sensuous passes. Once you have mastered the steps, you will realize the addictive elixir that not only carries away the dancers, but also completely mesmerizes the spectators.

What’s Special About The West Coast Swing?

West Coast Swing is a “slotted” dance. The slot represents an imaginary area whose length depends on the tempo of the music. Where the tempo is low, the slot is approximately 8 to 9 feet long, but shorter at faster tempos. The dance involves the follower moving back and forth along the slot and dancing straight into the lead. On his part, the leader constantly moves a limited distance to his sides, barely out of her way. She lightly brushes against him each time she passes him. 

The follower starts with the right foot, while the leader starts off with the left foot. On the next beat, which is a down beat, the follower counts one or three of a measure. The leader simultaneously adjusts his movement according to the location of the follower. In the first two beats of every pattern, the follower walks forward, then steps three times at the end of each pattern, the Anchor Step. Most dancers, (especially those in the basic and intermediate levels) start the dance with a 4-beat starter step.

Present West Coast Swing Dance styles vary considerably. Modern-day styles can be more conservative, with an upright posture, or smooth and warm, or a funky, hot, partnered jazz dance. West Coast Swing is performed to almost any music written in 4/4 time at speeds ranging from very slow to very fast, say 15 to 45 measures per minute, and ideally at 32 measures per minute. The dance changes with the music, exhibiting sexy, “slinky” walks for the woman, and a slight backward leaning poise at the full extent of the connection at very slow speeds. On the other hand, the partners become more upright and the connection shortens with more of a “push and pull” feel and look at faster speeds.

The History of the West Coast Swing

West Coast Swing started as the ‘Official State Dance of California’, and most people believe it originated in the Los Angeles area. West Coast Swing roots hearken back to an earlier dance known as the Savoy Style Lindy, formally performed at the Savoy Ballroom in New York in the early 1930s. Among those at the forefront of the dance’s development were the Arthur Murray instructors, who wrote many instruction books for the dance. Today, our  instructors incorporate some of the oldest techniques and modern inventions in their lessons.

Arthur Murray Wrote The Book On West Coast Swing


As in almost every other dance genre, Arthur Murray instructors have played a central role in the development of the West Coast Swing (Western Swing), and even have a claim to the first codification of it. Whatever your ability level, you are welcome to visit our Southern California studios, where you will learn the hidden magic behind this dance. What sets us apart is the pool of talented and experienced instructors who have researched and experimented everything pertaining to the dance. Our spaces are roomy, and can accommodate large crowds dancing in slots, and spectators who want to see the style in person.

Try Arthur Murray Studios For The West Coast Swing!

At Arthur Murray Dance Studios, we have kept abreast of all developments in the dance style and have updated our instruction manuals to suit the requirements and expectations of swingers of the present era. The West Coast Swing can be relatively hard for a beginner, but you’ll find it less complicated as you advance in your mastery of its steps. Our instructors remain the masters of the style and formidable authorities in teaching any form of swing dance. Book your introductory lesson, and we’ll get you out on the floor in no time!


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