'There is only 2 styles of Swing... good and bad.' - Dean Collins
The early days - 1930's-1950's
West Coast Swing is directly linked to Lindy & Jitterbug and originated out the the Hollywood Style Lindy. Many people dedicate the popularisation of the Hollywood style to Dean Collins. Dean moved to LA in the 1930's and brought his style of swing with him winning many local dance competitions to build his reputation as a performer and teacher.
The lost years
Arthur Murray studios taught a version of WCS at the time known as Western Swing. the dance started from closed position and after the 'throwout' began with a walk, walk for the follower.
The Golden State Dance Teachers Association (GSDTA) began teaching the walk steps, counts 1 and 2. It also replaced Lauré Haile's Coaster Step with an "Anchor Step" around 1961.
"West Coast swing" as a synonym for "Western swing" appears in a 1961 dance book, and was used in an advertisement by Skippy Blair in 1962 but wasn't incorporated into mainstream swing circles until the late 1960s.
Blair credits Jim Bannister, editor of the Herald American newspaper in Downey, for suggesting the name West Coast Swing.
End of the Century - 1980's-1990's
This period of WCS is when dancers started to travel across the USA to attend National conventions and the first major National Competitions were held 1982 the first US Open Championships was held, only one division for all forms of swing was held and Lance Shermoen & Mary-Ann Nunez were the winners.
Since then, there has been many an impression left on the community by it's champions and their own personalities and style traits. Robert Royston & Laureen Baldovi-Mason, Robert Cordoba & Deborah Szekely, Mario Robau & Blake Hobby, Wayne & Sharlot Bott all deserve credit for inspiring and steering the community whilst they were at the top of the competition divisions.
Not to forget the Shaggers, Charlie Womble & Jackie McGee & Sam & Lisa West were also a big influence.
Last 15 years
Has seen an explosion of WCS dancing all over the world. With technology and affordable air travel bringing us closer together events like Swing Diego and Boogie by the Bay have helped to showcase the top WCS dancers to a much wider audience which has inspired so many new people to get involved with WCS.
It is now the fastest growing partner dance and only Salsa has a larger following of participants.
Music has been such a big a part of what has made WCS more accessible to more people. You can dance WCS to any 4/4 timing, that doesn't always mean its a good song to dance to but it means that everyone can find something they like in the vast variety of songs that WCS DJ play.
And it goes without saying that its modern day dance heroes have been huge in transferring the ideas of WCS on a global scale. Couples such as Jordan Frisbee & Tatiana Mollmann, Kyle Redd & Sarah-Vann Drake are most peoples inspiration for getting into WCS.
Who knows what is next for WCS? as for this dance will continue to be challenged by those who are dancing it. What I do know is that we'll be there to find out.