'There is only 2 styles of Swing... good and bad.' - Dean Collins
The early days - 1930's-1950's
West Coast Swing is born out of competition Lindy Hop and was danced to Big Band Jazz music. Originally Lindy dancers used 6 - count 'Push' and 'Pass' patterns to reset phrasing after dancing a 'Swingout' the origin for 'Whip' to an hit an accent.
WWII had a huge impact on how the dance travelled further around the world and morphed into regional forms of Swing such as, Lindy, Jump Swing, Flying Lindy, Balboa, Bal Swing, West Coast Swing, Dallas Push, Houston Whip, Imperial Swing, Western Swing, Country Swing, Carolina Shag, Collegiate Shag, St Louis Shag, Hand Dance, East Coast Swing, Rock n Roll, Jive, Skip Jive, Modern Jive. Boogie Woogie, Swedish Bug and more.
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.
During this time, All the regional styles are developing independent of each other as media resources are limited and travel is not yet accessible to everyone
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. 1977 the first US Open Championships held in Las Vegas and won by Michael & Amber Cross and in 1982 it was held, in California 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. Lance Shermoen & Mary-Ann Nunez, Wayne & Sharlot Bott, Johnathon Bixby & Silvia Sykes, Robert Royston & Laureen Baldovi-Mason, Robert Cordoba & Deborah Szekely, Mario Robau & Blake Hobby, 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 and Sam & Lisa West. They have made a huge impact on the community and have left a lasting legacy in the way that we dance West Coast Swing today.
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 played a huge role 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.