In my last post, I mentioned that I’m a member of Music n’ Motion at SVSU. Music n’ motion is a West Coast Swing Dance student organization on campus. The program at SVSU began roughly 10 years ago (I think), when two professional west coast swing dancers started teaching it as a course. From there, students fell in love with it and began the club. As a club, we truly enjoy sharing our love of dance with the world and other dancers! I have strong passion for west coast swing, and for dance in general. Since most of you probably don’t know what it is, I wanted to introduce you all to it!
West coast swing is a more modernized type of swing dancing. It’s an elegant, smooth, dance where you dance with a partner. There is always a leader and a follower. Some dancers know how to do both, I personally only know how to follow.
West coast swing is a slotted dance, meaning you dance on an imaginary line called “the line of dance”. You and your partner stay on said line while dancing. The dance uses a 6 count pattern, ending each move with what we call an anchor step, so you can kind of get your self ready for the next move. There is a lot of technique involved, but once you get your basics down, you can have a lot of fun with it! Here’s a video of some basics to help you understand and see what it looks like.
Typically, west coast swing is not choreographed, you just go out, dance, and have fun! It is not uncommon to choreograph a routine for certain types of competitions. However, the most common type of competition is called a Jack and Jill. In a Jack and Jill, you are a given a random song and a random partner, and you get about 2 minutes to show the judges what you got. Then you change partners and get a new song. In each round, you’ll do this about 3 times, maybe more depending on how many competitors there are. In the final round though, you are assigned a partner and are with that partner for however many songs they do. There a few divisions in the competitions: Newcomer, Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, All-Star, and Pro. When you place in a competition, you earn points to move you through the ranks, which is TOUGH. Newcomer is optional, but other than that you can not skip any divisions. Here’s a video of what a novice Jack n’ Jill looks like:
These competitions, or as we call “events” are what westies LIVE for! There typically an entire weekend long full of lessons you can take, competitions, and social dancing ALL NIGHT LONG! There are actually two large West Coast Swing events in Dearborn, MI: Michigan Classic, and Spotlight New Year’s Celebration. These events are SO much fun. Here’s a video of the most recent Spotlight event, so you can see just how much fun it is!
I hope you all enjoyed learning about WCS as much as I love sharing my passion with everyone. If you have any questions, please please ask!