West Coast Swing was born from the Lindy Hop. Of this dance style, Arthur Murray wrote in 1947: "There are hundreds of regional dances of the Jitterbug type. Each section of the country seems to have a variation of its own." Arthur Murray National Dance Director Laure Haile noted swing dancing in California as Western Swing.
Dancers then began performing a smoother form of the Jitterbug to Western Swing music. By the late 1950s, the name was altered to West Coast Swing in order to avoid confusion with Country and Western Dancing. Fun fact: West Coast Swing (still known as Western Swing at the time) is ground for the dancing in the Hot Rod Gang (1958) rehearsal scene.
Arthur Murray taught Western Swing as beginning with a closed position and the potential for dancing single, double, or triple rhythm. After this, throw-out patterns begin with the female dancer walking in and the man performing a rock step or step together, for counts one and two. Although the dance has remained the same way since, the Golden State Dance Teachers Association (GSDTA) began teaching from the walk steps, counts 1 and 2. It changed Haile's coaster step with an Anchor Step in 1961.
West Coast Swing’s sophisticated style and ease of movement makes it beloved by dancers beyond its origin location. It’s compact footwork and body connection offer dancers to develop a solid sense of lead or follow. After your first lesson, you’ll be hooked.
Today, Arthur Murray Dance Center students continue to enjoy the sensual rhythm and smooth action of West Coast Swing. It’s also a favorite among performers on Dancing With the Stars. Sign up for your first lesson and receive expert instruction from one of our experienced trainers.