What's the difference: Lindy Hop Vs. East Coast Swing?

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by achilles007, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. achilles007

    achilles007 Member

    What's the difference between Lindy hop and East Coast Swing?

    I cant find any info aside from a couple of wikipedia articles saying ECS came from Lindy hop. Anything else as far as aesthetic differences is pretty much moot on the subject.
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    "East Coast Swing" is the name that came to be used for what had been taught for decades as: the Lindy Hop, the favorite form of "Jitterbug" of New Yorkers (Arthur Murray 1947), Swing (whether its called Swing, Lindy or Jitterbug) (Murray 1954), Swing is the newer title (for Jitterbug, Lindy Hop, etc) (Murray 1959).

    Astaire (1962) declared that Lindy is the new name for Lindy Hop, which was a consolidation of Charleston, Black Bottom, and Shag.
    "Lindy" was also used by many other authors.

    Meanwhile in the early 40s in Los Angeles, Murray studios taught "jitterbugging or New Yorker (West Coast name for Lindy Hop)", and smooth swing. "Western Swing" was also being taught, probably late 40s, early 50s for sure.

    In the late 50s Larue Haile mentioned "Eastern Swing", where the woman rocked back, as opposed to "Western Swing" where the woman walked forward, instead of rocking.

    "Western Swing/ West Coast Swing" was used in a 1961 text written in Los Angeles (edging out Skippy Blair for first known written record of that usage).

    I have come to believe that "West Coast Swing" and "East Coast Swing" did not come into common usage until the mid 80s when country western became popular (what WAS Western Swing? was it cowboy swing or what?) , and, perhaps more importantly, the old Lindy Hoppers rose out of obscurity to talk about and teach "Lindy Hop" as they had done it in the 30s and early 40s.
  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

  4. achilles007

    achilles007 Member

    absolute tremendous article, Mr. Pastor!

    That is a link I will have locked-and-loaded into my bookmarks!!

    Many thanks
  5. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    Hi Steve.. define "common " for me from your perspective .

    As you may know, it was being referenced that way in the very late 50s in A/M. And, the " charts " in the LA studios certainly, only, as I recall, listed WCS in 1960. In matter of fact, the annual Medal Ball at the Palladium( Calif. one ) that same yr. a show was put on by all the DD doing a WCS routine .

    Thinking back to when I first taught in Atlanta ( 1975 ) WCS had a strong base in the city, holding weekly dances .
  6. mjnemeth

    mjnemeth Member

    lindy hop?

    I've had lindy hop lessons several times and do use a lindy spin in ESC.
    I just don't do lindy hop as a dance. What stands out in my memory is,
    lots of 8 count patterns, different hand hold (at least that how I lead a lindy spin) much more circular
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Haile (195?) described "Western Swing"

    Yerrington and Outland (LA) 1961 Although they use the term "West Coast Swing" once, they repeatedly use the name "Western Swing"

    Heaton 1973 (BYU) has only "Western Swing"

    Blair 1978 "Western Swing - The name in common usage among Chain as well as Independent Studios to describe SLOTTED SWING"

    Butler 1980 (New York) has only "Western Swing"

    Heifetz 1982 wrote that Country Western dancers in LA did "Western Swing", but did not describe it. Maria Cracknell who taught CW in Santa Monica in the late 70s told me that people did "West Coast Swing" on occassion.
    (None of the CW dance books from the late 70s / early 80s use the term "Western Swing, but none of them were written in LA.)

    Blair 1994 "dance was called Western Swing and Sophisticated Swing in Chain Studios, and even independent studios. Many Studios still use those names today (1994).

    Meanwhile, there are people down in Houston who began using the name "Western Swing" for, apparently, Two Step with fancy turns!
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Oh, in the later half of the 50s, "Lindy" or something with the same steps, but more of an up and down movement, started to be called "Rock 'n' Roll".

    Sylva 1958
    Murray 1959

    Teenagers had been adding a rock step to the Bop, which gave you "Bop Swing", according to Sylva (1956), making it just about the same as Lindy/Rock n Roll.
  9. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Do you know the reasons for this development? And do you know why the european variant of Rock n´roll was named Boogie Woogie? And do you know why East coast swing trades in Europe as Jive, and in France as Be-Bop? And... And.... And (sorry)

    And do you know what this dance could be? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3hRHfxl5Mg

    ;)
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Rock 'n' Roll was a "new" kind of music to the general public. The Bop, which "teenagers" are credited with creating, didn't catch on with adults. (It was rather energetic. See Kay Wheeler dance in Hot Rod Gang.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Hpw18Gv-eM )
    Rock n roll didn't really sell with adults in the 50s, either. It was music for teens, more so than swing (music) had been in the second half of the 30s.
    "Swing" (dance) or whatever could just use a single and/or double rhythm and work quite well with the prevailing "less swingie" rock n roll beat.

    I found a nice chapter on Jive in Modern Ballroom dance, first published in 1973.

    "The style they codified and which has been so highly developed is what we call the 'English Style' and, with the possible exception of the United States of America, it has influenced modern ballroom dancing throughout the world."

    The author was writing about developments in the 20s, when for instance Foxtrot, an American invention, was standardized - by teachers in England, but I think you get the idea.

    "Bop" was very popular in the US as a synomyn for rock n roll circa 1955-1958 (I've found a handful of Bop songs in the LA area starting in 1955, almost all by "country western" musicians. There were 248 titles that I know of by 1958.)

    I think people just liked the sound of the words Be-Bop and/or Bop and it became associated with fast/energetic music.
  11. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your profound answers. But, I fear every answer brings a lot of new questions ..
  12. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Somehow, I knew that!
  13. SD

    SD New Member

    There are some technical differences... Lindy hop includes partnered charleston - which can crudely be described as moves that include a lot of kicks. Charleston is strictly an 8 count (or four count) dance and the lindy hop moves that come from Charleston are all 8 count moves. Every East Coast swing syllabus that I have seen included patterns with kicks that were 6-count, but no traditional 8-count charleston patterns.

    It would appear that for reasons we can only speculate on, early Ballroom dance studio syllabus writers and teachers translated 8-count Charleston moves into 6-count patterns.

    Aside from that, East Coast Swing and Lindy Hop would appear to be entirely the same dance if you read the written descriptions.

    If you watch people dance what the local -local to me- ballroom studios call "East Coast Swing" and then watch what the local swing dancers call "Lindy Hop" they sure look different. I have had many Ballroom studio trained dancers tell me that if there are 8 count moves such as the Lindy Circle or Whip then it is Lindy Hop and not East Coast Swing; others opine that if there are triple steps rather than the simple slow-slow-rock-step then that implies Lindy Hop not East Coast Swing; But these are apparently people who have not read their own syllabi. The syllabi for East Coast Swing invariably include the 8-count "Lindy Circle" - usually as a silver level pattern.

    After years of studying, competing in, and dancing socially all three - West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing, and Lindy Hop, I am more and more inclined to agree with Dean Collins, who is oft quoted as saying "There are only two kinds of swing - Good, and Bad."

    Just don't get me started on the music. IF it ain't a swing rhythm, its some other dance. (Let's just call it "Westie.")

    -Does that muddy the water?

    -SD
  14. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Sorry for the thread drift. Are there examples of swing music that are more modern than all those big band songs of the 20s and 30s? It is always funny going to a Lindy club dance and watching people dance to music that is older than their grandparents. Benny Goodman is great fun, but I can not think of any hugely popular modern swing songs. Benny Goodman was probably the equivalent of the U2 of his era.
  15. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    There was a big swing craze in the 90s. Royal Crown Review, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Indigo Swing, plus of course a number of local bands that didn't get the big break.

    More recently -- Buble, perhaps? His major influences are a bit later than the 30s, I believe.

    I suspect that if you reach out to a professional lindy DJ, they'll have a long list of moderns in their regular rotation.
  16. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    "We", the english, picked up these terms from the American servicemen based here in the 40s. They also were re inforced by songs with those words in the lyrics ( Andrew sisters for e.g. ).

    As to ECS being called Jive, it isnt, and wasnt. Jive was an adaption of the swing genres the were present in the 40/50s that were modified to suit the the more decorous style of B/room.And we also "stole " that word from the States .
  17. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

  18. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Long time ago TangoTime, and Butler's Encyclopedia of Social Dance made me aware of Bill Black's Combo, and the fact that their music was used for Western Swing / West Coast Swing in th eearly 60s. Many of Black's songs had a "shuffle rhythm". Shuffle rhythm is similar in nature to "swing". There is also a "country shuffle" that is similar.

    Rockabilly, as in Gene Vincent's "Dance to the Bop" has swung triples, something is fairly common in the original rockabilly. Brian Setzer, for one, brought a rockabilly sensibility to his swing music.
  19. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    There are many many swing styles and names. Some names are reused for several styles, especially rock'n'roll and jive are used for very different things.

    It's common to say that Lindy Hop is where it all comes from. But Lindy Hop is itself a blend of many different styles and influences, and there is no one true definition or way to dance Lindy. Also Lindy is in constant development, and is not the same today as it was "back then". (And even "back then" it was several things.)

    Many of the styles are much simpler than Lindy, and they developed before internet and Youtube. Which means it was spread through people travelling and sharing what they knew, and people trying to imitate what they saw in movies or on TV. Also ever changing music caused the styles to change and adopt. What people danced to Benny Goodman and to Elvis Presley should look and feel different.

    It's impossible, I think, to uniquely define Lindy, ECS and other "street" style swings. Maybe a bit easier when it comes to Boogie Woogie and WCS, which I think (note *think*) are slightly more studio driven.

    So if you try to define ECS and Lindy and their differences, I think you will run into trouble. Because there are no clear boundaries, and you will run into exceptions and different opinions whenever you try to define any feature.

    "Lindy is eight count, ECS is six count!"
    "Yeah, but you do a lot of six count in Lindy, an you can do eight count in ECS!"
    And so on.

    But that doesn't mean they are not two different styles, because even they cannot be uniquely defined and clearly separated, I think you will find plenty dance examples that can be sorted into either of the categories.
  20. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    I'd call this Lindy, although the style is not very typical. It looks like they're trying to imitate Dean Collins from the movies. See for example this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4Vi7wtFMw8

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