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

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

  1. GGinrhinestones

    GGinrhinestones Well-Known Member

    My understanding is that ECS (and jive) developed out of Lindy back in the 1940s/1950s. ECS was an AM effort to "simplify" Lindy for audiences that weren't quite down with the kicks, throws, tricks, or basically "high energy" that was (and still is) popular with Lindy. While they are very similar, the shoes a follow wears help to put things into perspective: dancing ECS, I'm in 3-inch open-toed latin shoes. Dancing Lindy, women are in dance sneakers or something similar, with a much lower and sturdier heel. If I tried dancing Lindy as I've seen in on YouTube recently, in my heels, I'd break an ankle.

    Personally, I find ECS pretty tame compared to Lindy, or even jive. I struggle with ECS largely because it feels slowed down and blah compared to what swing "should" feel like to me.
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I have seen text that states that, even back in the day, most dancers sat down when bands played really fast songs.
    You've probably also "heard" that that many or most ballrooms banded "jitterbugging".
    (I've only seen one actual article in a newspaper that states this - in the "Oregonian".)

    If "most" people sat down, and you couldn't do tricks in popular ballrooms, I wonder how much "high energy" stuff could have been around.

    I've often wondered this, and am becoming more convinced that people see Whitey's Lindy Hoppers as a norm for "Lindy Hoppers". Recently I saw Norma Miller's book where she wrote that people saw the pros dancing rehearsed, choreographed routines at the Savoy, and mistakenly thought they were regular social dancers.

    So, Murray taught simple steps to beginners, as did just about any one who wrote about it while swing was happening. And most contemporary materials I've seen pretty much try to dissuade people from learning "tricks" before they've actually learned to dance.

    LA dancers who danced shag, "jitterbuggers" (when you start comparing usage of "jitterbug" vs "Lindy Hop", you will find that "Lindy Hop" was relatively rare in the 30s and 40s, based on usage in the popular media) also had a bunch of tricks that they used to win contests, and eventually end up on film, too. They were not normal dancers, either.

    So, I don't know, I look at the Arthur Murray people dancing on their show, and think, if you took enough lessons from Murray teachers ...
    I'm beginning to think Murray has gotten a bad rap, just because he taught beginners.
    (I don't think there are any WLH original instruction materials for beginners. You had to be cream of the crop to be asked to dance with Whitey's crew, or even hang around them at the Savoy.)
  3. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Steve, heres some empirical evidence; in the UK in the early advent of Bop /Jitterbug, many public ballrooms did ban dancing that style. In fact, one public b/room eventually cordoned off a section just for the " boppers" . Even the public dance halls I ventured into in LA for e.g. I never saw anyone banned from dancing any form of "swing" , when appropriate music for rhythm type F/trots were played .( B/room people didnt like it ! ) .


    As for beginners being "held back ", a claim still made today, the reasoning is sound.. strong foundations.

    Also, A/M didnt restrict itself to beginners.. in matter of fact, most of my students in L.A. for. e.g. were Intern. style Silver and Gold levels ( my most advanced student ,was the regions 4 dance champ in the Pro/Am style with me ) . On my travels coaching in the early days, even in the unlikeleist places, one could invariably find advanced level students .

    N.B. ..
    theres also a certain irony here ,related to the B.R. world ignoring the "street "like dances that were then and now , common place .

    Much of the material danced in Salsa for e.g. , came from the B.R. world who had originally adapted the street stuff to a more acceptable social level for their syllabi .
  4. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    TT, did the people who danced "swing" or "jitterbug" do "air steps" or "aerials" routinely on the ballroom floor?
    And, you are saying that the "swing" / "jitterbug" people were in the minority in ballrooms, as I have read/heard repeatedly?
  5. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    When it first "hit" the UK, the regular B/room schools would not allow it at their socials ( they didnt play that type of music ) . The public ballrooms like Hammersmith Palais for e.g. also had floor managers ( as I recall ) "tapping" couples on the shldr , saying no bopping/jiving. Eventually, there did become single nites where it was only Bop/Jive/R and R, that came in about 52/53 . Ted Heath, who was a major band in those times, always drew packed houses .

    Aerials were not normally seen, but anything else was fair game.
  6. tsb

    tsb Well-Known Member

    the terms can be interchangeable, but in my neck of the woods, i would put it this way:

    people i would define as swing dancers have not learned how to do a lindy-hop "swingout" (which is a fundamental figure for people who dance lindy-hop) and for dancers, their basic or fallback step is a 6 count basic figure, while a lindy dancer's basic figure tends to be the swingout, although it's not uncommon for a lindy dancer to go into a lot of figures commonly associated with east coast swing - but they still go back to swingout moves. i can see this distinction at a nearby venue known as lindygroove (lindygroove.com). you can see swing dancers and lindy dancers there, although you don't see a lot of cross-pollinating as lindy dancers tend to dance with other lindy dancers, and within 6-8 weeks, the regulars know which category to which you belong. a friend of mine (who used to be a regular in DF, BTW) started going to lindygroove, and because he was new and an unknown quantity, everyone accepted his invitations to dance. but because he didn't know how to lead a swingout and had no inclination to learn how, the lindy follows began turning down his requests to dance. he stopped going shortly thereafter.
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    "Today, the vast majority of dancers stop dancing when real swing bands begin their swing numbers. The tempos of these pieces prove to be either too fast or too slow for enjoyable dancing." Metronome 1939 cited by DeVeaux 1989 in American Music
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I see, too, that a 1978 book, "Disco Dancing" has "Disco Swing", which we would now call East Coast Swing.
  9. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Just looking at Frankie Manning's book (I'm doing a cleanup/organize thing)...

    The breakaway, the dance that preceded the Lindy hop, maintained a ballroom hold while partners stepped slightly apart...
    More swing in the music led to a longer lasting breach between the partners.


    So, take out or lessen the swing, and you move back towards "the breakaway", but now it's called Eastern Swing, and who knows what else, and eventually "East Coast Swing". (sez me)
  10. RenOrsino

    RenOrsino Member

    I dance and teach both Lindy and what I call vernacular East Coast Swing.

    Lindy Hop is taught with an eight count basic called a "swing out". The lindy circle oft referred to in this post is a method for getting into closed position in order to facilitate tuck turns, side by side Charleston moves, etc. Depending on the beats per minute, lindy stays at eight counts or drops to six simply because there isn't time to do anything in eight. It has evolved quite a bit from its origins, which was more of a circular Charlestonesque rock-step kick turn rock step kick turn. That old fashioned Lindy is fun, but frenetic.

    East Coast swing breaks into two categories of its own, triple step East Coast and the vernacular East Coast. You might call it "street style" as I read earlier. Personally, triple step East Coast is for Ballroom Dancers. Any song slow enough to make triple step East Coast comfortable for me I'll be dancing Lindy Hop. As the BPM rise and catch up with my injuries, general out-of-shapeness and lack of experience/practice with faster Lindy Hop, I'll dance single-step East Coast.

    Both East Coast Swings are taught in a broken rhythm, (6 counts when the music has 8). In East Coast the dancers face each other, usually with a two hand hold. The basic travels side to side with a rock-step backward.

    A Lindy basic, the swing out, begins with the two dancers facing, lead's left hand held to follow's right. The lead rock-steps, they come together and turn into closed position, continue the turn and the lead sends the follow back out to her original position as they complete the "circle".

    They aren't dissimilar, particularly since one did indeed develop from the other. I believe the order of progression goes Charleston -> Lindy -> West Coast | East Coast.

    If you're really curious about the history of swing, you can find Peter Loggin's blog, Jassdancer, on blogspot. Last I heard, he's considered the foremost jazz & swing dance historian in the US (if not the world). I've taken workshop lessons from him twice, balboa and Lindy and the man definitely knows what he's talking about.

    Regardless of the technical differences, in the end it's all just dancing and one of the things I love about swing is that it's all about improvisation.

    Hope all that helped someone. =)
    samina likes this.
  11. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Actually " we " teach ECS with 3 different rhythms, single time, double time and triple time . Each may be used depending upon the music being played. Been that way for over 50 yrs.
  12. Ron AKA

    Ron AKA New Member

    If you Google "West Coast Swing Canada - The Dance" you should get a first hit to a page that has a comparison chart of the various swing dances. Comparison categories include Origin, Difficulty, Music, Technique, Style, ... If you click on the name of each dance you are taken to a You Tube video example of the dance. The Lindy Hop video is certainly a good example of what I believe Lindy Hop to be. Quite a different dance compared to ECS.
  13. rbazsz

    rbazsz New Member

    That chart is very useful. Click here to see it
  14. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    There are several thingsI could challenge in their dance descriptions/origins. heres the 2 most egregious mistakes..


    Salsa. " Origin.. S. and Central America " ??????

    I guess Cuba/ NYC doesnt exist in their geographic world !

    Jive " Origin.. N.America ".. if we are speaking terminolgy ,I will concede.. but the "dance "?.. I think not..
  15. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Well, I passed on commenting yesterday, but since someone else went first...

    I clicked on the CW link and... people doing "country western" with ballroom styling...
    Apparently the author hasn't heard of Cotton Eye Joe, schottische, traveling cha cha, horseshoe... which aren't "borrowed" from anywhere. "Swing" was part of the "Western Swing" scene in LA, and most likely across the Southwest. There were many forms of "Cowboy" Swing that survived through the late 1970s early 80s.
    And North America 1980's??? They are a bit late there! See Lloyd Shaw's books.

    I challenge anyone to provide documentation that any dance was called "East Coast Swing" in the 1950s. I wonder, too, how many people have considered that the Bop was an influence on "Rock n Roll" dancing, rather than it coming directly from "Lindy Hop" or being "diluted Lindy Hop". (Bop with a rock step.)

    Shag? Well, they were doing it a bunch of places around the country, (there was a shag faction as part of the LA jitterbug scene, and Lindy was called the New Yorker there) not just in the Southeastern region of the US.

    And although it is the table that was singled out, the History section looks like a rewrite of Sonny Watson's version of WCS history, which is one of the reasons I started my own invetigation of the dance.

    I guess I'm glad people find it useful, but...
  16. Ron AKA

    Ron AKA New Member

    Steve, I thought the link was useful as it has a side by side comparison of dances, rather than isolated descriptions of each dance. I'm sure if experts in each dance reviewed it, there would be lots of issues highlighted. I'm a beginner, but take some exception to the relative level of difficulty ranking of the WCS (high), ECS (Low), and Jive (high). I'm sure all can be made extremely difficult, but at the basic step level, WCS is a relatively slow 120 steps per minute. ECS and Jive are essentially the same and can hit the range of 220 steps per minute, when you maintain the triple step. Also not so sure about the origins of ECS and Jive. At least currently I believe ECS is American while Jive is International and probably standardized in the UK.

    But that said, I think the descriptions highlight the difference between Lindy and ECS. Albeit, the Lindy video was at the elite level, and the ECS at a social level. Also not sure about all the arm waving in the ECS video. the steps are pretty much the same as what we learned in Jive, but no hand waving. Perhaps that is an ECS variation? On Lindy, there is a local club that does it, and we considered taking lessons, until we found out what it was. I'm sure it can be toned down, but with both of us around 60, and my wife having artificial hips, it looks like a disaster waiting to happen. This club does the style shown in the video. ECS or Jive is much more appropriate for our age. I'm sure WCS would be fine too with the much slower pace.
  17. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I hope you can pardon those of us who have spent a lot of time learning about the history of dances, or those that actually lived it (TangoTime). Speaking for myself, I figure someone out there must be interested!

    And, hey, you and your wife fit right into my age brackett. Did you ever have a coon skin cap or a Zorro sword?
  18. Ron AKA

    Ron AKA New Member

    Both, as I recall... But that recalling part is getting harder and harder!
  19. Wolff2012

    Wolff2012 New Member

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

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    If you stick with this long enough, they do a little bit of what we would now call East Coast Swing. Or is it the starter steps that a whole bunch of us learned for West Coast Swing? And, hey, did Jimmy Dodds sneak in a third triple there?

    Kay Starr - Stop that dancin' up there
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uf_oLIx_hJk&feature=related

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