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Swing out (dance move)

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The swing out or whip is the defining dance move of Lindy hop and West coast swing. The girl (follow) swings around the guy (lead), a bit like a tetherball, and returns to where she started in 8 counts. Swing outs have a little of everything: open position and closed position, fast and slow.

The basic swing out begins with both partners facing each other in open position, with the lead's left hand holding the follow's right hand. On counts 1 and 2, the lead brings the follow in. On counts 3 and 4, the lead and follow come together in closed position and they turn together. On counts 5 and 6, the lead opens up and sends the follow back out. On counts 7 and 8, both lead and follow return to where they started, in open position. The art of the swing out is the shared motion on counts 3, 4, and 5, when partners counterbalance each other.

The key variations are the Savoy swing out and the Hollywood whip. All other variations can be described in terms of these two. Dancers can change the style (arm work and footwork) or the whole move. Bits and pieces of different stylings and variations can be combined in the same swing out, though combinations may need finesse.

History: The swing out evolved from the breakaway. The date of the first true swing out is unknown, but was probably some time between 1928 and 1935.

Table of contents

Savoy Swing Out

In the Savoy swing out, the lead and follow circle around each other (a little bit), sharing a common center. The follow moves 1/4 of the way around the lead during each two counts, smoothly. The follow walks facing forward on counts 1, 2, 5, and 6 and turns around partly using her own energy on counts 3, 4, 7, and 8. The lead turns 90 degrees during each two counts, smoothly.

Lead

Count 1: Bring the Follow In
Feet: He steps straight backwards onto his left foot.
Body: The step moves his whole body and his left arm back, pulling the follow forward.
Count 2
Feet: He steps left with his right foot, to let the follow pass.
Counts 3 and 4: Turn
Feet: He triple steps (left right left) in place.
Body: He squares up his body with the follow's body as she moves around. The lead leans back to counterbalance the follow (who leans back into the lead's arm) and momentum swings both around so they both face the opposite direction of where they started.
Arms: The lead puts his right hand on the middle of the follow's back or on her shoulder blade.
Count 5: Send the Follow Out
Feet: He steps straight back onto his right foot.
Body: The step moves his whole body and his right arm back, pulling the follow forward.
Arms: The lead pulls the follow towards him with his right hand to return her to the start and then lets go with his right hand.
Count 6
Feet: He steps left with his left foot.
Counts 7 and 8: Sync Up
Feet: He triple steps (right left right) in place.
Body: Return to face where he started and sync up for the next move.

Follow

Count 1
Feet: She is pulled forward, so she steps forward with her right foot.
Count 2
Feet: She continues and steps forward with her left foot.
Body: Her torso turns to face the lead.
Arms: She raises her left arm, so the lead can reach her back.
Counts 3 and 4: Turn
Feet: She triple steps as she swings around. Her right foot points between lead's legs, left weight shift behind right foot then shift weight to the right foot again.
Body: Her torso turns around and leans back into the lead's arm and momentum carries both around. During these two counts the follow keeps her shoulders and torso square to the lead's shoulders and torso.
Arms: She places her left arm on top of the lead's right arm, and places her left hand on the inside of his right shoulder or bicep.
Count 5
Feet: She is pulled forwards, so she steps forward with her left foot.
Count 6
Feet: She continues and steps sideways with her right foot.
Counts 7 and 8: Sync Up
Feet: She triple steps (left right left) in place.
Body: The follow returns to where she started (as far as the connection allows), turns to face the lead, and syncs up for the next move.

Hollywood Whip

In the Hollywood whip, the follow moves in a straight line, called the slot, so the lead must move out of her way sideways as she passes. The follow walks forward on count 1, turns on count 2, walks backward on counts 3 and 4, turns on count 5, and walks backward on counts 6, 7, and 8. The follow goes furthest back on count 3+. In a whip, the lead explicitly turns the follow around. The Hollywood whip resembles the West Coast swing whip.

Lead

Count 1: Bring the Follow In
Feet: He steps straight backwards onto his left foot.
Body: His whole body moves back, which moves his left arm back, pulling the follow forward.
Count 2
Feet: He steps left with the right foot to let the follow pass.
Arms: He pushes the follow's arm forward as she passes to turn her around, with his left arm.
Counts 3 and 4: Turn
Feet: He triple steps (left, right, left) to the side. He ends with feet side-by-side, shoulder width apart.
Body: He turns to face the follow. He leans back to counterbalance the follow (who leans into the lead's arm) and momentum swings both around so they both face the opposite direction of where they started. He keeps his shoulders and torso square to his partner.
Arms: He puts his right hand on the middle of the follow's back or on her shoulder blade.
Count 5: Send the Follow Out
Feet: He puts his right foot directly behind his left foot put your weight on the foot.
Body: The step moves his whole body and his right arm back, pulling the follow forward.
Arms: The lead pulls the follow forwards with his right hand to return her to the start and lets go with the right hand. Push with both hands to turn follow around.
Count 6
Feet: He steps left with his left foot.
Arms: The lead pushes the follow back to where she started, with his left arm.
Counts 7 and 8: Sync Up
Feet: He triple steps (right left right) in place.
Body: He returns to where he started and syncs up for the next move.

Follow

Count 1
Feet: She is pulled forward, so she steps forward with her right foot.
Count 2
Feet: She continues and steps forward with her left foot.
Body: Her torso turns around 180 degress by being pushed.
Arms: She raises her left arm, so the lead can reach her back.
Counts 3 and 4: Turn
Feet: Her right foot should point between lead's legs, left weight shift behind right foot, then shift weight to the right foot again. This triple-step is called a coaster step.
Body: The follow leans back into the lead's arm and momentum carries both around. During these two counts the follow keeps her shoulders and torso square to the lead's shoulders and torso. The follow turns around.
Arms: She places her left arm on top of the lead's right arm and places her left hand on the inside of his shoulder or bicep.
Count 5
Feet: She steps backwards with her left foot.
Body: She is turned around with the arms.
Count 6
Feet: She continues and steps backwards with her right foot.
Counts 7 and 8: Sync Up
Feet: She triple steps (left right left) in place, as far as lead's connection allows.
Body: The follow returns to where she started and syncs up for the next move.

Notes on the Swing Out

The basic swing out is very tight. Every element has a reason and there are no extraneous body motions.

Footwork (Basic): The basic footwork pattern for both partners is step step tri-ple-step step step tri-ple-step. The follow matches the leads footwork. All steps are weight changes. The follow steps forward on counts 1 and 2 to get all the way around.

Two Leads: The lead gives a body lead using his left arm on count 1 and another body lead using his right arm on count 5. There is one lead with each arm. The triple steps in the basic footwork make the feet match the hands, so that the left foot step back matches the left arm pull on count 1, and the right foot step back matches the right arm pull on count 5.

Connection: The connection between partners is critical to making the swing out work. (Expand)

Counter balance: Partners are better able to counterbalance when they get used to how each other will move. The partners must adjust to each other.

Connection Flow: Both partners start standing in balance in open position. The lead pulls the follow forward (off balance) on count 1, and both the lead and follow remain in motion or in counterbalance until count 8. The lead stays connected to the follow with his left hand throughout the move.

Stylings

Stylings are simple variations that are independent of the partner. Stylings can be done at any time by either partner in basic swing outs, though they may conflict with other swing out variations. Stylings on counts 1, 2, 6, 7, and 8 are easy, because dancers are separated in open position. Stylings on counts 3, 4, and 5 are difficult, because dancers come together in closed position, so stylings easily affect the partner.

Lead

Counts 1 and 2
Feet: The lead can do rock-step, kick-back-and-hold, kick-back kick-back, kick-ball-change, or flea hops.
Left Arm: In Savoy style, pulling on count 1 and relaxing on count 2 gives the follow room to play on count 2. Pulling on 1 and 2 stays connected and keeps the follow under control, which denys her room to play. In the Hollywood bring in, the follow is always under control.
Right Arm: The lead can move his right arm up (over his shoulder), to the side, or down (Frankie swoosh); or keep it at his hip. The Frankie arm sweep lets the follow know that this move is a swing out, rather than a side pass. Frankie Manning emphasized that the sweep caused the lead to bow to the follow. Hand at hip makes a pure body lead.
Counts 3 and 4
Feet: The lead may do a foot sweep back.
Counts 5 and 6
Feet: The leads may step straight back, which gives the clearest lead. The lead may step behind his other foot (hook step), which starts getting out of the follow's way. The lead may step forward and left, which shortens the distance that the follow must travel, but the lead must twist his body.
Body: In Hollywood style, the lead may turn and lunge in the same direction as the follow to emphasize the body lead. He faces behind where he was positioned.
Head: The lead may either look over his right shoulder to where the follow will go, or look at the follow. In social dancing, the lead looks over his shoulder to make sure that no one has stepped in the follow's way and she has room to finish the move. If there is no room, the lead can safely stop the move. In performance, looking over the shoulder exaggerates the body lead. Watching the follow is more personal.
Counts 7 and 8
Feet: Lead can do kick backs and foot sweeps, crouch and touch the floor, sit on the floor and splay legs, jump and do splits, split slide.
Hand: He can change hands on count 8.
Body: He can turn toward the follow, turn 180 degrees away from the follow, or turn toward the audience. Body roll.

Follow

Counts 1 and 2
Left Arm: Her left arm can go up (over shoulder), to the side, down (Frankie sweep), or keep her hand at her hip. Wave.
Body: If turned away, adjust to make the connection on count 3.
Feet: Follows can do walk-walk, swivel-swivel, or kick-ball-change; or less frequently camel walks.
Counts 3 and 4
Feet: The follow may do a foot sweep back.
Torso: The follow may sit with a vertical torso (called a pike), or she may lean back. The pike is very Hollywood.
Counts 5 and 6
Left Arm: The follow can wave her left arm or keep her hand at her hip.
Feet: The follow can walk-walk or camel walks; or less frequently, swivel-swivel (but avoid body twist) or kick-ball-change.
Head: The follow can turn her head to look where she will go on count 8, where she came from on count 4, at the audience, or at the lead.
Counts 7 and 8
Left Arm: The follow may wave her left arm or keep it at her hip.
Body: The follow can turn toward the lead, 180 degrees away from the lead, or toward the audience. She may do a foot sweep, touch the floor, or do a body roll.
Head: The follow can look at the lead, away from the lead, or toward the audience. In a performance, the follow may look to the audience and wink.
Feet: Kicks. Kick aways. Split slide. Kick heels together.

Footwork (Variations): The footwork can be altered significantly. When lead and follow style on counts 7, 8, 1, and 2, they may need to do two triple steps on counts 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Leads and follows often extend the stylings over counts 7, 8, 1, and 2. Extended stylings (footwork) include

Kick Together: The lead and follow can both do double front kicks on 7, 8, 1, and 2, while facing each other. Kick left, kick left, kick right, kick right.

Kick Away: Leads and follows both turn away on count 7, kick away from partner on count 8, knee toward partner on count 1, and jump on count 2. (Verify)

Other: Double foot sweep, scissors, kick ball changes, camel walks, fall off the log, and extreme fall off the log.

Variations

Variations require that the lead and follow cooperate. Some of these variations may be combined together in the same swing out. The variations are grouped (somewhat arbitrarily) into standard, change rotation, closed position, start, middle, end, side pass, and miscellaneous variations.

The names of these variations are representative, but dancers from different cities use different names to refer to the same variation.

Standard Variations

Four main variations based on the arm leads are the basic, inside turn, outside turn, and apache turn. In these variations, the follow turns on the 6, 7, and 8 counts. She may turn on 5 and 6, before travelling, on counts 7 and 8, after travelling, or on count 5, 6, 7, and 8, while travelling. The quick stop and free spin are simple extensions of these variations.

Basic: This is a basic Savoy swing out or basic Hollywood whip.

Inside Turn: The follow does an inside turn on counts 5, 6, 7, and 8. Usually, the turn is signalled on 4, and performed on 6, 7, and 8. This could be extended to a double or triple turn.

Outside Turn: The follow does an outside turn on counts 5, 6, 7, and 8. Usually the turn is signalled on 4, and performed on 7 and 8. This could be extended to a double or triple turn.

Quick Stop: The follow does an outside turn, but holds on 7, with crossed legs. This variation is useful for hitting a break on count 7. This variation can be tweaked if the break occurs on count 6 or 8. This variation occurs in both social dancing and performance.

Apache Turn or Texas Tommy: This is an outside turn, but the lead switches hands behind the follow's back on count 6. The turn is signalled on 4. This can be extended by an overhead turn. This move can be used to change the lead to the right hand.

Free Turn: A free spin looks almost the same as a Texas Tommy. The lead puts the follow's right arm behind her back, but does not grab her wrist with his right arm, he simply lets go and lets her spin on her own.

Change Rotation Variations

In these variations, the follow moves around the lead in counter-clockwise for part of the swing out.

Reverse: The follow moves around the lead counter-clockwise. On counts 1, 2, 5, and 6, both lead and follow step slightly to their right.

Half: The follow stays on the right side of the lead. Counts 1, 2, 3, and 4 are identical to a normal swing out and counts 5, 6, 7, and 8 are identical to a reverse swing out.

Reverse Half: The follow stays on the left side of the lead. Counts 1, 2, 3, and 4 are identical to a reverse swing out and counts 5, 6, 7, and 8 are identical to a normal swing out.

Closed Position Variations

In these variations, the couple starts or ends in closed position.

Swing Out From Closed: Swing out from closed, for example from Charleston to swing out. Charleston is mostly done in closed position. On counts 1 and 2, both do a normal rock step. On counts 3 and 4, the lead moves and turns 180 degrees to face the follow, using a triple step. The remaining counts are the same as a swing out. On counts 5 and 6, the lead pulls the follow forward with his right arm and lets go, and the follow walks past. On counts 7 and 8, they both triple step and sync up for the next move.

Circle To Closed: From swing outs to charlestons, because the Charleston basic is done in closed position. The first four counts are the same as a swing out, but the right arm wraps around the follow further, perhaps to her hip. They remain in closed position and finish the move. The footwork is the same.

Start Variations

In these variations, the motion changes on counts 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Syncopated: The follow may hold back on count 1 and come in fast on count 2. The lead may lead with a kick-ball-change so his body moves on count 2. The motion on counts 7, 8, and 1 is slow and in the same place, while the motion on counts 2, 3, 4, and 5 is fast, which increases contrast in the move. In slow music, the follow may hold on counts 1 and 2, jump on count 3, and so on. This variation is common in Hollywood style.

From Closed:

From Right Hand:

First Turn: Inside turn on counts 2 and 3. This is sometimes led when the lead's right hand holds the follow's right hand. (or outside or apache)

Middle Variations

In these variations, the motion changes on counts 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Layout: The follow jumps on 3, and lays out on 4, is pulled back up on 5. The follow jumps out with her legs several feet from the lead and holds on to the base's arms. The follow often initiates this variation. (K+C)

Pike: The follow may sit or pike on count 4. The pike is most exaggerated when the partners use a double hand hold. The follow sometimes holds one foot out horizontal on count 4 for styling.

Slide: This means that the follow hops on count 5, slides on count 6, and stands up on count 7. Slides are usually combined with a reverse swing out. This is usually for performance.

Extend Middle: Partners can remain in closed position and continue to spin or trade sides for 2, 4, or any number of additional beats, before continuing with the move.

End Variations

The variations change the motion on counts 5, 6, 7, and 8.

Follow Spin: Free spin left, free spin right, or over arm spin.

Lead Spin: Free spin left, free spin right, or over arm spin.

Both Spin: Both follow and lead spin (He Goes-She Goes) on counts 7 and 8.

Jump: Jump on count 5, like a cannonball. The follow often lands on her right leg and then pivots slowly into place for the next swing out.

Arm Loops: Arms may move toward lead (such as putting the follow's hand on the lead's shoulder) or toward the follow (which brings the couple into closed position).

Close: During counts 7 and 8, the lead may move into closed position by adjusting to the follow. (This is like a Groucho ending, see Groucho.)

Extend End: Partners can freeze or hold the open position or spin on counts 7 and 8 for 2, 4, or any number of additional beats. (circle or whip). Afterwards, the lead may remain in open position or close.

Side Pass Variations

These variations seem like two side passes, because the couple does not close on counts 3, 4, and 5.

Reverse with Spins (Rename): The guy leads a side pass (rock, step, spin to cuddle) to his left side, and he turns as the follow passes (4 counts). Then he pushes her back to where she started on his left side (4 counts). He can start by facing her or facing away from her. She may finish by walking forwards, sideways, or backwards. If she walks backwards, she may duck under his arm. (Copy to side pass variation).

Hip Spin: Lead follows arm past. As the follow passes, the lead grabs her hip bone and pull her straight backwards or backwards into a free spin. This can be extended with one or more hip grabs at the end.

Right Hand to Hip Spin: Like a hip spin, but start with a right to right grip and do a turn during the first side pass. This ends with a hip spin or not. (Rethink)

Something: Double turn. Turn during first side pass. Turn during second side pass.

Titanic: Cross hand hold or pick up the second hand on count 2. Do a side pass to titanic position (4 counts). Do another side pass to return the follow to the start (4 counts). Titanic position is the follow leans forward with her hands to the side and behind her. The lead counterbalances her.

Basket Whip: Double hand hold. The lead moves around the follow. This is often extended with one or more spins at the end. Multiple reverses.

Hand on Hip: Put the follow's right hand on the lead's right hip, as she passes on count 3, and hold it there. She continues around and stops on the lead's left side, like a reverse cuddle. This variation often continues with side-by-side moves, like skating. Usually, the lead does not turn, but the lead can also turn with the follow.

Hand Throw: Start with a right hand lead. Lead a 4 count side pass on lead's right side, throw follow's right hand from the lead's right hand to the lead's left hand, then lead another 4 count side pass on lead's left side. The lead does not turn. The follow may spin on either side pass.

Miscellaneous Variations

Footwork:

Simple: Both lead and follow do walk-walk on all counts, skip the triple steps and make eack count a step. This is useful for music that is too fast for triple steps and for music with strong drum beats. This variation can be styled with crazy legs. On count 5, the lead will step back on the opposite foot from usual, which is fine.

Hip Hop: Both partners jump on count 3 to the usual count 5 position, hold on count 4, pull through on count 5, (hold count 6). Leg styling for leads may be two large foot sweeps, the first on counts 5 and 6, the other on counts 7 and 8.

Fast: Swing outs can be done in 6 counts. Lead on count 1, jump and close on count 2, back and swing on count 3, lead and open on count 4, jump on count 5, and end on count 6. In basic swing outs, counts 8 and 1 are slow can can be omitted. The footwork need finessing.

Slow: The swing out can be done in 10 counts or more. Hold back on count 1 and move slowly.

Shoulder (Arm Pit): Start with a side pass and the follow keeps looking forward. The leads puts his right hand under the follow's right shoulder. He pulls her back and she leans back. As she goes down, he steps over her body and then pulls her back up. This is often treated as an aerial.

Neck Wrap: This is like the shoulder lift. (Expand)

Other Details

Movement: The lead may stay in place while the follow travels around him or the lead and follow may trade places, by both moving forward on counts 2, 3, 6, and 7. When the lead stays in place, the move looks more exaggerated, which is useful in performances and for slower music, but the follow must move farther and work harder. When the lead and follow trade places, the swing out fits in a smaller space, which helps in social dancing and with faster music. Leads can move themselves forward on either the first 4 counts, the last 4 counts, or all 8 counts, and the follow remains in place, which shifts the position toward the lead, but leaves everything else the same.

Orientation: Dancers can change the orientation of the swing out by overturning (1+1/4 turn) or underturning (3/4 turn). In social dancing, this is useful to find space on a crowded floor. In performance, this is useful to present a specific angle to the audience or adjust to or from other moves.

Mirror Image: The lead and follow do everything in mirror image (switch left and right). This is useful in performance.

Speed: Dancers may move half as fast as the music, which is often done with exaggerated, clownish movements. This is common in performance and socially to very fast music. Dancers move may twice as fast as the music, which is common to very slow music.

Start Count: Traditionally swing outs begin on count 1 of the music. But the swing out may actually start on any count, especially if it fits the music. For example, the couple may hold for 4 counts, do a swing out for 8 counts, and then hold for 4 counts. So, the swing out would begin on count 5.

Switch Roles: The guy usually leads and the girl usually follows. Partners sometimes switch roles, so that the girl leads and the guy follows. This can be fun in both social and performance dancing.

See Also

Dance - Swing - Lindy hop - East coast swing - West coast swing

Dance move - Basic - Sugar push - Side pass - Swing out - Circle - Groucho - Skip up - Aerial - Jazz - Charleston

Lead and follow - Connection - Musicality

To Do

Change body to torso.

Savoy Kicks: Both leads and follows can do Savoy Kicks footwork through out the swing out. The foot sweep may replace the other foot, like in Savoy Kicks on count 8.

Footwork Variation: The lead may always steps backwards.

Bounce: This can be smooth or bouncy.

Swing out variation: outer turn to free turn.

Fast swing out: step step pause, step step pause.



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