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West Coast Swing

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West Coast Swing is a partner street dance derived from Lindy Hop, see also Ballroom Dance. West Coast is one of the most popular dances in America.

Table of contents

Beginning Dance

Beginning dancers focus on simple moves and straightforward style.


Ten Basic moves are:

  • Starter Step: This is two triple steps in closed position to begin the dance, so that the lead and follow can get in sync with each other.
  • Throw Out: From closed, the lead pushes the follow out into open position, in 6 counts.
  • Sugar Push: From open, the lead pulls the follow forward and then pushes the follow back, in six counts.
  • Underarm Pass: The follow moves past the lead to the other end of the slot, in 6 counts.
  • Left Side Pass: The follow moves past the lead to the other end of the slot, in 6 counts.
  • Right Side Pass: The follow moves past the lead to the other end of the slot, in 6 counts.
  • Return to Close: The follow moves 3/4 of the way around the lead into closed position, in 6 counts.
  • Tuck Turn: This is like a throw out in 6 counts, but the follow turn under her arm.
  • Whip: The follow moves around the lead and returns to where she started, in 8 counts.

  • Right Hand Pass: ???

With these ten moves, anyone can do a lot.


Beginning dancers focus on squaring up their bodies with their partners and staying with the music.

Advanced Dance

Advanced dancers break many beginning rules.


West Coast has many colorful moves:

  • Sugar Tuck: Like a sugar push, but ends with a 2 count underarm turn
  • Cement Mixer:
  • Basket Whip:
  • Man around the Woman:
  • Woman around the Man:
  • Reverse Whip:
  • Reverse Close:
  • Swivels:


Advanced dancers syncopate their footwork to match the music and turn their bodies to interesting angles to flow more gracefully. Footwork variations include kick ball changes and flea hops.

West Coast Swing Versus Lindy Hop

West Coast Swing evolved from Lindy Hop, but set out in new directions. Key Differences:

  • Slot: Follows move back and forth along a line, called the slot. Various reasons have been given for this change. One reason is that when all follows dance in lines, club owners could pack many more dancers onto the floor. Another reason was that in Hollywood, film makers wanted dancers to stay in the same plane, to avoid going in and out of focus.
  • Music: West coast emphasizes blues and rock-and-roll music, rather than Swing Jazz.
  • Flexibility: West coast breaks away from 8 counts. Many moves are done in 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 or more counts. Some moves can be extended for as long as desired.


See also Swing Out, Swing Dance.

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