their curriculum for many years, (even today still not wanting to recognize it) with Lindy Hop later becoming known as the Jitterbug.
(The clip on the right has the ECS dance at end of clip).
In the early days of ballroom dance history, these associations were formed to try to improve the dance scene. As time went on, if you were not a member of the associations
mentioned, you could not use their name or logo. If you were a member, you could only teach their prescribed dance syllabus and nothing else. If you were a dance studio owner of the time, not being a member could prove fateful to your business (98% were members).
Finally in 1942, realizing they were loosing a lot of money to the street teachers and independent dance studios teaching the Jitterbug/Lindy, the Associations got together (as they did every year) and announced the new dances and curriculum for that year. Stating (in writing) that:
"The Jitterbug, a direct descendant from the Lindy hop, could no longer be ignored ---- IT'S CAVORTING's COULD BE REFINED to suit a crowded dance floor" and refined it they did!
This "quote - refinement" above, is what gave birth to what we call the East Coast Swing today. The Association's refined the Lindy/Jitterbug. They took out all the laborious parts such as the 8 count steps and made it more racially permissible for "white America," and used a Foxtrot basis for the dance, so you could shift from one to the other. This left the dance much easier to teach and master, but the real gut of swing was eliminated, making it spiritless compared with its older brothers.
However, they did not want to use another label for the dance. Knowing that people wanted to learn Lindy or Jitterbug, not some dance called "the such and such" and the newer dancer would not recognize the difference (most all the studios would be teaching it this way), soooo ... they called it the Lindy and Jitterbug, (however it was NOT!) and later Bop and Rock and Roll. Nevertheless, it did gain some embracing by the newer (naive) swing dancers of the era who did not know the difference from its TRUE SWING DANCE similarities. The true Jitterbug, done by the better street dancers was the older Lindy and West Coast Swing type style, depending on the year and location.
Most of these "Ballroom studio teachers" would dance the true Jitterbug/Lindy or today what's called Lindy Hop or Hollywood style (an older West Coast Swing style) and entice the public into taking lessons from them. These studio instructors would educate them in this "refined version" that today we call "East Coast Swing" (instead of what they were really doing). The newer dancers, not knowing any better would learn how to do this "Vanilla" or refined version and then go out and dance it. (This still is a common practice today with some of the newer teachers.)
Regardless, the East Coast Swing dance was 100% swing/ Jitterbug in look and feel, just more subdued.
These Associations were world wide and this was right around W.W.II, the U.S.O., Canteens etc., which lead to the Europeans reasoning that true swing was in this refined form. That is generally why most of the U.K. does not have a clue about the true swing done in America! (Jitterbug, West Coast, Carolina Shag, Push, Whip and of course Lindy.)
The East Coast swing gained
acceptance with DJ Allan Freed in some of his Rock
and Roll movie's of the 1950s, as the famed swing choreographer Dean Collins was not available (Putting it nicely) to Freed's movies. In the middle of the 1950's, the associations again tried to resell the public on an old dance, by identifying Swing as... "Rock and Roll" dancing. This new term flustered the public and was soon abandoned, but it again helped open the door for East Coast Swing to spread. During the late 1950's, it would be known as Eastern Swing.
On the positive side of East
The dance is extremely easier to learn than the original forms such as Shag, Lindy, West Coast. It teaches the essential swing rhythm (doubles and triplets) in a simplistic form. It can be learned in a few lessons. Can be easily taught at weddings etc. to dancers who have never danced and who will have a lot of fun doing it. In addition, it is a lot of fun to do due to its simplicity. It is an easy intro to Swing dance in general, but it does lack something after learning, like the original framework ... "The Soul of the dance is missing."
Many folks ask what style of swing is best, West Coast, East Coast, Whip, Push, Lindy, Shag etc. However, there is no best style. The best style would depend on what type of music you are dancing to at the time, the theme of the dance being held, the speed in which the music is played and the dance knowledge of you and or your partner. If you're partner only knows one style of swing, then their style would be the best style to dance with them at that time. If they only know one style they usually will declare that the style they know is the best style above all others and usually will make derogatory statements for many varied reasons.
Swing is a wonderful dance form in all it's versions that fits all types of music, Personalities, Finances etc. Calling yourself a swing dancer means you can at least do the basics in many forms of swing and a few well. So learn to swing dance whatever style, you're unique and your dances should be varied and your style should represent your knowledge of dance that other, newer dancers (and they are the majority) don't posses, not being limited to only one. However you will eventually find you like them all and soon you will understand the importance of them all and understand why there are different styles to begin with. So enjoy them and mainly smile, laugh and have fun.
Technically, we did not have a term "East Coast Swing" until there was a "West Coast Swing" and vice-a-versa. However West Coast is not even remotely similar in style or technique to East Coast except for the use of 6 count TIMING and patterns done in reverse order (WCS starts with the double and ends with a triple, ECS starts with the triple and ends with a double). However all styles can be danced with each other with a little forgiveness. Subsequent to the Lindy in the 1920's, all forms of swing were called "Jitterbug" (an umbrella term).
Laurie Haile is credited in determining the different swing styles for Arthur Murray in the early 1950's by documenting the distinct styles we use today, outside of Lindy, Jitterbug, and Rock and Roll.