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Streetswings Dance History Archives: Swing'
Marge and Gower Champion dancing East Coast Swing in the 1950s.
East Coast Swing Dance also called Eastern Swing Dance and the New Yorker. Can be referred to as the Jitterbug.    When the Lindy hop became popular in 1927, the "American Society of Teachers of Dancing" (A.S.T.D.) and the Dance Teachers Business Association (D.T.B.A.) denounced the Lindy as: "a fad and would not last out the winter, and its devotees were victims of economic instability.

    "The East Coast Swing Origins are an offshoot of the Fox trot or Syncopated Two-Step. East Coast Swing Evolution is an "invented dance (a non Folk dance,)" modified from a prior original form (Lindy Hop) by the 'American Society of Teachers of Dancing' in 1942. (History wise, they were already teaching this style to stock movie dancers well before 1942, but in 1942, it became official to the public as a dance, However it was NOT named as of yet.)

    These two main dance associations kept up this way of thinking (mainly racial) and ignored the Lindy, refusing to add the dance to

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 Coast Swing:
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.


Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

USA (1932) 1942 A.S.T.D. & D.T.B.A. Swing

Swing Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music Titles

Black Thunder Swing n/a -- most faster 50's music.
Cabin in the Sky (Swing Movie)       At The Hop [MP3]
Chick Webb and Ella Savoy (Swing)       Barbara Ann
Daddy-O (Swing Movie)       Great Balls Of Fire [MP3]
Groovie Movie (Swing Movie)       Hound Dog [MP3]
Hellzapoppin' (Swing Movie Poster) 2       Jail House Rock [MP3]
HI-DE-HO (Cab Calloway)       Johnny Be Good
Hot Mikado (Swing Play)       Rock Around The Clock [MP3]
Juke Girl (Swing Movie)       Rockin' Robin [MP3]
Keep Punchin' (Swing Movie)       Roll Over Beethoven
Micheux Swing (Swing Art Print)       20th Century Rocks: ... [CD]
Prisoner Of Swing (Swing Movie)       Rock and Roll Generation [CD]
Private Buckeroo (Swing Movie)       Swing Now: East Coast [CD]
Rock, Rock, Rock (ECS Swing Movie)        
Stormy Weather (Bojangles, Horne)        
The Girl Can't Help It (Swing Movie)         

Night Clubs etc.



Avalon Ballroom n/a n/a
Cinderella Ballroom    
La Monica Ballroom    
Palomar Ballroom    
Savoy Ballroom (1950s)    
Video Clips (pop-up)

Films / Movies


Ballets / Stage

Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1937 - Way Out West ??? (Comedy) Art Linkletter Show Harvest Moon Ball
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1939 - Blondie Meets The Boss (also Shag) [DVD] Arthur Murray Dance Party  
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1943 - A Lady Takes A Chance [DVD] Ed Sullivan Show  
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1944 - Fighting Sea bees [DVD] (ECS / Lindy mix)        
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1957 - I Was A Teenage Werewolf [DVD]        
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1959 - Go Johnny Go [DVD]        
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1961 - Konga! [DVD]        
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1956 - Rock, Rock, Rock [DVD]        
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1950 - Summer Stock (some WCS) [DVD]        
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1998 - Rock & Roll Invaders: [DVD] AM dj's...        
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.          
Video Clips (pop-up)

Instructional Videos



Sonny Watson's Video Series (ECS Retro, WCS, Hustle & more) [DVD]            
An Introduction to 6-Count Swing [DVD]            
Ultimate East Coast Swing Reference [DVD] (Royston)            
World of Swing #2 - Boogie Woogie/ Adv East Coast

Other Related Dances ...

Big Apple Creep, the Mooch, the Slop
Boogie-Woogie Foxtrot New Yorker Steppin'
Bop German Rock & Roll, Ceroc, Leroc Pony Swing Suzy-Q
Breakaway, the Hand Dance Push Texas Tommy
Carolina Shag Hustle Retro Swing Truckin
Champion Strut Jitterbug Rock and Roll West Coast Swing
Charleston Jive Rodeo/Aggie Swing Whip
Country Swing Lindy Shag  

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Gene Kelly Most Stock Dancers n/a
Judy Garland Eddy Vega and Lisa Nunziella (US Open)  

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...



Date Published


History Of Ballroom Dancing Stephenson 1980 Doubleday



Poets / Writers

Big Bopper n/a n/a
Bill Haley & The Comets      
Chuck Berry        
Danny and the Juniors        
Elvis Presley        
Jerry Lee Lewis        

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

American Bandstand Duck Tail Penny Loafers Records
At The Hop James Dean Poodle Skirts  Soda... 
Bobby Soxer Leather Jackets Proms Zoot Suit


Basics steps: (leader shown, follower reverse) This dance is what we call a 'side-swing' meaning that the dance moves from side-to-side and partners mostly trading sides on patterns.
(side-tog-side---side-tog-side---rock-step) rather than circular or slotted and couples trade sides (fwd-tog-fwd--- (180 turn)---side-tog-side---rock-step) in performing most of their patterns such as the under arm turn. Leader starts with his left foot, moving to left and the Follower mirrors him. Can be closed or open position with couples facing each other. Steps are basic six count, very small steps and Charleston may be added:












1 2 3 -- 1 2 3 -- 1 2 (Simple Count)
1 & 2 -- 3 & 4 -- 5 6 (Correct Count)
<-- to the Left -- to the Right --> -- Back Fwd (Direction)
side-tog-side   side-tog-side   Rock Step Cues
     Above for leader, Follower is opposite. dancer starts the leads in a pattern on the Forward 'step' of the "rock-step" or (count 6) as the "follower comes forward" toward leader after follower steps back on count 5.
Also can be done as: (replacing the triples with a double or single step)
    1) Single Rhythm (one step per two beats: [Step-One, Hold-Two, Step Three, Hold Four, Rock Step] or
    2) Double Rhythm (Step-Touches: [step L,- touch R,- step R,- touch L,- rock L,- step R]) instead of Triple Rhythm above. Touch=Tap ball of foot on floor ( tapped heel up), next to other foot., Can do small kick instead of Tap/Touch.

     If practicing by yourself, hold on to a "Dinning Chair" with both hands, forearms level with floor while doing Steps, don't let chair move on triples, but on rock step a slight 'Push-Pull'. Use balls of feet (no heels), Don't bounce body or flap arms or pronate (rotate) wrists!!!

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