Sharlot Bott

FAQ – Statement of Swing

The following statement is to be used for guidance when “Swing” is the topic. It is NOT meant as an all encompassing definition. It is not a definition for only “West Coast Swing” but the excepted World Swing Dance Council and NASDE definition that can apply to ALL forms of “Swing Dancing” Loosely stated, it allows for as much growth and creative freedoms as possible. We embrace the Art of Swing and encourage the growth of its future.

Statement of Swing:

The Foundation of “Swing” is recognized primarily by “6-Beat” Patterns and “8-Beat” Whips that incorporate a wide variety of rhythms. The “6-Beat” patterns include, but are not limited to, Passes, Push Breaks, Open-to-Closed, and Closed-to-Open. (Note: see for the complete NASDE Statement of Swing)

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question regarding the Statement of Swing, email Sharlot Bott via the contact page. Your question may become a FAQ that needs addressing.

Q: Don’t you mean West Coast Swing?
A: No. All forms of Swing;  i.e. Carolina Shag, East Coast, Lindy, West Coast, Hand Dance, Jitterbug, Push, Imperial, etc. The growth of Swing, which has led to these recognizable forms, come from the same roots; from the same foundation. The growth of Swing from here forward must also come from these roots. If the roots are unrecognizable, the dance must be recognized as something other than swing.
Q: Does Swing Require Triples?
A: No, Triples are common in Swing but are not a required rhythm. Lindy is commonly danced using tap steps, and doubles. The absence of triples may be less desirable but would still be recognized as Swing, none-the-less. Footwork and rhythm patterns can help to determine the quality of swing. Footwork is not as useful when recognizing the difference between swing and non-swing dancing.
Q: Are Only 6-Beat Passes and 8-Beat Whips considered Swing?
A: No. Extending patterns by 2 or 4 beats is often used as a form of self-expression. However, to extend a pattern beyond 4 beats is to enter into the territory of individual judgment. Swing does not disregard 16 beat patterns, nor does swing, necessarily, recognize them. Also, it is very difficult to “compress” patterns without losing the essence of swing. For example compressing a 6 count push break to a 4 count, may put one into a gray area.
Q: I just learned a 16 beat Underarm Turn (or 20 Beat Tunnel Wrap) in a workshop. Is that considered Swing?
A: We cannot attempt, nor would we want to attempt, to categorize every possible pattern or variation as swing/non-swing. We simply look for a connection to the roots/foundation of Swing. We also let our judges do what they are trained to do; recognize this foundation (or lack of) and make a quality judgment.
Q: Can other dance such as Hip-Hop, Latin, Hustle, etc… be used in swing?
A: Absolutely, with considerations. It is quite common to allow other disciplines to influence the artistic expression of Swing Dancing. We often see influences from Hip-Hop, Latin, Jazz, Ballet, etc. However, it is important that the roots of Swing still be recognizable. Self-expression must not overwhelm the structure of the dance. To be considered Swing, it must have swing structure, defined as “primarily 6-beat patterns and 8-beat whips.”
Q: Isn’t our West Coast Swing Community getting a bit restrictive?
A: No, Quite the contrary. It is important to “keep it Swing”, yet avoid a stifling of self-expression and creativity. We see this in 2 ways: First, swing is inherently interpretive. There is freedom within every pattern for personal self expression. This expression may arise through footwork, or body styling, or partner reactions, or musical influences, etc… Second, our community’s competition rules allow for a liberal percentage within swing routines to be something other than swing dancing. There is ample room for artistic expression within our competition rules.
Q: Isn’t the Choreographed Swing Routines being performed today, just an evolvement of Swing Dancing?
A: In some case Yes and in other cases No. A good Swing routine combines self-expression to the music within a strong Swing Foundation. A non-swing routine focuses on the structure of the music at the expense of the structure of the dance.

© 2001 by
Wayne Bott
All rights reserved

Q: Are Rock n Go Patterns acceptable in WCS?
A: Yes, in moderation. A rock n go pattern typically combines patterns by using a check step versus anchor at what would normally be the end of a 6 or 8 count pattern. It is used to create energy and speed and/or to interpret musical phrases with long sequences. Multiple long sequences repeated through the dance can put one into a “gray” area and CAN affect the continuity of the dance. Every pattern has a beginning and an ending.  Once again, Quality Swing combines self-expression to the music within a strong Swing Foundation but not at the expense of the structure of the dance.
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