West Coast Swing is evolving so fast, it’s hard not to take notice. Where taps, coaster steps, and a rigid adherence to a certain set of patterns were once danced in a strict 6 or 8 count slot, now musicality, fluidity, and self-expression reign supreme.
West Coast Swing has very much evolved into a language and like any language, it can not be communicative if it is not responsive.
Imagine learning fifty common phrases in Spanish. Would you say that you are fluent? How about 100? How about 200? We all understand that no matter how many phrases of a different language you memorize, you are never truly fluent if you can not interact with someone authentically.
West Coast Swing is a language based on a very simple grammar of “stay and go,” also known as “post and stretch.” Without post and stretch, what you have is the equivalent of knowing how to say, “Hi, how are you?” in another language, but with no idea of what each word means on its own, and more importantly how to understand anything but a narrow range of usually ingenuine responses.
Now imagine trying to learn a foreign language and practicing only with non-native speakers. The chances that you will establish proper grammar and inflection seem a bit unlikely.
Group classes are a wonderful tool for expanding your vocabulary and practicing your new language but when interacting exclusively with non-native speakers, so much can get lost in translation
When it comes to West Coast Swing, or any partnership dance, nothing can compare to a private lesson. It is your chance to practice the language of the dance with a native speaker. This is especially important in your early education of a dance. Establishing the proper “accent” will carry you through your dance education and let you overcome any hurdles of miscommunication along the way.
Group classes are an important part of your education and have benefits that private lessons lack, but remember to supplement with private lessons for good form, and fluency.