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Break-Down of the Swing-Out

A seed of an idea was planted in my brain in the late 90s in a workshop taken from Paulette Brockington in Detroit, MI.  After teaching us a move she said, "Ok if you got it to work on that side, why don't you try it on the other?"  

Years later this idea would come back to me.  ....and I ran with it.



In Lindy Hop the basic step is called a Swing-Out.  It's an 8-count pattern.  

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Partners start standing apart (open position), come together (trading places around the 3-count) until the catch (in closed position on the 4-count), before the return to their starting points (which ends on the 8-count). It's most common for the follow to pass down the lead's right side each time.  

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But why only do things on the right?  If a follow can come in on the right, then why not the left?  If a follow can exit on the right, then why not the left?  The Swing-out, Rejection and Reverse Swing-out were names that I learned, the 'Acception' may just be a silly name to be the opposite of the Rejection (cuz who wants to get rejected all the time?!).  

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If you're in a class and you get your basic step down, you'll likely be looking to do some turns too.  Everyone loves turns!   So the big question is "how many ways are there to turn?"

I love asking this and watching the gears turn inside students brains.  The easy answer is 2.  "This way and That way," haha!  People call them all different names "clockwise & counter clockwise," "right & left," "screw up & screw down," but perhaps most commonly known as "inside & outside."  

Most teachers will teach the two turns at the end of the Swing-out, but being the investigator I am, I had to ask, "if you can do them at the end of the last half (of the Swing-out), then why not at the end of the first half?"

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When you're starting off in this dance you could probably practice these 8 moves for months and months before you start feeling confident that you can do them.  But why waste the brain space with 8 things, when really there are only 3 things to remember:  

(1) 8-Counts to do a Swing-Out
(2) Two sides to enter/exit on
(3) Two ways to turn

If we consider these things to be variables in an equation, instead of completely separate moves to memorize, then we can see that these can be combined into 36 possible variations.

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This still feels kind of limited though, doesn't it?  I mean this is really only considering that one person is turning, and what fun is that?  Why can't both people turn?  Well of course they can.  

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So now we have 4 components: 

(1) 8-Counts to do a Swing-Out
(2) Two sides to enter/exit on
(3) Two ways to turn  
(4) Two people to turn

Combining those can create 100 variations!  

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After Thoughts:

This is more of the same-lead centric stuff.  This is over thinking it.  The technique for these moves (especially with regards to timing) isn't as straight forward as the charts would make it seem.  Doing a bunch of moves doesn't necessarily mean you're dancing, or dancing in an interesting way.  I know I know!

Here's some context:  This Break-Down comes from a larger dance notebook that I've been working on for well over 10 years now.  It all started when I didn't have access to a dance community, and wasn’t sure how long that was going to last.  Part of me was still enjoying my self-directed geeking out (aka research), and part of me was scared that I might be away from a dancing community long enough to get really rusty and forget much of what I could dance and teach.  So as I began my dance notebook, I hoped to figure out a way to organize what I knew.  I started to see commonalities in moves and saw that moves could be broken up into pieces, and that it only took a little practice to put them back together to do them in different ways.  It helped to demystify dancing and make things easier to understand.  The charts above are just the tip of the iceberg for leading swing-out variations.  There is still much more to come.  I'm also working on a paralleled break down for following, styling,  connection, things that are dance-specific and things that are universal (as I understand it) to partner dancing.  There's just so many aspects and I feel like they all deserve a break-down!  My notebook is nearly a hundred pages long, and there's still so much more to develop.  I don't honestly know if what I'm making is a teaching guide, a student guide, or something just for myself.  But when I taught again at NW Dance's Seabeck Dance Camp 12 (Nov. 2017) a number of people asked me if they could see the chart again (because the previous year I had drawn up the 36 variation chart and taught from it), and I told them I'd put it up on my website.  So here it is!  

I know from my own experience that Lindy isn't easy to learn as a lead.  It can be really challenging just to get the basic down, not to mention feeling the pressure of knowing enough moves to not seem boring.  Hopefully these charts/ideas can help people to understand the interconnectedness of things, and ease the pressure remembering all of the moves.  There are many variables that can be added to the equation, but it's exponentially easier to remember the variables than all of the combination.