For the sake of precision and avoiding ambiguity, I don't refer to any dances simply as "Two-Step" because of the inevitable confusion that would arise between the Nightclub Two-Step and the Country Two-Step (see below). The Nightclub Two-Step, or NC2S, is a graceful and elegant style of dance that is danced best to slow- or medium-tempo music. It can be danced to fast music, but then it loses some of the "feel" that makes it such a beautiful slower dance. Unlike Country Two-Step, NC2S is primarily a non-progressive dance; i.e., as you do NC2S, you don't follow the Line of Dancethe counterclockwise flow of traffic around the edge of the dance floor. When I say NC2S is primarily a non-progressive dance, that is not to say that you can't move across the floor at all; some moves do indeed do that, but they don't follow the Line of Dance. Also, unlike Country Two-Step, NC2S moves are muliples of eight counts, so it is more important for the gentleman to be aware of (and follow) the downbeats in the music.
The music styles typically associated with it are Easy Listening and, especially in the western United States, Country music, so both are included in Dancer Guy's Nightclub Two-Step classes. Since the dance is very often considered a Country style of dance, Dancer Guy uses Country music during classes, but since others consider it a Ballroom style, Dancer Guy also uses music that is also danceable to other Ballroom styles, such as Foxtrot.
The Nightclub Two-Step was developed in Whitaker, Illinois in 1965 by Buddy Schwimmer when he was only 15 years old. Buddy was doing a line dance called "Surfer Stomp," which was based on two steps and a stomp. This worked well with fast music, but the footwork was too slow for medium- and slow-tempo songs. The Surfer Stomp was modified from a line dance to a partner dance, and was renamed the Two-Step. In 1978, Buddy opened a dance studio in Costa Mesa, California and started teaching it as "Nightclub Two-Step."
There was another dance called the "Two-Step" that was in existence as early as 1911, and which Arthur Murray (the legendary dance-instruction franchiser) danced when he was only 16 years old, but this was not the same as the Nightclub Two-Step that Buddy Schwimmer developed.
The Nightclub Two-Step, like the Surfer Stomp on which it was based, has a characteristic quick-quick-slow rhythm. Some people, primarily those trained in the United Country Western Dance Council method, reverse the rhythm and do the Nightclub Two-Step as a slow-quick-quick rhythm, but Schwimmer calls that "ludicrous," and is adamant that it is to be quick-quick-slow.
Below is what is typically taught in a Level 1 Nightclub Two-Step class:
West-Coast Swing, or WCS, was developed in the 1940s and '50s in California, probably Los Angeles, and it claims to be the "Official State Dance of California." Historically, West-Coast Swing was derived from the Savoy-style Lindy Hop, which was done at the Savoy Ballroom in New York in the late '20s and early '30s, although it has changed so much that you'd never suspect its ancestry by seeing the dance now. A man named Dean Collins danced Lindy Hop at the Savoy while living in New York, and when he moved to California in the '30s, he brought "his version" of the Lindy Hop with him.
As Collins danced, competed, and taught in California, "his version" of Lindy Hop diverged more and more from the Savoy style, until it became a distinct style of its own. When Collins began to appear in movies in the '40s and '50s, West-Coast Swing gained popularity even faster. Over the years, it gradually morphed even more and has become the WCS we know today.
WCS is a "slot dance," which means it is danced almost entirely in a narrow rectangular arearoughly 3'x8'of the dance floor. (Some dance historians say that the slot was invented so movie cameras, before the invention of auto-focus, could more easily stay focused on the dancers while filming, but others are not convinced.) In some moves, this slot can change its location on the floor, but once it does so, the dancers stay pretty much in the slot again.
Like Nightclub Two-Step, the West-Coast Swing can be danced to many different styles of music. In northern Colorado, it is commonly (but certainly not exclusively) done to Country music. There are undoubtedly those who feel it is not at all a country style, and should not be categorized so. To those people, I apologize. :) Nevertheless, since (in northern Colorado) it is often done to country music, I have included it here. In Dancer Guy WCS classes, both country and non-country music is used.
Here is what is typically taught in Dancer Guy's Level 1 West-Coast Swing classes:
For the sake of precision and avoiding ambiguity, I don't refer to any dances simply as "Two-Step" because of the inevitable confusion that would arise between the Country Two-Step and the Nightclub Two-Step (see above). The Country Two-Step, or C2S, which is a very different dance than the Nightclub Two-Step, is perhaps the most popular of all country/western dance styles in the United States. Though its basic rhythm is a six-count quick-quick-slow-slow rhythm, there are quite a few moves moves that use an eight-count quick-quick-slow-quick-quick-slow rhythm. And, it can even get more complex than that, because the gentleman can lead multiple sets of quick-quick, or multiple sets of slow-slow, and as long as his lead is clear, the lady should be able to follow it.
C2S is danced to eight-count music, yet many of its moves are six counts long. How then can the dancers stay "on the beat?" As long as the gentleman leads all the moves so they start on an odd count of the music, they are on the music, as much as is possible with six-count moves and eight-count music. Plus, whenever the music throws in "orphan counts"extra chunks of time that are two, four, or six counts long, that are inserted into the usual eight-count rhythmit makes no difference, because the gentleman will still be able to lead moves on the odd counts of the music. Orphan counts are very common in C2S music.
The C2S is a completely progressive dance; i.e., all its moves take you across the floor. To minimize collisions, C2S dancers follow the Line of Dance, that counterclockwise flow of traffic around the dance floor.
Whether the dancers are using just the quick-quick-slow-slow or something more ad hoc, there are typically many turns going on, along with much intertwining of the arms. The lady turns more often than the gentleman, but the gentleman can certainly do his own spins as well.
Here is what is typically taught in Dancer Guy's Level 1 Country Two-Step classes:
Cowboy Cha-Cha is, as its name implies, a version of Cha-Cha that has been modified for a country-dancing context. It still has two slows and a cha-cha-cha, but the starting position of the rhythm is different than that of Ballroom Cha-Cha. And, the Cowboy Cha-Cha is a line dancea line dance for couples, but a line dance nonetheless. As such, its foundation is a rather simple repeating pattern that is a defined number of counts in length. Where it gets interesting is when you add fancy hand- and footwork embellishments and decorations on top of the foundational pattern. Pretty much any embellishment is fine, as long as it doesn't interfere with the foundational pattern.
Here is what is typically taught in Dancer Guy's Level 1 Cowboy Cha-Cha classes:
. . .and more if there is time.
Country Swing is another very popular country dance, and it uses a lot of tension (pulling apart) and compression (pushing together) of the arms during the execution of many moves. When this tension and compression is poorly done, it degenerates into a form known pejoratively as "yank and crank," after which, the lady's shoulders often ache from the abuse. Note that Dancer Guy diligently avoids the "yank and crank" form when teaching Country Swing. :)
Country Swing is also known for fast turns and many aerial moves. During Dancer Guy's classes, because there are so many cool ground-based moves, and because of a low ceiling in the studio, we will do few if any aerials. But as mentioned, there will be plenty to keep us occupied and learning for the entire series.
Here is what is typically taught in Dancer Guy's Level 1 Country Swing classes:
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