Swing Dancing/Lindy Hop

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The defining dance move of Lindy Hop is the swingout (a.k.a. Lindy turn or whip). Its variants are also used in jive, east coast swing and modern jive. The follow moves around the lead from open to closed position and back to open again, usually in eight counts. The key variations are the savoy swingout and the Hollywood whip. Dancers can change the style (arm work, footwork, or general movement and connection technique) or the whole move. Bits and pieces of different stylings and variations can be combined in the same swing out, though combinations may need finesse.

Introduction[edit]

The basic swing out begins with both partners facing each other in open position, with the lead's left hand holding the follow's right hand. There are many variations and personal styling options on how to do this move. The lead brings the follow in (starting to move in sometime during the first 3 beats of music), the lead and follow come together in a sort of closed position and the lead redirects the follow's momentum to send them back out.

The basic swing out is very tight, and every element has a reason and there are no extraneous body motions. The connection between partners is critical to making the swingout work. There are, however, many ways to think about how this works, and the lead and follow need to adjust to each other to find a comfortable way to work together.

The basic footwork pattern for both partners is step step tri-ple-step step step tri-ple-step. The follow matches the lead's footwork. All steps are weight changes.

Savoy swingout[edit]

In the Savoy swing out, the lead and follow can either have a feeling of circling around each other sharing a common center, or typically a more passing by each other with a rebound feeling in the middle of the move.

Lead

Count 1-2: The lead may or may not choose to lead the follow in during the first two beats
Feet: The lead rock-steps/back-replaces, or Ball-Change (or can Kick back) with their left foot, ending with their weight on their right.
Body: Typically by the end of rock-step the lead has not moved.
Counts 3 and 4: Pass and Catch
Arms: The lead may choose to wait until count 3 to lead the follow in, or they may have done so earlier
Feet: The lead triple steps (left right left) either in place, or traveling forward.
Body: The lead stays grounded as they catch their follow with their right arm on the follow's back and begins to redirect the follow's momentum
Count 5: Send the Follow Out
Feet: The lead steps back onto their right foot.
Body: The step moves the lead's whole body and the lead's right arm back, and continuing to redirect the follow's momentum.
Count 6
Feet: The lead steps left with their left foot.
Arms: The lead is no longer holding on to the follow's back, and the lead may have even let go before the 5th count.
Counts 7 and 8: Sync Up
Feet: The lead triple steps (right left right) in place or returning to where the lead started.
Body: Return to face where the lead started and sync up for the next move.

Follow

Count 1 -2
Feet: They step right-left, typically in a twisting fashion. Their feet underneath them, wherever the lead has led them to be (possibly in place).
Counts 3 and 4: Pass and Catch
Feet: They triple step as they pass the lead, allowing the lead to rotate or redirect them as they choose.
Body: They allow their momentum to continue through, thus giving the lead something to work with.
Arms: They place their left arm on top of the lead's right arm
Count 5
Feet: They are lead forward, so they step forward with their left foot.
Count 6
Arms: As they're traveling away from the lead, they don't let their arm hyper-extend at the shoulder
Body: Because of the arms, the follow has a moderate rotation.
Feet: They continue to travel forward onto their right foot, this will likely be a somewhat sideways step*.
Counts 7 and 8: Sync Up
Feet: They triple step (left right left) returning to where they started.
Body: The follow returns to where they started (as far as the connection allows), and may choose to turn to face the lead, or may stay slightly more open allowing them some leeway to do the twists of another Swingout or other move.
  • Depending on when the follow is released by the lead, their direction on 5, 6, and 7 may change. If the lead releases the follow on 4, then they come straight out facing away from the lead. If they are released on 5 then they will have a sideways motion. If on 6, then they will come out of the swing out backwards -- facing the lead.

Hollywood whip[edit]

In the Hollywood whip, the follow moves in a straight line, called the slot, so the lead must move out of the follow's way sideways as they pass. The follow walks forward on count 1, turns on count 2, walks backward on counts 3 and 4, turns on count 5, and walks backward on counts 6, 7, and 8. The follow goes furthest back on count 3+. In a whip, the lead explicitly turns the follow around. The Hollywood whip resembles the West Coast swing whip.

Lead

Count 1: Bring the follow in
Feet: They step straight backwards onto their left foot.
Body: Their whole body moves back, which moves their left arm back, pulling the follow forward.
Count 2
Feet: They step left with the right foot to let the follow pass.
Arms: They push the follow's arm forward as the follow passes to turn the follow around, with their left arm.
Counts 3 and 4: Turn
Feet: They triple step (left, right, left) to the side. The lead ends with feet side-by-side, shoulder width apart.
Body: They turn to face the follow. They lean back to counterbalance the follow (who leans into the lead's arm) and momentum swings both around so they both face the opposite direction of where they started. The lead keeps their shoulders and torso square to their partner.
Arms: They put their right hand on the middle of the follow's back or on the follow's shoulder blade.
Count 5: Send the Follow Out
Feet: They put their right foot directly behind their left foot and put their weight on the foot.
Body: The step moves their whole body and their right arm back, pulling the follow forward.
Arms: The lead pulls the follow forwards with their right hand to return the follow to the start and lets go with the right hand. Push with both hands to turn follow around.
Count 6
Feet: They step left with their left foot.
Arms: The lead pushes the follow back to where the follow started, with their left arm.
Counts 7 and 8: Sync Up
Feet: They triple step (right left right) in place.
Body: The lead returns to where they started and syncs up for the next move.

Follow

Count 1
Feet: The follow is pulled forward, so they step forward with their right foot.
Count 2
Feet: They continue and step forward with their left foot.
Body: Their torso turns around 180 degrees by being pushed.
Arms: They raise their left arm, so the lead can reach their back.
Counts 3 and 4: Turn
Feet: Their right foot should point between lead's legs, left weight shift behind right foot, then shift weight to the right foot again. This triple-step is called a coaster step.
Body: The follow leans back into the lead's arm and momentum carries both around. During these two counts the follow keeps their shoulders and torso square to the lead's shoulders and torso. The follow turns around.
Arms: They place their left arm on top of the lead's right arm and place their left hand on the inside of the lead's shoulder or biceps.
Count 5
Feet: The follow steps backwards with their left foot.
Body: They are turned around with the arms.
Count 6
Feet: They continue and step backwards with their right foot.
Counts 7 and 8: Sync Up
Feet: They triple step (left right left) in place, as far as lead's connection allows.
Body: The follow returns to where they started and syncs up for the next move.

Stylings[edit]

Stylings are simple variations that are independent of the partner. Stylings can be done at any time by either partner in basic swing outs, though they may conflict with other swing out variations. Stylings on counts 1, 2, 6, 7, and 8 are easy, because dancers are separated in open position. Stylings on counts 3, 4, and 5 are difficult, because dancers come together in closed position, so stylings easily affect the partner.

Lead

Counts 1 and 2
Feet: The lead can do rock step, kick back and hold, kick back kick back, kick ball change, or flea hops.
Left Arm: In Savoy style, leading on count 3 and relaxing on counts 1-2 gives the follow room to play, though they can also do a var. on count 2. Pulling on 1 and 2 keeps the follow under control, which denies them room to play. In the Hollywood bring in, the follow is always under control.
Right Arm: The lead can move their right arm up (over their shoulder), to the side, or down (Frankie swoosh); or keep it at their hip.
Counts 3 and 4
Feet: The lead may do a foot sweep back.
Counts 5 and 6
Feet: The leads may step straight back, which gives the clearest lead. The lead may step behind their other foot (hook step), which starts getting out of the follow's way. The lead may step forward and left, which shortens the distance that the follow must travel, but the lead must twist their body.
Body: In Hollywood style, the lead may turn and lunge in the same direction as the follow to emphasize the body lead. THe lead faces behind where they were positioned.
Head: The lead may either look over their right shoulder to where the follow will go, or look at the follow. In social dancing, the lead looks over their shoulder to make sure that no one has stepped in the follow's way and the follow has room to finish the move. If there is no room, the lead can safely stop the move. In performance, looking over the shoulder exaggerates the body lead. Watching the follow is more personal.
Counts 7 and 8
Feet: Lead can do kick backs and foot sweeps, crouch and touch the floor, sit on the floor and splay legs, jump and do splits, split slide.
Hand: They can change hands on count 8.
Body: They can turn toward the follow, turn 180 degrees away from the follow, or turn toward the audience. Body roll.

Follow

Counts 1 and 2
Left Arm: THeir left arm can go up (over shoulder), to the side, down (Frankie sweep), or keep their hand at their hip. Wave.
Body: If turned away, adjust to make the connection on count 3.
Feet: Follows can do walk-walk, swivel-swivel, or kick-ball-change; or less frequently camel walks.
Counts 3 and 4
Feet: The follow may do a foot sweep back.
Torso: The follow may sit with a vertical torso (called a pike), or sit with hips going back staying balanced on their own feet. The pike is very Hollywood.
Counts 5 and 6
Left Arm: The follow can wave their left arm or keep their hand at their hip.
Feet: The follow can walk-walk or camel walks; or less frequently, swivel-swivel (but avoid body twist) or kick-ball-change.
Head: The follow can turn their head to look where they will go on count 8, where they came from on count 4, at the audience, or at the lead.
Counts 7 and 8
Left Arm: The follow may wave their left arm or keep it at their hip.
Body: The follow can turn toward the lead, 180 degrees away from the lead, or toward the audience. They may do a foot sweep, touch the floor, or do a body roll.
Head: The follow can look at the lead, away from the lead, or toward the audience. In a performance, the follow may look to the audience and wink.
Feet: Kicks. Kick aways. Split slide. Kick heels together.

Footwork (Variations): The footwork can be altered significantly. When lead and follow style on counts 7, 8, 1, and 2, they may need to do two triple steps on counts 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Leads and follows often extend the stylings over counts 7, 8, 1, and 2. Extended stylings (footwork) include

Kick Together: The lead and follow can both do double front kicks on 7, 8, 1, and 2, while facing each other. Kick left, kick left, kick right, kick right.

Kick Away: Kick-Step, Kick-Hold on 7-8, 1-2. first kick towards partner - then face away on the step. Second kick away from partner - turn towards partner on the hold. Can also be done with both kicks facing away from the partner.

Other: Double foot sweep, scissors, kick ball changes, camel walks, fall off the log, and extreme fall off the log.

Variations[edit]

Variations require that the lead and follow cooperate. Some of these variations may be combined together in the same swingout. The variations are grouped (somewhat arbitrarily) into standard, change rotation, closed position, start, middle, end, side pass, and miscellaneous variations.

The names of these variations are representative, but dancers from different cities use different names to refer to the same variation.

Standard Variations[edit]

Four main variations based on the arm leads are the basic, inside turn, outside turn, and apache turn. In these variations, the follow turns on the 6, 7, and 8 counts. The follow may turn on 5 and 6, before travelling, on counts 7 and 8, after travelling, or on count 5, 6, 7, and 8, while travelling. The quick stop and free spin are simple extensions of these variations.

Basic: This is a basic Savoy swing out or basic Hollywood whip.

Inside Turn: The follow does an inside turn on counts 5, 6, 7, and 8. Usually, the turn is signalled on 4, and performed on 6, 7, and 8. This could be extended to a double or triple turn.

Outside Turn: The follow does an outside turn on counts 5, 6, 7, and 8. Usually the turn is signalled on 4, and performed on 7 and 8. This could be extended to a double or triple turn.

Quick Stop: The follow does an outside turn, but holds on 7, with crossed legs. This variation is useful for hitting a break on count 7. This variation can be tweaked if the break occurs on count 6 or 8. This variation occurs in both social dancing and performance. This is also a useful way to get into the tandem Charleston position; the lead uses their right hand to pull the follow into the position on 7, 8 after the turn is complete.

Apache Turn or Texas Tommy: This is an outside turn, but the lead switches hands behind the follow's back on count 6. The turn is signalled on 4. This can be extended by an overhead turn. This move can be used to change the lead to the right hand.

Free Turn: A free spin looks almost the same as a Texas Tommy. The lead puts the follow's right arm behind the follow's back, but does not grab their wrist with the lead's right arm, they simply let go and let the follow spin on their own.

Change Rotation Variations[edit]

In these variations, the follow moves around the lead in counter-clockwise for part of the swing out.

Reverse: The follow moves around the lead counter-clockwise. On counts 1, 2, 5, and 6, both lead and follow step slightly to their right.

Half: The follow stays on the right side of the lead. Counts 1, 2, 3, and 4 are identical to a normal swing out and counts 5, 6, 7, and 8 are identical to a reverse swing out. (Aka, Swing Out Kate -- taught by Frankie Manning, SouthWest Lindy Fest 2004)

Reverse Half: The follow stays on the left side of the lead. Counts 1, 2, 3, and 4 are identical to a reverse swing out and counts 5, 6, 7, and 8 are identical to a normal swing out.

Closed Position Variations[edit]

In these variations, the couple starts or ends in closed position.

Swingout From Closed[edit]

Swingout from closed, for example from Charleston to swing out. Charleston is mostly done in closed position. On counts 1 and 2, both do a normal rock step. On counts 3 and 4, the lead moves and turns 180 degrees to face the follow, using a triple step. The remaining counts are the same as a swing out. On counts 5 and 6, the lead uses their right arm to pull the follow forward and lets go, and the follow walks past. On counts 7 and 8, they both triple step and sync up for the next move.

This variation is also known simply as the Swingout, in scenes where the standard swingout is known as the Lindy Turn.

Circle To Closed[edit]

From swing outs to charlestons, because the Charleston basic is done in closed position. The first four counts are the same as a swing out, but the right arm wraps around the follow further, perhaps to their hip. They remain in closed position and finish the move. The footwork is the same.

This variation is also known as the Lindy Circle.

Start Variations[edit]

In these variations, the motion changes on counts 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Syncopated: The follow may hold back on count 1 and come in fast on count 2. The lead may lead with a kick-ball-change so their body moves on count 2. The motion on counts 7, 8, and 1 is slow and in the same place, while the motion on counts 2, 3, 4, and 5 is fast, which increases contrast in the move. In slow music, the follow may hold on counts 1 and 2, jump on count 3, and so on. This variation is common in Hollywood style.

From Closed:

From Right Hand:

First Turn: Inside turn on counts 2 and 3. This is sometimes led when the lead's right hand holds the follow's right hand. (or outside or apache)

Middle Variations[edit]

In these variations, the motion changes on counts 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Layout: The follow jumps on 3, and lays out on 4, is pulled back up on 5. The follow jumps out with their legs several feet from the lead and holds on to the base's arms. The follow often initiates this variation. (K+C)

Pike: The follow may sit or pike on count 4. The pike is most exaggerated when the partners use a double hand hold. The follow sometimes holds one foot out horizontal on count 4 for styling.

Slide: This means that the follow hops on count 5, slides on count 6, and stands up on count 7. Slides are usually combined with a reverse swing out. This is usually for performance.

Extend Middle: Partners can remain in closed position and continue to spin or trade sides for 2, 4, or any number of additional beats, before continuing with the move.

End Variations[edit]

The variations change the motion on counts 5, 6, 7, and 8.

Follow Spin: Free spin left, free spin right, or over arm spin.

Lead Spin: Free spin left, free spin right, or over arm spin.

Both Spin: Both follow and lead spin on counts 7 and 8.

Jump: Jump on count 5, like a cannonball. The follow often lands on their right leg and then pivots slowly into place for the next swing out.

Arm Loops: Arms may move toward lead (such as putting the follow's hand on the lead's shoulder) or toward the follow (which brings the couple into closed position).

Close: During counts 7 and 8, the lead may move into closed position by adjusting to the follow. (This is like a Groucho ending.)

Extend End: Partners can freeze or hold the open position or spin on counts 7 and 8 for 2, 4, or any number of additional beats. (circle or whip). Afterwards, the lead may remain in open position or close.

Side Pass Variations[edit]

These variations seem like two side passes, because the couple does not close on counts 3, 4, and 5.

Reverse with Spins (Rename): The lead leads a side pass (rock, step, spin to cuddle) to their left side, and they turn as the follow passes (4 counts). Then they pushes the follow back to where they started, on the lead's left side (4 counts). The lead can start by facing the follow or facing away from them. The follow may finish by walking forwards, sideways, or backwards. If they walk backwards, they may duck under the lead's arm. (Copy to side pass variation).

Reverse with Spins 2: The lead leads a side pass (rock, step, J-lead free spin, close on 4) to their left side, and they turn as the follow passes (4 counts). Then the lead pushes the follow, steps to the right past the follow, turns and finishes (4 counts).

Hip Spin: Lead follows arm past. As the follow passes, the lead grabs the follow's hip bone and pulls them straight backwards or backwards into a free spin. This can be extended with one or more hip grabs at the end.

Right Hand to Hip Spin: Like a hip spin, but start with a right to right grip and do a turn during the first side pass. This ends with a hip spin or not. (Rethink)

Something: Double turn. Turn during first side pass. Turn during second side pass.

Titanic: Cross hand hold or pick up the second hand on count 2. Do a side pass to titanic position (4 counts). Do another side pass to return the follow to the start (4 counts). Titanic position is the follow leans forward with their hands to the side and behind them. The lead counterbalances the follow.

Basket Whip: Double hand hold. The lead moves around the follow. This is often extended with one or more spins at the end. Multiple reverses.

Hand on Hip: Put the follow's right hand on the lead's right hip, as the follow passes on count 3, and hold it there. The follow continues around and stops on the lead's left side, like a reverse cuddle. This variation often continues with side-by-side moves, like skating. Usually, the lead does not turn, but the lead can also turn with the follow.

Hand Throw: Start with a right hand lead. Lead a 4 count side pass on lead's right side, throw follow's right hand from the lead's right hand to the lead's left hand, then lead another 4 count side pass on lead's left side. The lead does not turn. The follow may spin on either side pass.

Thread the Needle: During the first side pass, the lead remains facing the same way. They may place the follow's hand on their shoulder and shrug it off so it slides down their right arm. On count 5, the lead bends their left elbow out to the side, so their left arm makes an opening, like a cup handle. They lead the follow's arm into this opening, then make the connection forearm-to-forearm. They may end with a free spin.

Miscellaneous Variations[edit]

Footwork:

Simple: Both lead and follow do walk-walk on all counts, skip the triple steps and make each count a step. This is useful for music that is too fast for triple steps and for music with strong drum beats. This variation can be styled with crazy legs. On count 5, the lead will step back on the opposite foot from usual, which is fine.

Hip Hop: Both partners jump on count 3 to the usual count 5 position, hold on count 4, pull through on count 5, (hold count 6). Leg styling for leads may be two large foot sweeps, the first on counts 5 and 6, the other on counts 7 and 8.

Fast: Swing outs can be done in 6 counts. Lead on count 1, jump and close on count 2, back and swing on count 3, lead and open on count 4, jump on count 5, and end on count 6. In basic swing outs, counts 8 and 1 are slow can be omitted. The footwork need finessing.

Slow: The swing out can be done in 10 counts or more. Hold back on count 1 and move slowly.

Shoulder (Arm Pit): Start with a side pass and the follow keeps looking forward. The lead puts their right hand under the follow's right shoulder. They pull the follow back and the follow leans back. As the follow goes down, the lead steps over their body and then pulls them back up. This is often treated as an aerial.

Neck Wrap: This is like the shoulder lift. (Expand)

Other Details[edit]

Movement: The lead may stay in place while the follow travels around them or the lead and follow may trade places, by both moving forward on counts 2, 3, 6, and 7. When the lead stays in place, the move looks more exaggerated, which is useful in performances and for slower music, but the follow must move farther and work harder. When the lead and follow trade places, the swing out fits in a smaller space, which helps in social dancing and with faster music. Leads can move themselves forward on either the first 4 counts, the last 4 counts, or all 8 counts, and the follow remains in place, which shifts the position toward the lead, but leaves everything else the same.

Orientation: Dancers can change the orientation of the swing out by overturning (1+1/4 turn) or underturning (3/4 turn). In social dancing, this is useful to find space on a crowded floor. In performance, this is useful to present a specific angle to the audience or adjust to or from other moves.

Mirror Image: The lead and follow do everything in mirror image (switch left and right). This is useful in performance.

Speed: Dancers may move half as fast as the music, which is often done with exaggerated, clownish movements. This is common in performance and socially to very fast music. Dancers may move twice as fast as the music, which is common to very slow music.

Start Count: Traditionally swing outs begin on count 1 of the music. But the swing out may actually start on any count, especially if it fits the music. For example, the couple may hold for 4 counts, do a swing out for 8 counts, and then hold for 4 counts. So, the swing out would begin on count 5.

Switch Roles: Partners can sometimes switch roles, so that the one who typically leads is now following. This can be fun in both social and performance dancing.