Monday night means West Coast Swing for a graceful group of Pacificans enrolled in an ongoing dance class at Angie Major Dance Instruction. With cool blues music playing in the room, leaders and followers formed pairs and listened to Major’s explanation of key moves, like the “left side pass” and the “sugar push.”
Most of the people in the class have been studying with Major for a while. They have learned salsa, tango — you name it, they can probably dance it. Their experience showed in their proper posture and the way they positioned their hands on their dance partner’s upper arm or waist. It was a light touch, applying just enough weight to exchange subtle cues.
“Let’s say you’re doing the sugar push right here,” said Major to the leaders. “You’ve got to stop and think, ‘I’m creating a wall and she’s going to pull against it, but I’m not going to travel forward. I’m just not going to do it.”
West Coast Swing is a slot dance, where pairs imagine they’re moving together inside a narrow rectangle. The follower moves back and forth — and occasionally round and round in a twirl — in relation to the leader. The West Coast Swing has an eight-count basic, while the East Coast Swing, which these cats have also added to their repertoire, has a more simplistic six-count basic. The eight-count basic goes something like this: rock, step, triple step, walk, walk, triple step.
Everybody on the dance floor is counting — some out loud, and the rest, apparently, in their heads.
“Some of the most experienced ballroom dancers still count,” said Major. “You always count because you have to know where your feet are. You have to know which count you’re on.”
One dancer in the group told his partner that when he first started learning West Coast Swing, he always wanted to be a leader. He thought that leaders get to embellish more than followers — mistakenly, that is. He soon realized that being a good leader means making the follower look pretty.
“And West Coast Swing has a lot of opportunities to look pretty,” said Major.
As class continued, Major encouraged her dancers by sharing a personal anecdote.
“I remember learning this dance and I decided I was never going to do West Coast Swing ever again,” she said. “It was hard. And now it’s become one of my favorite dances. It’s definitely worth learning.”
As one of Angie's students, I would like to highlight the wide repertoire of various dance styles Angie specializes in teaching. She instructs in East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, Jazz, Foxtrot, Lindy Hop, Blues, Charleston, Waltz, NightClub Two Steps, Salsa, and more.
Angie has a wonderfully calm and cordial presence. She demonstrates lots of patience with beginners, which in turn helps them overcome their nervousness and anxiety in no time.
Angie's group classes are stress-free and collaborative in nature. They are held within an atmosphere that is permeated by warmth and enthusiasm.
Angie also specializes in working with wedding couples. Her professional teaching experience helps couples demonstrate highly individualized, presentable routines.
Just like a beautiful dance, every lesson with Angie is a true gift.
Thank you so much, April, for the amazing article! I'd like to add that with mention of this article, you can take the first class free next month on Monday April 3rd! I'm offering beginning ballroom tango at 6:45pm and intermediate West Coast Swing at 7:45pm. Classes are Monday evenings at St. Edmund's in the Linda Mar area of Pacifica. No partner necessary! https://angiedance.com/classes
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