by Dance Instructors Barbara Bernstein and Michele Kearney

     There are many different forms of swing dancing (West Coast Swing, East Coast, Lindy, etc). Both Single and Triple Swing are types of East Coast Swing. I have described some steps below so readers can try them out.

     Note that in the description below, a "quick" step gets one beat and a "slow" step gets two beats. If you are not confident of your timing, you can get a CD titled "Rhythm Reminder." It has Swing music with a voice over that calls the "quicks" and "slows" for dancers. Then the same music is repeated without the voice over so you can practice keeping time without that assistance. More information on this CD is available by clicking here.

     Your steps are done by alternating which foot you are stepping onto---the right then the left, then the right, then the left, etc. I mention this because I know from experience that beginning dancers sometimes make the mistake of taking two steps in a row with the same foot. So as you practice, keep an eye out to be sure you are switching which foot you step onto continuously.

     Another helpful hint is to lift your foot slightly off the ground as you step onto the other foot. What you want to avoid is putting your foot down to take a step without actually shifting your weight to that foot.

Above: Woodrow Wilson Plaza show, 8/05

     And here is an interesting side note just for fun. If you take a look at the basic rhythm for both Single Swing and Foxtrot, you'll see that they are the same ("slow, slow, quick, quick"). This makes it possible to move from either of these dances into the other smoothly as long as the tempo of the music is appropriate. So for example, if you are dancing to a slow Single Swing, then after a basic step, you can move into the Foxtrot promenade step. Then you can do some other Foxtrot steps and finally do the promenade step again. After that you can go directly back into the Single Swing basic. (Click here for a description of Foxtrot steps.)

     This switch from one dance to another is exciting and looks very fancy, yet it is easy enough for complete beginners to do! I have taught this transition successfully in an introductory dance class.

Garrey Stinson and Barb teach Single Swing at Lafayette Elementary School in Washington DC. 12/09 through 2/10.


Basic Step    
The man puts his right arm around his partner's middle back and holds her right hand with his left hand. They create a 45 degree angle with their bodies.

The man's footwork is as follows:
Step forward with left foot  (Slow)
Step in place with right foot   (Slow)
Step back with left foot (behind right foot)  (Quick)
Step in place with right foot  (Quick)

The woman's footwork is:
Step forward with right foot  (Slow)
Step in place with left foot   (Slow)
Step back with right foot (behind left foot)  (Quick)
Step in place with left foot  (Quick)

The Underarm Release

Note that in all Single Swing steps, the man starts on his left foot with the first "slow." The second "slow" is on the right. Then the first "quick" is on the left foot and the second "quick" is on the right foot.

The woman's feet alternate in the same manner but she begins on her right for all single swing steps.

The man's footwork for this step is exactly the same as the basic step. However, he raises his left arm on the first "slow" and uses his right arm to lead the woman out (under that arm) on the second "slow".

The woman's footwork involves the same rhythm pattern and begins with the right foot just as in the basic. But she steps in a different direction, doing an underarm turn to the right during the two "slow" steps.

Both the man and the woman finish the pattern with their two "quicks" facing each other.

Woman's Inside Turn

This step follows the underarm release step. It is begun from an open, face to face position.

The man starts with his left foot and changes place with the woman by turning 180 degrees to his right on the two "slow" steps. With his left hand he leads her to his right side and goes over her head to complete the turn. The two "quicks" are in place, facing his partner.

The woman starts with her right foot and rotates around 180 degrees to her left, switching places with her partner. She turns as led on the two "slows". Her subsequent two "quicks" are in place, facing him again.


by Dance Instructors Barbara Bernstein and Michele Kearney

     Most of the general comments above for Single Swing apply to Triple Swing as well, so I won't repeat them. However, Triple Swing doesn't lend itself to the transition to Foxtrot.

     Moreover, Triple Swing is essentially the same as Single Swing, except that each of the "slows" in Single Swing is replaced with three steps in Triple Swing. The steps are done in the "trip-le-time" rhythm. These three steps are not even in the amount of time they take. The first step is twice as long as the second step. And the last of the three steps is three times a long as the second step. (The second step is the shortest in length.) Triple swing is also on our CD if you want to be sure you are dancing in the correct rhythm.

     All the same patterns for Single Swing can be done in Triple Swing with this simple step and timing adjustment.

     Here is a helpful hint for doing Triple Swing. In executing the footwork, try to keep your body weight forward on the balls of your feet and relax your knees (i.e. keep them slightly bent).


This dance is the same as single swing except that each of the "slows" in single swing is replaced with 3 steps in the "tri-ple-time" rhythm. All the same patterns can be done with this simple adjustment. Even dance position is the same as in single swing.

Basic Step
The man's footwork is to step in place with the left foot, then right, then left foot. This is the first "triple time." The second "triple time" is the same but uses the opposite feet. So it begins with the right foot, then the left foot, then the right foot - all stepping in place again. The two "quicks" are exactly the same as single swing: the man steps back on the left foot and then steps with his right foot in place. The woman's basic step is the mirror image of the man's. She steps right, left, right - all in place for the first "triple time". Then she steps left, right, left for the second "triple time". Her two "quicks" are the same as single swing. That is, she steps back on the right foot and steps with the left foot in place for the two "quicks".

Under-Arm Release
All leads and degrees of turn and body positioning for this step are the same as previously described in the single swing for both men and women. However, the footwork uses the "tri-ple-time" rhythm as the base rhythm.

Woman's Inside Turn
Again, all leads and degrees of turn and body positioning for this step are the same as in single swing. However, the footwork uses the "tri-ple-time" rhythm as the base rhythm.

Copyright Barbara Bernstein of DanceInTime.com, 2005