Dance Resource

American Social Swing Technique



Feet at shoulder width. Bend knees, weight over the balls of the feet.

Move weight to left foot. Bounce on bent knees up/down twice. Move weight to right foot. Bounce on bent knees up/down twice. Repeat.

Lift the foot that the weight is not supposed to be on on each of the counts.

Hips and shoulders should be level during weight transfers - no cuban motion.

6 bounces in 6 counts, one on each count. No accents in bounces.


6 count swing: 1-2, 3-a-4, 5-a-6.

In East Coast swing the triple steps are spaced evenly. In American social swing there is slightly more space between 3-a than there is between a-4, and same for 5-a and a-6.

8 count swing: 1-2, 3-a-4, 5-6, 7-a-8.


Torso slouched forward, shoulders forward of the hips, butt stuck out some.

To get into the correct posture, bend knees and put hands on the thighs just above knees.

Closed position: leader and follower make a V shape with ~90d angle between them. Leader's left hand at follower's hip/waist level. Leader's right hand at follower's shoulder blade or mid back or lower back.

Different instructors have different preferences for where the leader's right hand should be vertically.

Horizontally, just left of center on the follower's back is the most common place for leader's RH to be. This can move to the left side of the back for figures where there is more separation between partners, such as on (4) count in a swingout. Right side of the follower's back is used to lead back walks where the partners are in side by side closed position.

Some instructors dance with leader's RH on the right side of follower's back all the time, which gives them a closer connection with the follower as well as allows leading transitions between 4/6/8 counts better.

Follower's RH should be resting on leader's LH. Follower's right wrist should be bent and below her fingers. The idea is for the leader to be able to push into follower's fingers while e.g. leading the back rock.

Follower's right elbow should be kept close to her body. This is what makes the follower maintain her frame.

The follower needs to stay connected to the leader's RH with their back. This means the follower needs to apply some rearward pressure while in frame. I've seen this explained as leaning back but I think a better way is to walk/move back into the leader's RH while leaned forward rather than lead back into the RH. This means on traveling steps, the follower needs to physically move back until contact with leader's RH is properly established.

At the same time the leader needs to apply some forward pressure with RH against the follower's back.

Dance Positions


The starting position, with partners in the V.


Any time partners are not in the V, i.e. facing each other or the same direction or opposite directions.

If a step specifies an open position but does not say which one, the implied position is face to face open.

Face To Face Open

Partners are facing each other with some distance between them. Obtained after a throwout for example. Partners should be square one to the other with no offset.

Can use a single or double hand hold or handshake hold.

At more advanced levels, partners are not parallel in face to face opens but are angled in a similar fashion to how they are angled in the V in the closed position, with a 45d-90d angle between them. This angle permits larger arm movement with shoulders back compared to arms stretched out straight.

Front To Back Open

Partners are facing the same direction, one is behind the other.

Back To Back Open

Partners are facing opposite directions, and are back to back.

Side By Side Open

Partners are side by side, facing the same direction, shoulders parallel. Leader's LH holds follower's RH, hands are centered between partners and by necessity are close to partners in the forward direction.

This is the position in which the back walks are done, and is very similar to the closed position in that it's the V opened up to have partners side by side.

Enclosed Open

Partners are facing each other with no separation. Partners should be offset, with each one's head lined up with the other one's right shoulder.

Leader's LH is in high five position with follower's RH, leader's left elbow and follower's right elbow are very close, both elbows pointed down.

This is the position from which face to face jig kicks are done.


Leader is slightly behind the follower. Leader's LH holds follower's LH. Leader's RH on follower's back.

Hand Position


LH is either at follower's waist height indicating there is no turn coming or above follower's head indicating there is a turn coming. No other positions vertically.