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Save the Last Whip for Me

Written by Rick Archer
SSQQ Dance Studio
April 24, 2001


The Winner 

It has now been about a year since I made this move. I have come to like West Coast Swing a lot and now understand more clearly the reasons why it "won" the battle with the Whip. 

For one thing, West Coast is easier to learn than Whip. This is a BIG advantage!!

For another thing, women enjoy the freedom of the WCS. They get to change their footwork all the time plus they love to "hijack" moves, which allows them to lead too at times! The Whip on the other hand is a man's dance - he controls the patterns; he tells the women what moves he wants. Also in the Whip the women get to do only one thing fancy - move their hips. And if they don't move their hips well, then what? Furthermore, hip motion looks great, but that is ALL the woman gets to do special in the Whip. In a sense, the women get to play only one note on the piano. 

Not only does WCS require much less proficiency for a woman to look good, but it allows the woman a choice of five or six different footwork patterns in many of the key moves. Just like a Barbie Doll, the woman gets to change her "Look" any time she wants. She gets to play with all sorts of syncopations, kicks, flicks, taps, and wiggles. 

Yet the Whip is a one-note wonder: move the hips, move the hips, move the hips… In retrospect, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see why the ladies prefer the WCS to the Whip. It is simply more fun to dance than the Whip is! Case Closed!

As for men, they mostly dance to please women anyway. If the WCS pleases women more than Whip, then fine, WCS it is. Venus chooses, Mars complies, Venus sighs, and Mars feels wise.

Can West Coast Swing and Whip Work as a Team?

After my decision to switch to WCS, I wanted to see what elements of the Whip I could salvage. I had to see if the Whip and the West Coast Swing could co-exist. Could the two similar, yet different slotted swing systems be synthesized into one dance? 

It seemed like the two dances would blend very well together, but first I had to do some homework.

The Paul Revere System 

First I viewed several WCS Jack and Jill tapes knowing that the performances closely mirrored how the men dance WCS socially as well. I actually did some simple statistical breakdowns on what patterns were led. 

I quickly realized that 90% of all WCS moves were led with one hand. Furthermore, two positions that occur frequently in the Whip - the Bump Position and the Hammerlock - were practically non-existent in WCS. Hmm.

I also realized that all the patterns in Whip pretty much existed in WCS. I was amazed at how similar the two dances were. In fact, the only thing that the Whip had that the WCS didn't have was the hip motion, the two-handed leads off the Basic, the Bump Step, and the Hammerlock. 

I was struck by the fact that the strengths of the Whip were also areas pretty much neglected by the West Coast Swing. Combining the Whip with the WCS would not only be pretty easy, it would actually enhance the WCS by adding 3 important patterns in addition to the legendary hip motion. 

So what would I have to give up to add the Whip to the WCS? Only one thing - no more 1-handed Whip basics. I would reserve 1-hand Basics strictly for WCS and 2-hand Basics strictly for Whip. Playing on the famous "1 if by land, 2 if by sea" line from the American Revolution, I named this the "Paul Revere" system. 

Then I began to practice the system on various unsuspecting women. I told them to automatically use West Coast Swing footwork no matter what they guessed I might be leading. Using West Coast Swing as the "default system", we found the "double resistance" leads of the Whip could convert a woman's WCS footwork into the Whip hip motion Sway whenever it was led properly. 

To my surprise, it wasn't even difficultll!!  Now I was starting to feel better. The two dances blended effortlessly. For over a year, the "Paul Revere" system has allowed SSQQ students to moving fluidly back and forth from WCS to Whip and vice versa.  After getting the hang of it, our students began to forget they were using two different systems. 

In other words, you don't have to give up the Whip to dance the West Coast Swing. The Whip Styling can be easily synthesized into West Coast Swing. 

It is the dance equivalent of having your cake and eating it too!

SSQQ has taught the Whip and West Coast Swing side by side for over a year now with excellent results. We have the flash and dash of WCS and the sexy hip motion of the Whip existing in perfect harmony. The two dances work together beautifully. 

Since my original experiments, I have found my discovery is hardly unique. It turns out professionals throughout the country use the Whip hip motion on a regular basis (although they have another name for it - Double Resistance). 

When I visited the Dallas Classic over Easter Weekend in April 2001 I was fortunate to engage a lovely young lady named Sarah Vann Drake in a conversation about the Whip. I specifically sought her out because I had seen a Jack and Jill tape from the 1995 US Open where Sarah used the Whip Hip Sway several times with devastating effect. This was the first time I had ever seen Whip Styling used in a West Coast Swing performance.

Since then, Sarah has moved up in the world. She won the US Open Swing Championship in 1998 with her partner Kyle Redd and has had several near victories since then as well. Despite all the accomplishments, she was very down to earth and answered my questions patiently. 

Sarah explained to me that all the professionals she knows use "Double Resistance" whenever they feel like it. They appreciate the beauty of the hip sway and accept it as a natural part of their West Coast Swing repertoire without giving it a second thought. 

My talk with Sarah confirmed my hunch that Whip Styling could eventually become a commonly-accepted part of the West Coast Swing. If the pros think the Hip Sway is pretty cool, then surely their influence would have a steady "trickle-down" effect throughout the dance pyramid. This was the best news I received all weekend. 

However I received some pretty bad news too. I discovered that here in its hometown, the Whip was in serious trouble. 

To read the conclusion of this article,  Click Here for Page Six

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