Skip to main content

How to East Coast Swing Dance

The East Coast Swing is a fun and flashy dance that is great for many different types of music. It features shuffling steps, upper body swaying, and swinging to make the full dance come together. The dance is performed quite fast and consists of several small steps. Learn how to east coast swing dance with Howcast’s free video tutorials!

History of the East Coast Swing

The east coast swing was created during the 1940s when dances like the lindy hop and jitterbug were popular. Instructors of the time refined the jitterbug with influences from the foxtrot to create the east coast swing. The east coast swing really gained popularity thanks to rock and roll movies of the 50s.

How to East Coast Swing

Learning to dance the east coast swing can seem difficult with all the fancy twists and footwork involved. If you’re a beginner, it can be helpful to focus on the basic steps to start, which are much simpler to learn. After you understand the underlying concepts of the dance, you can gradually add in more advanced moves.

Body Position

There is often some distance between two dancers in this style, leaving room for wider movements like swings and twirls. A man’s left hand will extend out at about hip level, while a woman’s right hand will reach out to meet it. The man’s right hand will be placed below a woman’s left shoulder, while a woman’s left hand will rest on the top of the man’s right shoulder.


The full movement of the east coast swing will be performed across six counts. Basic movements consist of a rock step followed by two sets of triple steps. Rock steps are a little slower, requiring two counts, while triple steps are faster and also take two counts. You can make this easier on yourself by counting: 1, 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6.

The Basic Steps

Learning how to do the basic movements of the east coast swing is critical before performing more advanced moves. Make sure to sway your upper body as you take your steps and focus on maintaining your count to get the timing right. Here’s how to do the Basic Steps of the East Coast Swing:

  • Leader steps backward with their left foot, follower steps backward with their right foot.
  • Leader rock steps (shifts weight) onto their right foot, follower rock steps onto their left foot.
  • Leader triple steps to the left, which consists of a quick side step with the left foot, then the right foot, and finally the left foot again (leaving a gap between feet). At the same time, the follower will triple step to the right (right foot, left foot, right foot). 
  • Leader then triple steps to the right (right foot, left foot, right foot), while follower will triple step to the left (left foot, right foot, left foot). 
  • This will complete the basic east coast swing. Remember to sway during your steps and make the triple steps quick!

Start East Coast Swing Dancing!

Hopefully, this guide helps you learn how to east coast swing in style. Explore the rest of our videos in this series below for more advanced moves and steps!

You may also be interested in...