Country vs West Coast Swing
With roots embedded in classical dance styles, such as the Lindy Hop and the Foxtrot, West Coast Swing, Country Two-Step and Country Swing have all modernized themselves to today's day and age. The same could be said for most dances established in the 20th century that have modernized themselves to this millennia, however these popular styles are often at the forefront and readily available to new dancers on the scene.
It can often be confusing, especially between verbal rather than visual communication, to understand why the they are all different from one another. When you think of that term "west coast," you probably assume it also means "western," therefore related to or derivative from "country." So it should stand within reason that these styles are all the same. This isn't the case, because each style has a unique background and technique when it comes to doing movements, technique, and tempos.
West Coast Swing
While it may be possible to dance this style to your favorite Garth Brooks or Brad Paisley songs, it's not the most appropriate dance to break out the cowboy boots for. "Western" in this case, means more contemporary, modern, progressive. This style begs the creative in all of us to improvise our dance style more so than following a formal technique or position. The push-compression style of west coast is described as a "slotted dance," meaning that the length in which you dance (think of an accordion) changes in distance usually in accordance to the tempo of the music. Popularized due to its rhythmic and jazzy feel, west coast swing's ability to allow synergism between leader and follow has made it a staple in the dance community.
Also known as the Texas Two-Step, Country Two-Step truly embeds its' name in the style that it is: Western. This progressive style dance is usually done in a round, meaning it is danced in a circle formation around the dance floor, usually counter-clockwise. This closed-position style might remind one of a waltz, but it's movements break the traditional hold and allow open circulation as leader and follower dance around the floor. The complex patterns and turns this dance offers allows for a fun and creative performance for any onlooker who happens to see a couple do the two-step. Popular in dance halls and country themed bars around the country, it's safe to say this dance is popular in every city.
Derived from The Hustle, Country Swing was born in the late 1970s. A partner dance based on and rocking back and forth motion of the leader and follower, probably most similar to how little kids twirl around while hold each other's' hands, except this is more of a weight shift rather than a spin. This is a particularly fun dance as it matches the beats and tempo of most popular country music of today. Relaxed, yet high energy, country swing (also known as western swing) doesn't take up much space on the dance floor, which is optimal when dance halls or country bars are crowded. Country swing has a pull-and-pull motion along with various spins and turns. The more advanced dancers add in more intricate movements and possibly a dip here and there, but it's a style that is enjoyed by all.