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East Coast Swing
Underarm Turn to R.
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4. Underarm Turn to R.

Underarm Turns are a staple of East Coast Swing. The basic Underarm Turn to Right is typically the first one taught to newcomers, and often paired with the Underarm Turn to Left (figure #5).

One of the nicer features of the beginning and intermediate levels of East Coast Swing is the consistent 6-count "chasse, chasse, rock step" formula across all of the figures. With each figure the formula is maintained, while the exact directions, amounts of turn and relationship between the man and lady are different for each figure.

For the Underarm Turn to Right, the underarm turn itself takes place over the course of the two chasses (1a2, 3a4). The lady's first chasse is to the side, but curving to end forward. This is followed by a chasse to the side, taking a total of 3/4 turn over the 6 steps. The man takes his two chasses to the side, turning 1/4 to left over his second chasse. They end facing each other to take a rock step back (1,2) in open position.

Although the turn ends in open facing position, it can begin either closed or open.

The Underarm Turn to Right can be repeated, however it is much more common to follow with an Underarm Turn to Left (figure #5). These two underarm turns are seen in pairs more often than not (the turn to the left typically following the turn to the right), and the pairs are often repeated and mixed with the Basic Step in both open position and closed hold.

Variations of Turn

The basic amount of turn shown in the man's and lady's charts is 3/4 to the right for the lady, and 1/4 to the left for the man overall. He can also lead her to turn 7/8 or 1 full turn. When she turns 7/8 to right, he will turn 1/8 to left. When she takes 1 full turn, he will have no turn.

The above amounts of turn are all taken when the man and lady begin in either closed or open facing position. If begun in promenade position, they will each have 1/8 less than the amounts of turn when begun with the couple facing each other squarely. For example, from promenade, if the lady turns 5/8 to right, the man turns 1/8 to left to end in open facing position. If the lady turns 3/4, the man has no turn.

Variations of Hand Holds

From closed position, only a LH-RH hand hold is possible for the underarm turn. However, from open facing position, an underarm turn can be danced with either a normal LH-RH hold, or a RH-RH "handshake" hold.

In the full bronze and above levels, more options are available for hand holds: (1) LH-LH handshake hold, (2) RH-LH hold, (3) double hold (both hands overhead), (4) double handshake hold, RH-RH over LH-LH (both hands overhead).

Begin Closed or open facing position.
1-31a2Chasse to side, LRL.Release right hand from lady's back. Begin leading lady to turn under raised LH-RH hold. 
4-63a4Chasse to side, RLR, ended in open facing position.1/4 turn to left over 3-6. Continue leading lady to turn to right under raised LH-RH hold. Lower joined hands to normal position at the completion of lady's turn, then increase tone in left arm. 
71Left foot back, away from partner.Extend left arm slightly forward. 
82Replace weight to right foot.Retract left arm to normal position. 
Begin Closed or open facing position.
1-31a2Chasse to side, RLR, ended forward.Begin to turn to right. Release left hand from man's shoulder. 
4-63a4Chasse to side, LRL, ended in open facing position.3/4 turn to right under raised LH-RH hold over steps 1-6. Increase tone in right arm at the conclusion of the turn. 
71Right foot back.Extend right arm slightly forward. 
82Replace weight to left foot.Retract right arm to normal position. 

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