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East Coast Swing
Underarm Turn to L.
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5. Underarm Turn to L.

Underarm Turns are a staple of East Coast Swing. The basic Underarm Turn to Left is typically the next one taught to newcomers, after the Underarm Turn to Right (figure #4).

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 Left, the underarm turn itself takes place over the course of the two chasses (1a2, 3a4). The lady's first chasse is compact, turning to the left. 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 right over his first chasse. They end facing each other to take a rock step back (1,2) in open facing position.

Variations of Turn

The basic amount of turn shown in the man's and lady's charts is 3/4 to the left for the lady, and 1/4 to the right for the man overall. He can also lead her to turn less: Either 5/8 or 1/2 turn. When she turns 5/8 to left, he must turn 3/8 to right to end facing. When she turns 1/2, he must also turn 1/2 to end facing. This is sometimes called a Change of Places, because the man and lady have effectively swapped positions by the end of the turn. Note that his first chasse will be taken in similar fashion to the lady's: To the side, ended back.

Ending Closed

The Underarm Turn to Left can also be ended in closed hold, to finish with a rock step in fallaway position. The man's first chasse is taken diagonally forward (1a2), turning 1/8 to right, maintaining a slightly closer proximity to the lady. He should then place his right hand on her back to guide her into closed position, turning another 1/8 to his right to chasse to side (3a4). He will then turn 1/8 to left, to take the rock step in fallaway position.

The lady's foot positions and amounts of turn are the same for the first two chasses, whether the figure is ended closed or open. The main difference is the rock step, which when ended in closed hold, is taken in fallaway position, requiring her to turn 1/8 to right between the end of the second chasse and the rock step.

Alternatively, the man and lady can take the second chasse already in fallaway position. In this case the chasse for both man and lady is taken to the side and slightly back. The man has to turn over his second chasse, while the lady turns 1/8 less than normal (5/8 overall).

Variations of Hand Holds

If ended in open position, the Underarm Turn to Left can be danced with either a normal LH-RH hold, or a RH-RH "handshake" hold. Ending closed requires the LH-RH 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, LH-LH over RH-RH (both hands overhead).

Begin Open facing position, LH-RH hold.
1-31a2Chasse to side, LRL.1/4 turn to right over 1-3. Lead lady to turn to left under raised LH-RH hold. 
4-63a4Chasse to side, RLR.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 Open facing position, LH-RH hold.
1-31a2Chasse to side, ended back. RLR.1/2 turn to left under raised LH-RH hold over 1-3. 
4-63a4Chasse to side, LRL.1/4 turn to left over 4-6. 
71Right foot back, away from partner.Extend right arm slightly forward. 
82Replace weight to left foot.Retract right arm to normal position. 

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