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East Coast Swing
Alternating Underarm Turns
9. Alternating Underarm Turns

Alternating Underarm Turns are a series of Underarm Turns to Left, where the man and lady each take turns passing under the arm. The syllabus figure is composed of two 6-count groups: One lady's Underarm Turn followed by one man's Underarm Turn.

As in the normal Underarm Turn to Left (figure #5), this figure uses the 6-count "Chasse, chasse, rock step" formula, where the man leads the lady to dance an underarm turn under raised LH-RH hold (1a2, 3a4), each taking 1/2 turn (lady to left, man to right), to end in open facing position for the rock step (1,2). The roles are then reversed, with the man dancing his own underarm turn to left, this time under raised RH-LH hold (3a4, 1a2). Both man and lady once again take 1/2 turn, but this time it's the man who turns to the left, lady to right, to end in open facing position for the rock step (3,4).

As written, the figure can be repeated as desired. The order can also be reversed, beginning with the man's turn and ending with the lady's. It is also possible to dance each underarm turn individually in isolation, or they can be mixed together in just about any combination desired. The combination as written is simply the most common.

Leading the Man's Turn

Although the man does not need to "lead" his own underarm turn, he does need to guide the lady into the proper position while he is taking his turn. Because he is lifting his right hand over his own head, the RH-LH hold becomes less effective at communicating direction to the lady, and so the job of leading is given to the man's left hand. It is therefore necessary to begin the man's underarm turn with a two-hand hold, using the lowered LH-RH hold to lead the lady to pass behind the man's back. This is in similar fashion to the lead for the Back Pass with Single Hand Change (figure #9a).


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