The “Washing Machine” described below is a simplified version of the signature dance move of professional dancers Matt and Crystal Auclair. Over the years, Matt and his wife have incorporated this rotational, East Coast Swing move into many of the dance routines that they perform for competitions and demonstrations around the country. The male dancer begins the “Washing Machine” in the open position while he holds his partner with a two-hand lead. On the 1 and 2 count, he rotates her counterclockwise two turns into an “Illusion Sweetheart Wrap.” On the 3 and 4 count, he unwraps her into the hand positioning of a left over right hand “pretzel” lead. On the next 1 and 2 count, he uses the “pretzel” lead that he just established with his partner to rotate her smoothly into the “Washing Machine.”
The male dancer may also use other open position moves besides the two-turn “Illusion Sweetheart Wrap” to build his “pretzel” lead. For example, he may use his initial two-hand lead to move her into (and out of) a traditional, one-turn “Sweetheart Wrap;” he may lead her into a “Two-Hand Tuck and Turn,” or he may simply rotate her around clockwise a half-turn in front of him; however, because these alternative entries into the “pretzel” lead incorporate less movement, they are visually less interesting.
SETTING UP THE “PRETZEL” LEAD: To lead his partner into an “Illusion Sweetheart Wrap,” the male dancer begins in the open position using a two-hand lead. On the 5 – 6 count, he leads her into her breakstep by moving her forward on the “6” count as he lifts his left hand and rotates her right hand around in front of himself to his right. On the 1 and 2 count, while he steps in-place, the male dancer continues rotating his raised left arm over his partner’s head as he leads her counterclockwise, one-and-a-half turns into a “Sweetheart Wrap.” After his partner rotates a half-turn, he drops her left hand, he lets his right hand “trace her waist” as she continues her turn, and then he picks her left hand up again as she comes around for the second time into his right arm. The male dancer creates the illusion of continuous hand contact with his partner by the dropping her left hand and then picking it up again!
On the 3 and 4 count, he raises both of his hands above her head and then he unwraps her back into the open position by rotating her clockwise a half-turn to face him again which changes his hand positioning into a resultant left over right hand, “pretzel” lead. The male dancer now uses this “pretzel” lead to move his partner into the “Washing Machine” that is described below.
“WASHING MACHINE” FLIP AND TURN ROTATIONS: On the next 1 and 2 count, the male dancer while holding his partner with a left over right hand “pretzel” lead, raises his right arm vertically into the “up-yours” position, and then he rotates counterclockwise a half-turn under his partner’s left forearm; i.e., through the “up-yours” window, so that his back is now to her and his arms are crossed in front of him. In this stance, his right hand is at his left shoulder holding his partner’s left hand; his left hand is at his right shoulder holding her right hand; and, his left forearm crosses his chest diagonally inside his right forearm.
On the 3 and 4 count, the male dancer raises his left hand from his right shoulder; he brings his partner’s right forearm over his head and then he lowers his left hand in front of his left shoulder. In other words, the male dancer “flips” his left hand UP; he arcs it over towards his left shoulder in a windshield wiper like sweep, and then he “flips” it DOWN in front of his left shoulder. In this stance, he holds both of his partner’s hands positioned by his left shoulder.
On the next 1 and 2 count, the male dancer executes a counterclockwise half-turn to face towards his partner again. On the 3 and 4 count, he raises (or “flips”) his right hand (UP) from his left shoulder while he simultaneously levers his right wrist against his partner’s right wrist which rotates her clockwise one turn. While she steps around to face him, her right forearm followed immediately by her left forearm pass over her head as the male dancer lowers (or “flips”) his hands from above her head (DOWN) in front of his right shoulder. At the end of every repetition, the dancers always end up facing each other with the male dancer holding his partner with his modified “pretzel” lead; i.e., in the “up yours” hand positioning. He generally executes at least two repetitions of this move either by rotating in-place, or by continuously stepping counterclockwise around his partner who becomes his in-place base for the move.
THE EXIT: Now that the male dancer stands in the “up yours” position again with his right arm raised, notice that all he has to do to return to his left over right hand “pretzel” lead is to lower his right arm! Once he accomplishes this hand repositioning, he may simply rotate his partner counterclockwise a one turn to return to his initial two-hand lead in the open position.
Copyright © 2010 by Skip Culver. Member of the West County Swing Dance Club and author of the manual: “Imperial Swing Dancing” (visit: http://www.ImperialSwing.com ).