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The King of Swing

By Kathi Stringer
January 31, 2007

My Take On Phil Adams –
It was the early 1980s in Southern California.  The Texas two-step was popular in most of the hot dance clubs.  West Coast Swing on the other hand was just getting started with this population and I was one of ‘those’ that wanted to learn the dance.  I mean gezzz, anyone could do the two-step, but if you could dance the West Coast Swing, then you were seen as an accomplished dancer. 

Like a few other dancers at the time, I took West Coast Swing from anyone that taught it.  After I learned the basics, my friend Gail said I should come to Phil Adams intermediate West Coast Swing class.  The word on the street about West Coast Swing was that if you wanted to become a good dancer without learning the bad habits from other teachers, then you needed to take lessons from Phil Adams.  Sounded good to me.  Last thing I wanted to do was to recover old ground.

Meeting Phil Adams
It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in Garden Groove, CA when I walked into Phil Adams’ dance class.  He was teaching swing to the tune, “Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News.  The music was cool with that pronounced downbeat.  Guys and gals were paired up and often rotated.  As Phil taught us patterns, he imbued them with his nationally recognized style.  As a matter of fact, in dance circles, ‘cool’ styling and Phil became identical.  There is a certain pride in his students when they are approached and asked, “Where do you take dance from?  Phil Adams?  I recognized his style.”   We nod our heads and grin.

Style and plenty of it
Phil taught us how to move. The trick was to dance together but independently, a rubberband type of movement.  One-and-two – the guy moves, three-and-four – the girl moves.  Phil showed us how to execute patterns while showcasing our partners.  He showed us how to get ‘grounded’ and bend our knees.  Yeah, that’s right, tiger paws. 

The King of Swing
As the years rolled on, I won my share of dance awards.  Later, I opened a dance studio and taught thousands of students – just passing on what I learned from Phil.  When my students asked me where I learned the West Coast Swing, I just smiled and said, “Phil Adams, the King of Swing.”  And, its no wonder the King of Swing fits him so well.  Over the last 25 years Phil has a vast array of awards in his wake, from best dance team to best choreographer.  And there’s more, there is an endless list of award wining dancers that are coached and influenced by Phil Adams.  The guy is truly remarkable. 

I continue to take lessons from Phil Adams and every time I take his class, when I hear him begin, “ah 1, ah 2, and 3 and 4…” it’s like having milk and cookies.  He’s an icon, always there – and we are the better for it.

If you are interested in learning West Coast Swing from the best, contact:

Phil Adams Website