We recommend both. Private lessons will provide you with individualized instructions and work on your technique, your leading (or following), and any specific difficulties you may be having. Private lessons are essential if you are interested in becoming a serious dancer.
Group classes are a great way to practice the steps until they become ingrained in your “muscle memory.” Group classes also provide you with a great opportunity to practice dancing with a variety of partners and to meet new people and potential dance partners.
East Coast Swing is very fast and bouncy and is danced to the big band music of the '40s and '50s, as well as to contemporary rockabilly. It is a popular dance in clubs, and can be danced with a triple step (the basic step is “trip-le-step, trip-le-step, rock-step”), or, when music is very fast, it can be danced with a single step (“step, step, rock-step”).
East Coast Swing is similar to Jive, which is an international style ballroom dance used at dance competitions. It is generally danced in standard dance position with leader and follower facing each other. East Coast Swing is upbeat and very easy to learn.
West Coast Swing is danced to the blues and contemporary music; typical West Coast Swing artists are Bonnie Raitt, Tracy Chapman, John Lee Hooker, Eric Clapton, Taj Mahal and Joe Cocker. It is danced in a “slot.” Leaders and followers must each know their steps independent of each other, and for that reason West Coast Swing is known as a “smart” dance.
West Coast Swing is a playful, sensual, earthy dance with syncopated rhythm which can be a bit tricky to pick up at first. At advanced levels, the follower has more autonomy and control over her steps than in any other ballroom dance.