In an effort to save you this pain, I thought I'd share some of my observations -- if you're interested in swing dancing, I'm very interested in your feedback. If you're here because of a more general interest in vintage style, please enjoy the clips and come back for future posts on fashion, music, etc!
Watching clips today, I realized that one of the critical elements in achieving sharp swivels is having an equal amount of turnout on both legs. A lot of girls will turn out their left leg on beat 8 of a swingout, but not rotate back in toward their right arm and turn out their right leg on beat 1. If your turnout isn't even, your swivels will have all the snap on only one side and not be smooth and even.
Here's the classic Buck Privates example:
At 1:37, Dean Collins and Jewel McGowan lay into some of the prettiest swingouts ever recorded on video, followed up with the epitome of switches at 1:49. Even if you can't see her feet the whole time, you can see that Jewel's knees rotate an equal amount left to right.
And Groovie Movie:
At 3:45, Jean Veloz (dancing with Arthur Walsh) lays into some deep swivels of her own - even though her footwork is different from Jewel's, she still gets plenty of turnout on both sides. (I'll go over footwork in a future post.)
Of course, there are always exceptions to any rule...Jewel McGowan usually has amazing turnout, but in the Baby Boogie, her switches at :25 aren't even on both sides. Does it look as good as usual? I don't think so - her right side kinda drags along.
Nitpicky? Absolutely. But the main differences between LA style and other forms of Lindy Hop are stylistic - we do the same moves, but in a different way - so if you aren't precise about your execution, the style gets lost.