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Improvers Tips

Contents

Please let me know if you have any other tips to share.

The best way to improve

Often dancers new to Modern Jive get frustrated with their progress and wonder what to do to accelerate it.  Here are some thoughts, not in any particular order:

  1. Go to lessons. Most men learn moves and the mechanics of leading from normal lessons.  Whilst ladies benefit from these lessons too, they can also learn new moves whilst they are free-styling - which is a great advantage and usually means that they progress much faster at the start. It is sometimes helpful to attend a different venue run by a different teacher as they will all have their different strengths.

  2. Dance with as many as possible. It is sometimes tempting for a new pair to stick together and perhaps even not rotate at the class.  This might seem beneficial in the short term, however they will learn their own secret language and when they dance with others, the general language of signals and leads will be alien to them and they will find the experience far from satisfactory.  Thus going home to practice with your partner or friend is great, but there is this down-side.  It is far better to dance with as many other people as possible, especially the best dancers.  Have the courage to ask them for a dance - they were beginners once.

  3. Workshops. Many jive organisations offer workshops for 20-30 couples lasting a few hours where the moves are taught with far more precision and emphasis on leading, following, spins etc.  The teachers normally also have time for some individual work, curing problems and giving advice etc.  These are usually excellent and also provide considerable confidence. They usually focus on beginners or improvers and often their are special ones on styling or dips and drops etc.

  4. Private lessons. Some teachers offer private lessons, but they seem rarely given.  My feeling is that these are more expensive and not necessarily any better than workshops, although they may be excellent when you need considerable teacher's time to deal with a problem you know you have.  Feel free to ask the teacher at a venue for dance, specifically for help - that is free!

  5. Feedback. Asking for feedback can be highly valuable.  Dancers will not in general offer feedback unless you are obviously a beginner and even then not always in case they upset you.  The person dancing with you has danced with lots of other members of your sex so will probably have a view about your style or where you could concentrate your effort.  They may not be a good teacher so be content with just being told the "problem" and not expect them to offer a "cure", however there is no harm in asking.  Remember that they will feel most honoured to be asked for feedback.  Rather than asking how you can improve, ask what "aspect" you ought to "concentrate on".

  6. Exercises.  Sometimes exercises help.  There are a few on this site (click on advice).  These are designed to provide an environment where i) your mistakes are exaggerated so you perceive them better and ii) you can put aspects right in isolation not all at once.

  7. Watch other dancers.  Whilst you cannot perceive the "feel" of the dance (important for Modern Jive) from watching,  you can sometimes see what they are doing, how big are their steps, their leads etc.  Purchase the video often offered for a dance weekend.  You can then using pause control and rewind!

  8. Seek advice.  You can ask others and also get some tips from this site under "advice".  This is just a list of all the advice I have heard or been informed about.  Be humble and prepare to admit that you have always been doing something in a way that could be improved.

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General tips for followers

Here is just a simple way of remembering some important aspects:  Position, Posture and Pressure.

Position

  1. Ladies should try hard to step in, turn close and step out - keeping the turning and stepping as separate actions not blurring them into one.  This keeps things nice and "snappy".  It also means that they are not escaping away when the hand is dipped in front of the face to signify a comb!
  2. Have you ever noticed that you slowly turn round as a couple as you dance?  This is because the lady is taking short cuts and the man is compensating to end up standing in front of her!  This is not a problem, but perhaps be aware if you are taking too many short cuts.
  3. Ladies often anticipate moves, or take short cuts, not rotating to where she ought.  The classic is the Yoyo, screeching to a halt before facing the man, thus denying him the pleasure of changing her direction by the pressing together of the hands and elbows.  eg, for the YoYo, if she does not turn through 180 to face him then the count will be missed (as it took a whole count to turn her out) and she will have less than a full turn to exit, which may seem like a good idea when starting (to give more time for the turn) but will result in the beat not being quite right.
  4. Allow the man (indeed insist he does!) to place your hand directly over your head as you turn (or directly over the leader when he turns a full turn), rather than being "wound" round like stirring porridge.  Place your fingers upwards to turn directly under the leader's cupped hand.

Posture

  1. Never duck one's head to turn.  If you are afraid of getting hit or tangled up with the leader's arms, instruct your gentleman to survey the height of your head and make an appropriate change!
  2. Ladies who try being stylish with their hands, indeed use their whole body, are really nice to dance with and watch.
  3. Keep your body straight or even a little bent forward.  Do not lean back as you step away.  You can stop this by using more arm tension.

Pressure

Pressure between the arms is what really makes jive dancing either a pleasure or not.
  1. As you step away from each other at the end/beginning of each move, allow tension to build up gradually in your arms to a fixed level that seems right between you, never let your arms straighten, always keep them bent.  This give a better feel and stops one's back arching backwards.  It also allows you to dance close and fast.
  2. Ladies should not anticipate spins or turns, but make their arm go rigid so it is the man who initiates turning her, via her arm.  There is nothing worse for a man when the lady's arm just bends round and then she scampers around under her own power. If you wish to push yourself around, then push against the man's hand.  This will build up the pressure in the right place.
  3. Ladies learn after a while that they sometimes can twist clockwise to take up the tension rather than stepping back after a clockwise turn.  This give a smoother, sexier feeling for the man.

Other

  1. Beginner ladies sometimes put extra steps in and seem to bounce up and down not in time to the music.  It might be better to just step through the moves (right left right left etc) until they are learned and THEN put in "kick-ball changes" or fancy moves.

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General tips for leaders

Leadership, leadership, leadership!

  1. If you do not lead and/or signal what you want then she will not do it.  Actually, it is worse than that - she will do something that is not right.  Ladies usually like the man to shout "windmill" in good time before executing it!
  2. Don't just think about the move you are doing but all those moves that the lady might be confused with and ensure the lead of signal clears up this confusion.

Pressure and Rhythm

  1. Dictate the rhythm.  Ladies love it when the man has rhythm.  It is better to do simpler moves well than complicated moves slowly and out of time.  There is always time to practice, but then the lady should know you are doing this.
  2. As you step away from each other at the end/beginning of each move, allow tension to build up gradually in your arms to a fixed level that seems right between you, never let your arms straighten, always keep them bent.  This give a better feel and stops one's back arching backwards.  It also allows you to dance close and fast.

Helping the lady's position and posture

  1. Men should learn to place their hand directly over the lady's head as they turn (or directly over theirs when they turn a full turn), rather than "winding" the lady round.  They should hold their palms downwards and the lady just turns under it with her fingers underneath.
  2. Read all that the lady has to do and HELP her do it!

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Which feet to use

Introduction

Perhaps the most important difference between modern jive and ballroom jive or other forms of swing and dance is the de-emphasis on feet.  Most organisations deliberately tell you nothing about which feet to use.  This is to lighten the learning load to promote an enjoyable experience more quickly, rather than concentrate on a long term goal of good dancing practice.  For the majority this may well be the best approach.  Admittedly, they do occasionally recommend certain suggestions, for example that the lady sways backwards on the right foot (basket and sway) so she twists nicely clockwise.  However it is normally left to the lady to work out her own way of stepping and turning etc.  Those from a more formal dance background find this freedom disconcerting and want to know more about what footwork might be helpful to learn at the beginning so as to not get into bad habits.  This section may help those people and others of a more analytical nature.

Firstly, before making any suggestions, let us consider one basic rule that many jivers obey, perhaps without realising it:

1. Use your left foot for turning anticlockwise and your right for clockwise

This applies to both ladies and men, although the ladies do most of the spinning (and we are accused of showing off if we do)! This makes sense as if one is turning right, it means that, as one is stepping forward onto the right, the left is then brought forward to be by its side and this gives momentum into the turn as it stops moving.  The converse is clearly awkward and will ultimately limit good performance.

Given this basic rule, the problem then is ensuring that the lady manipulates things to get onto the correct foot even though one does not know what the man is going to lead next! This leads to the next observation:

2. The lady often spins clockwise on one foot on one count and then anticlockwise on the other foot exactly two counts later.

The result is that she cannot just step regularly on each half count or each count between them! This leads onto the next rule - well more of a "freedom":

3. Not only can one change feet on every half count or more slowly on every count, but one can mix the two or indeed miss a count/half count by tapping a foot lightly and only then placing it down.

With this freedom there are a number of solutions to meet the "turning foot criteria".  One organisation (Leroc) has its own suggestion for footwork, which can be viewed at http://www.elmgrove-leroc.co.uk and click here for a detailed description of the difference.

This organisation also suggests another rule that makes a lot of sense:

4. A turn in one direction should not normally be followed by a turn in the same direction.

One can see that their method of turning and stepping back automatically accommodates this too. However the footwork does require the man not to lead two turns in the same direction or the lady will be wrong footed.  For example, an arm-jive (with return) can be followed by a wurlitzer but not a basket.  The reason for this is that the lady must step back on her right to start the basket but the return from the arm-jive will result in her ending on her left.  If the man eliminates the return, then now not only will she be correct-footed, but the dance will be far more flowing.

Whether one used this footwork or not is perhaps not important, however the rules above should be considered if one wishes to get the most out of dancing modern jive.

There are perhaps two other rules to reinforce:

5. It often looks better if the man is a mirror image to the lady ie stepping back on his left when the lady is being swayed back on her right.

This is true for say a first move, however some would argue that a yoyo requires the man to step forward on count 2 when the lady is turned 180 CW.

6. It is always better if the lady can perform her turn, look the man in the whites of his eyes AND THEN step back.

This provides a nice snappy action.

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Spinning and turning

Firstly, what is the difference between a spin and a turn?  Some interchange the terms randomly which seems a shame to me.  Others regard a turn being when there is a connection at all times and a spin when she "free-spins".  Other regard a turn as a generic term and a spin as a subset.

There is lots of advice on spinning and turning at http://www.eijkhout.net/lead_follow . The terminology is a bit tricky, but well worth a read if you really want to improve.

When attempting to practice a spin on your own, one has to get the torque (twisting force) to spin by yourself.  However, most spins are lead which makes the initiation quite different.

A list of tips are provided below. The language assumes the lady is rotating here, but applies the other way around too. Dancing is positively not a politically correct pastime!

  1. Turn anticlockwise on the left foot and clockwise on the right foot.

  2. A spin is initiated by the lady pushing away from a man's hand, which should be near her "centre", or certainly between her waist and shoulders.  The lady must offer resistance because the man cannot push to initiate her turning if her hand is like limp lettuce.

  3. The push is usually before the count so she is actually turning on the count.

  4. Once rotational momentum has been imparted into her, her hands are held above her head.  The man does not crank the lady round**!

  5. She should have her knees slightly bent, certainly not locked.

  6. Her spine, neck and head should be on a vertical axis. Do not try and duck under the man's arms if they are too low.

  7. Her eyes should be forward.

  8. She should  on the ball of her foot, but should not raise her body on it like a ballerina.

  9. Spotting is encouraged to stop dizziness, add control and it looks cool. Spotting is where you keep your eyes on your partner or a fixed point as you turn.  Before your neck snaps, your whip it round to look at the same point again.  This can be practices in a computer chair fairly well!

  10. Your feet should be kept together (side by side) as your are spinning.

  11. The weight can be changed from one foot to the other during a turn.

  12. When the turn is ended, she should smartly step back as a separate operation trying not to blur the turn with this operation.

** The one exception is for multiple turns.  As the lady's rotation decreases, she need added torque.  This is added by "halo leading", which is a DELICATE off-centred position of the man's hands (ie a cm or two) just in front of her face as she leans slightly forward into them.

The lead for any turn or spin is to draw her in and provide a block so she should feel a slight wind-up in the opposite direction to the spin/turn. This wind-up should place your hand near your navel. That way, you won't be torqued left or right when she pushes off of you. She should feel you brace your leading arm (try tucking your elbow into your side for an instant to help brace the arm. Think "brace", but understand that you don't become stiff as a board, and there is some limited follow-through) She must then take her weight change step onto her turning foot. Here is the important thing - she must commit some of her body weight forward to you. You will feel a building compression, and then a releasing compression as *SHE* pushes off of *YOU* ! As a man, you are only pushing back as hard as she pushes on you. Never think of pushing her - make her think she is pushing against a wall. Push lightly and the wall pushes back lightly; push hard and it pushes back hard. This is where the leader must really "follow" her level of connection as it changes. The woman must commit weight to you because her push does 2 things:

  1. it creates a torque about a vertical axis which spins her
  2. it creates a torque about a horizontal axis which causes her to fall backwards.

Torque (1) is what she desires, and (2) is what she must deal with to stay balanced. By committing her weight forward before pushing off, torque (2) stands her back up straight instead of toppling her over. Of course, the better she is, the less weight is committed, the less wind-up is required, the later you can brace and still have her read the lead, etc.

 

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Ballroom grip

The ballroom grip is where the man holds his hand up palm facing the lady, she does the same, both rotate them slightly to the right and they grip palm to palm so the thumbs are interlocked.  This grip provides two functions: i) it provides a signal to the lady stating "something monumental is going to happen" and ii) it provides a much stronger grip for say a drop.

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Kicking

Kicking is dangerous!  Kicking into the air does not look cool!  Thus one lifts the leg, bending the knee and kicks down to the floor just 6 inches or so in front of you.

There are two simple test as to whether you are doing it correctly: a) your knee should be more forward than your foot and b) your heal should be higher than your toes.

If one is performing kicks when face to face, between each others legs, it is very important to press yourselves close together and not to look at your feet!  This inhibits there being the room to build up velocity and kick your partner.  A convention stemming from Lindy Hop is to raise the left hand when kicking and lowering to turn her out.  Indeed one can just keep in kicking until the hand lowers.

Kicking often seems combined with hopping on the other leg (eg Charleston).  Let your natural rhythm work this out, but you will find that in practice you kick with one leg when the other, after hopping, hits the floor.  Experiment with this as the slight hop does make the move flow much better.

Kicking high up into the air, often when plunging into a dip is sometimes used for cabarets where there is a clear floor, the lady is a gymnast and her skirt is split all the way up or hardly exists at all!

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Dips and Drops

Terms

Firstly, the terms dips, drops and seducers are often interchanged.  For me, a dip is not quite as drastic as a drop (which may well be within inches of the floor).  A seducer is a dip or drop performed in a sensual manner (as a dip can be quite fast and snappy).

Keep control enough to abort

The first time you wish to dip a lady, always ask beforehand if she is happy to do so.  You can even start off with more of a lean or half dip, especially if she has never done one with anyone before and has no idea whether she wants to or not!  Remember that some ladies have bad backs.  Some ladies you have dropped before may have a bad back that night.

Never go into a dip if you do not feel correctly connected for that dip.  Thus, for the wurlitzer spin and dip, the lady's right arm should be around the man's neck (for her safety) and both the man's hands around her back.  Although all this is not essential and less support is often used for other moves, if the move is "felt" to be different from normal, it could indicate that a foot is wrong etc and a sign that something else may go wrong.

When learning, always pause before the dip.  For this particular move, the lady can spin directly into a dip without pausing, but only when the partnership has practiced it well.

Ladies, never plunge yourself into a dip unless you are very sure of your partner.  If he did not mean to dip you he may not be able to support you and you will wish you were wearing a cycle helmet!  Always wait for him to actively dip you.

Why all this safety advice?  Dips need not be dangerous, its just that they are quite often used between partners who do not often dance together and are a pleasurable and common way of interpreting music.  Advanced dancers know to practice somersaults off the dance floor, but too many jivers learn dips for the first time on the dance floor without being taught the necessary safety advice.

For more safety information, see "Safety" under "Advice" from the top menus on the home page.

Position of the legs

You will often see ladies being just thrust back and a leg pops up in the air - usually this is instinctive at first for some reason.  This can be both dangerous if the floor is busy and some consider it not cool these days.

The lady dips by bending a leg, usually the "inner", which is often her right, and takes a little of her own weight and leans back letting the man take more and more weight as she keeps her other (left) leg straight at all times and touching the floor at all times.  This straight leg tends to slide forward during the dip.  The reason for keeping the outside leg straight is that  it gives a nice artistic curve along her body, especially when emphasised by her arm being placed straight behind her head.  Depending upon the flexibility of her back, she should be almost horizontal in his arms.  If it is not too uncomfortable, she should allow her back to bend over the man's support and lean her head backwards just a touch - not straining to look at him. She should NOT swing her head back as the floor may be closer than she realises.

One exception to the rule of bending the right leg is for moves where then man supports only her right shoulder.  It is then desirable for her to take some weight on her left leg (ie bend this one) to stop her body twisting - unless of course this is the aim.

The men MUST actively lift and place the appropriate supporting leg, nearly always the left, out and under where the lady dips. Beware looking longingly from above in a dip, but don't drip perspiration into one of her eyes! Also remember that many ladies are kind enough to take much of the strain of their body weight in the thighs.  If you keep them down too long, it can be very painful.

Position of the hands

She should do some elegant motion with her left hand such as sweep it up and back or down and back and is nice ending up enhancing the curve of her body.  I have had a version where the lady places her left hand under her body and supports herself on the man's left calf (feels wicked!).  The lady comes up with the same motion as she went down.  The following illustrate just a few dips:
 

Where the lady is unsure of the man or for any reason wishes to take safety completely into her own hands, she needs to take all her weight on her bent leg.  I tried this myself once - its very painful.  I have admiration for the ladies that can do this.  Some avoid the pain by keeping the one leg straight, but it means that she just tilts at the waist and it looks really bad.  It is important that her hips lower.

Speed & timing

A dip can be performed very fast, but they can be made much more elegant slowly. It would seem that the lady tend to be in the process of dipping on the beat and be lifted out during a beat. She may be kept for a count or two when down.

Position of the man

Ladies - dips are usually performed from the man's right to his left and he has to place his left leg out to the left for support.  There are occasions (first move dip) where he lunges forwards with his left and so can support you as you dip to his forward direction.  She may also dip on either side of him rather than in front (ie facing the same way as he is or behind him) or be behind him.  I have had some ladies fling themselves backwards in front and away from me when I have not expected her to dip and not had my left leg in place. I have only narrowly avoided accidents.  So if you are not sure about whether you should dip DON'T!  To be on the safe side, your chest should be close to his.  If you see yourself flinging away from him and he is not moving towards you for support - grab onto any part of his anatomy you can find!

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Safety Advice

When you first start jive, safety never seems to be on ones mind.  After all, its just "dancing" - a delicate blending of the spirit of two bodies with music.  Well let me tell you, the worst injury I have seen was one beginner lady stepping on the foot of another.  The beginner lady felt terrible and soon never danced again.  The other's foot went black and she returned to dancing a month later. I'm know there are worse accidents, but usually from the more acrobatic moves.  The point here is that safety affects us ALL.

The moves on this site have been categorised with safety levels 1 through 5 (see here, but note that these levels are not any standard or even known or used to my knowledge outside this site).  These levels are now grouped and advice given:

General advice (levels 0 and 1)

Normal beginner or intermediate moves might not seem dangerous, but this is what one does most of the time, if not all the time, so an accident will occur sooner or later.  Indeed, I received a black eye once, when a lady performed and simple return!  I will never forget the actual squelching sound.....so:

  • Look what you are doing...unless you are very very sure.  Obvious? Well...when performing moves where the man swaps his hands and turns his lady behind his back, I ended up with my finders in the lady's mouth!  She reported the next week that she still had toothache from the incident!
  • Alter your style according to the dance floor conditions.  Busy dance floors result in stepping on peoples feet, banging into them etc etc.  Keep your arms bend more to maintain your bodies much closer whilst still applying tension.  Don't go marching off on strolls - it just irritates others - unless you have just noticed where the air conditioner outlet is!
  • Ladies - don't put hand cream on just before a dance!
  • Men - let go if you feel an inappropriate resistance, especially with archi-spins etc.  Indeed for nearly every move a light hand-grip is essential.

Dips'n'drops (level 2)

Whereas the air steps following require training with a specific partner, dips and drops are more common and can and are led to ladies with whom one does not regularly dance with.  It is always best that the lady has been taught the basics of drops at a lesson or workshop, and then variations can be introduced. Indeed I would say that there is a basic vocabulary of drop moves that can be lead such as the First move drop, wurlitzer spin and drop etc.

  • Always ask the lady's permission, especially one who you have not done such moves with before.  She might have a bad back this week.  If you forget to ask when you start and realise half way through, it is better to abort the move and say "sorry - I forgot to ask if you are happy doing drops today" than to feel that there is a loss in dignity and carry on.
  • Be aware of the lady's competence - make sure she knows the basics first.
  • Be aware of your own incompetence.  Don't just copy a move you have seen someone else do.  Go and be taught professionally first.  There are safety tips you may not be aware of watching a video or someone else doing it. Also the technique of weighting and un-weighting can be important.  For example, when the "man's strength to lady's weight ratio" is wanting a little, the lady can use a technique when she has dipped to really help the man pull her up more easily.
  • Always ensure there is PLENTY of room - dancers have the habit of coming out of nowhere.
  • Even if the lady says that she knows the move, do it slowly and carefully the first time, possibly at a slower beat to the music.  Many mistakes arise from the lady knowing the move, but thinking you meant a different one, especially if she thinks she is dipping in a different direction than you think..
  • If the lady has not done the exact move before, do it very slowly and possibly in a corner out of the way.
  • Unless you practice lots with one partner, the lady should not chuck herself in a suicidal manner at the ground but waits for you to dip her in a positive manner.
  • Make sure you offer the lady lots of support with both hands if you can, especially when learning.  Have particular concern for her leg muscles, back support and neck support. Do not user your knee to support her back as falling to fast on your knee may damage her (although in some special cases you can rest her on you knee once she has dropped and is no longer moving)
  • Don't hold her down there too long - it will kill her leg muscle!
  • Always make sure the lady is CERTAIN which way she will dip and ensure you have a supporting leg in that direction!
  • Know the length of your hands for fast drops, if "a minus b becomes negative", her back hits the floor!
  • Never do too many drops suddenly one dance with a lady.  A stamina for drops need to be build up or getting up in the morning is not a pretty experience.  After going to one air-step class, I had to sign off sick the next day because I could not bend my back enough to wrap myself around the steering wheel to drive to work!
  • If the lady has just put hand cream on - don't do dips...or dance with her for that matter.

Air-steps (levels 3 to 5)

Such moves (not all and "air steps", some are definitively "floor steps"!) require:

  • Specific professional teaching.  Just seeing it performed on a video or being taught by someone who thinks they can do it does not mean that you get to understand all the safety implications.
  • A regular partner.
  • Practice off the dance floor usually with "spotters" in case one falls and to provide confidence to allow the more challenged partner to "go for it"
  • No jewellery and belts etc to get tangled up with.
  • Shoes which can absorb the shock of landing.
  • Unambiguous communication such as both a special lead AND verbal signal.  At one dance a lady kept asking me to do that move where the man sweeps his leg over her head (whilst she is ducking) followed by pulling her through his legs. I had done this move with her before.  She kept saying "the legs move".  When I did it, she ended on her back on the floor (fortunately without injury).  She meant another legs move which starts the same where she is pulled feet first directly through the legs!
  • A VERY clear dance floor.  Remember those doing First move Columbian moves appearing from nowhere when your lady, who has been in the air for 3 seconds, requires a landing zone.
  • Warming up first, stretching important muscles.
  • An excellent comprehensive life-insurance policy!

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Jumping

We consider when to jump, off which foot (ie how to get lift) and what to do when you land.

When to jump

There is no right and wrong timing for jumps, other than both parties must agree!  However there is some logic behind certain timings.  Consider the "first move jump", where you pull the lady into a first move, turn her out and then she jumps and turns 180 ACW to simply land facing the man.  I have been taught three timings. 

Jive timing

The most common timing (I call "jive timing") goes:
  1 step apart (signalling right hand on right shoulder)

2 pull her in
   2.5 Start turning her CW
3 finish turning her out CW 180 & both dip down (see picture)
4 she jumps & land
   4.5 she lands
5 tension apart

Thus you both bend down on the half count - I usually count backwards, ie 3,2,1& jump (bending down on the "&").  This seems to work well with infrequent partners.

Lindy timing

 The timing taught by Lindy Hop is different, it goes:
  1 step apart (signalling right hand on right shoulder)

2 pull her in
   2.5 start turning her CW
3 finish turning her out 180 CW
   3.5 turn her ACW 90, yourself CW 90 to face each other (see picture)
4 bend down
   4.5 jump
5 land

Lindy usually counts by the music beats (2 music beats = 1 jive count), ie 1,2,3,4,5,6,7(down), 8(jump).  The extra half count allow the couple to face each other.  This is important because it means that there can be a four-pronged lift

  1. the guy's left hand under the lady's straight and almost vertical right arm.  When he pulls up it must not bend!

  2. the guy's right arm under the left arm pit with the left arm locked.  When he lifts her via her arm, her body must go too.

  3. the lady pushes off his shoulder raising her up relative to him

  4. the lady also jumps with her feet.

This means that the jump can be quite terrific and the man should really feel the weight of the lady on his left arm and shoulder as he propels her into the air rather than a limp cabbage drooping on his shoulder!  The timing of the jump on the half count gives a different feel (typically Lindy feel) which may suit you.

Shortened jive timing

The following is sometimes taught:
  1 step apart (signalling right hand on right shoulder)
2 pull her in
   2.5 start turning her out CW
3 both bend down finishing turning her out CW 180 (see picture)
   3.5 jump
4 land

I find this last timing not good for the jump to face but acceptable for a jump where the lady lands with legs outstretched across the guy's lap.  I say acceptable, because I prefer to stick with one timing for all moves to make things simpler.  This timing is also taught at Lindy hop for the lap sit and is called out 1,2,3,4,5,down,jump.

Summary

Lindy beat 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Jive count 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
Jive apart   together   back dip jump  
Lindy apart   together   back   face & dip jump
Shortened jive apart   together   back & dip jump    

So, in summary - try them all and decide what is best for you.

Jumping footwork

So which foot do you jump off and do you hop skip and jump? Obvious? The first rule seems to be that double-footed jumps are out because you can get more lift from a single-footed jump and by projecting your leg around the man where this is necessary.  Secondly, remember that on many occasions only one particular foot is acceptable to jump off and the lady may be used to stepping back on her right - so there may be a conflict here!  Thirdly, I have heard three main ways of jumping:
 
1 Music beat 1: step back on right
Music beat 2: step forward on left bending at the knee
Music beat 3: step forward and jump off the right foot
 
2 Music beat 1: step back on right
Music beat 2: step forward on left and start bending your left foot

Music beat 2.5: hopping up on your left foot, your right leaving the floor too.....land on your left foot (bending the knee) and place down the right foot by its side, bending both knees too transferring your weight to the right foot.

Music beat 3:  jump off the right foot
 
3 Music beat 1: step back on right
Music beat 2: step forward on left
Music beat 3: step forward on right and bend the knee at the same time
Music beat 4: jump off the right foot

The first method is simple and quick and fits in with most moves that require a jump on half-count 3.  Some advocates of the second method believe that it provides more lift, however it takes a bit longer to learn.  The last method is often seen in practice and comes about through unsure timing causing a delay in the jump.  The problem is that too much time is spend on bending the leg and all the momentum of the jump is lost.  Do not use this method!

Landing

On landing on the floor, some time is required for the lady to balance and to get into beat.  Sometimes one is able to just continue with say a step-across, but often is is necessary to "muck around" with a wiggle or a break (pause).

For the case where the lady lands on the man - eg on his bent knees, he may wish her to immediately bounce off or stay there for some while.  For the latter case, he will normally dip his knees half a count or so before thrusting her off to give her warning and make the move smooth.

Those who have done gymnastics or ballet, seem to have tremendous spring.  The rest of ladies will find that your "spring-power" will increase with practice at different types of jumps and confidence.

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Likes & Dislikes when they dance with a partner

1 Ladies dislike being put into moves that press them against a man when 'orribly wet and sweaty - eg comb late into the evening
2 Ladies dislike arrogant men who blame the lady for their mistakes or think they are doing a favour dancing with them
3 All dislike partners who are not clean or have a bad odour
4 All like partners who interpret the music
5 All like partners who look at them and smile
6 Ladies like men who are positive about their lead (and can lead the "wiggle direction")
7 Ladies like being asked if they do drops before the drop
8 Ladies like men who give a chance to repeat moves that do not work first time - but not too many times
9 Men like ladies who are willing to try something new
10 Men like ladies who give a good feeling of tension and compression - limp lettuces need not apply!
11 Dancers do not appreciate those doing air-steps when they do it on a crowded dance floor!
12 When in a dip, ladies do not like a bead of perspiration to slowly form on the gentleman's forehead and drip in their eyes!
13 Chewing gum - urghhh!..and it doesn't hide garlic.

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Types of lady dancers

1. The limp-lettuce leaf

There is no feeling of tension or compression with her.  She moves her own body forwards by her own power when pulled, performs her own turns when spun and blocks are anticipated meticulously.  Often one falls over forwards when she is put into a catapult position behind you.  One feels very lonely on the dance floor - but never gets exhausted!

2. The cool dude

She oozes passion, waves her hands in all directions, pulls faces and uses every opportunity to introduce artistic flair.  One feels quite inferior and finds it difficult to do enough moves that give her time to strut her stuff.

3. Miss bounce-skipperty

She bounces or skips around to even the slowest smooth song.  Its difficult to build up tension because she is in the air most of the time.

4. Mrs arms-length

Try doing a comb with her is impossible and any attempt at an archispin and there will be a dislocated shoulder!  She flings herself away and turns sideways when she does so to gain even more distance.

5. Ms no-contact

She never gives you a look throughout the whole song!

6. Flirty flo

She is all over you and you know that if you do a slow comb she will lead a slowly descending wiggle slowly crushing the breath out of your lungs.

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Types of male dancers

1. Mr ham-fisted

He just bullies his way getting you through the moves - best to have extra insurance or body armour.

2. Mr know it all

He tut-tuts when you do something wrong and then tell you how your should have done it.  He fancies himself rotten.  He always wears black and white shoes.

3. Master letch

He is all over you, whatever the dance form, however well he knows you.  He always looks longingly into your eyes, even when he is behind you (long neck)!  Watch out for his hands...

4. The wet blanket

Whilst he must know what moves he is doing, the lady is given no idea and usually finds it least boring just dancing whatever she wishes around him.

5. Mr dangerous

Before you know it, and without any question about the state of your back, or any signal, the earth rotates and you have done a somersault.

6. Mr in-the-clique

He only dances with the "good" ladies....never seen with a beginner - usually wears black and white shoes.

7. Mr Gypsy

He has no allegiance with one club but travels to many, looking for that partner dancer who makes him/her buzz.

8. Mr Stylist

He does moves that are never taught in class, but they flow so naturally, he is totally engrossed in the mood of the music, usually has his eyes shut.

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Wiggling and shimmying

What's the difference?  Shimmying is only with your top half.  Guys can't do it!..well not naturally anyway - they just wiggle their lower portions.

Beware wiggling or shimmying with beginners.  Some will not believe it is a real move...until they are taught it!

Wiggling together

How do you wiggle in the same direction?  Just as cars drive on the left, I think there ought to be a rule about this, but there isn't.  Each in the partnership will have their own natural direction depending on how their hips are moving, which depends largely on which foot they are on.  Thus if a partnership tend to mirror one another's feet (eg lady steps back on right, when man does on left) then they will probably wiggle fine when facing each other.  However, when one is in front of the other facing the same way, this will not be the case.

It has been suggested to me that the person behind follows the direction of the person in front as they can at least see it.  Others have suggested that the man leads masterfully with assertion (but not forcefully).

There is more than one way to wiggle!

Remember that dance is about interpretation.  Don't be mechanical about it or think there is one right way.  You can do lots with your hips! Try swinging them in a vertical semi-circle (start on left, then lower to the centre then higher to the right).  Try twice one way.  Try one way then back.  Try in a full circle twice, either vertical or just swing them in a horizontal circle.  Try some pelvic thrusts (but only with your girlfriend or girlfriend-designate!).  Try interlocking your legs and just shifting your knees from right to left.  But remember to follow what the music does to your soul!

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Signals and leads?

Some differentiate between leads and signals; the former being gentle pulls or ways of moving your body to communicate the next move or part of, the latter being specific and unique gestures to unambiguously inform the lady what move is coming next.  In practice there is a grey region between the two.

This first table fits into the "lead" variety and are often used in many moves:

General signal Means Example move
Raised joint-hands Turn (ie not letting go) Arm jive
Keep hand high after turning Turn again First move double turn promenade
Palm offered Press against it and spin (ie letting go) Arm jive push spin
Hand outstretched one way, often with ball and socket joint Spin the other way Lady spin
Other hand raised Try and touch it Side-to side basket
Hand behind back in nelson Try and touch it False Pretzel
Hand dips in front of face Don't step back, comb coming Comb
Grip changed to a ballroom style (palm to palm, thumbs to thumbs fingers to fingers Something needing strength coming, eg drop Drop kick
Tap part of the body Place your hand there L-L spin into flamenco

The following table of signals are know to small pockets of dancers and used to lead specific moves (but beware that you should are advised to agree the signal beforehand you plunge yourself to the floor!):

Special Signals Move
Twist hands so man's palm faces upwards and squeeze the back of the fingers Archi spin
As for the archi-spin but offer right hand to right at waist level Back-hander
Touch right hand shoulder with right hand First move jump
Touch left shoulder with left hand Hip hop
Extra strong push to spin lady Wurlitzer drop

One of the most common dangers with signals into drops or jumps, is not whether the lady knows the move, but whether she does the one that the man is expecting.  I have seen some ladies misinterpret the "first move jump" to a "lap sit", which can surprise the leader!  Always best to go through the move slowly with a new partner to ensure you really do know what to expect - its no disgrace (and you may live longer)!

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How many jive move are there?

Firstly one must ask what is a "move"?  I would tender a suggestion that a move is a sequence of "features" or "fragments" that have particular characteristics connected by turns or spins and hand changes.  For instance, a "butterfly" is not a move, but a concept of turning the lady quickly on the man's LHS, dragging her around his back and then turning her rapidly around his RHS to be in front of him again.  One can start this with a "neck break" or sway.  So what is a "neck break".  Well it is a move where the lady is pulled in close to the man's RHS with the man's hand out straight over her left shoulder, then she is turned CW 180 and the man changes her hand from his left to his right.  He then turns her back, nearly 'breaking her neck' (!).  Let us say we start with a neckbreak.  This might be called a neckbreak butterfly.  However, when she is behind him, he can pull her from left to right a few times.  At the end, he could perform a "hallelujah" operation to change from crossed hands to a simple double hand-hold.  So the answer is that there are an infinite number of moves!

However, if one asks the question: "How many individually different features are there that can be connected together?", one may decide that there are only a 100 or so.  These are presented in the Modern Jive Map, under Moves.  As this is only a 2 dimensional drawing, it cannot link all the methods of stating and getting into each feature.  It can also not indicate all the ways of joining basic moves (eg armjive into a basket).

How can I read my watch without her thinking she is boring me?

Start a normal catapult.  As you spin her at the end, there is a short period when your left hand is just in front of your face when she is facing away.  This is an excellent time to look at your watch!

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Sabotage and counter-sabotage moves

Conventionally, the man leads and the lady follows.  However some couples enjoy the experience when the lady "sabotages" the man's move and turns it into a move she leads - just for a few seconds.  She then gives control back to the man.  Similarly, once the control is taken by the lady, the man can "counter" the sabotage and get control back again before she wishes him to do so.  These moves are not common but some fun to spice up a couple's dancing.  They are not recommended to be used on an unsuspecting partner!  In order to view these moves, go to Moves then filter and enter the word "sabotage" into the "containing the phrase" field.

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