How to Jive

Four Parts:Understanding the Steps in JiveLearning the Man’s StepsLearning the Woman's StepsPutting the Steps Together

Jive dancing is a fast and very spirited Latin dance, made popular in the 1940s by young Americans who adopted the movements to fit with the emerging sounds of rock and roll. While there are many more complex movements in jive, some of which incorporate spinning or flipping the female dance partner, the basic movement is a well controlled, 6-count foot pattern that is actually easy to practice and eventually master.

Part 1
Understanding the Steps in Jive

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    Become familiar with the 6-count foot pattern. Learning how to jive can be easy once you master the beginning steps or basic movement. There are 6 counts to the basic movement, and the beat sounds like: 1-2-3-a-4, 5-a-6. [1]
    • Counts 1 and 2 are called the “link steps” or "rock steps”.
    • Counts 3 and 4 are a triple step to the left called a "chasse”.
    • Counts 5 and 6 are a triple step, or "chasse" to the right.
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    Understand the “chasse” movement. The “chasse” in dance is when you glide one foot to the side.[2]
    • In jive, these steps are three short and smooth movements to the side, so the movement is called a “triple step”.
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    Understand the “link step” or “rock step”. A “link step” or “rock step” is when you step one foot behind the other and then lift the front foot up.
    • The idea is to rock back on your back foot and then rock forward on your front foot, shifting the weight to your back foot and then to your front foot. However, you should always lift your feet up as you shift the weight backward and then forward.
    • Practice a few “rock steps” to get the feel for this move. It is an essential step to the jive.

Part 2
Learning the Man’s Steps

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    Step backward with your left foot for the first count in the rock step. Leave your right foot in place and shift your weight to the back (left) foot. This is the 1 count.[3][4]
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    Lift your right foot up and then place it down. This is the 2 count of the rock step.
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    Step to the side with your left foot. This is the 3 count, or the first count in the triple step to the left.
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    Move your right foot to meet your left foot. This is the “a” count, or the second count in the triple step.
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    Step to the side with your left foot. This is the 4 count, or third count in the triple step.
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    Shift your weight to the right foot. This is the 5 count.
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    Step to the right with your left foot. This is the “a” count.
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    Step to the right with your right foot. This is the 6 count, or last count in the jive.
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    Repeat the rock step and the triple step again, moving from left to right. Remember to use the 1-2-3-a-4, 5-a-6 count.

Part 3
Learning the Woman's Steps

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    Step backwards with the right foot for the first count in the rock step. Leave your left foot in place.[5][6]
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    Shift your weight back to the left foot. This is the 2 count.
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    Step to the side with your right foot. This is the 3 count, or the first count in the triple step.
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    Move your left foot to meet your right foot. This is the “a" count, or the second count in the triple step.
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    Step to the side with your right foot. Leave your left foot in place. This is the 4 count, or the third count in the triple step.
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    Shift your weight to your left foot. This is the 5 count.
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    Step to the left with your right foot. This is the “a” count.
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    Step to the left with your left foot. This is the 6 count, or final step in the jive.
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    Practice the rock step and the triple step again, moving from right to left. Remember to use the 1-2-3-a-4, 5-a-6 count.

Part 4
Putting the Steps Together

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    Always let the man lead. Jive is danced with the woman and the man facing each other. The man leads the jive and the woman follows his movements.[7]
    • The man will start with his left foot and the woman will start with her right foot so that there is no bumping of knees and the dance moves smoothly.[8]
    • Imagine an invisible string connecting the man’s feet to the woman’s feet. As the man moves, the women’s movements should follow.
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    Face each other and place your arms in the closed position. This means the man will have his right hand on the left side of the woman’s upper back and the woman will have her left hand on the man’s right shoulder. The woman’s arm should sit above the man’s arm.
    • There should be roughly an arm’s length of distance between the man and the woman.
    • The man and woman’s other hands should be clasped together rather loosely. In jive, you don’t want to keep the arms too stiff or rigid. There should be a looseness to the arm position.
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    Move your body position so you both face slightly outward. Rotate your bodies so your feet are turned slightly away from each other at an angle.[9]
    • This will allow you both to move freely without bumping knees.
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    Use the 6-count to complete the basic jive steps. You can both count out loud to hit each count. Make sure the man begins on his left foot and the woman begins on her right foot.
    • Keep your arms loose and relaxed.
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    Practice the steps without music. This will help you master the basic jive movement and avoid getting distracted by the music.
    • Once you both feel comfortable with the basic jive steps, begin to jive to music. There are several popular mixes with good jive tracks available online.[10] Jive music tends to have a faster tempo than swing music, so as you practice the steps and get better, you can also learn to move at a faster speed or tempo.
    • Mimic the music’s tempo by accenting your foot and leg movements. To do this, shift your hips as you shift your weight back to your left foot or your right foot in the rock step.
    • Keep your knees bent and try to highlight the counts in the music with the 6 counts in the jive steps.
    • Continue practicing the basic jive steps with accented movements to music until you both feel confident enough with the dance.

Tips

  • Once you master the basic jive movements, you can add on other movements like the roll off the arm step[11] and the windmill step[12].

Article Info

Categories: Dancing