CDC Revision Notes

Basic Jive

This is a fast dance (approx. 42 bars per minute or 168 beats per minute) but in syncopated time, eg 12/8. Like many latin american style dances, the jive does not travel around the room, though it's actually more closely related to earlier ballroom dances. No steps are on the heel first - always the toe or ball of the foot. Keep all steps extremely small so they remain under the body.

All steps have an up-down motion with a significantly bouncy action rather than much of a sideways motion. There's no time (at full speed) to go anywhere much. Some body sway into the hip can be used to reverse direction rapidly.

Unlike some other dances, jive figures do not match up with whole bars of music. A typical figure occupies one and a half conventional bars and has 8 steps. Some of those steps are faster than others - with strong beats being divided into 2/3 and 1/3 (or even 3/4 and 1/4) parts. The feet are still mostly used alternately (until more advanced moves are added).

The even number of steps means each figure starts with the same foot - and that foot is different for leader (left) and follower (right). So it's less easy to swap roles for jive than for some other dances. However, it also means the figures are mostly independent, interchangeable building blocks rather than having to flow together as much as the other dances.

The most persistent rhythm is: quick, quick, quick-a-quick, quick-a-quick with the simplest foot pattern for that being a step backwards and a replacement step forwards (the rock step or link rock), followed by a pair of syncopated chassés (consisting of a step to the side, a closing step and another step to that side) which are also taken in opposite directions from each other. This step pattern of continually reversing whatever you just did means that the dance keeps returning to the starting spot rather than travelling around the room.


Basics are usually danced in fairly close hold and facing partner. Whereas the couple will be some distance apart (open hold) for many other figures. But the Basic can also be used to re-join in close hold from open position.

Change Of Places

The leader dances the basic footwork and raises the left-to-right handhold to lead the follower to turn (about a half a rotation) under the joined arms. This turn occurs between the follower's 2 chassés.

Starting from close hold, the turn will be to the follower's right. This is the change of places from right to left (from the leader's perspective). From open position (eg after the first turn) the turn will most likely be to the follower's left (also called a re-turn). This is the change of places from left to right (from the leader's perspective).

Change Of Hands Behind The Back

This is a far more literal change of places on the floor. From an open position, the leader uses right hand over right hand on the rock-step to lead the follower towards and past "him" (right sides initially together), while exchanging the hands again behind "his" back. Both dance the first chassé towards partner (although the leader barely moves) with the leader turning half left and the follower turning half right (to face leader's back when passing) before the final (second) chassé facing partner again.

Hip Bumps

From an open position, the leader pulls the couple together with the left-to-right handhold through the gap between them to bump hips side-by-side (leader's left hip, follower's right hip) before returning to their former positions. This means a quarter turn on the way in (first chassé) and the opposite quarter turn on the way out (second chassé).

American (Push) Spin

From an open position, the leader takes a handshake right-to-right handhold and braces for the follower to push off at the end of the first chassé. The leader dances the basic footwork but remains firmly on the spot. The follower dances the first chassé towards partner and pushes off on the last step to spin all the way round to the right before dancing the second chassé and ending facing partner again.

Beginners Jive Routine

A fairly typical starting routine could include several of: 1 or 2 Basics, Change-Of-Places from Right-To-Left and from Left-To-Right, 1 or 2 Change-Of-Hands Behind The Back (or a no-hand variant), 1 or 2 American (Push) Spins, a couple of Hip Bumps.

Since the specific order is far less significant in the jive than in other dances, each class teacher is likely to have chosen a different ordering of these. Eg Russell chose: Basic, Turn and Return, Behind The Back, Return again, 2 Hip Bumps.

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