Lifestyle | 26 May 2016Old School Jazz Steps and the Shim Sham Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Want to learn a cool new skill? Impress your friends? Get active? Just have some fun? Take a swing at swing dancing! This trendy form is finding its way back into style, and there’s no reason why you can’t get out there and strut your stuff. Scott Culpit’s Swing Dance: Fashion, Music, Culture and Key Moves has everything you need to know about the history and culture around swing dancing, from shoes to songs and everything in between. To get started, try out some of these simple, classic jazz steps. The Shim Sham The Shim Sham was originally a tap routine choreographed by Leonard Reed. It was adopted and simplified by Frankie Manning and is now a line dance, known and loved by swing dancers all over the world. There are many different versions of the Shim Sham, including the Al and Leon Shim Sham – named after two original Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers who danced alongside Frankie and Norma – and the Dean Collins Shim Sham, which was developed in California. I remember watching Frankie and Chazz perform the Shim Sham as a father and son routine at Camp Catalina in 1999. Their unadulterated joy as they performed together was infectious. When we flew Frankie to Melbourne in 2002, it was such a buzz for the crowd to be dancing the Shim Sham with the one and only Frankie leading us all front and centre. Norma Miller also led Shim Shams on two evenings in London in 2015, and it was a great honour to be a part of them both. In 2009, shortly after Frankie passed away, a large event called Frankie 95 was held in his honour in New York. Swing scenes from all over the world submitted footage of their dancers doing the Shim Sham in iconic locations. The Shim Sham was danced on the Great Wall of China, in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, on sunny beaches and even underwater. It made great viewing and again highlighted the incredible global revival of Lindy Hop. In London we run swing-dance events at the stunning Wilton’s Music Hall, the oldest music hall in the city. While it’s mainly social dancing, we have to make sure that the new and the non-dancers feel included and entertained, so we often run a Speed Shim Sham contest. The format is simple: all the dancers start dancing the Stroll and when you make a mistake you sit down. The music gets faster and faster until just six dancers are left. The crowd is then invited to yell and scream for the most entertaining dancer. It’s a lot of fun, and to remind us all that it’s just dancing, the winner gets a chocolate medal. Song T’ain’t What You Do– Billy May & His Orchestra Boogie Backs Count 8: Clap Count 1: Jump back Count 2: Clap Count 3: Jump back Count 4: Clap Count 5: Jump back Count 6: Clap Count 7: Jump back Boogie Forwards Count 8: Tap your right foot out and roll your right hip clockwise in a circle Count 1: Place your weight on your right foot Counts 2 & 3: Repeat on your left side Counts 4 & 5: Repeat on your right side Counts 6 & 7: Repeat on your left side The Shorty George Named after ‘Shorty’ George Snowden, another leading dancer at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, this jazz step is a great one to use in your social dancing. Keep your knees together and step forward in a straight line, stepping down onto the balls of your feet. Keep your toes always facing the front. Count 8: Kick to the left with your right foot AND: Transfer your weight to your right foot Count 1: Crouch, place your knees together and your right foot in the instep of the left, tilt your hips and bend your knees to the left Count 2: Remain crouched, move your right foot a half-step forward, place your left foot in the instep of the right and bend your knees to the right Count 3: Remain crouched, move your left foot a half-step forward, place your right foot in the instep of the left and bend your knees to the left Count 4: As for Count 2, remain crouched, move your right foot forward and bend your knees to the right Count 5: As for Count 3, remain crouched, move your left foot forward and bend your knees to the left Count 6: Remain crouched, move your right foot forward and bend your knees to the right Count 7: Remain crouched, move your left foot forward and bend your knees to the left Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: With all things vintage enjoying a boom worldwide, swing dancing has well and truly swung back into fashion. From vintage festivals and tea dances to weekend socials and hundreds of weekly classes held around the world, multiple forms of the dance that was created in 1930s Harlem by Frankie Manning are growing ever more popular. Swing Dance explores the vibrant contemporary swing-dancing scene, looking at the different dance styles and the associated culture, community and fashion. Illustrated with vintage and contemporary photography, as well as specially commissioned step-by-step guides, it provides everything you need to know, whether you fancy kicking up your heels in the Charleston or mastering the Lindy Hop ‘swing out’. The four major dance styles are covered – Charleston, Collegiate Shag, Balboa and Lindy Hop, including the Strolls, which are guaranteed to fill the dance floor. Each chapter begins with an overview of the fascinating evolution of the dance style. ‘Get the Look’ examines the fashions for guys and girls, including hair and make-up, and a clothing, shoes and accessories checklist, while ‘The Music’ suggests the top ten tunes to practise to. Then follows a breakdown of the basic step patterns upon which the dance is built, and a guide to some of the key moves. There are also insider tips from old-timers and today’s leading swing dancers as well as fun, easy-to-follow page-embedded video demonstrations produced exclusively for the book and accessible via scannable QR codes. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.