Library... Dances

Want to know your Shim Sham from your Tranky Do? Here’s a quick overview of what’s what in swing dance with some of the dance styles and routines you may encounter at JiveSwing.

Dance styles


The Lindy Hop

The granddaddy of all Jive and Swing dances. The Lindy Hop is an African American dance which was created in the late 20s, using inspiration from numerous dances that preceded it, such as the breakaway, the Charleston, Shimmy, Texas Tommy etc. The Savoy Ballroom in Harlem was home to the Lindy Hop, where it developed throughout the 30s and 40s. It was danced to the sounds of Big Band Swing. The dance declined in popularity during the 50s and was revived in the 80s. Today it is fast becoming one of the most exciting dance forms of the western world. JiveSwing.Com teach Lindy Hop inspired by the dancers at the Savoy Ballroom.

The 20s Charleston

Commonly recognised by the flapper dress and a feather in the hair, the Charleston dance became a craze in the 1920s, though allegedly it was danced as early as 1912 by the African American population in southern USA. This energetic style has had phenomenal influence on the development of dance, particularly Lindy Hop. The Charleston, currently featured on BBC’s Strictly, is taught and performed by JiveSwing teachers throughout the UK and on tour in Europe.

The Blues

The Blues is an African American dance done to Blues music, which can be very up close and personal! When you’re feeling a little tired and lacking energy, the Blues is ideal. It can be slow, smooth and highly rhythmical and improvisational. You don’t even need to smile. In fact it often looks better if you don’t!

Rhythm Tap

Rhythm Tap developed in the US during the late 19th Century and peaked around 1900. Rhythm Tap was made popular by the Berry Brothers, Nicolas Brothers and Bill Bojangles. Rhythm Tap is based on rhythm, balance and timing.

Strolls and routines


The Shim Sham

The Shim Sham is a line dance. The version most commonly performed amongst swing dancers was originally a tap routine, choreographed by Leonard Reed and taught across the world by the Legendary Frankie Manning. Every Lindy Hopper should know this. The Shim Sham and other types of Authentic Jazz are generally taught at our Monday night JiveSwing Performance workshops in Hatfield.

The Al & Leon Shim Sham

The Al & Leon Shim Sham is another version of the Shim Sham. It is an Authentic solo Jazz routine choreographed by the Savoy Ballroom dancers, Al Minns and Leon James, who were part of the famous Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers group.

The Tranky Doo

First appearing in Harlem in the 1940s, the Tranky Doo is an authentic solo Jazz routine, which is widely believed to be choreographed by the Savoy Ballroom dancer Pepsi Bethel. However, during an interview, facilitated by Joseph Sewell, 94 year old Savoy Ballroom dancer, Norma Miller states that Whitey showed them the Jazz routine. The video on our website, features the Savoy Ballroom dancers Al Minns, Pepsi Bethel and Leon James performing the routine. The Tranky Doo is a popular dance at JiveSwing, taught at our Authentic Jazz workshops.

The Cake Walk

The Cake Walk is a traditional African American form of music and dance which originated among slaves in South America mocking their white slave-owners’ dancing. Typically, couples would link elbows, lined up in a circle, dancing forward alternating a series of short hopping steps with a series of very high kicking steps. Cake, or slices of cake, were offered as prizes for the best dancers, giving the dance its name. The phrase ‘a piece of cake’ also come from this practice. JiveSwing has been teaching and performing the Cake Walk across the UK and Europe. Have a look at the clips.

The JiveSwing Stroll

The JiveSwing Stroll, is a modern solo Jazz routine, developed using Authentic Jazz steps, that are used in both the Tranky Doo and Frankie Manning’s version of the Big Apple. It’s a great routine to use as an introduction to Authentic Jazz, as it allows you to substitute each move with a variation of the same move as you become more confident.


Trickeration is a Jazz Routine, known for it’s tricky jazz symmetry, that the black chorus girls used to perform, amongst their weekly acts, that they would perform at the cotton club. When they asked for a $5.00 raise, the manager, let them go, leaving them with no where to perform their huge repertoire of acts. At this point, Norma Miller adopted their routines and taught it to her own group, Norma Miller and her Jazz Men. Chazz Young, Frankie Manning’s son and one of Norma’s Jazz Men, used to teach this, at the UK’s first swing dance camp the Swing Jam and GNSH – Goodnight Sweetheart.