We love Rock ‘n’ Roll dance music

If you love dancing I bet you love Swing and Rock ‘n’ Roll music. It’s the type of music that makes you want to get up and dance. However there’s a problem – it’s a bit too fast for Ceroc. Some of the best DJs do mix Swing and Rock ‘n’ Roll tracks in to their playlists but they tend to be the slower paced ones.

Elvis Presley’s Return to sender is a good example of a Rock ‘n’ Roll track that’s suited to Ceroc, but most are just too fast. Take Choo choo ch’boogie a Swing track recorded by Louis Jordan in 1946. I think you are going to be exhausted if you try to Ceroc to this track’s driving rhythm.

We love Southport’s Swinger’s Hour too

Anyone who’s been to the Southport Weekender will know that one of the most popular sessions is Swingers Hour. Not only is the music exciting, it’s a chance for the ladies to get dressed up in beautiful swirly ’50s style dresses. It seems every year there are more and more of these colourful dresses on show. In this view of people dancing at Saturday’s Swingers Hour I think every lady is wearing a Rock ‘n’ Roll dress.

Better call for Lyndsey Bennett

So we love everything about Swinger’s Hour, but its sixty minutes of ‘hundred miles an hour’ dance music that comes with a health warning. So what are we going to do? The answer is put a call out for Lyndsey Bennett. Lyndsey is one of the great characters of Southports teaching team, and she has come up with a way of dancing to fast paced Rock ‘n’ Roll music that’s easily taught in a one hour lesson before hand.

This is one of the most popular classes of the weekend

Lyndsey’s ‘Get ready for Swinger’s Hour’ is one of the most popular classes of the weekend, and the picture below shows a packed Thunderball Room with Lyndsey and her demo Ben on the teaching stage. Lyndsey is a fabulous teacher and when you watch the video at the end you’ll be amazed to see this packed hall rockin’ and rollin’ in unison. Now let me try and explain how she did it.

Teaching The proper Rock ‘n’ Roll technique would take all weekend

I took it upon myself to find some Rock ‘n’ Roll classes and learn the moves that would work with the faster paced tracks I would occasionally hear at Freestyles. Now I consider myself to be a fairly accomplished Modern Jive dancer but it took me weeks to get the hang of Rock ‘n’ Roll. At Southport Lyndsey only has an hour!

What Lyndsey has done is simply adopt some of the Ceroc moves we are very familiar with. That way we are half way there. Lyndsey’s trick is to take the ‘Step Back’ that ends every Ceroc move, and do away with it. This makes the moves that little bit shorter and allows you to complete the move in time with the music.

First step – get the bounce

The Official Ceroc video of the weekend includes Lyndsey’s teaching the moves as she did on the stage. Understandably I can’t show this video of Lyndsey’s lesson, but I would urge anyone, who wants to learn the routine to buy it. In the absence of any video I’ll do my best to explain some of the technique, and give a flavour of what is was like to be in one of the most fun classes over the weekend.

First step – get the bounce right. Rock ‘n’ Roll music has a real bouncy feel and getting this motion is essential if you’re going to get to grips with this style of dancing. Many people will remember the Ceroc ‘Hand Jive’ move from Beginners Classes a few years ago. So fellers hold both your partners hands, and bring your left hand to your left hip. Then push it away and bring your bring your right hand to your right hip and repeat several times.

Don’t forget the bouncing action and don’t step back

Oh I forgot – we need the bounce. So just ‘Take it down’ – lower yourself down by bending your knees slightly, and as you do the ‘Hand Jive’ the bouncing action will come naturally. So guys do a few hand jives back and forth, then raise your left hand, ladies go under as you would in a ‘Spot Turn’. Now guys return your partner and you have your first move. Here’s the whole class starting to get the hang of it.

With another variation we were all rockin’ after just fifteen minutes

There’s no point me trying to describe every move, but Lyndsey taught another simple move, that when added to the first, gave you a real flavour of what it was like to Rock ‘n’ Roll through a whole track. Remember when you went to your first beginner’s class, and you learnt three moves that linked together so you could keep dancing through a whole track. Doing these two moves over and over again is the same idea.

Always do plenty of ‘Hand Jives’ to give your lady a break from spinning, and you have the beginnings of a routine that will get you through a whole track. I remember Lyndsey putting the music on for us to link these first two moves together. Her first instruction was to ‘Take it down’ to get the bouncy action and suddenly everybody was dancing like they’d done it all their lives

Smiles were breaking out everywhere

Swing and Rock ‘n’ Roll music is some of the most uplifting music ever written. There was no sadness in the lyrics and hearing it just made you want to smile. Being able to dance to this joyful music was equally uplifting, and smiles broke out across everyone’s faces, as the Thunderball Room morphed in to a 1950s hop.

Lyndsey’s classes are always full of smiles. She has the most wonderful fun on the stage, which helps everyone relax so they can start to enjoy themselves. Here’s her breaking in to laughter after something went wrong with her routine. I should perhaps take this opportunity to give a mention to Ben her partner on the stage. Ben is a fabulous Rock ‘n’ Roll dancer and his school boy enthusiasm is a perfect match for Lyndsey’s own obvious love of what she does on the teaching stage.

The challenge of The Lindy Steps

Many new dance styles are an adaption of what went before. Ceroc is an adaption of Jitterbug, the Swing dance brought over from the States by GIs in World War Two. Swing itself was a dance style that followed on from Lindy Hop that was popular in the 1920s. Rock ‘n’ Roll is itself an adaption of Swing, so its not surprising that Lindy Hop moves found their way in to Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The second part of Lyndsey’s lesson was to teach what she called Lindy Steps. Now I’m not going to start trying to describe how you do them. Again the Official Ceroc video explains it very well, and the video at the bottom of this posting does show some people mastering it quite well. Sadly it was a step too far for me.

With Ceroc there’s no need to count the beat

One of the reasons I love Ceroc is that there’s no real need to count the beat. Just keep in time with the music and your feet seem to move without thinking. I’m hopeless when I have to count a beat – it’s one of the reasons I can’t do ballroom. So when Lyndsey explained the count for the Lindy Steps I was soon confused to the point of having no idea what my feet were doing.

I think I wasn’t the only one to struggle, and I think Lyndsey knew it was a challenge, but with her patient instructions from the stage, I think a lot of people got it. It’s a great move and I will practise using the Official Video, and hopefully by next Southport I’ll be as proficient as Lyndsey and Ben. Here’s everybody giving it their best shot and I have to say they look pretty good.

This video shows just what great fun this class was

I asked my good friend Tel Jenkins to take the photos that I’ve used to illustrate this post. Tel also volunteered to take clips of video from different parts of the lesson, and he’s managed to put them together, in to what I think is a wonderful representation of this fun filled class. It shows just how well everyone did and its great to see everybody dancing to some proper Rock ‘n’ Roll music.

Tel used Shake Rattle and Roll by Big Joe Turner as the soundtrack for the video. If I remember rightly Lyndsey used this track when she and Ben demonstrated the routine at the start of the lesson. Watch carefully as the video starts and you will hear Lyndsey give the instruction ‘Take it down’ which is so essential if you are going to get the bouncy action right. Her first move is the ‘Hand Jive’ one.

My thanks to Tel, Lyndsey and Ben

I’d like to thank Tel for putting together a video that shows the joy of what it is to dance to Rock ‘n’ Roll music, and to Lyndsey and Ben for teaching everyone a way to dance to the fast paced music of Rock ‘n’ Roll. The proof of the pudding is, as they say, in the eating, and it was great to see people using Lyndsey’s moves in the subsequent Swingers Hour. I too used the moves in my routine and they worked extremely well.

So guys its ‘Hand Jives’, turn and return your lady and no need to step back, but remember the most important thing. If you want to get the correct bouncy action you need to ‘Take it down. Here’s the video.