Why Jive?

I have been teaching salsa and jive for ten years, and dancing regularly for much longer, and so I feel well placed to comment on its merits.

Jive is easy

When I teach my class on Sundays at Sheffield university, I guarantee that I will have them dancing jive within ten minutes even if they are a complete beginner. I am rarely over optimistic.

Jive is easy because the footwork ( at beginner level at least) is easier than say salsa. Every beat is danced (unlike Salsa) and so there is no concept of "resting" on certain beats, and finally there are many more opportunities to practice than there are for other dance forms. This has various implications.

Men (definitely the weaker sex as far as dancing is concerned) are not overwhelmed by it and learn it quickly. The majority of partnered dance classes so often attract fewer men than women, so this is an important advantage. More men on the dance floor after all means more women on the dance floor with partners.

Jive is ubiquitous

Jive always had ubiquity in its favour. If a live band were playing at the local dive, you could be as sure as rain in Manchester that there would be someone there who could follow you around the dance floor. I am convinced there are more jivers than any other partnered dance form.

Jive is fun

Jive lacks the structure and discipline of salsa (footwork what footwork?). It is less serious, less rigid and less likely to be taken too seriously. This has important advantages.

It means the dancers can relax more, feel the music more, know the moves more thoroughly, and this inspires confidence, and confidence is so important to the quality of a persons dancing.

Have you ever watched a dancer dancing with complete confidence, performing simple moves, and compared him/her with someone dancing without confidence. The confident dancer always looks better, and jive - through its simplicity - encourages confidence.

Jive is creative

I was never taught footwork when I learnt jive twelve years ago, and this omission was probably to my benefit. It simplified the dance, and allowed me to concentrate on what material was taught.

After mastering the basics (and this does not take long) I could play around with timing, and framing. I could experiment to see what would and would not work. I could identify good dance partners and eventually explain what made them good, and all the while I was developing my own footwork and a style of my own making.

Jive is simple, and yet that is its strength, it allows you to embellish the dance, subject to your own interpretation, and what emerges is more fun, more interesting and more creative.