Jive Dancing


Jive dancing is enjoying a revival of sorts in many nightclubs across the country. But what exactly is it and what is its history? How is it danced today?

What is Jive Dancing?

If you grew up dancing ballet, or in a town that doesn't have much in the way of social dance, then chances are you haven't heard of Jive dancing before. Simply put, Jive is a form of ballroom dancing. Its style is 4/4 time (in other words, it is quick!) and it is considered to be one of the international Latin dances found in competition.

Jive has a few simple components to it:

  • It is danced at the speed of 44 bars per minute, but this is often reduced to somewhere between 32 and 40.
  • It rivals East Coast Swing in visual elements
  • One of the fastest forms of swing dancing, it uses triple chasses and hard swing.


Like many forms of dance still alive and thriving today, Jive came from African-American cultural dance. In the case of Jive, it actually originated in the United States, hitting its first wave of popularity during World War II. It was recognized as a much more energetic version of the Jitterbug, which was already well known as a swing dance style. Jazz musicians loved to play Jive music in the 1930s and 1940s, and the name was defined as meaning foolishness or gibberish - in other words, Jive was a lot of fun!

The U.S. soldiers during the war danced the Jive in Europe and it caught on as a major trend there, especially among the younger generations. There it became known as Boogie-Woogie, and eventually the term "Jive" became universal.

When Jive began to enter social dance competitions, it became a bit more choreographed and went through a "maturing" process where professionals slowed down its energetic style to a reasonable, universally-accepted pace.

It became an official international competition Latin dance form in the year 1968.

How to Dance the Jive

The basic Jive dancing step consists of eight weight changes in six beats. Whoever is leading performs a rock step (one foot step back, other foot replace it) for the first two counts. Then, the couple chasses to the left for counts 3 and 4. Chasse to the right for counts 5 and 6, and then you are dancing the Jive! The dance is simple and jovial, and it is a favorite in many American competitions and exhibitions today.

Where to Learn

If you are wanting to learn Jive dancing, you can visit a website such as Ballroom Dancers, which provides a syllabus and plenty of instructional videos to help you learn the steps. You can also find videos of jive dancing by checking out various dance websites or researching at your local library.

However, the best way to learn is to observe. Check out your community calendar to see if there are any festivals or performances coming up that may include Jive dancing. Many nightclubs are responding to the new wave of swing dance popularity and offer a swing night where you can come take a lesson and then dance the night away. Do a little research, ask around, and you will be surprised at what you might find.

Above all else, Jive dancing is a fun and carefree dance style that offers a special connection with your partner while getting exercise at the same time. With its bubbly personality and its history of extreme popularity, it is a worthwhile social dance style worth checking out.


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