Lesson #5 scroll to the bottom to Exit this Page
Has anything changed?
A long time ago, we used to teach Lindy Hop. We don't do this anymore (mainly because of work responsibilities) and we reccommend that you seek out current instructors in the DC Area. This section is included as a historic artifact that demonstrates the difficulty of developing
So, read along and have a chuckle at our attempts at pedagogy.
Lesson Five: Charleston Variations
This lesson will teach you (a) how to change position in tandem Charleston and (b) our "Magic Step" that is the key to at least ten very cool moves.
Turning in Lindy Charleston
Remember that the "Mantra" for Lindy Charleston
In this formulation, the word "down" means that your weight is on both feet on counts 4 and 8 and that your feet are more or less together. You may do an independent turn --- that is, independent of your partner --- on counts 5 through 8 by placing your weight on the left and rotating while you kick the right foot. This is the essence of turning in Lindy Charleston. You may rotate as much or as little as you choose. A very effective and simple move begins with the partners standing side by side. They execute one basic Charleston and rotate a quarter turn counter clockwise, repeating "basic" and "quarter turn" until they are back where they started. You may feel free to vary this with half turns or a full turn.
Changing Position in Tandem Charleston
In Tandem Charleston, one partner is behind the other. For reference, let us assume that the "Standard" position has the Follower in Front and the Lead in Back. Also we need a concept for "Direction" so let us assume that the couple is facing "North". We are going to show two types of turns:
The Lead signals the onset of the eggbeater on beat 3 by LOWERING the Follower's Left hand and RAISING the Right hand. On Beat 4, the Lead's left foot is planted in front of the follower's Left foot. The Lead executes a full clockwise rotation on beats 5 through 8. The Follower continues with the basic Charleston step. The couple does not drop hands but uses a "pivot grip" to accomplish the turn. In the Eggbeater, the partner at the rear of the Tandem does all the work. Once you have accomplished this, the person at the rear may execute the Eggbeater to bring the couple back to "Standard" position --- the lead (now in front) drops the left hand and raises the right, signalling the Follower to step up on 4 and rotate clockwise on 5 through 8. Note that the Lead still retains control over the movement.
The Lead signals the onset of the windmill on beat 3 by DROPPING the follower's Right hand (i.e letting go of it completely). The Lead and Follow simply do a counterclockwise independent turn of 180 degrees to face South. You will find that you can continue to hold the Left hands because this does not interfere with the movement.
Frankie Manning's Variant of the Windmill
In the film "A Day at the Races" Frankie Manning does a very clever windmill --- the partners drop BOTH hands and rotate counterclockwise a full 360 degrees independently, snapping their fingers over their heads (to the beat...) as they rotate. This really looks cool, but changes neither position nor direction.
With some practice, you can rotate counterclockwise a quarter turn so that you wind up facing West, or rotate three quarters of a turn to end up facing East.
It is very cool to just string windmills and eggbeaters together, one after another. You will mystify all who behold you.
The Magic Step
This is the very first move that we "deduced" from Lindy Hop. That is, we learned a whole lot of steps by rote and then figured out that this step was the key to them all. If you know the Magic Step, you automatically know a whole lot of other steps!
The Mantra for the magic step is:
In the beginning, both partners have the same step. Alas, for more advanced moves, the Follower must learn how to do this by starting with either the Left or the Right.
The Magic Step is accomplished as follows:
All repetitions there after use the "Kick and Kick Down"
You may do the Magic Step side by side and thrill audiences.
People ask us to teach them Travelling Charleston more than anything else. Apart from death-defying aerials, this is the coolest Lindy move around. Now that you know the Magic Step, it is also VERY easy.
Partners are in Standard Tandem position with Leader behind and the team facing North. On beat 1, (rock step), the leader rotates the follower 45 degrees clockwise. This is the SIGNAL for Traveling Charleston. The Leader must be very firm in giving this signal, because you must stop doing basic Charleston and start doing the Magic Step. As you begin to learn this, you might want to think about keeping the first four beats the same as in regular Charleston and then pick up the Magic Step from Beat 5 on. This will allow a little bit more time for the Follower to get the signal. The Lead signals the switches from Left to Right by looping the arm that is kicking over the Follower's head.
You may stay in the same place with this move, just shifting direction, or you may hop forward on the non-kicking foot to actually move three feet or so in each direction. (That's why it is called "Travelling" Charleston)
You may ALSO do Travelling Charleston with the Lead in Front. The signal is to rotate the partner 45 degrees counter clockwise and then begin the Magic Step.
The partners face each other and do the Magic Step. Because the Magic Step is not Mirror-Symmetric you will find that you are kicking across each other. You may support each other by holding on to the Left, then the Right hands.
There are several interesting variants which require the Follower to learn how to do the Mirror version of the Magic Step. This is for followers only:
All repetitions there after use the "Kick and Kick
Half Moon Kicks
The partners stand Side By Side with the Lead to the Left of the Follower. They execute the Magic Step from this position. Each set of four counts turns them 180 degrees. If they face North on Beat 1, they face South on Beat 4.
You may also view the Half Moon Kicks this way. As you stand side by side, there are the outside legs (Lead's Left, Follower's Right) and the Inside Legs (Lead's Right, Follower's Right). The Outside legs are kicked forward and then through the center and then down, turning you 180 degrees. Once again, the outside legs are kicked forward and through the center returning you to the same position.
The partners face each other. The Lead does the basic Magic Step and the Follower does the Mirror Magic Step. This looks fantastic, but it is almost impossible to teach without using the Magic Step concept.
About the Photo: This is a photo of an unknown couple executing a fish flip at Bourston's (a club in Los Angeles) in 1946. We like the decor and notice that the ladies in the back are wearing saddle shoes. This could have been taken at America or Glen Echo last week --- good on you, all you vintage dressers! Photo courtesy of Maxie Dorf
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