Side by Side MovesSide by Side Moves
Hi Lindy Hoppers!!!
Lesson #6 --- scroll to the bottom to Exit this Page
Maxie and Colleen
Maxie and Colleen
c. 1942

Prefatory Note

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 instructions for dancing. If you can't take live lessons, video is the absolute next best thing. The best of the "dance lesson" websites is Unlimited Swing that lets you pick and choose from LOTS of instructors. If you go through our curriculum, you'll probably laugh at our attempts to use clumsy math-like nomenclature to get points across. We experimented with animated GIFs to teach Charleston (Lesson 3) because in 1998, it could take five minutes to download a grainy 20 second video. Times have changed....

So, read along and have a chuckle at our attempts at pedagogy.

Lesson Six: Saint Louis Shag

This week's lesson treats the third major source of Lindy Hop moves --- those done SIDE BY SIDE. To review, we have the WHIP based moves that are done facing each other, and the CHARLESTON moves that are done in tandem position. This group of moves, known as "Saint Louis Shag" add another dimension to Lindy Hop.

Take a look at this chart:

Whip Mirror-Symmetric Facing
Charleston Not Mirror Tandem
St. Louis Shag Mirror-Symmetric Side by Side

The name "Saint Louis Shag" comes from the Imperial, a pre-Lindy dance that was quite popular in St. Louis and Kansas City. The dance takes its name from the Imperial Ballroom in Saint Louis. As with everything else, the Imperial got modified and adapted into Lindy during the late 1920s. The source was probably jazz musicians who regularly travelled from the Midwest to New York. The Imperial Ballroom still exists, and people still dance the Imperial in Saint Louis.

From a theoretical point of view, the Saint Louis Shag moves are about half Charleston, but alas, they require that the Follower learn a Mirror variation of Charleston. We are going to start out with something called "Mirror Charleston" and then adapt it to Saint Louis Shag.


The partners stand side by side, with the Lead on the left. As you stand side-by-side in this fashion, the team has "Outer Legs" (the Lead's Left, Follower's right) and "Inner Legs" (Lead's Right, Follower's Left). To do St. Louis Shag, it helps to think in terms of "Inner" and "Outer" legs rather than Left and Right.

As we said, Side by Side moves are mirror symmetric, so the dance team will present an attractive picture by moving the "Inner" and "Outer" legs together. The leader places the right hand on the Follower's hip. The follower places the left hand on the Leader's shoulder blade. The leader holds the Follower's right hand with his left. Leads are passed by both the hands and a slight push on the hip.

MIRROR Charleston

Assume the side by side stance. The Leader is just going to do the regular Charleston step, and the follower is going to do the mirror image, as follows:


  • Beat 1: Rock back on the Outer (i.e. Right) foot
  • Beat 2: Step with Inner (i.e. Left) foot
  • Beat 3: Kick front with Outer (i.e. Right) foot
  • Beat 4: Down; both feet together
  • Beat 5: Kick front with Inner (i.e. Left) foot
  • Beat 6: Inner leg at middle, or "stag" position
  • Beat 7: Kick Back with Inner (i.e. Left) foot
  • Beat 8: Down: both feet together

This is simply Charleston done side by side with the Follower doing a mirror step. As you get better at it, add the following:

"The foot that isn't kicking is hopping"

Mirror Charleston is a very nice move in and of itself, and can be combined with the "Magic Step" to create the "Cross Kicks" that were taught in Lesson Five.


Once you can do Mirror Charleston, Saint Louis Shag is fairly easy. The first four beats are the SAME as mirror Charleston. We can give the directions fairly easily if we use the "Inner" and "Outer" legs reference:

Outer Leg means the Lead's Left and the Follower's right
Inner Leg means the Lead's Right and the Follower's Right

  • Beat 1: Rock back on the Outer foot
  • Beat 2: Step with Inner foot
  • Beat 3: Kick front with Outer foot
  • Beat 4: Down; both feet together
  • Beat 5: Kick forward with inner legs
  • Beat 6: "HUP!" raise inner leg high with knee bent and hesitate briefly
  • Beat 7: Bring inner leg down, both dancers get low, like in a crouch
  • Beat 8: Stomp outer foot (like squashing a bug)

The best Mantra for Saint Louis Shag is:
"Rock Step, Kick, Down, kick, Hup!,Low!, Stomp!"

The "Hup!" step is just like that. Bend the inner leg at the knee and bring the leg up high and hold briefly. The hold must be noticeable, but not too long. This is a jerky movement.

The "Stamp" step is like squashing a bug. It should make a sound. You will get the timing just right if you actually visualize squashing a bug. Stomp the foot down, and then lift it just a tad to make sure you killed the bug.

Saint Louis Shag takes a little bit of practice to get down correctly. The best song to practice to is "Rockin Robin" by Bobby Day. This has the same effect on a crowd in Saint Louis as "Sing, Sing, Sing" has on Lindy audiences. There are hundreds of Saint Louis Shag variations. We will show you a few but you will be doing well if you can master basic Saint Louis shag and the transition to cross kicks.


Here is a little Saint Louis Shag routine:

  • Two bars of basic Saint Louis Shag
  • Transition to Cross Kicks
  • Two bars of Cross Kicks
  • Change to Mirror Charleston
  • Transition to Cross Kicks
  • Two bars of Cross Kicks
  • Change to Saint Louis Shag
  • Two Bars of Saint Louis Shag, etc.

In all of the moves (St. Louis, Mirror Charleston, Cross Kicks), you have your weight down on both feet on beats 4 and 8, and it is here that you make your changes.

Transition to cross kicks:

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