Swing Discussion Boards > "J" Leads . . .

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Vince A, Aug 18, 2004.

  1. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Do you use "J" leads in your swing dances?

    Can you use J leads in Lindy? IN ECS?

    How about WCS?

    I know J leads "could" be used in any dance, but should you use them?
  2. blue

    blue New Member

    For us ignorants: what is a J lead?
  3. Doug

    Doug New Member

    blue - if we are in open position and I lead you to come in - say on 1 or 2- and then make my hand execute a "J" shape - say on about 2 1/2 or 3, it leads you to rotate clockwise - even in this digital world. It is sometimes taught as a lead for a whip.

    Vince - I don't use it for a whip. If my lead is coming in and I stop/slow down the right side of her body by, say slowing down or blocking her right/lead hand, it accomplishes the same thing and can in fact be a clearer lead for a whip or whip-allies. Where I do use a J lead is if I want her to rotate before she even reaches, or just as she reaches me.

    For example a basket whip where I lead her into the basket not by having her walk under my arm, but rather by rotating 360 deg clockwise.

    Edited to make 180 deg be 360 deg. So much my degree in mathematics!!
  4. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    First, thanks for responding to blue on this . . .

    Secondly, I wouldn't do a J lead either for a whip . . . you just want to almost and gently stop the womans' arm, while she continues forward . . . actually if a J lead were given in a WCS swing, it would cause the arm to go backwards or back down the slot.

    However, this does not have to happen with the arm thing, as a good follower would keep their frame aiming towards ours!

    Besides . . . J leads have a tendency that just looks like too much arm is being used!
  5. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I have to say, I'm not fond of them...they're usually not done in the right place or for the right amount--I usually get overturned. I'm sure there's a place for them, but I can't think of any right now! Too sleepy. :)
  6. etchuck

    etchuck New Member

    I do use J leads for getting my follower into closed position in all swing dances and hustle etc. They should be subtle ideally, but the J lead I think is a fundamental lead to learn for partner dancers. I'm sure you can ditch it as soon as you know other ways to place your follower from open to closed position (or the like), but one should learn the technique of the J lead.

    Also, the J lead has subtle differences in WC vs. lindy. WCS' J-lead tends to be smaller and the follower has to do a sharper turn than in lindy's J-lead. Of course, I confuse the two too much.
  7. swinginstyle

    swinginstyle New Member

    When I first learned the J lead it was because of ballroom west coast. Since I am more experienced now, I realize it's just a nasty arm lead which doesn't promote good leading or good following. If I do a J lead, it is a J body lead.

    I never J lead in West Coast. For one, if the lady was following correctly, it asks her to step out of the slot. A very good instructor told me that if I want the follow to stay in the slot, leave my hand in the slot. Therefore, no J lead.

    My lead in lindy may look like a J. I'm not sure. Regardless, it's a body lead. In west coast, I think "leave hand in slot". In lindy, I think "stay round".

    Bottomline self opinion: J leads = Bad
  8. bjp22tango

    bjp22tango Active Member

    The main place I use a J lead is from open to closed in EC Swing. It is subtle, not exaggerated, and as stated in a prior post, it causes the follow to swivel on her right foot and turn clockwise into my arm and closed position.

    If this move is cranked, it is AWFUL, but if done small it is very smooth.
  9. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Great words . . . thanks . . .

    J lead in lindy - I don't know enough about lindy to say so for sure, but I've been taught to do J leads in some of the lindy classes that I've taken.

    Absolutely J leads in ECS and Hustle . . .
  10. LindyLuv

    LindyLuv New Member

    I am personally a fan of the J lead in lindy - though I can't vouch for the other dances...

    As a lead: I don't often lead lindy; but, when I do, I try to use a J lead because it both looks and feels smooth.

    As a follow: I think it is quite easy to follow and it keeps the flow of a swingout (a full "rotation" in lindy hop) going without cutting off the energy - I often feel like my momentum is being stopped when a lead rotates me by blocking my lead hand. Having said that, a J lead must be done properly in order to look and feel effective - when done correctly, a J lead isn't just a nasty arm oriented technique, but a legitimate lead.

    Case in point: Kevin and Carla (two awesome lindy hoppers/dancers for those of you who are not familiar with them...)
  11. swinginstyle

    swinginstyle New Member

    Well, I must admit I learned to J lead in beginning west coast swing lessons at a ballroom studio and also a local west coast swing club. This lead doesn't seem effective b/c if the follow is truly following, it would probably take them out of their slot briefly. There is probably value in a J lead, but proper technique and connection should be taught alongside this lead.
  12. d nice

    d nice New Member

    I'd say the J lead is a bad idea to use as a fundamental technique in lindy hop (well all swing dances if I'm going to be pressed into it).

    The reason is easy, no matter how subtle it takes the followers body out of synch with the leaders.

    Now this may be desired for certain stylistic choices and is perfectly legitimate when purposefully used in that regard, but as a fundamental technique (the way you lead/follow not just a given move but all moves) I'd have to say it is bad form.

    That said I use the J hook probably at a dozen times in any given dance, but to create a specific partner interaction, and always by conscious choice.
  13. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I was doing a search on whips and came across this thread that I thought was interesting. I was surprised at the negative comments about the J-hook leads in WCS?

    Personally, I find that if they are lead properly, the J lead really keeps the lady in the slot rather even more than a traditional lead. I also find that it adds a snap to the whips and carries more energy in the whip. So if the music feels smoother, I use the body rotating lead. If it feels snappier, I use the the J lead.

    Have views changed for others over the past couple years?
  14. DancinAnne

    DancinAnne New Member

    It seems with the pros we work with that j-leads tend to be discouraged or at least minimized.
  15. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Well, I think the change has been more than a couple years in the making, certainly close to 10 than 2.

    The J lead is wilting - it's hard to do well, the underlying philosophy is losing mind share, and the patterns that require the degree of control that a J lead allows are extinct.
  16. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    I agree . . . tho a recent Pro that I took Jive lessons with insisted on J leads on certain patterns??????????

    Even tho I showed her that I could get the same results with proper compression . . .
  17. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    So what patterns actually required a J-lead that aren't being used today? I don't have nearly the history you three do. Most of the whips that I know I think could work either way? I guess there is a trend towards the guys moving up and down the rails more now. So the type of compression and leverage is probably different that it used to be? It is kind of nice to know both. Choices are always good :D
  18. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Most whips call for 180 degrees of rotation, which is what your followers are wired to do. If you want more or less rotation than that, it is much harder to achieve without a J lead available. For example, if you want to do an honest to goodness right side pass (as in, the mirror of a left side pass), good luck.

    Also, if you want to gimmick the timing, I don't think you can actually achieve the same results with a compression lead. Once upon a time, the followers rotation into the whip used to vary between westie dialects (turn before two, turn after two, slow versus sharp). Compression has a hard time of it when followers center is between the connection and her support. [It's fair to quibble about whether that should actually happen or not].

    At a fundamental level, though, a J lead is an extension lead, where a compression lead is ... well, I suppose that goes without saying. But think for a moment about a push break. As you bring the follower in, her center is away from you, relative to her support. But when you compress, her center is closer to you. Where does that change happen? As a rule, it happens in response to your center doing the same thing, and that change being felt through the connection.

    Now on a whip, we don't want the follower to change her center; we want her to stay extended. So how is she supposed to know that compression here means "change your center" and compression there doesn't?

    There are answers to this question; don't get me wrong. In fact, I believe you can start from the premise that the rotation is correctly led with rotation, and build a completely self consistent framework from there. I don't think you'll end up with the same result, though; the best I would expect is a similarity of look where you deem the differences to be favorable or insignificant.
  19. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Hm-m-m-m-m-m-m, good food for thought and for experimentation . . . thanks . . .
  20. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I use a J lead to go from open to close. If the woman has adequate tension in her arm, and is paying attention, the "lower arm" of the J is very small and should easily stay in the width of the slot. I'd have to describe the "J" as more of a leaning to the left J, since the "lower leg" of the J doesn't start from the left edge of the slot, but from somewhere towards the center, as you would lead a right side pass if you were connected to your partner with your left to her right.
    If the woman isn't connected to me very well through her arm, she can't feel the lead very well. If I don't feel her beginning to rotate towards me, I just let it go and usually don't go there again.
    Isn't it funny how things are demonized by people who don't like them, or decide not to teach them?

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