Using that time to shine

I just found this forum and it seems very nice! I've been dancing lindy hop for about three years now, and it's the best! Before I've never been much of a dancer, and when going out partying I've always preferred the talking rather than the dancing.

When following I can really just be in the music and the moment. But when the lead gives me space to do something solo I always feel quite lost. Any tips what i should think/do? Like when we're hanging back in open position and the leader doesn't lead in but instead does something tricksy?
Or this (in my opinion) really weird move where the lead turns around with his back to me and puts my hand on his shoulder and were supposed to be some kind of lindy train but with no real connection, we don't even see each other?

Too often i just end up twisting and waiting for a lead out of it, loosing that great feeling I have when dancing together and killing the moment.

Steve Pastor

Staff member
I thought that by now one of our Lindy Hoppers would have come around to help you out. I don't actually do the dance, but...

the lead turns around with his back to me and puts my hand on his shoulder and were supposed to be some kind of lindy train but with no real connection, we don't even see each other?
Would that be tandem Charleston?

I'm begining to think that there was Lindy Hop before there was much of any swing music, which accounts for there being so much Charleston in the dance. Frankie Manning put Charleston steps in as the #2 item in the videos he did.

Far as shines...

I always thought "swivels" were a go to step. There a sailor steps, or sailor shuffles, kick steps, taps, any number of things.
I can't tell you what would be the most commn things in Lindy, though.

Hopefully people who do the dance will come along and help out.

And welcome to DF.


Active Member
It really doesn't have to be too complex. Keeping the pulse of the music is important. Throw in a kick, a tap, a twist, a knee slap... this is where we get to really break out of step patterns for a bit. If you want to do something traditional & interesting, vernacular jazz steps are the "go-to" moves, which gives me an opportunity to post this "visual glossary" video. (Keep in mind that jazz dance is about personal interpretation, and the specific way these demonstrators do some of the moves is not to my taste, but it is an excellent reference.)

Depending on your partner, I think it also adds more texture to the dance to do call-and-response embellishments or solos (i.e. one person at a time is doing "tricksy" stuff, while the other keeps the rhythm and does something "quieter") which would mean that the best time for the follower to throw in cool variations is actually when the leader is doing basics. But that really depends on whether you have good communication with your partner and you can both pull off call-and-response in the dance.

As for the over-the-shoulder hold (which is not tandem), if the lead is doing a specific and clear step you can choose to copy it, or not. Some of my favorites are crossover triple steps back and forth, or lowdowns -- something "horizontal". I see other people doing swivels in a wide stance, kind of like the move in this video but with the other hold:


Steve Pastor

Staff member
So, in researching the Big Apple, the origin story published in 1937 credits 20 year old Frank Boyd as the creator of the dance. The article states that Boyd called numbers rather than "dances." Only the original 18 young people who had been regulars at the club were allowed to do the Big Apple at the Big Apple. Calling "dances" is something that the college kids who watched from the balcony added when they made up their own version of the dance.
"Shine" is not mentioned until the article starts recounting the changes made outside of the Big Apple night club by the college kids.

I'm wondering what you all have heard about when the term "shine" came from.


Active Member
I've not actually heard anything about that, I've heard the term "shine" used a fair bit but no stories about where it came from.


Well-Known Member
It's interesting because where I usually dance, follows rarely hijack or do shines. So when I go someplace else where they do, the first one always surprises me a bit: "What is... oh wait, now I get it." The only thing I can tell you is that when I do WCS, I do try to leave spaces where the follow can do something, but if she's going to, she has to take it... I'm not going to force it on her, or stop dancing and expect her to carry it. If she doesn't want to, then I just proceed with what we were doing.

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