Introducing the Shim Sham: Making it Fun and Wild From Beginning to End

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This style of dance definitely sounds funny, but it’s one that swing dancers know as one of the best line dances out there. It’s been known by a number of additional names, from the sham to the shim sham shimmy, but no matter what you want to call it, it’s the same dance and it has the same background to go on. We’ll talk a little bit more about the different aspects of this dance and just how to perform it for yourself, so you can definitely get in the swing of things.

Where it Started

It was the later years of the 1920s that this dance first came around, but it wasn’t actually called the shim sham back then. Rather, the two men named Leonard Reed and Willie Bryant, who danced it with a troupe, called it the ‘Goofus.’ It was sometime later, around the 1930s that the shim sham was first announced and used in actual performance. It actually went live on stage throughout Harlem and in a range of different clubs and performance halls.

What was really interesting about this style of dance was the fact that it was very different depending on who was doing it. Tap dancers were the ones who started out with this shimmy because that’s the style of dance that it started out as. And when they would do this shimmy they definitely knew exactly what they were doing. They would create highly technical versions. On the other hand, musicians and singers would get out there and perform as well, but a much simpler style of dance with a little more shuffling.

How it Became Popular

You might not be so surprised to know that Frankie Manning, the man who was responsible for getting so many people into swing dancing in the first place, and especially the Lindy Hop, was also responsible for getting a lot of people interested in the Shim Sham as well. He actually introduced it at social dances with the New York Swing Dance Society and not only that but he created his own version that could be done for those who liked to swing dance. That’s the version that’s now being done the most when it comes to swing dance and the shim sham in general.

What It’s Like

This style of dance actually has some choreography to it and though it’s changed quite a bit over the time it’s been around, there are still elements that have stayed the same. It has some of the foundations that you definitely got with the original Of course, it’s still a 32-bar chorus and with different variations it sometimes uses breaks and sometimes has only steps. Sometimes it has more of a tap style to it and sometimes it’s more of a swing. It’s going to be up to where you’re actually performing to know the answer.

How to Shim Sham

If you want to dance for yourself it’s going to take a little bit of time to learn the different steps involved. There are actually quite a few of them, and they’re not going to repeat in quite the same way that you will with other styles of dance. You’re going to have to put your mind really behind this one so you can make sure that you’re pushing it forward the right way but it’s a line dance, so you should be able to keep an eye on the people on either side of you if you do happen to need some support or assistance.

Part 1

Shim Sham Step

  1. Stomp your right foot at a diagonal on your right side and drag it back.
  2. Stomp your left foot at a diagonal on your left side and drag it back.
  3. Stomp your right foot at a diagonal on your right side and drag it back.
  4. Again, stomp your right foot at a diagonal on your right side and drag it back.
  5. Stomp the left foot at a diagonal on your left side and drag it back.
  6. Stomp your right foot at a diagonal on your right side and drag it back.
  7. Stomp your left foot at a diagonal on your left side and drag it back.
  8. Again, stomp your left foot at a diagonal on your left side and drag it back.
  9. Stomp your right foot at a diagonal on your right side and drag it back.
  10. Stomp your left foot at a diagonal on your left side and drag it back.
  11. Stomp your right foot at a diagonal on your right side and drag it back.
  12. Again, stomp your right foot at a diagonal on your right side and drag it back.

Break

  1. Lean forward toward the right and bring your right foot down.
  2. Tap your left foot on the ground behind your right one.
  3. Step back onto the left foot.
  4. Tap your right foot on the ground behind your left one.
  5. Step back on the right foot.
  6. Move backward three steps with a pattern of left, right, left.

Part 2

Cross Over

  1. Clap your hands together.
  2. Angle right and move slightly forward using your hips.
  3. Pull the hips backward.
  4. Angle right and move slightly forward using your hips, again.
  5. Pull the hips backward, again.
  6. Angle right and move slightly forward using your hips for the third time.
  7. Using the left foot, swing it around to the front and upward.
  8. Step the left foot in front of the right.
  9. Step the right foot out to get a shoulder wide stance.
  10. Angle left and move slightly forward using your hips.
  11. Pull the hips backward.
  12. Angle left and move slightly forward using your hips, again.
  13. Pull the hips backward, again.
  14. Angle left and move slightly forward using your hips for the third time.
  15. Using the right foot, swing it around to the front and upward.
  16. Step the right foot in front of the left.
  17. Step the left foot out to get a shoulder wide stance.
  18. Repeat the steps of part 2 again.

Part 3

Tacky Annie

  1. Stomp your right foot down behind your left foot and then stomp the left foot and place it next to the right.
  2. Tap the toe of the right foot behind your left and then step back onto the right foot.
  3. Tap the toe of the left foot behind your right and then step back onto the left foot.
  4. Tap the toe of the right foot behind your left and then step back onto the right foot.
  5. Tap the toe of the left foot behind your right and then step back onto the left foot.
  6. Repeat the steps of part 3 twice more.

Half-Break

  1. Lean forward toward the right and bring your right foot down.
  2. Tap your left foot on the ground behind your right one.
  3. Step back onto the left foot.
  4. Tap your right foot on the ground behind your left one.
  5. Step back on the right foot.
  6. Move backward three steps with a pattern of left, right, left.

Part 4

  1. Hop on your right foot slightly forward.
  2. Hop on your left foot slightly back.
  3. Kick with the right foot.
  4. Bring the right foot behind and put your weight on the left.
  5. Repeat the steps for part 4.

Half-Break

  1. Lean forward toward the right and bring your right foot down.
  2. Tap your left foot on the ground behind your right one.
  3. Step back onto the left foot.
  4. Tap your right foot on the ground behind your left one.
  5. Step back on the right foot.
  6. Move backward three steps with a pattern of left, right, left.

Repeat Part 4

  1. Hop on your right foot slightly forward.
  2. Hop on your left foot slightly back.
  3. Kick with the right foot.
  4. Bring the right foot behind and put your weight on the left.
  5. Repeat the steps for part 4.

Boogie Back & Shorty Georgy

Boogie Back & Boogie Forward

  1. Lean forward toward the right and bring your right foot down.
  2. Tap your left foot on the ground behind your right one.
  3. Step back onto the left foot.
  4. Tap your right foot on the ground behind your left one.
  5. Step back on the right foot.
  6. Move backward three steps with a pattern of left, right, left.
  7. Repeat all the steps from parts 1 through 4 with a freeze in place of each break.

This may seem like a complex dance, and it definitely is in a lot of ways, but you’re going to get the hang of it a lot faster than you might think and you’re definitely going to find yourself enjoying it. You just have to make sure that you give it a shot and don’t be afraid to make a lot of mistakes.

What to Keep in Mind

When it comes to any kind of dance there’s at least something that you should know along the way. When it comes to this one, there’s definitely no exception to the rule. So, just take a few minutes to read through the rest of this about some of the things to keep in mind and interesting facts. You’re definitely going to be more than a little impressed with yourself when it comes time to get out there on the dance floor and show off your steps. This one isn’t one you’ll pick up easily, but it’s one that your’e going to be super happy you mastered when you do.

It Has a Lot of Steps

You should most definitely recognize that there are a whole lot of steps in this set. You’re going to be going through these motions quickly too, which means you’re not going to have a whole lot of time to think about what you’re doing or just how you’re going to be doing it. You’ll need to be able to remember the steps and react as quickly as possible. Then, you’ll be able to get the hang of things and start joining in the popular dances that everyone is doing.

Some Interesting Facts

When it comes to the shim sham there are some really interesting facts that you may want to know or that you may at least find intriguing for yourself. These are just a few little things that don’t really have much bearing on you being able to perform the song (or not). They just have some background information if you’ve ever been interested in understanding music of all types and the way that these swing dances are actually performed. It could be a really great opportunity for you to impart some knowledge on others too.

It Doesn’t Fit the Music

This dance is a little unique in that it doesn’t actually go until the song ends. Rather, it only has 10 different phrases and each of those phrases is 4 sets of 8 counts. All of this means that there’s usually more of the song to go when the dance is technically over. That means the people who are dancing it actually just walk right off the stage or off the dance floor with the music still playing. Of course, those in charge of the music may continue on or cut it short to accommodate.

The Original Dance Was an Improv Show

The two men who actually are credited with creating this dance were actually improvising in a way that they thought would work for filling in some space. They’d just performed a show and they needed some way to end it to really make an impression. They decided to mix together a range of different moves that they knew and it created something like what the shim sham is as we know it. It included different moves like a half-break, cross-overs, shuffles, and tacky Annies, which each got the crowd going.

The shim sham is definitely going to be an exciting dance for you and your friends to engage in. It’s one that uses a lot of different moves and it can move pretty quickly too, in different directions. Because there are so many different styles of things going on it’s a dance that you’re going to want to learn how to build upon for yourself. In general, though you’re definitely going to be more than happy that you gave it a try. Whether you’ve been a tap dancer before or you’ve never set foot on the dance floor, you’re going to be able to use this dance to your advantage with your friends.

By | 2019-05-07T04:11:07+00:00 May 9th, 2019|Categories: Routine, Swing Dance|Tags: |0 Comments

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